The title suggests a valedictory follow-up to Wim Wenders’ 1999 documentary, and director Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel) does offer some of that. It’s also several other different things at the same time, which makes for a sporadically entertaining missed opportunity. For the first hour, Walker mostly offers context for the celebrated 1990s gathering of legendary Cuban musicians orchestrated by Ry Cooder, including details about the artists’ lives and behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage. That makes it almost more of an expansion of Buena Vista Social Club than a sequel, covering a lot of the same ground but in more detail—not much of which is as interesting as just listening to them play. Eventually Walker focuses briefly on vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, and a fascinating subplot about him enjoying improbable post-Social Club fame after a lifetime as a backup singer. Then she shifts again, to look into other members who have passed on as well as a 2015-2016 tour of surviving members and a visit to the White House. Sometimes you need to know when to say “adiós” to your initial plan and let a great story take you where it will.
Director: Lucy Walker
Producer: Christine Cowin, Zak Kilberg, Julian Cautherley, Victor Moyers, Asher Goldstein, Gabriel Hammond, Daniel Hammond, Lucy Walker, Jason Lust, Wim Wenders, Bill Lord, Tom Colbourne, Andrew Baker and Russell Smith