…and a beautiful soundtrack to match, Before Night Falls is brilliantly directed by artist Julian Schnabel. Chronicling the life of author and poet Reinaldo Arenas, the film follows his life as a child and young man in revolutionary Cuba; his persecution as an artist by a paranoid and increasingly violent government; his escape to the United States during the Mariel boatlift; and his tragic AIDES-related death in NYC in 1990. Spanish actor Javier Bardem earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Arenas in a performance that is subtle, tender, savagely funny at times, and ultimately heartbreaking. He earned raves, along with another Oscar nomination for the 2009 film Biutiful, and more recently as the villain Raoul Silva in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, but its his performance as Arenas where he soars. Sean Penn makes a cameo (he is almost unrecognizable when he first appears) as does Johnny Depp who portrays not one but two different characters. Although the film is available on DVD, there is momentum building for Criterion to lend their film restoration and packaging expertise in releasing the film on Blu-ray. To continue reading the Cinema page, click here.