Calle 54

"Good"

Calle 54 Review


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.

We know that music can be presented as a way to define the fabric of various cultures, particularly in the Latin world. But Trueba is so busy playing a cheerleader to the random proceedings at hand, he doesn't seize the opportunity. How does it influence the community? Just how inspirational was it to the artists who performed it? Is the music a political statement disguised in melody? Since Trueba fails to adequately spotlight the artists, giving them a back seat to their own tunes, is he hinting that they are less important than the songs? Is the spirituality of music more significant than what we gave it credit for? Trueba unintentionally raises more questions than he cares to account for.

Trueba has fun marching out the personalities responsible for the musical mayhem. There's a continuous line of Latin jazz artists doing their thing: Tito Puente, Chucho Valdes, Jerry Gonzalez, Cachao Lopez, Paquito D'Rivera, and more. As they play with ferocious merriment, you sit there wondering when the drum solo will end. Monotony eventually seeps in, and even the most ardent fans of Latin jazz probably won't mind if the subjects dropped their instruments and shed some insight on the music they play.

Calle 54 is an energetic look at remarkably talented performers who give life to the high-spirited sounds of a unique brand of music. The film does briefly touch upon the individual artists but we really understand them, but the musical numbers are breathtaking, and the camerawork adds to the film's vibrant presentation. If you really want to get behind the scenes, you need to turn to the commentary tracks on the DVD (courtesy of associate producer Nat Chediak, one in English and one in Spanish), but then you end up missing out on the music. There's also a documentary on the history of Latin jazz included to provide a bit more backstory.

What you get out of watching Calle 54 can essentially be duplicated by listening to a lively CD. The music is spry and enjoyable. As a documentary that shines some light on this kind of music, I'm ambivalent. But as a personal postcard to filmmaker Trueba and the legions of fans who adore Latin jazz, Calle 54 strikes a funky chord.

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.



Calle 54

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th October 2000

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Himself, as Himself, as Piano

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.