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Showing posts from September, 2015

A fresh and thoughtful view of Cuba

A CONSTANT STREAM of outsiders try to take Cuba's measure. Few succeed. An island that sets communism to a Latin beat is no easy place to figure out – especially when the island itself is adjusting to a renewed bond with a powerful neighbour.



 One who would appear to understand Cuba, however, is Anthony Bourdain, star of CNN's Parts Unknown food and travel program. In the premier episode of the sixth season, the urbane host visits Havana and Santiago, sampling dishes that will make your mouth water even as he engages Cubans from all walks on their hopes and fears.
   Some of us interpret Cuba by its cars. For Bourdain, a chef before all else, the measure, of course, is food, and the arrival of sushi alongside the beans and rice is a potent symbol of the nation's change. Still, the meals are merely an entry point to a broader examination of history and culture that speaks to painstaking research by the host and production company.
   Bourdain's take on Cuba and its nerv…

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Taking a shine to Cuban Chrome – scripts and all

WE ALL understand that "reality show" is an oxymoron. Beyond the obvious effect of observation on the behaviour of the subject, there's the need – fed by the shortness of our attention spans – for every moment of these television programs to be interesting, even if real life doesn't work that way.    The consequence, then, are shows that range from the selective – edited reality, which we're usually willing to accept – to the staged and scripted, which we're unlikely to believe but still watch if they are unceasingly entertaining.
 Cuban Chrome, the eight-part series that ran on Discovery in the U.S. this summer and now is airing in Canada, falls into the staged-and-scripted category. The premise – three Habaneros rushing to restore their classic vehicles in time for the one day a year a prestigious car club accepts new members – seems unlikely, at least without an ample supply of grease from the production company.
Some of the supposedly ordinary types who appe…