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CALLE 54

France / Spain, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Mooks Backbeat – Music on Film)

Director: Fernando Trueba

The sultry, hip swiveling rhythms that Latin jazz proclaims is brought to the screen by Spanish film director Fernando Trueba in Calle 54. This is an ode to Latin jazz and what better way to capture the genre than allowing the musicians to speak for themselves. Simple sets and beautifully lit, Trueba travels from New York to Europe and captures a series of wonderful performances by such great stars as the late Tito Puente, Gato Barbieri, Paquito D'Rivera and Jerry Gonzales Trueba. who won an Oscar in 1993 for best foreign language film Belle Epoque and shares his passion for music through the rumbling energy of these Latino jazz crooners. The picture is bound to draw comparisons to The Buena Vista Social Club, if only for the subject matter. But this film is a completely different take and is not the work of archivists falling in love with a crumbling city and musicians with the grace of natural stars waiting to be rediscovered. Calle 54 is closer in spirit to The Last Waltz in that it mounts a respectful staging of the songs by its performers with an ease and classiness not lavished on jazz since the black-and-white jazz shorts of the 1930s and 40s. Extravagant color stage sets and powerful talent should leave you wide-eyed and hungry for more.

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