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Chico & Rita Review


Excellent
Like a soulful Latin song, this beautifully animated film tells a romantic story that's complicated by events over 50 years. The filmmakers both capture the place and time and offer vivid characters we identify with.In 1948 Havana, talented young pianist Chico (voiced by Ona) is mesmerised by singer Rita (Meneses), and after breaking down her feisty defences, they have a sudden, intense romance. But this is broken up by a woman from Chico's past and an opportunity Rita gets to travel to New York. Over the next five decades, Chico also travels to New York, and their on-off relationship continues as they follow separate career paths. Years later, Chico gets the chance to look for her again.

The story is framed by Chico's life in modern-day Havana, where the Castro revolution has left him as a shoeshiner. He's re-discovered by a Buena Vista Social Club-style documentary crew and real-life singer Morente, which sparks the story's moving final chapter. Rather then focus on the time period, the big social issues or the music itself, the filmmakers put the characters at the heart of the film, which keeps us hugely involved right from the start.

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Calle 54 Review


OK
Latin jazz enthusiasts will rejoice as they sway to the exotic sounds of director Fernando Trueba's musical mosaic Calle 54, a testament to Trueba's appreciation for this style of music and the celebrated artists responsible for producing this lyrical landscape. But though the music featured in this finger-snapping anthology is indeed infectious, Trueba never really provides any insight into the genre or the talents responsible for igniting the movement. Calle 54 is a festive experience for those who are willing to embrace Latin jazz, but it doesn't reveal anything beyond a peek at a two hour celluloid concert in session.

Inevitably, Calle 54 will beg comparisons to the highly-charged jolt of Buena Vista Social Club. What made Buena Vista so frothy and enticing was its emphasis on the biographical stamp of the artists and what the music meant to that society's psyche. In Calle 54, Trueba parades around a who's who of Latin musicians and lets the music flow, but without invoking any emotion.

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