7 Must-See Films Screening at CineFestival (and 1 Must-Avoid)
Published: February 19, 2014
7pm Fri, Feb 28 (87 min)
It’s love at first sight for two Angelenos in director Alberto Barboza’s feature film Cry Now, a barrio romance that puts us at the center of LA’s predominantly Latino Boyle Heights neighborhood but struggles to find a true connection between its lead characters. When street artist Vincent (Miguel Angel Caballero) meets tattooist Luzi (Iliana Carter, a dead ringer for a Liv Tyler/Eva Mendez hybrid) the two want to be together but are already involved with other people (Luzi’s LAPD boyfriend is financing her tattoo shop; Vincent’s vindictive ex-girlfriend would be a pretty good telenovela villainess). Barboza’s direction is solid, but the script lacks a reason why this relationship should work and never fully explains whether the characters are driven by destiny or the need for artistic inspiration. Still, the dreamlike imagery is a nice touch when Barboza uses it sparingly at the beginning and end, and the soundtrack is very enjoyable. Plus, seeing late actress Lupe Ontiveros (Real Women Have Curves) in her final screen performance should be an honor for everyone.
Los Wild Ones
9pm Fri, Feb 28 (78 min)
There’s no denying the total commitment Los Angeles-based indie record label owner Reb Kennedy has to the Latino rockabilly musicians he takes under his wing. In the documentary Los Wild Ones, it’s Kennedy who is on the cinematic main stage for most of the picture as director Elise Salomon fashions an interesting character study around a man who has given his life to the bands he manages. Sure, he uses a little tough love and his controlling nature might alienate and hinder some acts, but the reality of this cutthroat industry as shared by the featured musicians is refreshing. Thematically speaking, Salomon tackles a few too many issues, which keeps the film from finding a real emotional hook, but when she turns her camera on Kennedy and some of the stronger personalities, there’s plenty—including the music—to love.
Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle
1pm Sat, Mar 1 (57 min)
The ambitious career and controversial death of Mexican-American journalist Ruben Salazar is revisited in the compelling documentary Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, winner of the Best Documentary award at this year’s festival. In the film, director Phillip Rodriguez recounts the motivation, frustration and passion that led the pioneering reporter to the center of the Chicano movement in the late 1960s. On August 29, 1970, during the frenzied National Chicano Moratorium March in East LA that took place in protest of the Vietnam War, Salazar, who was working for the Los Angeles Times and TV station KMEX at the time, was killed when a sheriff’s deputy shot a canister of tear gas into a local café that struck him in the head. Through intense archive footage, interviews with friends, fellow journalists and activists, and narration of Salazar’s own deeply personal writings, Man in the Middle, despite its restrictive one-hour runtime, is an effective biography that allows viewers to see this explosive era through the eyes of a Mexican-American who wrote the truth so he could make a difference.