Very compelling story perfectly set in Mexico City.
Clfiford Olin | Alhambra, CA USA | 06/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw "El Callejon de los Milagros" (orginal title of the movie) two years ago in Mexico City. It is extremely well-acted by its cast which includes Salma Hayak who since then of course has become a star in the U.S., though she has never had a vehicle here like "El Callejon de los Milagros" that really showed her acting prowess along with her physical beauty. The movie, though, is really about great ensemble acting that tells four or five separate but somehow inter-related stories set on a street in the working class barrio of Mexico City known there as Tepito. The characters, especially the young guys, have the delicious accent of proletarian Mexico City, and use all the slang and idiomatic expressions. It may be hard to understand for those who haven't spent time in Mexico City, but the sub-titles probably help a lot. The movie touches on themes like homosexuality, machismo, poverty, the poignant fears and desires of a single lady in her late forties, and features some of Mexico's best actors, along with Hayak. I guess the movie is not for the faint of heart, since it unflinchingly looks at prostitution and homosexuality in Mexico City, but always shows choices made by characters in all their complexity. We are looking at very human, fallible people confronting their sexuality, their hopes and dreams, and making choices, sometimes disastrous choices, in hopes of escaping the economic and social limitations that constrict the life-choice options for those living in a poor neighborhood like the proletariat barrio where the "Callejon de los Milagros" is set. It is a fascinating look at life in Mexico City, very convincing and engrossing. It really should have been given a big advertising push by Miramax so that it could have had the large audience it deserves. Too bad, because U.S. audiences would surely have enjoyed it, and those of us familiar with the setting in Mexico City doubly love it because it so perfectly captures the language and mores of the people who live in "el Callejon de los Milagros"."
An excellent production, wonderful acting!
Victor L. Hernandez | The Woodlands, TX USA | 01/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is based on an arabian novel called "Midaq Alley" which is the title for the movie in English. In Mexico (where it was produced), it was called "El Callejon de los Milagros" ("Miracle Alley") which is a real alley in Mexico City's downtown.It details the lives of several charachters of the movie in a format similar to the one used in GO and somewhat like the one used in Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run). A young Mexico City late teens girl whose mother is a tarot palm reader, an opportunist bartender, a sexually undecided bar owner, and many other charachters that may be seen in any downtown. The story is full of real life situations while adding to it a sufficient dose of laughter, sarcasm and ingenuity.Though not representative of what all of Mexico is (it mainly represents low income downtown Mexico City charachters), it is a very good option for learning a bit more of the mixed Idiosyncrasies (Spanish, European, Moorish, Sephardic Jew, Nahuatl, Zapotec, Mexica, Maya and Aztec) that conform a lot of the Mexican ethnicity."
A well told story
Penumbra | Atlanta, GA USA | 04/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beginning with a game of dominoes in a Mexico City cantina, we are introduced to the people who frequent this neighborhood bar and then to their families, and the extended family of their poor neighborhood, ironically known as Midaq Alley or Callejon de los Milagros. We watch helplessly as a series of events unfold drawing in other characters and changing their lives forever. As the film progresses, this same game of dominoes begins again and again. Each time, we see how the same basic sequence of events unfold through the eyes of a different set of characters and and how their lives are changed forever. It's as though the game of dominoes is a metaphor for life. At some level each life touches another and determines what will happens to the other characters. A decision taken by one character limits and directs the choices of the others.Not having had the advantage of reading the novel in advance of renting the movie, I did not have a preconceived notion of how the characters should behave, or how they stacked up against the book. Generally the translation of a novel into a movie is sketchy at best. However, taken at face value Midaq Alley works very well on film. The plot is strong and the characters are well defined. What appears to be a slight nuance in one sequence becomes the obvious catalyst that motivates a character in a later sequence. The whole effect ties the characters together as an extended family, a neighborhood, a nation, and finally as archetypes for the human experience. I recommend Midaq Alley as the best type of "art film" -- one that serves as a catalyst for thought and discussion."
A realistic "Callegon de Milagros"
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An excellent drama offset by comedic situations and some great acting."Midaq Alley" captures life around a neighborhood in Mexico City complete with intertwined lives and surprising tangles in the web of life. The story has a soap opera quality but is much more grand and much more realistic than the sappy soaps. The movie is a peek into the trials and tribulations of ordinary lives with at times extraordinary circumstances. It covers a variety of contemporary issues addressing life in the DF today. It is very difficult to explain other than to say that it is well worth viewing to draw your your own conclusions. There is alot going on in the story. The acting is superb and very gritty, giving the movie a sense of authenticity. There is a whole cast of characters that have their roles big and small but all lend credence to the movie. One of my favorite characters in the movie is a man known as "el poeta". During the domino games at the local bar he sites various authors to illustrate his opinions on everything from the game itself to the neighborhood gossip. He is just so cool with his subtle commentary. Another fine performance is put in for the character "Don Ru" who is one of the hubs of the story that ties several characters together. He is very credible given the unusual circumstances. Two of the best performances are put in by Bruno Bichir, as Abel, the love interest of the oh, so sexy Salma Hayek, as Alma. Abel is a sort of naive, yet street smart kid who looks like a younger Andy Garcia. He plays his role perfectly. The dialogue is as younsters talk to themselves complete with "buey" folowing every sentence. The movie has it's share of foul language but it doesn't sound nasty, it comes out just as Mexicans often talk. It isn't anything dirty or vile it is just colorful street talk. Now for the real reason for every man to watch this movie-Salma Hayek, what a goddess! She is just so beautiful that it matters not what she would say or do because most of us men don't care. Seriously though, she can act and does so quite convincingly. Her character is one of the main ones and she pulls it off, not her clothes, with conviction. Granted her chacter does not have the most depth in the movie but she is more than a pretty face, she can act. A galaxy of stars for Salma Hayek. This is one of the best dramas I've seen of late and quite possibly the best to come out Mexico in years. The setting is beautiful and very close to life. The situations are all to real and superbly presented in such a manner that will have you laughng and sad, happy and dissappointed, feeling tragic and triumphant, much like in real life. This is an excellent movie, a little long, but well worth the viewing experience. This is Mexican cinema at it's finest."
This masterpiece is my favorite movie ever...
private__ | Earth | 02/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has not had the exposure it deserves, since it is truly a masterpiece, not only of Mexican film but of international film in general. It takes the idea of viewing one story from different perspectives to new heights, as we watch how ten different things can all be happening at once, without any of those involved realizing what is going on.
The film uses a technique that has now been copied ad nauseum, beginning each section with a title screen containing one character's name and then telling the "same" story from that character's perspective. But each of these perspectives is completely disconnected from the others and creates a set of snapshots of the life on Miracle Alley at one point in time.
Because each character is so different from the others (a middle-aged man in an unhappy marriage, a young woman struggling to survive in a heartless world, a wealthy but homely woman who doesn't fit into the society around her), the film gives a great overview of different types of people who probably do exist in Mexico today, all so very diverse. Could be an eye-opener for many American viewers who look at Mexicans as one big indistinct mass, since this film shows just how different the people living on one tiny street can be.
It truly is my favorite movie of all times (and I have seen a lot!), so I must recommend it."