March 30, 2017 | Rome, Italy | Sunny 24°C
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Biopics

Hidden Figures

Theodore Melfi's movie about black women at NASA in the early 1960s is driven by Taraji P. Henson.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson''s return to directing is a World War II epic about a heroic conscientious objector.

Anthropod

Sean Ellis' attempt to recreate the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is smart but choppy.

Documentaries

Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

Ron Howard's Beatles' portrait sets its sights on tracking the band's rise from obscurity, and does so brilliantly.

Drama

Sully

Stalwart Tom Hanks again proves that given the right story and the right script, he's today's Jimmy Stewart.

Deepwater Horizon

Peter Berg lets fire dictate the terms in his story of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Macon Blair channels his inner Coen Brothers vibe to sketch out a screwball noir.

Horror

Green Room

A punk band "lost" in the Oregon woods opens the door to gleefully gratuitous violence. The end.

Thrillers

Jason Bourne

Once upon a time, director Paul Greengrass gave Jason Bourne a soul and some depth. No longer.

Fantasy

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos's wondrously bizarre love parable creates a credible alternate universe.




Date: 2010
Directed by: Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal
Starring: Voices by Eman Xor Ona, Limara Meneses

Chico & Rita

Directed by Spaniards Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, "Chico & Rita" is an animated film that recounts an on-again, off-again love affair between two musicians, in the process offering a heavy critique of mid-20th-century culture and politics.

The story begins in pre-revolutionary Cuba — a world filled with jazz and brilliantly warm reds, yellows, greens, and blues. Chico (Eman Xor Ona), a talented piano player, gallivants about Havana with best friend Ramon and two American women. Drinking and dancing, they discover Rita (Limara Meneses), a beauty with a rich and gorgeous voice. Chico and Rita form a duo, win a contest, and produce a radio hit. Despite some initial resistance, the two soon become lovers. Although Chico and Rita are cartoons, they are sexy and sultry, and their desire for each other is palpable. But Chico has a history with women. When Rita sees him with one of his old flames, she assumes the worst and accepts an agent's invitation to America, leaving Chico in Cuba.

Aspects of the film are like a traditional Latin bolero. Characters fall in love, and their love brings pain and sorrow. But there's also social critique. Chico soon follows Rita to the U.S. and finds himself in New York, colder and greyer than his native Havana. Rita achieves musical and Hollywood success, and Chico tours with Dizzy Gillespie. Though they witness a world filled with glamour and fame (Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart make appearances), the characters still endure racism and political discrimination. Rita attends Hollywood parties and sings in the best hotels but can't stay in them because of her Latino background.

Later, Ramon will frame Chico for drug trafficking, forcing his deportation. Chico can barely recognize post-revolutionary Cuba. When authorities confiscate his passport and bar him from playing jazz (a "capitalist" art), Chico resigns himself to a life of drinking and shoe-shining.

While parts of the story feel contrived (a group of young Americans, for example, rediscover Chico and invite him on a world tour where he reunites with Rita who had been waiting for him in a hotel room for 47 years), the film itself is beautifully rendered and ultimately tragic. The animation is rich and vibrant, the criticism poignant. It won best animated film at the 2010 European Film Awards and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category.

Reviewed by: Susannah Wexler
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