Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood (unrated)


Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

Director: Oscar Corral.

Producers-screenwriters: Oscar Corral, Cecile Betancourt Corral.

Running time: 56 minutes. No offensive material. Plays Oct. 12-14 in Miami-Dade only: O Cinema. Also plays Oct. 14 at the Miami Shores Theater.

Among the amusing sights in Oscar Corral’s breezy documentary Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood: The legendary author — sometimes clad in his iconic white suit, sometimes not — learning about Santeria in a strip-mall botanica in Hialeah; getting soaked by a drunken cannonball-diver during the Columbus Day Regatta in Biscayne Bay, which he calls “the most hedonistic event” he’s ever been to; and dropping into the Dress for Success clothing store in Overtown, where shopkeeper Sonia Jacobson advises “If you don’t speak Spanish, it can be a bit of a problem [in Miami].”

Shot over a period of four years, from 2008 through August, the movie follows Wolfe during various visits to South Florida, when he was conducting research for his upcoming novel Back to Blood, due Oct. 23 (Wolfe will also kick off this year’s Miami International Book Fair on Nov. 11). The book promises to do for Miami what Bonfire of the Vanities did for New York and A Man in Full did for Atlanta: present a panoramic, top-to-bottom portrait of a multi-cultural city and all its different ethnic factions, some of which don’t always play nice with each other.

But the movie focuses more on Wolfe’s particular brand of research, which is so specific that in one scene he draws a sketch of the interior of a home in Hialeah and gets the precise dimensions of the property’s backyard. In a review of the book published in The New Yorker this week, a critic wrote “[Wolfe’s] argument presumes that reality is always more significant than anything the novelist can invent; he credits the finality of the real above the debatability of the real.” The film captures the unobtrusive way in which Wolfe reports his subjects, and he also talks about what led him to choose Miami as the setting for his book (he wanted to write something about immigration, and as Dr. Paul George points out in the film, Miami is the No. 1 immigrant city in the world.)

Wolfe’s relationship with the filmmakers as seen in the movie is warm and open — he seems to welcome the attention, and occasionally even relies on Corral, a former Herald reporter, as a translator — and the writer is unfailingly polite to and curious about everyone he meets. If anything, the movie feels too short — Wolfe is an engaging screen presence — but it serves as a perfect appetizer for the book, as well as an informed snapshot of the nature of reporting and research: You have to get out there and talk to people.

“I think all of Miami will stand up and applaud and scream with delight. Miami will love it,” Wolfe says of his novel. But former Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal warns, “Communities are often not happy with the way those books of his come out.” Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood makes you eager to find out.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category