Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Director: Mark Becker
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 04/03/2007 Run time: 80 minutes
Touching. I'll be hoping for the soundtrack
T. Calvert | Denver CO | 01/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a subtle, dignified documentary narrated mostly with the simple words and romantic lyrics of a humble man. We follow several months in the surprisingly unromantic life of a 64 year old Mexican mariachi musician and singer named Carmelo. We walk with him as he sings and plays his amazing guitar in San Francisco's restuarants, and eventually back home in his Salvatierra, Mexico, at funerals, weddings, among the prostitutes at the local bars, and at last, his daughter's Quinceañera. It is a bittersweet reunion, coming home, for his family struggles once more financially as it takes weeks to earn the the money it often took only a night to earn in the US.
Through it all, Carmelo never complains. He appears almost shy, but determined to save something to ensure a secure future for his daughters, no matter what the price he might pay to his own health and safety. The many obstacles faced in a working-class migrant's life on both sides of the border might normally overwhelm the casual American viewer, if not for the truly gorgeous music and the traveled face of the leading man. The lyrics to the many Mexican traditional ballads are subtitled and often laced with great humor. Carmelo is no amateur musician, though even he admits, this was not how he expected to make his living. There is an amazing scene where his band accompanies a large funeral procession on foot among hundreds of mourners. Carmelo's baritone voice can be heard without a microphone, for several blocks. This movie gives beautiful voice to one of the less-noticed but no less eloquent.
A Tale of Two Cities
Brendan M. Howard | Kansas, USA | 04/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Carmelo Muniz hijacked director Mark Becker's film. But, to be fair, Becker let him. In the director's interview on this DVD, the San Franciscan says he had originally planned to make a documentary about mariachi players in his mostly Latino neighborhood. The last interview of the night with Muniz, however, was the best. The illegal immigrant musician, who sent money home to feed his family and send his daughters to school, answered questions with eloquence, and his story reeled Becker in.
The hijacking continued when Becker's single week of filming in San Francisco extended into weeks that took him across the border to Mexico when Muniz returned home to see his sick mother. As a musician in his beloved hometown, Muniz makes pennies on the dollar what he made in front of San Francisco eateries. He yearns to return to the States, but fears as he gets older he can't make the dangerous trip.
But Becker doesn't dwell on illegal immigration or politics so much as let Muniz tell his story. In the film, Muniz says he's waited his whole life to tell his story, and he somehow knew it would happen. He's charismatic, hard-working, open to change, and has a dream to be big. In a way, this film made it happen for him in the States and in Mexico. It's testimony to Muniz's storytelling and Becker's careful filmmaking that anyone who watches this film will be glad to have spent time with Muniz.
DVD Extras: A filmed interview with the director reveals he's well-spoken, intelligent, and interesting. It also explains what's happened to Muniz since the film was made. Deleted scenes of Muniz's hometown of Salvatierra and his own walking tour, with camera, through its streets are treats. A Q&A from a screening of the film is too short.
Moving, thoughtful film
rina m | Rockville, MD United States | 02/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a moving thoughtful film that makes you aware of the difficult choices that some people must make - the choice of providing for their family or being with their family. The main character, Carmelo, simply can't be in two places at the same time and the strain of his choice is evident on both him and his family.
This movie should not only touch your heart, but make you realize how lucky you are that this is not a choice you need make - but one that so many make on a daily basis.
Visually pleasing with a great soundtrack you are on Carmelo's journey with him and connect with the other characters in the film.
This is a definite must see documentary and it is no wonder that it won support from Sundance and Slamdance.
a.c. | 03/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mark Becker's Romantico is one of the most poignant and beautiful documentaries I've seen in recent years. Gorgeously shot and impeccably edited, it represents an extremely subtle kind of filmmaking: a rare thing these days. If you want a didactic lecture on border politics, look elsewhere--this film conveys the heartbreak of one individual caught in the gears of global economics on a highly personal level. Its patience allows the story to unfold at a pace appropriate to the subject matter and challenges the audience to draw its own lessons rather than ramming an agenda down one's throat. The wave of commercially successful documentaries over the past five or so years has led to a sort of renaissance of documentary in America, or so we're told. (In some ways, even reality TV can lay partial claim to opening the eyes of the general public to the entertainment value of non-fiction cinema...if only by making viewers more savvy about how film manipulates so-called reality.) But Romantico is a throwback to an earlier, purer school of documentary, recalling Fred Wiseman, the early work of the Maysles, Pennebaker, Robert Drew, etc. Carmelo's story is incredibly moving and meticulously told: seeing Romantico will restore your faith in the state of American documentary filmmaking as well. (I also hope someone has the foresight to release the terrific soundtrack.)"