29 September 2008 | pei_yin_lin
Transcending tango music but a cursory glance at the art of tango
CAFÉ DE LOS MAESTROS is not simply a live performance given by the veteran tango masters at the sumptuous Teatro Colón. It is an introduction to the once globally-popular form of music and dance, and an account of its impacts on the emotions of the remaining Argentinean tango stars of the golden age (the 1940s and 1950s). Contrasting Buenos Aries' past (through archive footage) and present (young couple kissing and tourists on the crowded streets), this film yields a sense of nostalgia. The ending in which a musician plays alone amid the vastness of the Teatro Colón, in stark contrast to the earlier festive boisterousness, makes the film a poignant one with similarities to Wenders' Buena Vista Social Club. The music gives us access to solitary artists' thoughts. The frequent jump-cuts between the musicians' on-stage performance and off-stage studio scenes, linked by the tango melody, paint a humorous and amiable picture of these extraordinary artists. But more context (the Montevideo part, and the dance element, is neglected) would help connect the fragmentary narrative of this music-driven documentary.
This film, however, is entertaining and is for everyone, as those uninterested in the musicians will quickly be captivated by their legendary performance at the Teatro Colón. The transcending power of the concert itself makes this documentary a must-see. It is also a valuable cultural project initiated by the Argentinean-American Gustavo Santaolalla and touching testament to the resilience of the human spirit of which tango is an indispensable constituent. Vive la música!