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The Bottom Shelf #18

06.16.2005

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1993)
Directed by Alfonso Arau
Starring Lumi Cavazos & Marco Leonardi

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Based on an internationally known fable and best-selling novel, LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE is a cool little movie about a couple that are forbidden to marry. The man in the relationship is Pedro (Leonardi), who wants to wed Tita (Cavazos, who drives the film) but cannot. Complications arise, and Pedro ends up marrying her sister. Oh and I know what your thinking, this didnít take place somewhere in the Southern United States .

Anyway, Titaís mother who originally restricted the marriage cannot stop their romance from being rekindled as Pedro and both daughters are living in the same house. The selling point here is that apparently Titaís heartbroken attitude is channeled through her cooking, as anyone who eats it immediately understands her sorrow. To complicate matters, Pedro begins a strange affair with Tita, as we watch all sorts of odd parallels between romance and food unfold.

Bottom line, LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE really doesnít pack a huge punch, but itís an entertaining movie that draws some interesting conclusions through witty storytelling and atmospheric direction. Check this one out if you already havenítÖ

Favorite Scene:

By the end of the film Tita has to make a choice between two men. The entire segment is very well done, and focuses on a lot of different issues while remaining sort of light-hearted and fun.

Favorite Quote:

ďI'm a man of few, but firm, words.Ē

Trivia Tidbit:

The film was written by Laura Esquivel, who also penned the novel years earlier.

See If You Liked:

CHOCOLAT & TORTILLA SOUP

SLAM (1998)
Directed by Mark Levin
Starring Saul Williams and Sonja Sohn

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

After solid receptions at the 1998 Cannes and Sundance Festivals, SLAM went relatively unnoticed. Thatís unfortunate, because this film is phenomenal. The plot centers around the new art of Slam poetry, a robust, politically conscious and profound way of spoken word performance. Depending on your exposure to Slam poetry itself, your viewing experience may be different here, but you will be effected nonetheless. Director Levin gives us a gritty, mockumentary focusing on Ray Joshua (Saul Williams), a low level drug dealer in the slums of D.C. Ray is clearly intellectually superior to the ensemble of thugs he encounters on a daily basis, as we learn his amazing gift for writing and freestyling insane lyrics. When a small drug deal goes bad, Ray gets locked up. Amazed by Rayís talent and creativity, another inmate has someone post bail for him, and heís out within a few days. Upon his return to Dodge City however, Ray is faced with many important decisions about life and the path heís headed.

The plot isnít the main focus of this film, it really shines with the exceptional scenes of poetry Slams themselves. Ray begins a somewhat implausible relationship with a woman he met teaching a writing workshop class in prison, who herself is a well respected Slam poet. Both characters are dynamic performers, and itís magic to watch them work each other on and off stage. As I said earlier, depending on your interest in Urban/Slam Poetry going into the film, you will walk away with a different perspective. However I guarantee youíll be more aware of a powerful, emerging artform. Saul Williams is terrific in the movie, performing his own material throughout. He released a CD this year which Iím still listening to, and performs readings around the New York Area. Anyway, SLAM will definitely expose you to a new culture, where you take it from there is up to you.

Favorite Scene:

Ray interrupts a prison yard brawl by shouting out a wild verse off the top of his head. The performance is awesome, and the inmates reaction is classic.

Favorite Quote:

Too long to list, but any of the poems read are phenomenal.

Trivia Tidbit:

The guy who plays Jimmy Huang on the bus is actually a slam poet himself.

See If You Liked:

RUSSELL SIMMONS PRESENTS: DEF POETRY JAM, 8 MILE, SLAM NATION, JUICE

PREVIOUSLY:

Falling Down / The Last Horror Movie
Spanish Prisoner / Near Dark
Bottle Rocket / The Long Goodbye
Swimming Pool / Session 9
Jules and Jim / Bully
The Apple / Troll 2
The Sweet Hereafter / Exotica
Happiness / In the Mood for Love
Blue Velvet / Living in Oblivion
They Live / Phantom of the Paradise
Summer School / Sleepaway Camp
George Washington / Tape
Say Anything / Battle Royale
Black Sunday / 29th Street
Blood Simple / Raising Arizona
Freaks / Hard Eight
Harold and Maude / Coffy

Source: JoBlo.com

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