starring Benicio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Santiago Cabrera, Vladimir Cruz
screenplay by Peter Buchman, based on the memoir Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War by Ernesto "Che" Guevara
directed by Steven Soderbergh
starring Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna
screenplay by Dustin Lance Black
directed by Gus Van Sant
by Walter Chaw Steven Soderbergh's Che is the curative to the Hollywood biopic formula that insists on reducing interesting/important historical figures to their workshop elements. It sees Ernesto "Che" Guevara as a charismatic figure but no T-shirt deity, as a guerrilla fighter with blood on his hands but also a revolutionary almost holy in his single-minded conviction that things weren't fair in the world and that one man--or one small group of heavily-armed men--could affect change that mattered. It's not a political film in the sense that it takes sides, rendering it a political film by the fact of it having no agenda except to make it difficult to condemn or celebrate first the events leading up to the success of the Cuban Revolution, then the failure of the Bolivian Revolution (which ended in Che's death). Soderbergh goes from close and medium shots in the first half--known as Che Part One in its marathon "roadshow" incarnation and as The Argentine in parts of the country where it and Che Part Two (a.k.a. The Guerrilla) are being treated as unique films--to an increasing distance for the second, a subtle, evocative move away from Che's idealism.