Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fame Pays

Last Saturday, a friend of mine invited me to a movie. I actually didn’t have any plans to go out that day because I wanted to take enough rest after a week days of stressful boredom. But that’s a movie! One of the few fixation that I would gladly trade in for one sleepless night or a good family diner! Shallow! But if I only had a constant buddy who would join me to watch movies every weekends, I would not have missed every single good movie that were shown here in Dubai.

So who’s with me. well, he’s a guy so don’t expect that we have watched a date movie! We really intended to see “Wanted” – starring Angelina Jolie as a deadly assassin. But when we queued for the ticket, the next screening was already fully booked and the next after that would be so late. The other big films being shown, “Get Smart” and “Hancock” have already passed our yearning eyes. So we ended up watching a date movie, no just kidding. We actually, having left with no choice, watched the other film without any crowd, “El Cantante” or the in English, “The Singer”. The film depicted the tragic musical life story of Puerto Rican Hector Lavoe, the man who pioneered the genre which we call today as Salsa. The dramatic biography was starred in by real life couple Marc Anthony as Hector and Jennifer Lopez as his wife Puchi.

The movie, told from the wife’s point of view, was based on the actual documentary interview Puchi had given years after her husband died of AIDS. I would not talk about the film’s technical or artistic appeal because I know I am not in the position to criticize or give an intellectual opinion. What I want to expedite is the message of what the film is all about.."El Cantante," the life and death story of Hector Lavoe, the godfather of salsa, retraced the same tired footsteps of many another movie druggie before him, someone from the unknown, with great ambition and talent, given the chance, made it big, became famous, hooked on to drugs and addicting vices, disappointed those who love him and eventually died a hero. It’s a sympathetic story though, where after leaving the cinema, it feels like a we are lucky to live a simple yet happy life than to have lived with fame, power and riches, but without peace of mind, without true love and without a soul.

Hector Lavoe’s story started small, reached the sky and ended so unhappily. That happens when people don’t care and love the successes that come their way. When great things happen, don’t get drown to it, just stay on top of it. If you don’t, all the millions albums you have sold, all the jam-packed and well-attended concerts you’ve performed , all your friends, all your feelings will be put in vain. That’s the price that fame pays. But nonetheless if you know how to value life, love and work, it doesn’t always have to end miserably and tragically. Hector Lavoe died of AIDS (from an infected needle) and complications effected by his numerous intoxicating vices: cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. His son killed himself as a teenager who never got to feel the love of a father and a complete family. Puchi died of a car accident after her husband’s demise and shortly after the interview upon which the film was based.

Hector Lavoe’s story is familiar and rampant in the entertainment world. More famous and equally talented celebrities have been through the same scenario of getting lost in the bizarre and glittery chances of fame and fortune. Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse to name a few. The only difference is, these people are still living and could still redeem their lost glory. it’s easy to be a celebrity, holding on to the status of being “celebrated” is the true test. Once you have failed, it’s hard to get back, or even if you succeed, things will never be the same. To be truly successful, talents should always come in hand in hand with attitude and love for others, not only for oneself.

The King of Pop has been accused of many child molestation charges, by kids he had taken to his own themepark, the Neverland.

Once the biggest female artist of her generation, Whitney Houston has spiraled into squalor and degradation on deadly crack.

Britney Spears' popularity has drove her crazy, the Pop singer's erratic bahavoir could have stemmed from drugs and severe mental health problems.

Amy Winehouse single "Rehab" earned her the 2008 Grammy Award for Record & Song of the Year, the British singer is troubled with serious alcoholism and drug addiction.

Anthony and Lopez are married in real life, and make a convincing couple onscreen, but in the movie, they never seem to learn anything, and we sense early on that they're incapable of helping each other, or themselves. They have a child, who functions as an afterthought in a few scenes, but mostly they roast in their private hell.

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez in Picturehouse's El Cantante

The end of the movie is a foregone conclusion, and Hector's inexorable descent is depressing, although interrupted by many upbeat musical numbers. Indeed, there seem to be two films here: A musical, with Anthony doing a terrific job of covering Lavoe's music, and a drugalogue. The soundtrack album would be worth having. But there is nothing special about Lavoe's progress toward the grave: Just the same old same old.

1 comment:

  1. "But if I only had a constant buddy who would join me to watch movies every weekends, I would not have missed every single good movie that were shown here in Dubai".
    ---what your new bestfriend AJ's doing?", huh..:)

    interesting..let me check on this one nga..tama yan sa movie mo na lang idaan ang surreal moods mo :)

    **** review!..