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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > History > Oppression > Homoophobia > Propaganda > South Of The Border (2010/Cinema Libre DVD) + Cuban Rebel Girls (1960)/Untamed Women (1952/VCI DVD) + Eyes Wide Open (2008/First Run DVD)

South Of The Border (2010/Cinema Libre DVD) + Cuban Rebel Girls (1960)/Untamed Women (1952/VCI DVD) + Eyes Wide Open (2008/First Run DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+/D/B-     Films: B-/C+/D/B-



When we look at politics, it never ceases to amaze me how once someone gets going on their ideology, they mistake that for reality.  One thing that happens is oversimplification.  Disaster often results.  Three new DVD releases reminded me of how that works and how some things never change.


First comes filmmaker Oliver Stone’s trip to all the major countries of South America in South Of The Border (2010), his crash course history lesson on how the continent has been exploited for eons by so many and as he interviews all the leaders of each country, we discover how they are the first indigenous people elected to run their respective countries, how vilified they have been without being heard and how they are breaking off with the U.S. as debtors via the International Monetary Fund.  It is a major change for all the countries down there, now in control more than ever of their natural resources and intending to put that money back into their countries as they grow them.  For practicing socialism, they all seem possibly poised to launch as a new version of the European Union, which could change the world economy in way China, Russia and the U.S. could do nothing about.


Some of this was educational, some of it unbelievable and some unintentionally revealing, but it makes for key viewing and says as much about what it does not address as what it does.  Then it is more interesting when compared to the hilarious Errol Flynn docudrama Cuban Rebel Girls (1960), where pro-American Flynn celebrates the young women helping out Che Guevara and Fidel Castro throw out the U.S. supported dictatorship!  The mix of actors, documentary footage and Flynn’s narration is a howler, but also shows that the current dichotomy of anything left being anti-American was not always so and in broad ways.  This was also known as Assault Of The Rebel Girls.


Untamed Women (1952) was included here because it is worse as an Air Force plane finds a group of native women (who look suspiciously like bad Hollywood extras) descended from druids live on the island they have found and may be marked for death.  Can they escape?  Can we escape?


Finally is the drama Eyes Wide Open (2009) which happens to address two groups suspiciously absent from the “everyone’s included” Oliver Stone film, Jews and gay males.  This badly entitled work (sounding like yet another party who did not get Stanley Kubrick’s last film) might have done better with a better title.  In an ultra-orthodox Jewish community (Hasidic?) a married butcher named Aaron (Zohar Shtrauss) is married and has a good family, but when a young man comes into his life (Ran Danker), they start to become involved intimately and sexually.  Erzi (Danker) is active already, but when certain men in the community find out, they start to harass them and worse.


I was surprised by the criticism of the community, homophobia and even breaking a window in the Kristallnacht form.  It is daring, biting, bold and important, showing the extreme side of being “righteous” and how that results in hypocrisy, homophobia and outright hate.


As for Stone and company, these are countries that have not addressed these minorities and that will continue to be an issue, no matter what other progress they have.  And to think the debates these films represent are far from over.



The newer releases are anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 productions shot in digital video that is at least partly High Definition.  They have motion blur, detail issues and other flaws that hold back the overall performance, but are watchable enough.  The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the two VCI films show their age and Cuban in particular has a mix of 35mm and 16mm film.  All have Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with monophonic sound on the older VCI films and newer simple stereo on the new productions.


Extras on Border includes behind the scenes of the South American promotional tour, Deleted Scenes, Two South America TV Interviews with Stone, Stone’s Additional Questions for Hugo Chavez and the featurette Changes In Venezuela.  The double feature has no extras, but Eyes has a good interview with its director, Haim Tabakman.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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