Buena Vista Social Club: Adios, C+
Rated PG, 110 minutes
Music has a way of casting a memorable spell, especially in films, and the most memorable part of the likable new documentary "Buena Vista Social Club: Adios," the sequel to the 1999 Wim Wenders documentary "Buena Vista Social Club." The new film isn't as revealing or original as the first film, but at least we're treated to plenty of the colorful Cuban music brought to life on film 18 years ago.
Remaining members of Buena Vista Social Club, including Omara Portuondo, Eliades Ochoa, Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos, Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, Barbarito Torres and Guajirito Mirabal, discuss their musical careers and the extraordinary circumstances that brought them together.
Directed by British documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker ("Countdown to Zero"), "Buena Vista Social Club: Adios" is essentially a revisionist extension of the first film, a follow up to show what many of the band members have been doing since that time. It's a thin but welcome excuse to promote their music again, though that's not exactly a bad thing. The first act is essentially a homage to the first film, which helped expose Cuban music to a wider audience in the late 1990's, and brought many of its band members to the U.S. for the first time.
One of the first film's most memorable members, Ibrahim Ferrer (he's the one featured on the cover of their iconic album), passed away in 2005, but he's given ample footage in the documentary's first act. I also couldn't take my eyes off the lovely Cuban singer and lone female member, Omara Portuondo, who in her '80s still sings and dances enough to put many of us younger folks to shame.
While it's always nice to bring this type of music to a wider audience, "Adios" doesn't do anything the first film didn't do already. Sure, its band members are older (yet still as fun as ever), Castro has passed, and musical styles and tastes continue to evolve, but they'll always have an important place in music and in the larger history of Cuba.
"Buena Vista Social Club: Adios," which is a little rambling and overlong, is a love letter to these band members and their music, and thankfully, due to that, you'll leave with feet tapping to their music, as it's the most memorable part of this pleasant but unnecessary documentary.