12 Tangos — Adios Buenos Aires

2008 November 19
by Simba

The documentary 12 tangos was just released in international version on DVD. It is a documentary, and the Adios Buenos Aires part of the title is somehow more accurate with regards to the content of the film. If you are looking for the Buena Vista Social Club of tango, you will be disappointed. There are no interviews with musicians, and only a few of the oldtimers participate in the orchestra. So Café de los maestros should be a better bet.

12 tangos is mainly a film about the hard times in Argentina after the crisis in 2001/2002 when many lost everything they had, and quite a lot of people were forced to move to Europe to get work. That is, in the opposite direction of their anscestors, who went from Europe to Argentine for the same purpose. The film tells the stories of a young dancer (Marcela Maiola) going to Paris, her partner, the retired professional dancer (Roberto Tonet) who is afraid of losing his apartment in order to survive and  a mother (Yolanda Zubieta) leaving her children to go to Spain (she has no apparent connection with tango).

Mixed in between these are musical numbers from a concert at La Catedral, a milonga in Buenos Aires. This is where the 12 tangos come in, and they are supposed to work like a framwork for the storytelling, and are marked as chapters on the dvd.

Though it did not take me with storm, I quite enjoyed the film. The photography was excellent at times. I particularly enjoyed the scene that is shown on the cover, where some partly hidden dancers are part of the live show at La Catedral. It works much better in motion than on the cover. The dancing was ok, not stunning, but nice. I did not like the slow motion sequence, though, as the connection with the music is completely lost, but maybe it works better for non-dancers. I admit my preferences in this respect have changed considerably after taking up dancing.

Las muñecas dressed as vampires were hilarious, even if they were even better in Tango, un giro extraño. And Roberto was quite a character 🙂 But I also found something amiss, like it did not all fit together that well. Maybe the relation between the 12 tangos and the rest of the film was not clear enough.  There were also some peculiarities, like having school-children explain the economic crisis that I found a bit strange. Some glitches in the text, where the English text was suddenly in German.

Some more about the musicians would have been nice, and the presence of José Libertella was perhaps a bit oversold, as he is only featured in one of the last musical numbers.

Overall a nice film. And on a completely subjective note, it is so good to see footage from mi Buenos Aires querido, el colectivo, hearing people chit chat, people walking in the streets, the skyline…

Both the film and the soundtrack are available from the film’s website. It took about a week from I order until I had the discs in my hand. For immediate listening, I just discovered that the sountrack is available on emusic as well.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS