Saturday, October 13, 2007

Want some soap?

It's never a good sign when it's raining in L.A. and I should probably have checked the weather before heading to the Los Angeles Latino Film festival.

While on paper, the Cuban entry Madrigal looked like the kind of weird Lynchian-type film that makes my day, this is probably one of the most painful experience I had in theaters for a long time. Pretentious and cheesy at the same time, Madrigal is one of these projects that aim at being art but end up being a ridiculous piece of fluff -- to give you an idea, it was so bad that I couldn't help myself laughing during the supposedely soap-style sad scenes.

As for Radio Corazon, a movie based on stories heard on a popular radio show in Chile, after a first hilarious and original story, it all went downhill, falling into soap territory and loosing its sense of humor.

On the nightlife front, while I skipped the party, there was not shortage of stars at the festival, from the Sean & Robin Wright Penn couple to Javier Bardem.

Friday, October 12, 2007

La Buena Voz (The Good Voice)

Had I listened to the little voice in my head I would have left the theater in the middle of this muddy melodrama from Spain.

A couple who looks like they've hated every moment they've lived together is come undone by the appearance of an old family friend with a secret to tell. She's the wife's best friend and she's come to tell her that her son was born out of a fling she had with her husband 27 years ago. Instead of getting angry, Rosa is happy since she couldn't have kids of her own. Enter the son, who is also gay and has just found out he has AIDS. Enter his ex-boyfriend, who doesn't want to leave him. Enter the father, who won't accept a gay son.

Enter a thousand cliches of every bad telenovela you will find yourself in the middle of La Buena Voz, trying too hard to be a hip meditation on life in the 21st century.

The one and only saving grace to this film is the cinematography, which is excellent and the opportunity to see Bilbao, where the film was shot.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Estrellas de la Linea (The Railway All Stars)

By far the most engaging documentary of the festival, Estrellas tells the story of a group of Guatemalan prostitutes who form a soccer team to bring attention to the abuses they suffer at the hands of police and clients in Guatemala City. They live precariously at the end of the line, so to speak, and the doc does an excellent job of treating them with respect and showing their struggle with compassion, dignity and a large unexpected dose of humor. We see them at work, with their families, training for soccer matches and traveling the country.

This doc could easily be turned into a feature film and the hope is that a larger audience would see it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Madres without Antenna

As I arrived to the Laliff ticket desk, after sipping a Korean drink they were serving in the VIP tent -- yeah a Korean drink ... go figure!! -- I had the bad surprise to learn that the LA Latino Film Festival had cancelled the screening of La Antenna, which I was planning to see.

Since they were short on tickets for the premiere of Adrift in Manhattan, I instead decided to go see Madres, a pretty sad documentary about the mothers of young Argentineans who were kidnapped and executed by the military, back in the 70's. While the film was touching and this story deserves to be hears, the documentary did suffer from a few flaws -- more to come in my review.

After the screening, I decided to go check out the premiere party for Adrift in Manhattan, which I'm sad to say was not short on posers and b-celebrities such as one of the Baldwin brothers -- don't ask me which one, I just know it wasn't Alec!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Evo Morales the Cocalero

Just got out of the screening of Cocalero, which I was really looking forward to seeing. Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia who was also a coca grower union leader, captured the attention of lefties all over the world when he was elected president 2 years ago.

Cocalero takes a meandering look at his life in the months before he won the presidency, the cocaleros of Bolivia and a glimpse of life in a country that isn't really in the news that often. We see Evo jump into a river in his tighty-whities with his campaign staff and a little about a nascent class conscious democracy (watching one of his female staffers/union leaders give workshops on voting to people who can't read or write is particularly stirring) but the film isn't as substantive as it could be and leaves a lot to be desired-Morales isn't asked the tough questions and there's too much of a tribute feel to this documentary.

Note: the film is in Spanish and subtitled in Spanish, which doesn't help anyone who can't read or listen to Spanish fluently.