El Cantante

I just got done watching "El Cantante" starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. It's supposed to be the biopic of salsa great Hector Lavoe. One of the original kings of salsa starting back in the 1970s.

For anyone who doesn't know, Salsa is a latin flavoured music which originated in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. It combines african, spanish and jazz musics to become something all it's own. It became a voice of latinos in New York in the 1960s and 1970s and had many many stars ... Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, and of course Hector Lavoe.

When I was growing up I fell in love with the freeness of salsa as opposed to the structure of the Tejano music i grew up with. Every song was like a party. I waited every year to be able to get the calle ocho tapes which featured the biggest salsa hits of the year (essentially) Even today I love artists like Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan (yes, she is considered salsa).

a clip of Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon (it kinda cuts off at the end but it was one of the better clips i could find):

I actually got to meet Sr. Colon when I was in college. We had breakfast with him in Timothy Dwight college. I dont' think I realized what an honor it was to break bread with him at the time. I think I have his autograph somewhere ... if it didn't get lost in the shuffles of all the times I've moved.

So I was really looking forward to this movie.

I have to confess tho, it wasn't anything like I expected.

IMHO it was pretty much a J.Lo love fest with some Marc Anthony singing thrown in there. It was told from the viewpoint of Hector's widow (he passed in 1993 of complications from AIDS) and sadly i don't think it delved enough into the brilliance and perhaps madness that was "el cantante" Add to that the fact that they never made an effort to make any of the characters even remotely likable (Hector was a philandering drug addict and his wife Puchi was a shrew), and this film was a major disappointment for me.

Willie Colon even wrote on his website (in regards to the movie):

The Creators of El Cantante missed an opportunity to do something of relevance for our community. The real story was about Hector fighting the obstacles of a non-supportive industry that took advantage of entertainers with his charisma and talent. Instead they did another movie about two Puerto Rican junkies. The impact of drugs in the entertainment industry is nothing new; look at Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Whitney Houston today.

And he is absolutely correct.

According to Hector's wikipedia entry there is another biopic on Lavoe in the works and I can only hope it's better than this one was.


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