http://chud.com/nextraimages/checastrosmall.jpgOne of this year’s most intriguing projects is Steven Soderbergh’s two-part Che Guevara biopic, which, given its scope, should fire up more heated debate about the life of the revolutionary than 2004’s muted The Motorcycle Diaries. Though I’ve grown disenchanted with Soderbergh’s filmmaking of late (way too studied and joyless*), his rigorously intellectual approach could be precisely what this controversial subject demands. I suppose the screenplays for both pictures – The Argentine and Guerrilla – that are currently sitting on my desktop could give me a better sense of what he’s up to, but that would entail reading them. And reading stuff sucks.

In the meantime, here’s some photographic evidence of Soderbergh’s take on Che’s Batista-overthrowin’ pal Fidel Castro, and, my, what a handsome, fresh-faced, soon-to-be tyrant he is! That’s Demi├ín Bichir, by the way, in the role that was originally intended for Javier Bardem (he had to drop out when production was delayed). I’m not familiar with Bichir’s work (outside of Solo), but, if nothing else, I think he definitely looks the part. And while I’m sure Bardem would’ve been brilliant (especially alongside Benicio Del Toro), I’m all for a relative unknown (i.e. to U.S. audiences) getting a shot at what should be a very juicy role.

For more images of Bichir, head over to AICN or BenicioDelToro.ca. As for when these films will hit theaters, there are no fixed dates just yet. Perhaps Soderbergh will have The Argentine finished in time for Cannes. Or maybe he’ll spring both films on us in the fall.

*With the modest exception of Ocean’s Thirteen.