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|Index||55 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I watched this movie I had no idea who Ritchie Valens was. I had
heard the song La Bamba and had heard about The Day the Music Died but
didn't know that he had anything to do with them. This movie is an
excellent tribute to him, his music and his tragically short life.
I only watched this movie in 2012. The movie was released two years before i was born. It was released in 1987. I thought that it would be dated but I was wrong. Apart from some of the cinematic techniques and cinematography this movie is still fresh and can appeal to today's audience just as much as it did 24 years ago.
It is not overly sentimental but manages to strike the right balance in order to convey the correct emotions. There are no flashy sets or a convoluted story lines. no added frills. Just good honest, straight story telling that adds to the realness of the movie and the characters. Not a single moment is contrived or pretentious.
The performances where great especially Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales.
Music was brilliant. Los Labos performed each track to perfection.
The ending is a real tear-jerker.
One of the best movies ever made. I can watch it over and over again without tiring of it and still cry at the end each time.
Kudos to Luis Valdez and his entire team for making such a great piece of cinema. You have truly inspired me and shown what great cinema is about. Showing the truth.
La Bamba film tells the true story of the musician Ritchie Valens, a
Mexican guitarist and singer known for being one of the pioneers of the
Chicano rock movement. He unfortunately died in an airplane crash with
Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper at an early stage of his successful
career at the age of 17, becoming a legend of 50s rock and roll.
The movie goes through the relationship of Ricardo Valenzuela with his family and his girlfriend from school Donna, for whom he wrote a song which was the a-side of his second and last single. The film focuses on the tense relationship that Ritchie Valens has with his step brother Bob and with his mother who favored him (the younger brother) over Bob.
Bob, who sees the upcoming success of his brother, keeps drinking and trying to find a way in his life, which includes taking care of his wife and little baby. The film also reflects the start of Bob's future career as a cartoonist. What a talented family!! The main character is played very well by Lou Diamond Phillips, who does a really good act playing the guitar. Another highlight to his brother Bob who captures very well his frustration.
One of my favorite moments in the film is when Ricardo Valenzuela goes to Del-Fi record studios with his manager Bob Keane, and sings "Come on, let's go" sixty times, until Bob Keane considers he has the perfect recordings for mixing it. Bob Keane suggested he change his name to one more commercial, turning it into Ritchie Valens.
Another remarkable moment is the concert in a theater, where there are performances of Eddie Cochran, Jackie Wilson and Ritchie Valens, who in this concert plays La Bamba. Eddie Cochran is played very well by Brian Setzer, who is the front man and guitarist of the rockabilly group The Stray Cats. I think the scenes of the audience could be done better, the audience is strangely overacting when the musicians show up and play.
Ritchie Valens songs were recorded for the film by Los Lobos. The soundtrack also includes other songs from the 50s.
It's a very nice and enjoyable biopic!
"La Bamba" masterfully tells the story of rock 'n' roll singer Ritchie
Valens, who tragically died in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and The
Big Bopper. It's the sort of movie that's seriously a thrill to watch,
seeing Valens's humble beginnings and rise to super-stardom through the
use of his musical talent. Maybe the movie sort of overplayed the
tension between Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) and his irresponsible
half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales), but that doesn't weaken the
movie. More important is that the movie makes clear that Valens came
from a very loving family, with a mother (Rosanna DeSoto) who worked
very hard so that he could have a good life.
All in all, it just goes to show why rock music is never going to die (The Day the Music Died notwithstanding) and the Britney Spears model doesn't mean jack. This is one movie that you gotta love! Also starring Elizabeth Peña, Danielle Von Zerneck and Joe Pantoliano (Cypher in "The Matrix").
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Terrific biography of the late Ritchie Valens. Terrified of flying, he
rocketed to fame with his hits La Bamba and Donna. In his short life,
he observed a brother who wasn't exactly the apple of his mother's eye.
A girlfriend who loved him, but had to live under the roof of a bigoted
father and a society that welcomed him.
Living in poverty with his guitar, Ritchie's mother believed in him dearly. He had at last succeeded in the American dream when tragedy struck.
As the alcohol addicted brother, Isai Morales gave a phenomenal performance that should have been acknowledged with a best supporting Oscar nomination.
Lou Diamond Philips rose to the occasion and gave a strong performance as well.
At his untimely death in a plane crash at age 17 singer Richie Valens left little behind to musical posterity besides three hit songs and a sadly unfulfilled promise of more to come. With so short a life it's no surprise that his screen biography should concentrate more on the enduring fantasy of teenage rock 'n' roll stardom, in essence becoming the ultimate daydream of every young boy who fancies himself a guitar hero. The film captures some of the spirit of rock music's embryonic years, taking much of its energy from the dynamic performance of the title song by the group Los Lobos. But the screenplay stumbles somewhat during the sentimental domestic scenes, all too often settling for soap opera triteness (" someday I'm going to buy that house for you, Mama ") or romantic flights of fancy (" my dreams are pure rock and roll "). Nostalgia value alone helps make it a pleasant if unsurprising diversion.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LA BAMBA is example of a simple, nuts and bolts, entertaining biopic.
Not a lot of depth or complexity, but entertaining still the same. It
moves fast, is well-acted, and has a lot of great music. About young
rock 'n roll icon Ritchie Valens (who sadly died in a 1959 plane crash
that also took the life of another rock legend Buddy Holly), LA BAMBA
is highly energetic and upbeat, given its sad, downbeat ending. It
focuses on the positives, not negatives. The racial stuff is kind of
glossed over a bit, as I'm sure that racism against Hispanics was much
deeper than portrayed in the film. In particular, Donna (Ritchie's
girlfriend) had a father that obviously was a bigot, but the way it is
treated is very soft, but this is the tone of the film.
Lou Diamond Phillips plays Valens and sadly, his career peaked with this terrific performance. You would have thought Phillips would have graduated to much greater things after this. Also terrific is Esai Morales (who was great as Sean Penn's nemesis from the film BAD BOYS from 1980) as Ritchie's troubled brother Bob. Morales really is the only character with any real depth in the flick. Bob and Ritchie's relationship is by turns touching and volatile. Could have been much better if they'd went deeper with this Cain-Abel relationship.
The women in this film are beautiful: Rosana DeSoto as Valens' mother, Elisabeth Pena as Bob's wife (and Ritchie's former girlfriend) and Danielle von Zerneck as Ritchie's high school love Donna (one of Ritchie's songs was inspired by and named for her). Also in the flick is the always reliable Joe Pantoliano (one of those actors who seems to be in everything when you go back and review Hollywood films of the 80s!).
The great music is what really keeps the film moving and flowing. It is brilliantly intercut with the slender storytelling, but helps drive it along. The songs LA BAMBA and DONNA are definite keepers! All in all, an inspirational look at a talented young man who perished way too soon.
Considering the calibre of the songs he wrote, and the standard of his
guitar playing by the age of 17, it is amazing that Ritchie Valens is
not talked about more. When you think that Buddy Holly was five years
older than Valens at the time of their deaths, it is intriguing to
think what Valens might have accomplished given a similar amount of
time - just as it is to think what Holly could have accomplished had he
lived. But the fact is that Holly was much more the established star in
1959, and because of that he is the more remembered.
The same is true of La Bamba as is true of Valens - the film is not as well remembered as The Buddy Holly Story, which is a shame because it is almost as good. Some of the performances are truly excellent, and, more importantly, the spirit of the music is captured perfectly.
The film deals predominantly with Valens' family relationships - he was close to his mother as he was at odds with his brother Bob - and his sharp rise to fame. There are a few flaws: Lou Diamond Phillips, in the lead role, looks almost nothing like the real Valens although his performance is suitably intense and lively; and much of Valens' early attempts at performing are ignored (he was turned down by several record companies who felt the 16-year-old Valens looked too old for the teenage market). But the balance the film finds between each sub-plot (his family, Bob's relationship with Valens's sweetheart Rosie, his difficulties with girlfriend Donna's family etc.) is a real winning formula, and the music tops things off well.
The music is pretty much spot-on throughout the whole film. Supplied by Los Lobos (whose front man does an excellent Valens impersonation), it shows what can be achieved if the lip-syncing rock biopic is done properly. Similar attempts have failed (notably in 'Great Balls of Fire', the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic), whereas the ground-breaking live performances in The Buddy Holly Story set a new standard for music in this type of film. Also, some of the incidental acts are truly superb - Eddie Cochran, Jackie Wilson and a sensational Marshall Crenshaw as Buddy Holly are real winners and help the film no end.
The fact that we still care so much about a 17-year-old Mexican pop act fifty years on is a real indicator of the immense talent Valens had and just what a defining event the plane crash itself was. Two of the most talented musicians ever in any genre (Holly was compared to the great composers more than once) were taken at a young age, and it is hard to imagine a similar event happening today that would have such a far-reaching impact.
It is important that films on the two are made as well as this as we need to remember the men for what they were, because unlike rock biopics, no more of them will be made.
1st watched 11/18/2008 -(Dir-Luis Valdez): Well put together film about musician Ritchie Valens's rise to stardom and quick departure from this world. Lou Diamond Phillips plays Valens admirably in his movie debut and Esai Morales plays his brother in a pivotal role that makes this movie different than others in it's genre. The movie is not just about the star, but also about his family and their reactions to his rise to fame. The love story between Ritchie and Donna is a little lame but makes a good bridge to the song that he writes and performs and is one of his few hits. When this movie was released, there were very few movies about the hispanic-American experience so this was very unique for it's time. The songs are fun and the relationship between Ritchie and his brother Bob helps the movie be a little meatier. This is a small classic that I hope will not be forgotten.
"La Bamba" is a movie which serves as a biography of a legendary and
promising singer, a brilliant artist who unfortunately died at the age
of 17 in a plane accident: Ritchie Valens.
This movie shows us how Ritchie Valens was born to poverty, destined for stardom and lived the American Dream, although the ending is tragic.
"La Bamba" is mostly a simple movie which can be watched without bad surprises, but it is nothing extraordinary. This isn't an Oscar winner, but I don't think that the movie had intentions to be. Better for the movie, because the Oscars subject is usually unfair.
This film doesn't concentrate only on Ritchie Valens: it also focuses on his family, especially his alcoholic and troublesome older brother Bob Morales.
Lou Diamond Phillips is awesome in this role. This is probably his best performance ever, although he doesn't really look at all like the real Ritchie Valens.
Esai Morales is great as Bob Morales and Danielle von Zerneck is pretty good as Ritchie's girlfriend Donna (she was his inspiration to create the song "Donna").
"La Bamba" is more than just a biographical story. It is also a musical and an epitome of the 1950's generation and lifestyle.
The soundtrack is brilliant, with famous Ritchie Valens's classics such as "La Bamba", "Donna", "Come On, Let's Go" and "We Belong Together". However, here these songs are wonderfully performed by Lou Diamond Phillips and his band Los Lobos. These magical and nostalgic songs are the best thing about this movie.
Overall, "La Bamba" is a reasonable movie but not one of those to watch over and over without getting tired of it because, although it has its good moments, it has also its weak moments, which aren't so little like that.
I expected less, I got more. Luis Valdez does a good job of putting to
screen the brief life of rock'n'roll star Ritchie Valens. Great
soundtrack. The chemistry is good between Ritchie and Donna. I remember
when the movie came out, I was about 13 and I fell in love with Donna!
Danielle von Zemeck brings a certain innocence to the role that is
refreshing. Lou Diamon Phillips is good but Esai Morales steals the
show. In fact, you could almost say the movie is about his life just as
it his of Ritchie.
Seen at home, in Toronto, on January 21st, 2005.
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