In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_kate_plays_christine

Kate Plays Christine

An actress prepares to play the role of a suicidal news anchor, and is slowly transformed by the experience.

Thumb_war_dogs_ver2

War Dogs

War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own their horribleness.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Crossover Dreams

  |  

"Crossover Dreams" does not begin with an original idea. It shows the rise and fall of a musician whose talent takes him to the top, and whose ego and weaknesses pull him back to the bottom again. The first time I saw this story, it was about Gene Krupa, and in his big comeback concert in Carnegie Hall, he dropped his drumsticks and had to find the courage to start again. I've seen the same story countless times again, translated into the idioms of jazz, country, rock and classical, and now here is the salsa version, starring Ruben Blades.



The story isn't new, but it sure does wear well. Maybe that's because Blades is such an engaging performer, playing a character who is earnest and sincere when he needs to be, but who always maintains a veil over his deepest secrets. The story is formula, but the film's treatment of it is fresh and perceptive, and there's an exhilarating high energy level. The opening shots, in fact, reminded me of the extraordinary opening of Martin Scorsese's first film, "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" Music pounds on the sound track, as young men race around the streets of New York, filled with their own life and importance.

The movie takes place largely in Spanish Harlem, where the Blades character, Rudy Veloz, makes the rounds of Latino nightclubs, working with a band of old friends and mentors. He dreams of "crossing over," of breaking out of the Latino circuit and making it downtown, to the world of national TV, music videos and record contracts. And for a moment it looks as if he might.

He meets a shabby Broadway talent agent, who fails to impress him (but who gives him some of the most realistic advice he'll receive in this movie). Then he's "discovered" by a record producer, who picks him up out of his life, briefly shines the spotlight on him, and then throws him back into obscurity again. The movie's most convincing and painful scenes come after Veloz's brief moment of fame, when he has to return to his friends and try to conceal the extent of his failure.

Against this serious undertone, the movie hurls a lot of good music. Blades, the Panamanian salsa star who has crossed over, is not only a good singer but a surprisingly versatile actor, who never seems to be straining for an effect, never seems to stray outside his character, and will probably get some more serious acting jobs after this debut.



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

No Matter Where You Go, Here It Is: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" Hits Blu-ray

A celebration of the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," in light of the film'...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus