About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

Rotten Tomatoes
Search Movie/Celeb

Advanced Search
  • Recent Comments

  • Categories

  • « | Home | »

    I’ve Seen “Che” So You Don’t Have To

    By Kyle | September 8, 2008

    Why was I eating breakfast at 7:45 this morning, hours before my usual wakey-wake? Because at 8:30 I was waiting in line to see “Che,” a four and a half hour monstrosity from Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro, who will probably get an Oscar nomination for the film.

    Don’t get me wrong–I loved Warren Beatty’s Communist epic “Reds.” Though Beatty is an avowed lefty, half the film is about the corruption and authoritarianism that quickly took over the Bolshevik revolution, and anyway, the film is visually grand (the scene just before the intermission, in which the Revolution is won to the strains of “The Internationale,” is as magnificent to watch as it must have been for John Reed to live through) as well as a thrilling love story.

    But “Che,” which must be the most fevered piece of Communist propaganda since Sergei Eisenstein’s days, makes Ernesto Guevera look like Florence Nightingale + Abraham Lincoln times Jesus Christ. My senior colleague Lou Lumenick calls it “The Passion of the Che.” Everywhere you look, Che is healing the sick, advancing the cause of women, telling his men not to look out for him and standing up for the rights of the peasantry, who nevertheless turn Judas on him. (Damn peasants: they’re like Kansans or something. Never vote the correct way.) In one scene, Che insists, “This is a revolution, not a coup,” in another he insists that there be no violence amongst his armed guerillas (reminded me of “You can’t fight in here–this is the war room”), in still another, after his starving men take some corn from a farm, he insists on leaving money for the farmer, who isn’t there.

    There are more scenes about agrarian land reform (many) than there are about the taking of Havana by the Communists (zero) or about what Communism actually did in practice as opposed to theory (zero). An alien watching this film could be forgiven for thinking that Communism was this neat new ideology about lifting up the underclass that was never fully put into practice because of corrupt dictators. To top it all, the entire film has a dreary, ponderous, quasi-documentary feel that takes dry material and pounds the color out of it. It’s the anti-“Reds.” “Che” has the excitement of the Marx-Engels reader without the conciseness.

    I guarantee this $65 million film will flop.

    Topics: Movies, Politics | 6 Comments »

    6 Responses to “I’ve Seen “Che” So You Don’t Have To”

    1. Brandon Says:
      September 9th, 2008 at 10:54 am

      You’ve got to be kidding me. Seriously what is wrong with Hollywood? Can you imagine the furor and uproar that would occur if someone made a movie about Hitler or heck even McCarthy that painted them as some Christ like hero? Yet Pig Guevera is always treated with such adulation. I honestly don’t get it.

    2. John Says:
      September 9th, 2008 at 11:30 am

      I don’t get it either. Someone explain why it’s hip and cool to wear Che on your tshirt but those some people would never wear the Stars and Stripes on their tshirt… oh, wait, I think I might just have answered my own question.

    3. Frank Says:
      September 9th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

      As I see it, theres the good Che and the bad Che. The Che the left wants to see is the Che that did all those great things in Soderbergs film, or in the Motorcycle Diaries, or according to Jean Paul Sartre or whatever. Then there’s the bad Che? But wait. What did bad Che do? Kill the political opposition? So? Doesnt the United States seek to destroy political opposition if not directly then by proxie? I believe so. So why would you point the finger at Che? Batista needed to be removed and Castro and Che did that. If that later involved eliminating Batista’s old party supporters then what can you do? The US had to get rid of the remaining Baathists. I wont say the remaining Nazi’s at least not all of them. Von Braun put us in space and Gehlin and the rest of his spy network including Klaus Barbie, a Gestapo butcher, helped the CIA fight Russians.

      And if wearing a Che t shirt, although not necessarily symbolizing the man but rather what he stands for means I get to annoy people like you then I better get myself one of those shirts!

      And look out for the wonderful W biopic this October!

    4. Brandon Says:
      September 9th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

      Frank your certifiably insane. This is tantamount to crediting appreciating for having a culinary adventerous streak. Che did more than kill his political opposition according to most accounts he just began killing for power and out of massive paranoia, a quality shared with Castro. If you look hard enough you can find some good done by all people. Hitler as you pointed out led to massive leaps forward in science and a tremendous boost in the arts. However he also killed millions and ultimately pushed Europe on the rapid path to socialism.

      Now you mention “what he stands for” yet what he stands for is the very thing the left claims to be against; totalitarian government and and Orwellian exsitence. If you support communism that’s okay, some people think it’s a good idea in spite of the fact it’s never worked but don’t pretend it’s some bigger ideal he stood for. The man was by all accounts a delusional, murdering maniac who smelled terrible and terrorized an entire country who are still paying for his “vision”. I challenge you to find one Cuban who agrees with your assertion of his admirable characteristics. If you want a shirt that represents someone who was a revolutionary get a shirt with George Washington on it. If you want to get a shirt for someone who cared about the poor get a shirt with Mother Teresa. If you want to get a shirt that makes you look like an ignorant hippy by all means get the Che shirt.

      Also I’ll need some examples of us destroying political opposition. Last I checked it’s alive and well in this country which is why were having this conversation. Wars against other countries are not squashing of political opposition either and you’re smart enough to know that.

    5. Brandon Says:
      September 9th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

      Dang it. I stink at typing on my laptop. The first sentence was supposed to be “This is tantamount to appreciating Jeffrey Dahmer for having a culinary adventerous streak.” Sorry for the faux pas.

      Kyle. You need an edit function.

    6. Andres Says:
      February 7th, 2009 at 1:36 am

      Ok Frank i am Cuban nnnnn…. how do i say this hmmm….Che is a piece of sh*%…. And I agree with Brandon you will not find a Cuban that like murderers
      Never understood why people like this man even though they have no tie to him what so ever its like Jamaicans liking Osama Bin Laden cuz he looks good on camera. just anti-conformist ,conforming to anti-conformity.