Movie Reviews

Movie Review:  “Even the Rain” (+)
I highly recommend this film.  It compares the corporate greed of today to Columbus’ exploitation of the indigenous inhabitants of Hispaniola (who were misnamed Indians) when he thought he had reached India in 1492.   
A crew arrives in Bolivia to make a movie about Columbus.  (Probably less expensive for them than filming in Hispaniola.)  They depict Columbus’ atrocities in demanding gold from them and his insistence that the Indians convert to Christianity.  Their failure to do so often resulted in punishment:  amputations and auto de fe (burning the victims alive).  While making the film, the crew exploits the local inhabitants in a host of ways, e.g., underpaying them for their physical labor.   
The three principal characters are the films producer, Costa (Luis Tosar), its director, Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal), and Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) a local Indian auditioning for the movie.  Daniel’s face is incredible:  a replica of the stone figures from pre-Columbian times.  Bernal, you may recall, became famous for his portrayal of Julio Zapata in Y tu mama tambien.  The performances of all three actors are very good, particularly that of Juan Carlos Aduviri.  The film is very exciting and has an excellent musical score.
One problem with the movie is that the subtitles are often too faint to read.  The best subtitles are those in yellow on black backgrounds which, regrettably, are rarely used.  (In Spanish, with English subtitles.)
Movie Review:  “Heartbeats” (+)
I’ve been away for about three weeks on a cruise to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and islands in the Caribbean, including Devil’s Island where Captain Dreyfus was wrongfully imprisoned because of raging anti-Semitism in France. 
Since I haven’t recently written a review, I think it is necessary to restate my fundamental rule on why I give a film a plus or minus rating.  My basic question is, did I appreciate the experience of sitting in a dark theater for two hours?  In the case of “Heartbeats” I did.  Although it is not a memorable picture, I did like it and it is worth seeing. 
The movie is dominated by Xavier Dolan whom Stephen Holden described in his New York Times review as “the 21-year-old Quebecois who wrote, directed and edited this film, and also served as its art director and costume designer.”  Holden liked the picture more than I did.
The storyline concerns three young people who become a ménage a trios, but one that is sexually unrequited.  Marie (Monica Chokri), a straight woman, meets and falls in love with Nicolas (Niels Schneider).  Nicolas, androgynous in appearance and personality, also becomes the obsession of Francis (Xavier Dolan).  Francis, a homosexual, is also Marie’s platonic friend.
The frustration of the movie can be summed up in one of our long-ago presidential election slogans:  “Where’s the beef?”  There were plenty of insinuations of sexual activity, but other than a masturbation scene involving Francis, they are all in the heads of the three participants.  The picture turns out to be an ode to sexual frustration. 
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