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March 8, 2021
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El Cantante/The Simpsons Movie
(2007-08-03)
(wgvu) - El Cantante means The Singer, for those of you who don't speak Spanish. It is the title of a song by Ruben Blades, which was made famous by the King of Salsa Hector Lavoe, and it's the title of a new film starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. The film chronicles the rise of the Puerto Rican born Lavoe, who was born Hector Perez, who's portrayed by Anthony. It is also about the relationship between Lavoe and his wife Puchi, who's played by Lopez. The film is framed in the tradition of Citizen Kane, with Puchi sitting in a smoky recording studio reminiscing into the camera about her life with Lavoe. Through flashbacks we get snapshots including this scene in 1963, when Hector meets Puchi after crashing her birthday party. (clip) The film spans the years of the early 60s through the early 90s. Shortly after arriving in New York City as a young man, Hector begins singing in nightclubs. He's spotted by the owner of Fania records, who offers him a contract, but with a catch. (clip) El Cantante is an engaging portrait of a musical world that ran parallel to the black world of Motown and Stax records, and the psychedelic and arena rock era. The musical aspect is finely reproduced, and the period look that the filmmakers create is gritty, and realistic. Marc Anthony electrifies when he's on stage, and agonizes when he's in the real world. J. Lo plays Puchi as a truly unsympathetic collaborator with the junkies and pushers who reel Lavoe into what seems a predestined doom. There are structural flaws in El Cantante, but for music fans it's interesting glimpse Nurican culture.

The Simpsons are movie stars! Springfield is given the Disaster Movie treatment! Bart goes streaking! And Lisa goes Green! And, as usual, it's up to Marge to save the day! In case you don't know what I'm talking about, The Simpsons Movie has made it to the Big Screen, and it's number one at the box office!

Ok, quick summary: Lake Springfield is polluted, and Lisa campaigns to clean it up. Homer brings home a pet pig, who he dubs Spider Pig, and he fills a gigantic silo with pig crap, which he ends up dumping into Lake Springfield. This creates an ecological disaster, and a lynch mob rises up to get Homer (clip) The problem goes Federal and is brought to the attention of President Schwartzneger. (clip) Springfield is isolated from the rest of the world, which effects everybody including bar owner Moe, who keeps losing his liquor. (clip) The Simpsons go on lam, and every store they enter has a Wanted Poster for them posted behind the register. (clip) The family ends up in Alaska, where a funny set piece sends up Disney classics, native mysticism, and rustic living. Homer would just as soon leave Springfield behind, but Marge leads the charge to save their old hometown.

The Simpsons Movie is hilarious, subversive, warm hearted, and ramped up like a classic episode from its glory years. I got burned out on the series several years ago, after watching faithfully for about a decade. Yet I loved this movie, so whether you're a lapsed fan or one of the faithful you gotta see it.
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