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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


Good
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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Two Much Review


Bad
Antonio Banderas is an artist/hustler -- get this -- named "Art Dodge." Get it!? Oh, the laughs keep right on coming (not!) in this lame romantic comedy/con game when Dodge falls in love with two sisters -- and naturally invents a twin brother (Bart!) so he can have them both (while evading the Mafia boss he tried to con). Set on the beaches of Miami, this makes you long for the actual humor found in goofy romances like The Birdcage.

Calle 54 Review


OK

"In the late '80s a friend gave me a record that completed my life. It got me hooked on Latin Jazz."

Director Fernando Trueba speaks these words in the opening moments of "Calle 54," his Spanish language documentary that captures sublime performances of many of the music genre's greatest living legends.

A love letter to the smooth brass, sonorously liquid bass, lissome keyboarding and potent drum beats that make up this soothing, harmonious, mellifluous musical form, this film is simply and admirably an attempt by Trueba ("Belle Epoque") to create a resounding historical record.

Continue reading: Calle 54 Review

Fernando Trueba

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Fernando Trueba Movies

Chico & Rita Movie Review

Chico & Rita Movie Review

Like a soulful Latin song, this beautifully animated film tells a romantic story that's complicated...

Calle 54 Movie Review

Calle 54 Movie Review

Latin jazz enthusiasts will rejoice as they sway to the exotic sounds of director Fernando...

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Calle 54 Movie Review

Calle 54 Movie Review

"In the late '80s a friend gave me a record that completed my life. It...

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