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Cronicas
DVD disk
Nov 16, 2005 By: Jason Coleman
Cronicas order
Director:
Sebastian Cordero

Actors:
John Leguizamo
Leonor Watling
Damian Alcazar

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A sleazy tabloid reporter is out to find a serial killer known as The Monster, in a small town in Ecuador. A new story he is working on may lead to the capture and identity of the man he is seeking.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
CRONICAS (a title which means nothing to me since I dont speak Spanish and its never used or explained in the film itself) is the type of film that walks the middle of the road. Meaning, its not bad, but isnt good either. Its just kind of there. The screenplay has premise (it says based on a true story, but I smell something fishy!), but is never carried off in more than an adequate way. The film is not shot with any real style or visual flair, but does tell the basic story. (Points off though for the cameraman, who shakes like my grandmother during hand-held shots!) The slight surprises, twists and raw powerful suspense (DVD cover words, not mine) are masked by a film that is so slow going, you dont really care when things do happen.

John Leguizamo is really the only known cast member here, which isnt necessarily a bad thing. But Leguizamo is best when he is both larger than life and a secondary character here hes unfortunately both the lead and largely stoic. Sorry John, loved you even in SPAWN bro, but in this one, I didnt buy you for a second. (And why if the whole film is in Spanish, does Leguizamo breaks into a sentence in English every once in a while and then switch back again like nothing happened????) The rest of the cast does a better job then their star, but the performances here are just interesting enough to move the story forward. Roger Ebert, Rex Reed and USA Today (who all hail this film) should know that a positive review is earned, not just given. Lets be frank, a great taunt thriller should be tight, well edited and always keep you guessing till the end. CRONICAS is not only the opposite, being loose, choppy and slowly paced, but smells of critical favoritism because its from another country. Foreign or not, a mediocre film is still just a mediocre film.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary (with Director Sebastian Cordero): Starting the commentary off thanking people, not great. And did Cordero really compare his music to Bernard Herrmanns legendary PSYCHO score? He does explain why Leguizamo goes back and fourth between Spanish and English, but it still seems ridiculous. Cordero still manages to be interesting, explaining everything from importance of certain locations, to logistics of a scene. So if you really liked this film, this commentary isnt bad.

The Making of Cronicas (49:27): Why does Director Cordero not speak English here, when he did so in the commentary and the Jam Session doc? Anyway, whats really irritating here is how the subtitles keep getting mixed up with names and jobs of people involved in the film, its a reading nightmare! A standard doc, nothing too impressive, actors complimenting and complaining, everyone explaining the story, on set footage, the crew bonding, and so on and so on. Way too long guys! Best moment - when we see Leguizamo working with an actual reporter. This is a great glimpse into a part of the filmmaking process that the audience never gets to see, short but great!

Alternate Ending (2:51): First, director Cordero explains in written print (mistake, either show a video explanation, commentary or nothing!) why his film had this ending first and why he changed it. Then, second, is the scene itself, which I agree is much better cut. Its just too bad it wasnt attached to a film that could have benefited from it.

Deleted Scene (2:26): Again, there is a written explanation. (See above) This scene is sick to watch, but still lacks the tension and style to be called taunt. (Unless you count that drop of the camera, for no reason, half-way through the take!)

Lynching Scene Alternate Version (4:31): More damn written! This one adds back a piece of music to an early scene of violence that was taken out. The director felt that the scene was more powerful without this great music - he was wrong.

Soledad Jam Session (4:41): Whoever shot the film, probably shot this mini-doc, as it makes the camerawork in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT seem like a Kubrick film. This one starts with Director Cordero talking about where they shot and then goes on to music. Much like the film itself, this one just sits and waits.

Trailers (6:03): This one is a series of four Trailers, including the US Theatrical, the Ecuadorian Theatrical, the Ecuadorian TV spot, and Cannes Trailer. All of these trailers sure make this film look like a must see, ahh, the power of editing!

Photo Gallery (2:29): A series of on set photos, hey, at least you dont have to click forward to see the next picture!

Palm Previews (5:15): Trailers here include BOMB THE SYSTEM, a bad TURK 182 meets FOUR BROTHERS and a rather interesting looking series called THE DIRECTORS LABEL SERIES Volumes 4-7 about filmmakers and their music videos. Have to check out 1-3!

There is also a Web Links section for those who have to have it all!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Dont ever let a DVD cover box, which sometimes seem to have a million great quotes, lead you astray. Always be sure to read the fine print. CRONICAS, while seemingly rife with glowing reviews, is proof that Americans are not the only ones who make films whose fine print says forgettable.
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