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I am a massive Lavoe fan. Ever since I heard the Cosa Nuestra album
with Willie. From then I made it a point to look for every bit of music
he ever did. So for me this was my most anticipated movie of the year.
The good news about this film is that Jennifer and Marc do a great job of acting. Marc in particular is quite brilliant as Hector. Even his singing is decent (but of course he can't touch Hector). The cinematography is good too. Love the visuals, they've given the movie a 70's look to it which I really dug, made it more authentic. Also, every time there is a stage and the band is playing is amazing. Also, the other casting is superb - Willie Colon, Ralph Mercado, Jerry Massucci were all perfectly cast.
Bad news... it is historically inaccurate, the music is all over the place, you would think it would follow some sort of chronology. There is too much Pucchi, I know the story is told through Pucchi's eyes but it takes away from the Hector story and it means that there is too much Jennifer in it. There are parts where you see Anthony performing a killer Hector track with the band and the focus should be just Hector but the director just has to show Lopez... it doesn't work and it's overkill.
But, I think the biggest problem will be a problem mainly for non salsa listening people (and that includes latinos). I've been reading a lot of reviews by non-latinos and they just don't get why Hector was big. They don't get it because they didn't grow up with salsa and they have no history behind it. The movie is very matter-of-fact that Hector is a legend and for someone who doesn't listen to 70's salsa or wasn't brought up with it they aren't going to understand that. In salsafied countries like Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Panama, etc it won't matter because Hector is a legend. But in Australia, Britain, Europe, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, China, and non-Latin US (basically any country without a history of listening to salsa) forget it. It will matter big! So I have to agree, that's what Ray did really well... explain why Ray was big and that's why it translated even in non-English countries.
Also, I think the opportunity was missed to go into a bigger story of the salsa revolution in the 70's. This music sold millions and it sold all over Latin America and even West Africa where countries were known to be fanatical about (even though they didn't understand Spanish!). To this day it's legacy is still felt, if you go to Callao in Peru, Hector's image has been painted on walls there, go to Cali in Colombia and the people worship him, etc.
I also have to agree there was way too much on the drugs, and Hector's legacy, fame, and legend were not because he took drugs, it was because the music, lyrics and his persona touched people. He was tortured but he must have been happy at times too.
My wife and I are both Hector fans (though i am the fanatic) and we both enjoyed the movie, we will actually buy the DVD when it comes out. It could've been better though.
Quite true to the actual events of Hector Lavoe's life, the acting and direction of El Cantante are top notch. Jennifer Lopez probably gives the finest performance of her career, while Mark Anthony without a doubt deserves an Oscar for his star role. I saw this film on Sept. 12/2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival and Jennifer and Mark's presence overshadowed the film itself. However as a stand alone film, it is excellent and my only criticism would be the editing, the cinematography and some of the subtitles which were quite different from what the actors were actually saying. The cinematography seemed quite Schizophrenic at times, while the editing was occasionally shaky. Leon Ichaso has done an excellent job as usual in the direction of El Cantante and while this may be a somewhat low budget film, it is a high caliber production. The music, locales and wardrobe are outstanding as well. While some may dismiss this as a husband and wife chance to work together, given a chance, El Cantante is an excellent film quite able to fight for its chance at a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
First of all, this film is not as bad as people are saying it is.
Jennifer Lopez is good and Mark Anthony is great. The music alone is
worth your money. That, however, is where the praise must end.
Unfortunately, the script seems sloppy. There's no structure to the story, and the film fails for it. Moments that should be important seem to occur too quickly to feel because the screenwriter(s) seems to lack a sense of pace.
This could have been helped by a good director. Unfortunately, again, the director was one of the screenwriters, which of course didn't bode well for his sense of pacing. The film is jarringly disconnected and the characters, even Lavoe himself, are far less developed than they should be.
Had a film like "Ray" never been released, "El Cantante" would have met every expectation of the public. Unfortunately for the filmmakers of "El Cantante", "Ray" provided a structured script that developed the lead as well as the supporters. "El Cantante" seems to half-develop Puchi and Lavoe, and give really no more than minimal screen time to any supporting cast.
Which leads to probably the biggest problem of all. This film is told through the eyes of Puchi, Hector's wife. While this should provide an insight to who Hector was as a person, it's a very slanted account and the average moviegoer can tell that important things have been left out. This isn't like "Ray", where Ray Charles himself was giving the story and therefore could tell things how they were. Puchi (and subsequently the film) only seems to mention the other women in Hector's life in passing, focuses very little on the tours that Hector undoubtedly went on without her, and really doesn't let us into the world of the entertainment business in the 60's and 70's. Some of this, I'm sure, is because Puchi just didn't know about these things. Some of it too, I suspect, is because she didn't want it in the movie.
This problem would have been rectified if the film was about Puchi with Hector as a supporting character, and if consequently Puchi had been developed to her fullest capabilities. That did not happen.
One has to wonder if some of the reason for the lack of character development and pacing is because they caught wind of the other Lavoe film "The Singer" and tried to rush to beat it to the theaters.
In the end, this film is worth the watch. Is it a classic? No. Is it a good time? Absolutely. There may be another, better Lavoe movie released in our lifetimes. Right now, this film is worth it.
The Script gets a "D". The Director gets a "B", if for no other reason than amazing musical scenes. The Actors get an "A".
Therefore, I give the film a solid B+.
Outstanding performance of Jennifer Lopez. I didn't know this side of
her,as an actress with so much potential. Maybe she had to play this
part to prove it.
And Marc's wasn't bad at all! He himself could be "El Cantante" for the soft and powerful voice he has.
The movie seemed to be somewhere between a musical and a drama. Jennifer made Puchi - Hector's wife so real,that she seemed to be the key of Hector's life (and I knew nothing about this salsa singer up until I saw this movie!). And Hector was the door that Puchi managed to open from time to time. I saw a great bond between those two and it came out a very good movie, worth seeing, especially if you love salsa music.
And even if you don't, you'll start loving it!
I knew very little about Hector Lavoe or his music before seeing this
film and I must admit that apart from knowing a few of his songs, I
still can't say that I know the man or why he was the way he was. The
film almost glorified his tragic lifestyle and choices but gave us no
real insight into what motivated the man.
I take the film 'Ray' as an example. We go deep into Ray's childhood to understand why he does what he does, positive and negative, and why he thinks and feels the way he does. We never see Hector as a child, I don't know what happened to his mother and never get a sense of the relationship between him and his father.
Honestly, and sadly, this film doesn't make me see Hector Lavoe the man or the even Hector Lavoe, the musical genius. From the first sequence, this film was about a drug addict who also sang who was named Hector Lavoe.
I think he deserved more than that.
With that said, the music is very well done and there were flashes of brilliance but there was too much quick cutting and jumping away from dramatic moments. It's fine if you wanted the music sequences to be fast paced but even dramatic moments were rushed along and stylized to the point of taking me out of the film.
Good film but poorly directed and not a classic which, like I said, Hector deserved better. He deserved the full 'Ray' treatment of this being a shining testament to his genius and not a movie about Puchi's husband.
Jennifer Lopez can act, Gigli notwithstanding. In El Cantante she
narrates the life of 70's Salsa songster Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony)
with some sparks of creative energy. After all, as Puchi, she smoke,
drank, and took drugs with him on his way to stardom, inevitable
obscurity, and early death. Enabler? Maybe. Witness the Ray Charles,
Kurt Cobain arc and you'll know how Hector's life sank so low (no
homonym pun intended).
El Cantante is a disappointment because the celebrity couple Lopez and Anthony could have had Oscar flyovers with better script and direction. Many of the scenes are stock musical biopic: low-angle shots of the star strumming and singing, cut to drugs, cut to wife, back to another performance moment, cut to a Fania album cover, all with MTV swift editing and few scenes of depth that are not clichés of the first order.
Clint Eastwood's life of Charlie Bird Parker is a classic of character development; the recent La Vein Rose about chanteuse Edith Piaf depicts the artist sufferer in a mixed bag of time but a straightforward rendition of talent. Cantante shows a druggie who might have been an icon but for his weaknesses. If I have to sit through drug and alcohol addled performers once more, I need better story, regardless of how accurate the film is.
I don't want a documentaryI want an interpretation. Cantante is just a musical like any other, no more.
I must admit that I had my doubts about this film, but after I watched it I wanted to watch it again. The movie is about the life of Hector Lavoe (Mark Antony) from the point of view of his wife Puchi (Jennifer Lopez). I shows his personal life in those areas that affected her the most. While some people don't think much of the way the movie is presented I think is very realistic and well acted. For those of us who remember when Hector Lavoe was the main voice of the Salsa music this movie brings back lots of memories. As far as the acting go Jennifer actually becomes Puchi and Mark does very well as Hector. I give it an A-
Sure, this movie is not perfect. But the fact that it is a snap shot of the glorious high point of SALSA, makes it something special. The story is sad and clichéd, but the excitement of seeing Mark Anthony on the screen is real. Jennifer adds pathos, and really does quite well as the framer of the plot. But the movie wouldn't have been made with Mark Anthony as the center of the film. Then it would have been a concert movie, not a dramatic work. He is a stunning and unbelievable musical talent, and the form of the film is a classic one, where a great singer gets to make a movie. If you compare it to all the other films where this was done (think Elvis), this film far surpasses all of them. But the whole point of the movie is Mr. Anthony's dream,,,to show how a wonderful moment in musical history unfolded and sadly came to an end. This is a story beyond the life of Hector, and one that is classic in illustrating the rise and fall of popular music and culture. The great artists in our pop culture only have a short life before they are destroyed by a society and media that eats its young. If you love music, Latin culture, and reliving the 70's and 80's, this is a movie you will not soon forget. Viva!
I had a chance to see it even though its not yet on theaters but is such a great movie. The story is basically about Hector Lavoe(Marc Anthony) a very famous salsa singer which died of AIDS and Puchi(Jennifer Lopez)tells the story in this film from the moment he became famous to his death.This film was well done,the acting was incredible with great music. This is probably the best movie so far from Jennifer Lopez since Selena and Out of Sight, she was fantastic.Jennifer L. and Marc A. work great together on the big screen which means this is not another "Gigli" movie. I will go again to see it when I comes out on August 3rd. I really do recommend this movie to everyone.
Salsa. The term was coined in the 1970s by young musicians like Hector
Lavoe, Larry Harlow, Ray Baretto, Willie Colon, who wanted a different
name for the kind of music they were playing. The term "salsa" was then
popularized by Izzy Sanabria, owner of the Latin New York magazine, and
Jerry Massuci, owner of Fania Records. There is a huge debate over
whether "salsa" originated in Cuba or Puerto Rico. I love Afro-Cuban
music, so I tend to favor Cuba, but it really doesn't matter as there
are so many styles - Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, LA, New York,
This film is a tribute to salsa and to Hector Lavoe - The Voice. Marc Anthony does a good job of impersonating Lavoe and giving us a look into his demons - alcohol, drugs, jealous fantasy. Jennifer Lopez plays his wife, Puchi, and we see the trials and tribulations of a marriage that was shaky at best.
Enjoy the music and enjoy JLo. What more do you want?
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