Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 16 to 26 of 26

Thread: Glatzer and Westmoreland's QUINCEANERA

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,667
    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    Of course one doesn't champion a story about one's group unless one think's it's well done

    I know I don't. I don't make any allowances. I'll give you an example. I think the film A Day Without a Mexican, based on factual data about the contributions made by Hispanics to American society (including the contributions made by undocumented, illegal, so-called aliens) has important things to say. I even fantasize that citizens with anti-immigrant bias could somehow be forced to watch it Clockwork Orange-style. But I would never say it's a good film. I would never overlook its flaws and limitations in order to champion it.

    I think you have to admit Quinceanera is naturally of more interest to you than to me

    I would never assume that is the case just because your last name is not Rodriguez. I certainly have to admit it, now that you've told me. I know too many non-hispanic whites who love latino culture to simply assume a film about Hispanics would "naturally" be of more interest to you than to me. My brother Rolando has lived in Southeast Asia for 15 years because that's where he feels most comfortable. Is this un-natural?

    it's not too extravagant to say this is one of the best US films so far, but frankly, there isn't a very good list.

    Often studios wait until late in the year to release films they believe have Oscar-potential. I like A Scanner Darkly, The Illusionist, United 93, Thank You for Smoking and A Prairie Home Companion. But that's a short list and I expect even better films to come out within the next four months.

    There is a certain value in an outsider viewpoint, which the boys certainly have on the chicanos of Echo Park, but they're not exactly the ideal kind of outsiders; what is needed are people born into the culture but not entirely of it

    The ideal viewpoint for me is that of a person of any racial or ethnic background who is observant, sensitive and insanely curious. Notice that the writer/director of Victor Vargas, which is a good film but narrower in scope and ambition compared to Quinceanera, is also a non-hispanic white (perhaps the most accurate term because there are Hispanics who are white or Anglo).

    For the rest, I'm sorry that you let fly at Schwartzbaum, and her, no doubt, politically incorrect point that the filmmakers, she thinks, are patronizing or cultivating the 'colorful' culture of their neighbors. I did not print my review here, but you could have referred to my arguments, rather than just to accuse me and Schwartzbaum of prejudice, and hold up your own lack of bias for admiration.

    How can you both disagree with my point of view and find it worthy of "admiration"? It's not clear to me to what extent you suscribe to Schwatzbaum's opinion so I referred exclusively to "the statement by the EW critic". I repeat, the logical progression or implication of that statement is "you can't possibly understand us because you are one of them" . I genuinely deplore that clickish, tribalist, ethnocentric stance even if you think I do "for admiration".

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    You still haven't replied to the criticisms of Quinceanera in my review.

    This topic of bias is a red herring though I admit I'm the one responsible for introducing it. Of course it is an interesting topic -- how critics of films have leanings that they are bound to respond to -- and this really isn't a matter of ethnicity, but of personality. It exists even in an ethnically, linguistically, culturally homogeneous world. And I think they -- such leanings, biases -- ought to be acknowledged and taken account of. They can be an advantage -- leading one to champion a movie others are overlooking -- but one needs to know one's own prejudices, 'fess up to them as it were, in order to keep from posing as some kind of neutral godlike judge of the Good.

    One secondary issue is that I said you praised this movie so highly probably out of desperation for something to praise because the year hasn't really produced very fine work yet. your list of the best so far confirms that. I can't agree on any on your list as worthy of anything but possibly a minor honorable mention except for A Scanner Darkly. It looks like 2006 is a terrible US movie year, but that as usual may be remedied by the (relative) flood of Oscar contenders we're in for -- let's hope anyway -- during the next three and a half months--and especially in November and December.

    You're right about Victor Vargas--and maybe the guys who made Quinceanera ought to have left their group out of their movie focused on a Hispanic neighborhood as Peter Sollett left his group out of his movie about another Hispanic neighborhood on the other side of the country.
    [Knipp:]
    I did not print my review here, but you could have referred to my arguments [in it], rather than just to accuse me and Schwartzbaum of prejudice, and hold up your own lack of bias for admiration.

    [Jubis:]
    How can you both disagree with my point of view and find it worthy of "admiration"?
    You misread me. If my sentence was too convoluted, I'm sorry. It means that you, not I, were holding up your own lack of bias for admiration. Of course if you are as unbiased as you claim, I would have to agree in admiring you for that.

    You're certainly idealistic. But behind that idealism there is a set of predispositions, like anybody else's, even if we must not call them prejudices. I admit to the latter. You apparently don't.

    I think that rather than get into the terms "Anglo," "white," etc. and the colors people come in, it's best here just to talk about Hispanics or Hispanic culture and people who aren't Hispanic or of Hispanic culture.

    The fact that you don't like the lousy Day Without a Mexican hardly proves anything--let's get real. You're a film buff. You're not going to champion a crap movie just because it makes points you'd like to see made onscreen. That's not what we're talking about. I'm not saying Quinceanera is a crap movie, just that you're overrating it, partly due to personal predisposition, partly because you're you're desperate to find something to praise out of the year's US releases.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,667
    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    you're overrating it, partly due to personal predisposition
    This is truly insulting. Nothing I've posted over four years and nothing I say will change your opinion that I am predisposed to overrate Quinceanera because of my background ("partly"). I have to carry it like a fucking cross and not have my opinion (not a "godlike" judgement, just a guy's opinion) taken seriously because I am Hispanic. All the non-Hispanic critics from the publications quoted below can hail the film without being suspected of bias, but Oscar's take is tainted because of his background. I won't subject myself to any more abuse.

    "As smart and warmhearted an exploration of an upwardly mobile immigrant culture as American independent cinema has produced"
    New York Times

    "Quinceanera took both the Dramatic Grand Jury and Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and it's easy to see why."
    Chicago Tribune

    "The filmmakers claim to have revived kitchen-sink realism. What Quinceanera does offer is charm, sensitivity and intelligence"
    Seattle Post

    "It veers off in a completely different direction_actually numerous directions, all of which will entice you to follow."
    "They have given the film a remarkable sense of place"
    "...nuanced script, which they have directed with obvious love"
    San Francisco Chronicle

    "This is a fresh, spirited drama; charming and unpretentious"
    Variety

    "A fascinating look at the area's Mexican-American milieu and other local subcultures full of feeling, insight and touching performances."
    Chicago Reader

    "Saucy, rowdy, heartfelt and terribly sweet."
    "Neither skirts nor condescends to the difficulties faced by poor urban communities assailed by rapid change."
    "It's an untidy, vital slice of Latino life with a loving sense of place and a giddy improvisational feel."
    Village Voice

    "The film is serious and thoughtful but not overwrought"
    Austin Chronicle

    "As sweet and gentle as it is, Quinceanera is quite clear-eyed about human cruelty and indifference. In structure, however, there's a circularity to the film that allows it to end on a well-deserved upbeat note"
    Los Angeles Times

    None of the critics from these publications will ever be accused of ethnic "predisposition". I envy them for that.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    Since maybe you're not going to take up my points of criticism of the movie, I might as well post my review of it after all:

    Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland: Quinceañera (2006)

    Review by Chris Knipp

    Sweetness and oddness

    Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland are gay life partners who had separately and together made gay films, and then because they liked their Echo Park neighborhood so much and got to know it, have now made this, a story about this area of Los Angeles and its mostly Chicano inhabitants -- but also about a white gay couple who own property there and exploit those locals. One of the puzzling elements in this awkward but generally warmhearted and appealing story is that the white gay characters, presumably surrogates of the filmmakers themselves and their friends, range from exploitive to downright despicable.

    This isn't as vivid, artful, or coherent, and doesn't develop its characters or scenes in as much depth as Peter Sollett's colorful 2002 charmer about Lower East Side Dominican residents and a young couple's first love, Raising Victor Vargas. It's not even as memorable or involving as Eric Eason's relatively crude but intense, hardscrabble Manito (also from 2002). Quinceañera features the cornball sweetness of an aging great uncle who takes in two family rejects. The old man is Tio Tomás (Chalo Gonzales, who debuted in Pekinpah's Wild Bunch). He radiates good nature, but despite details of a suicidal youth and a list of occupations, ending in selling champurrado chocolate drinks from a pushcart, he hasn't much depth as a character. Tomás hosts Carlos (Jesse García), a tough youth driven from the family for being homosexual, and who one of the gay property owners, Tomás' landlords, begins having afternoon sex with on the sly.

    Later Carlos is joined by Magdalena (Emily Rios) after she becomes pregnant before her quinceañera, or fifteenth-birthday celebration, though she has never had full-penetration relations with her boyfriend, Herman (J.R. Cruz). Her stolid storefront preacher father Ernesto (Jesus Castanos) is unforgiving toward both these youths -- his daughter Magdalena and her cousin Carlos. Eventually Herman's mother sends him off to pursue a promising academic career and tells Magdalena to stay away. Carlos' afternoon affair with the gay landlord ends equally cruelly when the older man's partner finds out, and the white gay couple decide to evict poor old Tomás (doubtless to get rid of him and his young charges, particularly the troubling presence of Carlos -- or perhaps just to exploit the real estate better) and this understandably devastates the old man, who's lived there for twenty-eight years. Magdelena tries to find another place for the three of them to live, but with their lack of income (Carlos has a dead-end job in a car wash) and given the local drift toward gentrification, that looks hopeless.

    These situations are alternatively weepy and peculiar. A tattooed chulo like Carlos surely isn't a typical lover for a gay white yuppie, though the way the camera dwells on Jesse García's muscles and tattoos suggests the filmmakers think he's as "hot" as the gay landlord characters and their friends keep saying. And virgin births are a considerably greater rarity; though as Magdalena points out to her father, who forgives her upon learning that her hymen is unbroken, "there is a scientific explanation." We're not sure what that is, except that Herman did once explode on Magdalena's leg, and as we're reminded, sperm cells are designed for one primary purpose, to find their way inside a woman's vagina. (Perhaps a useful reminder for gay males.) The idea that this virginal pregnancy may be a "milagro" (miracle) is a theme that's touched on but not developed.

    Quinceañera starts rather limply with the somewhat rhythmless coverage of another girl's fifteenth birthday celebration. The non-professional young people don't deliver their lines with much energy or conviction. But once we get to know Magdalena, Carlos, and Tio Tomás we begin to care about them, and they're specific, as far as it goes. A plot that was more strongly integrated and cut deeper would have added much. Unfortunately the finales and resolutions are as bland and pat as they are heartwarming. And it remains unclear whether the gay white men are meant to be satirized, or their characters are just poorly written (and directed). The film, which was a big hit at Sundance and has had some other festival mileage, intermittently charms and puzzles us without ever quite coming together dramatically or artistically. There are at least three interesting stories here, but unfortunately the filmmakers seem to have liked the neighborhood so much they just couldn't decide what to focus on.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    I'm sorry I offended you by suggesting you might be predisposed to like Quinceaneara, though why that should be such a bad thing I don't understand. It isn't logical to say the mainstream non minority critics whom you quote can never be accused of a predisposition. They can be as easily as you or me. And their saying the movie is sweet and warm hearted and nuanced doesn't contradict anything I say. My points afre more specific and go to the structure of the film, and I say the characters are sweet, but that they are without depth, which is a point not considered in the quotes. You can always marshall a bunch of quotes and they don't prove anything and when presented in this kind of "vote" manner they add little to a discussion of the specifics of a film.

    I made a mistake in pointing to your possible predisposition, when it is you who should have done that. I take as an exemplary treatment of this issue the statements Nathan Lee made last year about Brokeback Mountain, which i quoted on our Brokeback thread. Lee is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and a young man who identifies himself as gay. He said in several places, including Film Comment, that though he had problems with Brokeback Mountain, mainly that he found it conventional and bland, it was the great epic tragic romance that gay men have been waiting for from Hollywood for generations, and he had to herald its arrival with thanksgiving, despite his aesthatic and critical reservations. I would be the last person to claim my own lack of bias on Brokeback Mountain. I said as plainly as I could in my review of it that it deeply moved me because as a gay man of a certain age I felt that it told my story, and I felt that way ab out the Annie Proulx short story when it appeared ten years ago, which also deeply affected me. I too would agree, though I'm not as bothered by it as the younger and edgier Nathan Lee, that Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain is conventional and mainstream. But that's what makes it a milestone for gay people. And from my point of view and Nathan Lee's it's essential to herald the movie. i would see nothing wrong with a hispanic person heralding the arrival of a similar movie, despite its being conventional and in some ways lacking in edge, for representing hispanic experience in a touching way. This is the kind of case where bias or predisposition is an essential thing to acknowledge. If I or even more Nathan Lee were to greet Brokeback Mountain as simply one of the greatest movies ever made, without acknowlededging our personal involvement in gay experience and need to have it acknowledged and shown on screen in a powerful way, that would be pointless and dishonest and a way of acting that is a disservice to the cause, if we have a cause, which we certainly do. It is important to acknowlege who one is and how that affects one's emotional responses to a film, especially where one's deepest and most essential nature is at issue.

    There are times when it's essential to overpraise a movie for personal reasons. I would be willing to say that I overpraised Brokeback Mountain, since I listed it as the best US movie of the year. I coudln't do otherwise, but a different person with otherwise similar views on films, other than gay-themed ones, might have not rated Brokeback no. 1. Brokeback was the most important movie of the year to me, for purely personal reasons. Brokeback means more to me than it does to Oscar Jubis. I have a predisposition. There are no two ways about that. My response to Brokeback Mountain was extremely strong. But that's why I admire Nathan Lee for his strong stand. Because he didn't like the film as much as I did, but he acknowledged in powerful language the importance of taking a stand in favor of it, for him as a gay person. There are times when bias is a point of honor.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-17-2006 at 12:53 AM.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,552
    Without a doubt not only did Brokeback Moutain create a permanent stamp on the possibilities for future ventures of this genre but it also changed many people's minds about closet angst and the bitter struggle for recognition in the face of ingrained bigotry. I still did not care for the ending. For once, I want filmmakers to give gay men a film with a happy ending, where people can actually succeed for a change and come away with a positive feeling (There's a lot to be said for feeling positive about a subject, Chris.)
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    I hope Broekback does clear the way as you say, cinemabon. As for the ending, remember that was three decades ago, though there are plenty of tentimonials about how such things still happen. That's why there's a closet, because it can be dangerous outside it. And that's also the way Annie Proulx's powerful and remarkable story ends.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,552
    I agree, however, Chris, it just seems as if so many 'gay' stories have a tragic endings rather than an adjusted happy one as so many hetro stories do. Granted the story ended three decades ago during a setting of hatred and bigotry.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    You know that line that begins Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, "Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"? In fiction, trouble is more particularized or particularizable and hence more nteresting than serenity. Romeo and Juliet doesn't end happily either. These are the stories people like. If the couple was happy, and everything went okay, then there isn't much to talk about or to watch. Narrative is built out of struggle, out of conflict, out of difficulty. But of course the Brokeback Mountain story is a pretty bleak one, and not all gay life is like that by any means. It's a great romantic tragic love story though, and that's why it touched so many people of all persuasions. And gay relationships are among those that have worse odds for suceeding, because the world tends to be against them as is true also for different kinds of mixed marriages, accross cultural or national lines, accross generational lines, and so on.

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    261

    Bias is not ipso facto a sin, but potentially a positive value, a source of expertise

    I almost feel like continuing this thread may result in someone being killed. I've heard of heated debate but this debate boils over, gentlemen.

    Bias is not ipso facto a sin, but potentially a positive value, a source of expertise, enthusiasm, eloquence in interpretation. We have minds, but we also have hearts, and without both, we are nothing.
    Extremely well put, Chris. As far as I'm concerned, one cannot be an honest film critic without acknowledging their own biases. The nature of the art is subjective and cannot be taken seriously if it tried to be anything else.

    I saw QUINCENEARA last night. (Did I spell that right?) I had heard it was good and had seen the post here in the main page for months. I don't understand, after sitting through it, how the film managed to garner such critical praise. I did not dislike the film. In fact, I felt that the L.A. setting showed a clash between cultures that had negative effects on both sides. All these young Latina girls blubbering on about shopping and text messages. And gay men sitting around a table discussing their Latino boy toy like exactly that, removing every trace of humanity from him. And even though the notion of the non-traditional family is becoming more widely shown, it is one that touches me personally every time. Call that my own bias.

    Despite these positive aspects, I did not see the film as anything more than simple and at times hollow and obvious. The character of Magdalena is sympathetic and her growth is welcome. The directors seem to understand her desire to fit in as well as her maturity to know what matters more in life. How then are the gay men in this film portrayed so flatly as men without souls or love given that they are loosely based on the directing couple themselves? They use people to explore their own fetishes; they use each other to give their lives meaning, and they finish by evicting an elderly man from his home of several years and think nothing of it.

    It is to their credit to be able to give depth to a young, Latina woman, as it would be to any creative person able to understand the plight of another whose background is so unlike their own. To do this, one has to be able to see what is common to all humanity in the experience. I do however expect a gay man to be able to do justice to a gay character, to make them human and not just a charicature.

    Don't shoot, gentlemen.
    I have no idea what I'm doing but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.
    - Woody Allen

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    We'll see what Oscar has to say about the movie now..... I've said my say about it. Though this was a heated discussion I think some interesting topics came up. There are so many other movies more in the foreground now. Just saw Alpha Dog and Tears of the Black Tiger. I am home in California now and hope to write about them, also make up my annual Best Lists.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •