Monday, Sep 22, 2014
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 40 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 13
Peña's virtuoso performance gives Cesar Chavez life
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Peña's virtuoso performance gives Cesar Chavez life

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

It's hard to believe there hasn't been a movie made about the life of renowned 1960s union organizer and human rights crusader Cesar Chavez. Granted, sad to say, I'm one of the many who know the name, but know precious little about the man himself, his accomplishments as to how they related to the civil rights movement in the United States, especially as they pertained to California farm workers, not exactly ones I was even minutely acquainted with.

With that in mind, and realizing I'm probably one of a countless throng working from the same poor base of knowledge, maybe it isn't so surprising after all that Diego Luna's Cesar Chavez is the first film to document portions of this man's remarkable life. Using the formation of the United Farm Workers and the subsequent Delano, California grape strike and boycott of the 1960s as its jumping off point, the film showcases many of the major reasons why Chavez is still held in such high regard five decades after the fact. It is an ambitious undertaking, to be sure, and for newcomers to this particular bit of vital American history, more than a little fascinating.

But not essential. As strong as much of this is, and at times it is very strong indeed, so much time passes and so many events are covered, it's almost too much for the 101-minute film to be able to easily contain. The vignette atmosphere is omnipresent and it's sometimes difficult to keep track of just how long it is taking things to come to pass. More, working from a script by Keir Pearson (Hotel Rwanda) and Timothy J. Sexton (Children of Men), Luna wants to juxtapose Chavez's work amongst the Delano farmers with his unintentional shirking of his familial duties, especially as it related to his eldest son. But that relationship stays frustratingly ephemeral, the emotional complexities making up their father-son dynamic never coming to life as I kept feeling like they needed to.

At the same time it is readily apparent Luna has learned a thing or two in his time working for directors such as Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También), Gus Van Sant (Milk), Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls), Kevin Costner (Open Range) and Steven Spielberg (The Terminal). He knows how to maintain focus, keeps a confident eye on his protagonist and his journey, rarely letting it waver. More than that, he eschews many of the normal biopic contrivances, rarely following convention, putting the emotional emphasis in places and during moments that are oftentimes unexpected. His documentary-like approach is refreshing in its candor, allowing for a you-are-there esthetic during many of the signature events that's intoxicating.

It also helps he's cast exceedingly well as things pertain to his main character. Veteran character actor Michael Peña is fantastic, refusing to deify Chavez or turn him into some sort of unassailable symbol no one anywhere could actually live up to (let alone be) instead choosing to showcase him as nothing more than a good man with plusses and minuses same as everyone else. His flaws are just as important to his makeup as his attributes and Peña shows no fear whatsoever as he approaches them, painting a fuller picture with his performance than I could have anticipated before entering the theater. As great as he's been in films as diverse as End of Watch, The Lincoln Lawyer and Million Dollar Baby, he's marvelous here, delivering arguably the first truly great performance of 2014 and sadly one I can almost guarantee will not remembered by most come the end of the year.

The rest of the cast does what they can, especially America Ferrera portraying Cesar's longsuffering, yet equally committed to the cause, wife Helen, but it's safe to say none of them are given the same amount of room to breathe and evolve as the titular character is. For the most part, however, Luna juggles all of them as best he can, jumping from event to event and moment to moment, covering the Delano strike and boycott as intimately as he can, considering the sprawling nature of the narrative and the relatively short running time.

The snapshot nature can get a little distracting, while the farm owners, two of which are portrayed by John Malkovich and Gabriel Mann, almost feel like mustache-twirling cartoon characters more than they do flesh and blood human beings. But the central dynamics remain strong throughout, and when you add Peña's magnificent performance into the equation coupled with Luna's concentrated direction, Cesar Chavez ends up being a far more invigorating and informative biography than by all accounts it probably should have been.

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Peña's virtuoso performance gives Cesar Chavez life
------------------------------
Dina Martina: Simply the Best
------------------------------
Musician has choice words for Gays who say they 'knew all along' when he came out last week
------------------------------
Odysseo by Cavalia will take your breath away!
------------------------------
Royal Blood: The heart of the play is Love
------------------------------
Local, female focused, comedy show is turning one!
------------------------------
Seattle Shakespeare Company announces their 2014-2015 outdoor and indoor season
------------------------------
Seattle Beckett Festival slated for August-November
------------------------------
New Uncle Vanya succeeds and fails but tries admirably
------------------------------
U.S.- based Bainbridge Battle Point Whiskey wins Gold, ranked Best Wheat Whiskey in World Spirits Championships
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------
LETTERS
------------------------------

------------------------------
Bleak Sabotage Schwarzenegger's descent into darkness
------------------------------
Emotionally inspiring Lunchbox a tasty delight
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2013

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News