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El cantante (2006)
A Fair Assessment of the Film
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+.
A well done little comedy.
I had a class taught by one of the film's producers, and so I was able to view this film with about twenty-five or so of my classmates in a small and quite room. I will say that for that environment, this movie is perfect. I probably wouldn't want to see it in a large theater, nor do I think the film was made with that arena in mind. This is a small, quaint, completely charming little coming-of-age story about a group of middle-aged Chicagoans who don't ever want to grow up. Larry Joe Campbell and Keegan Michael Key absolutely steal the show, and truthfully if it weren't for the both of them, I'm not so sure how well this movie would play. All in all I'd say it's worth a shot. It's not artsy-fartsy, it's not Old School, but it does very well for a low budget guy comedy about growing up, having a core group of great friends, and of course, whiffle ball.
Sometimes A Good Script Makes A Bad Movie
Not only is this movie not true to the Iliad, which is forgivable, it is a horrible film technically as well. Troy is some of the most atrocious editing and cinematography I've ever seen in a major motion picture. My theory is that the writer(s) wanted to write an atheist and pro-Trojan take on the Trojan War. This goal is admirable and in and of itself is a fine task. It would be like writing the Passion of the Christ through Judas' eyes- different and intriguing. The director/producer team, however, must have missed that and tried simply to make a popcorn movie out of what could have been a great film. What was with all of the slow motion cuts and jarring zooms? Why was the editing so ridiculously spotty? And please tell me how it is that Achilles could spar with his "cousin" at the ruins at Delphi if the Trojan War took place when those ruins would have been a completed temple? Did no one see that glaring mistake? Ridiculous. This movie is sloppy at best and anyone giving it a rating of anything over a 3 out of 10 has obviously much lower standards for what should have been one of the defining epics of our time, along with films like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy or Saving Private Ryan. Seriously, aside from Eric Bana and Brian Cox, this movie has absolutely no value to anyone more than a simple popcorn movie with beautiful people to look at for two hours.