The story of Cecilia is a story of the society that dominated 19th-century Cuba, a society divided between whites, blacks, and those who were mixed, the mulattos. (Since the Spanish conquistadors killed off the Indian population in Cuba not long after they took over the island, there are no mestizos, or those of mixed-Indian blood in Cuba as in other Caribbean nations.) At any rate, the drama about the life and loves of Cecilia (Daisy Granados) takes place against the backdrop of graphically violent mistreatment of slaves and the rumors of a slave rebellion after the Cubans hear of slaves turning against their captors in Haiti.
This documentary about the Dixie Chicks offers a revealing case study of the relationship between politics, celebrity and the media in today’s polarized social climate.
2006-10-27 | STEPHEN HOLDEN | Read the New York Times Review of Shut Up & Sing
This psychological mystery realizes that it is so lucky to have Cecilia Roth in the starring role that her character's name is repeated. "Lucía, Lucía" is such a vortex of plot that the movie begins to suck everything around it into a kind of black hole. It begins with Lucía narrating; she is about to board a plane with her husband, Ramón, for a Brazilian vacation. He disappears with the tickets as the flight is being announced. After the initial shock of her husband's broad-daylight vanishing wears off, she's forced to recognize that her marriage hadn't been a particularly happy one for some time. Ms. Roth's radiance and understanding of Lucía's emotional life gives this movie a touch of necessary psychological accessibility. Movies of this subgenre, in which the protagonist has to come to an understanding of herself by measuring her own life against her previous somnolent bourgeoisie existence, can feel vapid. This is partially because the star has to awaken from her own passivity before our very eyes. Ms. Roth makes Lucía's state a willful ignorance instead, and her emerging recognition of her unhappiness, as new information comes to light, adds a dimension to the material. The film also has two able, love-struck neighbors who lend her a couple of hands: Félix (Carlos Alvarez Novoa) — a battered and elderly former political firebrand who still has a bit of a fuse left — and Adrián (Kuno Becker), a 20-ish musician determined to prove his seriousness by quoting dense philosophical precepts at the most inopportune moments. Mr. Serrano stages his wobbly adaptation of Rosa Montero's novel "La Hija del Canibal" with lively, fast-moving efficiency. Ms. Roth uses an anticipatory jitteriness, too, and gets to take a deep breath at the end of "Lucía, Lucía." She deserves it, because she's kept the picture going. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-07-25 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Lucia Lucia
A whole new order of Almodovar extravaganza. The antic fizz and theatrical exaggeration of his earlier work have blossomed into a newly sophisticated style, one that is far more wise and deeply felt. Lovingly dedicated to actresses who have played actresses, this film weaves its own soap opera around ''A Streetcar Named Desire'' and tells of splendidly resilient women; Pedro Almodovar has aptly described his material as ''screwball drama.'' Rich and entertaining, this story celebrates the power of artifice and impersonation to transcend ordinary truth. The irrepressible Antonia San Juan, a Spanish nightclub performer, plays a transsexual named Agrado and is the film's biggest treat. — Janet Maslin
1999-09-24 | Janet Maslin | Read the New York Times Review of All About My Mother