Tag Archives: Latin

Underwater Dreams

13 Jul

July 12, 2014

 

<i>Underwater Dreams</i>

Mary Mazzio’s brief but touching pic about five Latin high school boys from an impoverished, landlocked town in Arizona who enter a NASA/Navy sponsored underwater robotics competition, taking on titans like MIT with Exxon sponsorship behind them, percolates with keen social insight that otherwise might have gotten lost in a rote, can-do underdog story. The two high school teachers who sought the opportunity decided to compete on the collegiate level because the disappointment of finishing far back would be mollified by the daunting impressiveness of the field. Had this been a Hollywood “based on” adaptation or a Hallmark fantasy, the Davey vs. Goliath drama would seem trumped up, maudlin and implausible, but as a straight-up documentary with talking heads from both sides of the engineering contest (the Arizona five and the vast MIT squad), it’s head-on, unadulterated and far more affecting than anything that could have been hatched in a studio lab.  Continue reading

Cesar Chavez

28 Mar

‘Cesar Chavez’: This biopic doesn’t quite do justice to a paragon of social justice

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Longtime actor Diego Luna (“Elysium” and “Y Tu Mamá También”) steps behind the lens for this biopic about the titular labor legend of the ’60s and ’70s who helped organize Californian farm workers being exploited by their employers, working long hours and living in poverty and fear of retaliation for resistance.

032814i Cesar ChavezNo, it’s not the first time Luna has been in the director seat, but it somewhat feels so. Biopics in general are stilted; there is little element of surprise. That’s not to say they can’t be lit up with the right director or actor – take “Norma Rae” or “Erin Brockovich,” but those films were directed by master filmmakers (Martin Ritt and Stephen Soderbergh) and actresses who took home Oscars (Sally Field and Julia Roberts), but the key to such a film is conflict and how the hero or heroine navigates adversity and perseveres.  Continue reading