“Eddie Reynolds”-Directed by Gustavo Moheno Cast: Damián Alcázar, Jorge Zárate, Arturo Rios, Álvaro Guerrero, Paulina Gaitán. Mexico 2014, 106 MIN. Spanish with English subtitles.
Gustavo Mohen’s Rock comedy “Eddie Reynolds” (Eddie Reynolds y Los Ángeles de Acero) revives the Rock Band reunion tale with a smart script and full on performances. There have been many similar films. (Most are ho hum but see Darren Ashton’s 2004 Aussie comedy “Thunderstruck” for another winner.)
The ensemble playing of Arturo Rios, Jorge Zarate and Alvaro Guerrero is consistently funny and they are more than convincing as old rockers reuniting after 30 years.
Musicians hired to play the original songs coached the non-musician actors to a fare the well. You believe they are playing.
When Bono (Pavel Sfera) stumbles across an unknown Mexican single in a record store, he contacts the Mexican label to buy the rights to the song, A long disbanded rock band, Eddie Reynolds and The Iron Angels, split apart by a sag of betrayal is forced together to cash in.
Mexican box office king Damian Alcázar plays the title character Eduardo “Lalo” Reynoso AKA Eddie Reynolds, (a name stuck on him by his label years ago. Currently he’s a wedding singer with a slick back up group, but hardly big time. He’s shacked up with the sensual Paulina (Paula G Gaitan). They’re in love but he’s notorious for breaking up with a string of women when they reach 25, and Paulina’s waiting for the show to drop.
Alcázar (“La dictadura perfecta”, “El Narco”, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”, “Of Love and Other Demons”) who won best actor at Hermosillo International Film Festival, 2014, plays comedy with a dark zest, looking like Ruben Albarran, (singer of Café Tacuba) and rocking like Sergio Arau of La Ley de Herodes.
Jorge Zárate (“Chicogrande”, “El Narco”, “La Dictadura Perfecta”, “Los Fabulosos 7″, “Pulling Strings”, “Filosofía Natural del Amor” plays bassist Fernando, who seems to pick up back up dates with Gloria Trevi (“At least I play in real venues”) he quips to Eddie.
When working musicians Lalo and Fernando show up at the label to sign the lucrative contract (more money than they’ve seed in decades) they have to admit that one of the song’s writers isn’t there to sign. With less than a week, they track down the band’s brilliant lead guitarist, retired alcoholic and rock believer Santos (Arturo Ríos:”Y Tu Mamá También”, “Desiertos mares”, “Cuentos de hadas para dormir cocodrilos”), who’s still so pissed off by Eddie’s solo album, which broke up the band the first time, that he’d rather drink than touch the strings.
They miss the sign-by date (Bono goes on the road early) but start up the band, leading Santos to reunite with his wife Teresa, played by the consummate Dolores Heredia (“Get the Gringo”, “Days of Grace”, “Días de gracia”, “Vantage Point”, “Capadocia”).
Sebastián Zurita is great as the ambitious record company executive Tony Rivas, as is Gregg Lucas as Mr. Paul’s Bono’s manager.
Alvaro Guerrero gives a nuanced perf as Ulises the band’s drummer. A respected pharmacist who spends his days pushing pills to a bunch of geriatrics, Ulises can’t wait to hit the road, telling his wife he’s attending a last minute pharmaceutical convention. Guerrero (“Amores Perros”, “The Mission”, and “Rabbit on the Moon” was nominated as Best Supporting Actor in Mexico’s 2105 Areil awards.
The spine of the script is the witty addition of Ulysses teen-age daughter Lucía, a gimlet-eyed pragmatist who inserts herself as the band’s manger. Screen novice Vico Escorcia has brilliant timing, as an entrepreneur ready to explode. Massaging the band’s web and social media presence and enforcing a make-over on the patchouli oiled freaks, Lucia guides them back to the top, building team spirit around their pre show mantra (“Girls look at me and get wet”) intoned before every gig, meeting, whatever.
Props go the extensive Musical department including, Rodrigo Barbosa (drum coach), Gabriela Cárdenas (vocal coach), Gino Galán (guitar coach), Carlos Maldonado (bass coach), Luis Ledezma (music drums) Marco Rentería (bass player), Sara Herrera Maldonado (composer: theme music), Juan Manuel Ledezma (composer: additional music) who made the band so kick ass believable.
You’ve seen it all before but never done so enjoyably.
Gloria-Directed by Christian Keller Cast: Sofía Espinosa, Marco Pérez, Tatiana Del Real. Mexico 2014, 126 MIN, Spanish with English Subtitles.
Many North Americans missed the scandalous melodrama that was Gloria Trevi’s life, which played out tabloid fashion for many years. Swiss director Christian Keller’s “Gloria”, a riveting, imaginative bio steeped in lurid details, keeps us interested from the get go.
First time director Keller’s “Gloria” is a must see music bio- part drama, part music video, part musical, chronicling the life of Gloria Trevi, the “Mexican Madonna”. in the 1990’s Trevi’s first three records sold more than 5 million copies.
When 19-year old Keller graduated high school in the US he read an account of this larger than life unimaginable story, a sleazy mash up of pop ambition, cult behavior and sexual abuse. With no contacts in Mexico nor the film business, Keller spent 10 years bringing his startling first film to the screen.
After doing his own research, he needed a Mexican screenwriter. Award-winning playwright, novelist and journalist Sabina Berman’s name kept coming up but she seemed out of reach. To his surprise she agreed.
Keller’s travails making the film are a saga in itself, and apparently Berman has published an account in her Trevi book ‘Gloria: a story about fame and infamy’ (Gloria: Una historia sobre la fama y la infamia).
Berman, who knew nothing about the scandalous Trevi-Andrade clan, interviewed Trevi, Andrade, many of the girls (alleged victims) and their parents.
Trevi originally collaborated with Berman. Journalist Berman went on to do her own research. Dismayed that the final script included different versions of the story, Trevi sued Berman (three times) and the film and withheld a promised title song.
Keller often shot with no money in the back raising money week by week. The result is an edgy gripping pop bio unlike any other.
Working on a micro-budget for such an ambitious project, Keller created a dramatic musical. Landmark performances were recreated, as well as fantasy numbers illustrating Gloria’s extreme life. The film is held together by two passionate performances.
Sofía Espinosa doesn’t look like Trevi, but she captures her wild energy. She sings all the songs, with studio doubling helping her hit the high notes.
Marco Pérez is remarkable as the manipulate pop Svengali who weedled ambitious parents into ahning over their under age fame -obsessed daughters. With the complicity of his second wife Mary Heartbreak, his academy was a harem of singer wannabees, many who became Trevi’s backup singers, travelled with Trevi and Andrade and, apparently bore Andrade six children numerous illegitimate babies,
Viewed as a master impressario, Andrade coached and guided his young performers in the Pop moves that dominated Mexican Pop music.
His story is a tragic cocktail of talent and sexual obsession.
In 1979, as the youngest artistic director in the history of CBS (Mexico) Andrade presided over 10 hits for the controversial Mexican singer Judith Chavez “Ga-bi”.
Dubbed the “King Midas of music”, Andrade producing countless artists (Lucerito, Crystal, Lisa Lopez, Lorenzo Antonio, OKIDOKI, CYCLONE, Joan Sebastian, Napoleon, Cesar Costa, Yuri, Ricky Luis, Heartbreak Tango, Ivonne and Ivette, New Astro Group and others), composed numerous hits, and recorded Internationally with numerous artists (Herb Alpert, Franck Pourcel and His Orchestra, Anna, Sylvia Sol, María Martha Serra Lima, etc.)
Romances with performers Lupita Castro, Ga-Bi, Cecilia Gabriela, and members of both Oki Doki and Cyclone ended the relationship with his first wife, Guadalupe Casillas.
When we first meet Gloria, she’s waiting in Andrade’s outer office, one of rooms of girls waiting for the Pop music sorceror to make them into stars. She’s the last one to see him. She piques his interest with her primitive lyrics, but he gets serious after he makes her strip to show off her shape. Soon she’s a member of his new Girl Group Boquitas Pintadas (Heartbreak Tango AKA Little Mouths with Lipstick) along with his then wife Maria Raquenel Portillo aka “Mary Boquitas or Mary Heartbreak”.
The band lives and studies in his Academy, Besides learning how to play instruments, Andrade teaches them his own form of casting couch after- hours moves. Mysogynist Andrade ruled his harem punishing the girls by lockdowns in the closet and, in one instance, a harrowing ice bath that lasted several days.
In Berman’s version of the tale, Gloria, for whom singing was everything, adored Sergio, reputedly her only lover. All her songs were written to him and any deviant thing he proposed she complied with to keep his love. Her guilt was acquiessence.
Despite ambitious Trevi’s tacit complicity in Andrade’s harem, in Keller’s film she emerges as a poor girl with an unstoppable life force, a survivor who keeps getting up no matter what knocks her down and a character worthy of a certain respect.
Humiliated and betrayed by Andrade after sleeping with him, Gloria leaves the band, but later convinces Andrade to manage her as a solo act.
Her lyrics, his arrangements and pop moves (taught to his Academy of girl performers) become her act. Trevi’s unfiltered lyrics were a virtual diary of all her experiences.
Andrade booked her on Siempre en Domingo, the Televisa variety show, hosted by Raúl Velasco, then the hottest show in IberoAmerica.
Rebellious Gloria even bucked her manager’s advice, displaying her arch rebellious style in a raunchy act-up that unnerved Velasco (who pulled her second song), saw her banned from Televisa by the powerful and vengeful Emilio “The Tiger” Azcarraga Milmo -owner of Televisa, and won her the undying gratitude of an avalanche of fans, who built her powerbase without Televisa. Like Madonna she seemed to channel the radical desires of generations of repressed teenagers.
Some dramatic events are linked with pop-bright “music-videos”. In one tense scene in TV Azteca’s office Gloria jumps on the conference table and performs “Con los ojos cerrados” (Eyes closed). In another sequence Gloria and nemesis Aline duke it out in an animated video game.
Other songs include Dr. Psiquiatram, Pelo suelto, El Recuento De Los Daños, ¿Qué voy a hacer sin él?, Tu Ángel de la Guarda, Que bueno que no fui Lady Di!, ‘La papa sin catsup’ (used to illustrate the harem’s mourning Andrade’s shotgun marriage to Aline Hernandez.)
Ambition on all sides is the hubris that feeds this melodrama.
To end run Televisa, Andrade approaches the channel’s only competitor, TV Azteca, and its reigning Host journalist Pati Chapoy (creator of “Ventaneando”). Ricardo Salinas Pliego, owner of TV Azteca, and ambitious Chapoy jump on the Trevi juggernaut willing to gamble that her scandalous behavior would win ratings.
Repositioned as Mexico’s Pop Madonna, Trevi and Andrade later betrayed Azteca and returned to Televisa. Chapoy got her revenge.
Aline Hernandez, Andrade’s teen sexpot ex-wife ( he married her under duress from her mother’s lawyer) enraged at her lack of a career, left the clan and became a Telenovela actress at Azteca. Telling her clan memoirs to Chapoy they developed a scandalous tell-all book that brought the Trevi-Andrade clan down and eventually led to their imprisonment.
After Hernandez’s book, charges against the clan began to build up. in March 1999, the parents of Karina Yapor accused Andrade of rape, and corruption of a minor. The Clan fled to Spain, Argentina and eventually Brazil where in 2000, Trevi, Andra and Heartache were arrested by Interpol agents and incarcerated. Trevi became pregnant in prison and gave birth to a son Angel Gabriel. Trevi and Andrade’s infant daughter died by misadventure while they were on the run.
Trevi and Heartache were accused of recruiting adolescent girls for sexual purposes. Eventually extradited to Mexico, Trevi spent four years and eight months in prison before being cleared.
In 2014, Trevi, who currently lives in McAllen Texas with husband Armando Gomez (her former criminal defense attorney) won a key pre-trial round in her five-year defamation lawsuit against the celebrity journalist Pati Chapoy and TV Azteca. the right to pursue her defamation in Texas,
Trevi claimed in a lawsuit filed in 2009 that Chapoy, and her program Ventaneando, caused Trevi and her family economic and emotional harm by implying that she was under investigation for ties to drug traffickers and that her husband was a known narcotics smuggler.
La Dictdadora Perfecta
Directed by Luis Estrada Cast: Damián Alcázar, Alfonso Herrera, Joaquín Cosío, Sergio Meyer. Mexico 2014, 143 MIN. Spanish with English Subtitles.
Film director Luis Estrada is known for biting political satires, often running afoul of the political establishment. His 1999 “La Ley De Herodes” (Herod’s Law), was the first Mexican film
to criticize at he long-ruling PRI party by name. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) has held power in the country for 71 years. A socialist Party at the time of the Revolution its morphed into the Frankenstein Neo-Liberal corruption-ridden behemoth dubbed “la dictadura perfecta” (“the perfect dictatorship”) by
Peruvian Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa In 1990,
The Fox government attempted to censor the film, leading to the resignation of Eduardo Amerena, director of state-backed film institute, Imcine. It swept the 42nd Ariels, Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars, on Monday night, grabbing 10 awards from 14 nominations.
His 2006 sequel “Un mundo maravilloso” (“A Wonderful World”), also satirized Vicente Fox Quesada’s government and its neo-liberal doctrine. ( It was partly sponsored by Imcine.) Nothing succeeds like success.
“El Infierno” 2010) is a political satire about drug trafficking, organized crime, and the Mexican Drug War. The film has been a critical and commercial success in Mexico. “La Dictadura Perfecta” opens with the pointed disclaimer: Any resemblance to reality is not a mere coincidence.
Damián Alcázar was the lead actor in all four films.
Estrada’s Wag the Dog version of the media’s control of elections blends various real life scandals and pressages the September disappearance of dozens of students in the violent southern state of Guerrero, allegedly killed by a drug gang on the orders of a local mayor. On Oct. 23, Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre resigned over the scandal.
When a racist remark on national television threatens the re-election of the boneheaded President (a not so veiled dig at Mexico’s malaproping Enrique Peña Nieto) his advisors pull a “Chinese Box” a spin doctor’s slight of hand to distract and conquer- planting a video showing the Governor of an unnamed state accepting a suitcase of money from a leader of a drug cartel.
Gobernador Carmelo Vargas (Alcázar) fights back. Aware that TV can do anything, Vargas hires TV MX to clean up his image. It’s not easy, his primitive state is a Neanderthal Banana Republic, and Vargas has no compunction killing anyone who crosses him. Vargas puts his state in hock for decades to underwrite TV MX’s rapacious contract.
Carlos Rojo, an ambitious young news produce, and Ricardo Diaz, the network’s star reporter are charged with making Vargas a hero. Profiting by the disappearance of a local toddler, they recast Vargas as the Governor with a heart who won’t rest until the tot is returned to her parents.
Inept kidnappers demand ransom, TV MX arrange a uxorious loan on the parents’ house to pay them off, then toss the couple to the wolves as the highly publicized likely murder suspects.
TV MX, a powerful media conglomerate in bed with politicians, that stages news for ratings, is Estrada’s version of Televisa, accused of pro-PRI bias in the 2012 election of Peña Nieto, PRI”s return to power after a twelve year hiatus.
Real life resonances include the Paulette case, in which the body of a missing 4-four-old was found under her mattress in the very bed where a journalist interviewed the mother.
In the notorious Florence Cassez case, television crews aired a staged televised raid, leading to the conviction of a French woman on charges of kidnapping. She was released after seven years of a 60-year sentence, after the Supreme Court judged her civil rights had been violated by the sham raid.
Vargas rises to the presidency married to the Nations most popular Telenovela queen, like President Peña Nieto, a former governor who married one of Televisa’s best-known actresses, Angélica Rivera. Nieto reputedly hired her as his publicized girlfriend to increase his street cred, eventually marrying her after Benedict XVI blessed the couple.
Vargas’s bloodthirsty Realpolitik foreshadowed 2014 revelations about the 43 male students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa who went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico in an apparent collusion between Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and Guerreros Unidos, an Iguala drug gang which controls the municipal police.
Abarca reputedly ordered the municipal police to stop the students from disrupting a speech his wife was giving to announce her bid to run for mayor in the next elections.
Ironically, one of Televisa’s subsidiaries was contracted to distribute the film. They backed out when they saw the finished film.
A rowdy cast pulls out all stops in the Box Office smash described by critic Alvaro Cueva as “the fiercest criticism that has ever been made of the media in Mexico and Latin America.”