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PLAFF!

Cuba, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Juan Carlos Tabio

From the minute the projector rolls, it is obvious Plaff! is an original venture. Using satire, cinema jokes and a running gag a la Murder on the Orient Express, it's the best Cuban film this decade.

The story finds us deeply involved in the quotidian problems of Concha (admirably played by veteran actress Daisy Granados) Her life was fine until her son Jose Ramon married Clarita and brought her home to live. Now Concha can't seem to get along with anyone — family, neighbours or friends. At the film's core is a mystery: Who is tossing eggs at Concha's house? (The film's onomatopoeic title refers to the sound of an egg hitting the house )

Plaff! lampoons 'santeria' (Cuba's unofficial Afro-based religion), daily Cuban problems such as the housing shortage, family relations and bureaucracy m a lighthanded fashion, while also calling mocking attention to the filmmaking process Glitches, sloppy editing, missed cues, end-of-reel over-exposed film, clapboards and other filmmaking In-jokes figure in the jumpy narrative making for humorous results.

Plaff'! calls to mind the bold celluloid efforts that launched Cuba's entry into world cinema in the early '60s. It's a breath of fresh air after many of the heavy-handed ventures that have characterised recent Cuban productions

Beyond the broad comic style of the action, however, ties a provocative critique of post-revolutionary Cuba; the film depicts a world in which, despite the outward appearances of harmony and social progress, racial, class and sexual tensions are seething below the surface, ready to be manifested at the sign of disruption.

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