'Chico' has fiery romance, jazz, visual arts - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo


MOVIE REVIEW

'Chico' has fiery romance, jazz, visual arts
By Bob Fischbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


"Chico & Rita," a Spanish film heavily spiced by the world of Cuban jazz circa 1950, is far removed from the "cartoon" kid movies Americans think of when they hear the term animation.

This is definitely animation for adults, and it snagged an Oscar nomination earlier this year.

CHICO & RITA

Quality: ★★★½ (out of four)

Directors: Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba

Stars: Voices of Eman Xor Ońa, Limara Meneses, Mario Guerra, Idania Valdes

Rating: R for nudity, sexuality, drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Theater: Film Streams

Its hand-drawn images, essentially simple line drawings, are high art in their use of shadow and light. They're more complex than initially meets the eye, and they offer something not entirely definable that digital animation can't.

Its classic star-crossed love story that stretches over six decades is both captivating and quite moving. Including sex scenes with nudity, it may be the most sensually infused animated film this reviewer has yet seen.

And the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Woody Herman and more is a real treat for the ears, whether you're a sophisticated fan of jazz or not.

The story begins in Havana. An old shoe shiner ends his day alone in a squalid apartment, staring into the bottom of a glass as he turns over the distant past. A flashback takes us to 1948 Cuba.

Chico is an ambitious and talented jazz pianist whose impulsiveness holds back his dreams of conquering the New York scene. He has a roving eye.

Rita is a beautiful jazz vocalist with an attitude. She can't decide between Latin musicians like Chico and wealthy white deal-makers who want to exploit the hot sound for the dough it can make them.

Watching their initial meeting in a night spot, in which Chico and Rita dance around each other like a couple of birds in a mating ritual, you sense the heat wave — and the storm — that are waiting to play themselves out.

They end up in a talent competition, in which she sings to his piano playing, and the magic they create together propels them both professionally and romantically.

But Chico, no matter how smitten, is a "love the one you're with" kind of guy.

The on-again, off-again affair stretches from Havana to New York City, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. Chico cheats once too often, Rita lets an oily handler named Ron shape her career but rebels, and it's too bad. The only time they're both performing their best music is when they're together.

Which is not much of the time.

The directors have obviously paid attention to getting the period details of the jazz scene right, as well as and the ethereal atmosphere of these famous cities. And the story, though bordering on opera in its dramatic angst, is surprisingly effective in how much it can make you feel for characters that exist only on paper.

For lovers of jazz and visual art, this is a slam-dunk. And it works pretty well as straight romantic storytelling too.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1269, bob.fischbach@owh.com

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach

bob.fischbach@owh.com    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

Read more stories by Bob


Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom


Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet
Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet

August concert promises to pack Stinson Park with indie rock fans.


A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.


Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.


New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.


Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.


Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.


Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.


Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.


Dining notes: Dario’s has a new spring menu

Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee has a new spring menu, a new brunch menu and late night vittles.


Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more
Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more

"Bears" is exactly the sort of nature documentary we’ve come to expect from Disneynature, which rolls out a new nature documentary every year at Earth Day.


 
Search
Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings






Read this!








VIDEOS

Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved