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Cesar Chavez Movie Review

Title: Cesar Chavez

Director: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring: Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Yancey Arias, Wes Bentley, Michael Cudlitz, Gabriel Mann, John Malkovich, Mark Moses, Jacob Vargas, Gael García Bernal.

Director Luna, began his career as telenovela actor when he was still a child, he then established himself with the finespun independent movie ‘Y tu mamá también,’ along with supporting roles in American films. When Luna decided to move to  directing, he always focused on social topics, just as he did in his latest ‘Cesar Chavez,’ that touches on several major nonviolent campaigns by the United Farm Workers in California such as the Delano grape strike, the Salad Bowl strike and the 1975 Modesto march.

 

Luna’s movie brings on the big screen the true story of the American labour leader who gathered 50,000 braceros, i.e. manual temporary agricultural workers from Mexico, and helped them stand up for their rights, by creating a union.

 

This biopic marks the first feature film on César Chávez, although numerous books, magazine articles, and scholarly studies have been written about the labour leader. Several writers and producers had tried for years to obtain the rights to Chávez’s life story, but failed, until screenwriter Keir Pearson (who established himself with the exquisite script of ‘Hotel Rwanda’) negotiated for two years with Chavez’s heirs before he and production partner, television producer Larry Meli, were able to secure the rights to Chávez’s life in 2011.

 

Luna’s movie has very well casted actors. Michael Peña, son of a Mexican farmer emigrated to the United States, seemed the perfect fit to star as Cesar Chavez. Just as America Ferrera brilliantly plays his quiet behind-the scenes wife; Rosario Dawson embodies with vigour the civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and John Malkovich boldly embodies the figure of the villain, agricultural producer Bogdanovitch, along with his son, interpreted by former fashion model Gabriel Mann.

 

The well-shot flick somehow portrays the Latino version of ’12 Years A Slave,’ where themes that relate to race and civil rights evoke crucial historical changes through the potent cinematic tool.

 

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: A

Overall: A-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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