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El Cantante – My Review

August 12th, 2007 · 11 Comments

I saw El Cantante last night, and overall I think it was a good film. The critics haven’t been very kind to this project, but I think that part of the criticism might stem from actually seeing J. Lo in a more serious role, where she isn’t a maid or a wedding planner or even very pleasant. Also, many critics have lamented that there wasn’t enough emphasis on Hector Lavoe and his artistry, which I can agree with to a certain extent. Before seeing this film, I had only read about and heard some of Hector Lavoe’s recordings. I have not read any biographical materials on him, so I cannot comment on the film’s accuracy.

Some might also be annoyed that the film focuses too much on Puchi, Hector’s wife played by Lopez. However, I think that for this film to work, they needed to rely on Jennifer because Marc Anthony is not as strong of an actor. When he is on stage performing, his character comes alive. Aside from the drug use, the film doesn’t focus much on what motivated him as an artist or delve much into what was causing his self-destruction. I could speculate that in many ways Puchi drove him to drink and drug because she was demanding, selfish, and an enabler, but there were probably other character issues brewing before Hector even met her. J. Lo had me convinced that she was Puchi, she had the bitchy Nuyorican accent, the gaudy gold jewelry, the carefully coiffed hair, and the hot dance moves. From the beginning, you know that she’s going to dominate the story in her own way because as narrator she exclaims that this is her version of the events.

The musical scenes are great. If you don’t know much about salsa, you will gain an understanding of the music’s complexity and richness. The lyrics are creatively subtitled in English to fit into the performance scenes. The movie is worth seeing just for the music alone.

If anything comes out of this film, I hope that it inspires the Hollywood establishment to take a closer look at films with a largely Latino cast. El Cantante certainly was creative. I’m already saddened that this film is not showing on many screens, and I’m here in Latinolandia. So if you have already seen many of the big films out this summer and are looking for something else, go see this one. I think that you might be pleasantly surprised. I know that I was.

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Tags: Marc Anthony

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alisa // Aug 17, 2007 at 2:14 am

    Nice review. I think you’re right on the money! I love your site.

  • 2 Leslie // Aug 21, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I grew up listening to Lavoe and knew the man. Jennifer did him a great diservice with this film. I used to think Jennifer was a mediocore actress at best but now I hink she is just bad. The reason why she played the role so well because she was playing herself a bitchy Nuyorican with a accent good dancer. I have no real sense o what a great actor Marc is or isn’ts since the role only called him to get high and get high and yeah and get high. It seems to me Jennifer is very disconnected form her roots as a Puerto Rician woman and why that may be her choice and I understand why to an extent , she had no business involving herself in making a movie about an icon she had no understanding of. Lavoe was a drug addict but his life was facinating and all who knew him were disgusted by this film. There was nothing about his relationship with his family, his real father, his step father, the death of his son was glossed over. The deaths of his sister and even Puchi’s mother which affected him greatly. I am disappointed and saddened this could have a real opporetunity as the movie Ray was for a great life to be showcased with the downfalls and high notes of this man truly showcased. Not just a veichle for Jennifer’s pathetic Oscar ambitions.

  • 3 Leslie // Aug 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    By the way great site keep up the work and while I hated the film I respect your right to like it.

  • 4 webmaster // Aug 21, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Leslie, thank you for your comments. I think that had I known more about Lavoe as a man and artist, I would have been more critical of this film. I also wanted to know more about Lavoe’s artistic drive and the elements causing his self-destruction. The movie didn’t get into those themes much, which would have made for a more complex and rich story.

    While I have never met J. Lo, I have heard some stories. I think that you are probably right about J. Lo being similar to the Puchi character that she portrayed. It did not seem to be too far of a stretch for her. Or hopefully, she has evolved more as an actress over the years.

    Please, do come back and visit the site. Hopefully, I will be commenting more on Latinos in the arts.

  • 5 Leslie // Aug 21, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I will!!! I like your take on things. I have follwed Alisa blog for a few years and am a member of the yahoo group even though I hardly post there. I am not sure how much of a reader you are but Junot Diaz new book long awaited comes out next month. Might that be a suggestion for a book review? look at me giving you homwowrk. We Latinas are pushy. lol
    I was so disappointed. Despite my dislike of J-lo I went to see it and I went in with little expectations and was still so disappointed. My friend met her years ago and said she was the msot nasty person she had ever come across. Second hand but I beleive my friend. Thsi is why i truly beleive it wasn’t too much of a stretch for her. At times I swore I was watching an MTV interview of J-lo with her same mannerisms and I never forgot I was watching J-lo. Interestly enough I enjoyed her in Selena but I knew little about Selena before watching the film. Maybe thats why i wasn’t so critical of ehr performance then which I thought was good.

  • 6 The Kaiser // Aug 21, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    There isn’t much you can do in two hours of screen time. Since the music was the most important element of the film, and it was the music that actually displayed his talents, I am glad the effort was made along those lines to show that. Nevertheless, I liked what I saw, especially the first 90 seconds in black and white, where Puchi explains herself and what we are about to see. Jennifer Lopez may have limited acting chops, but she took a chance with this material and hopefully she will try it again. I am glad to see a film about latinos that doesn’t involve gunfire, broken glass, and maid service.

  • 7 Bearguez // Aug 22, 2007 at 1:41 am

    And why does Lesile dislike J-Lo? Is it her posse? And why would you want a posse to begin with? Can you imagine ten people hanging around with you all day and all night, agreeing with every utterance of a vowel that spills forth out of your mouth? And then you have to pay them? What I want to know is, who scratched the chicken pox scab off of J-Lo’s left cheek? Salma Hayek doesn’t have any chicken pox scabs. And last time I looked neither did Constance Marie. So what’s with J-Lo’s chicken pox scab? Come on all you cholitas in Huntington Park, Cudahy, and South Gate…one of you whip out your cell phone and tell J-Lo to take care of the chicken pox scab on her left cheek! And if its because of some financial matter, get rid of some of those homies on your posse, and get that chicken pox scab fixed. I say this with a lot of love J-Lo, because you’ve only got 3-4 years before all that hard living is going to show up on your face, and then your’re going to have to call up Susan Sarandon and get some pointers on how to reinvent yourself.

  • 8 Leslie // Aug 22, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    J-lo has earned her reputation as a diva as Paris as earned hers as a person of lesser morals. Lol. But the music wasn’t even all that for me either. Again too much J-lO , half of Lavoe greatest hits weren’t showcased at all. If you went in this movie a J-lo fan you would probably like it. A Lavoe fan? You will be disappointed. And for Kaiser Puerto Ricians aren’t really know as maids. We are sterotyped too lazy for that. Junkies? Oh yeah and J-LO embraced that one in this movie. Lol.

  • 9 Bearguez // Aug 22, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Hey Leslie, I am not a J-Lo fan. I went to see that movie because I wanted to dance. But everytime I got up to dance, 3-4 homies got on their cell phones and several two year olds started crying, and it became all hysteria. But I was curious about that chicken pox scab. Do you know who scratched it off? Was it J-Lo? Or was it one of her posse? Or maybe it was husband one, two, three, boyfriend four, five, six, seven, and eight? I have to know?

  • 10 Frenchie G. // Oct 22, 2008 at 10:08 am

    My dad was a very popular timbales player back when all this took place! I saw the movie and I liked it! I love the music more! It bought me many memories of my childhood! I also want to say to you that are “Talking negative” about J.lo…thats just a haters point of view…(sorry I have to tell you that). This is the One reason that I say, that if all the latinos can get together and talk about a movie (YA a movie) why cant we do the same for positive things! Next..I think people are “VERY” jealous because of the fact that shes a (“Puerto Riquena) and I know deep down inside alot of people cant stand that one of us is a much bigger star than you want to admit!
    Some facts:

    A. Do any of you know her personally, to say that she acts like this? Just a Dirty sluty puerto Rican woman right? This is what alot of ignorant people dont think about…if you dont know her personally…shut up! Just because she’s Puerto Rican doesnt mean she acts like this. Im Puerto Rican, and acting ghetto and stupid is not my “Forte”! Alot of Puerto Ricans “DO NOT ACT GHETTO”!!

    B. The images of these people are far from what they present in the public eye..(Trust me I know) and people seem to forget that this is “JUST-AN-IMAGE”!!

    C. Im glad that “Hectors” name became familiar!

    Why cant we stop being so negative of our own (no matter what you are, if youre a latino youre one of us). Its time for people to stop and realize that, the rest of the world will keep getting better in their jobs and politics, and the “LATINOS” will still be there talking about stuff that is irrelevant!! Wake up LAtions…all of you,us. We need to take this energy and make some good use of it. And when one of our own does become famous, or does something that is good and they get noticed…be happy for them and stop hating so much!!

  • 11 Sonya B. // Oct 22, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Bearquez…STOP HATING SO MUCH! Dont you know the more crap you talk, the more stupid and jealous you look?? LOL…Some people just dont learn!! Oh and …”GET A LIFE”!!!!

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