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Thread: Jennifer Lopez responds to 'El Cantante' critics

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    Unhappy Jennifer Lopez responds to 'El Cantante' critics

    Jennifer Lopez responds to 'El Cantante' critics - Los Angeles Times

    Criticism and controversy have trailed Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony in recent days as they made their way across country to attend advance screenings for their new movie, "El Cantante," about the rise and fall of one of salsa's most inventive vocalists, Hector Lavoe. But in the festive atmosphere following the Hollywood premiere this week at the Directors Guild of America Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, they were in no mood to concede to their detractors.

    Lopez fired back in a tone that echoed the feisty character she plays in the film, Puchi Perez, wife of the late Lavoe, played by Marc Anthony. Seated next to her husband as they greeted well-wishers, Lopez challenged the critics: "I don't know what movie they want to see, because this is the truth."

    It's been a rough ride for the New York power couple, who have worked for almost six years to make the movie, the maiden effort from Lopez's Nuyorican Productions. The film, which opened Friday, is getting panned by critics and blasted by big-name salsa stars, including some who actually worked on the project.

    The attacks have been merciless, especially on the Internet, where the filmmakers have been accused of usurping barrio culture and exploiting Lavoe's memory. J.Lo and Anthony don't know anything about salsa, grouses one caustic critic from a Yahoo Latin jazz discussion group. They grew up in New York singing in English and turned to Latin music only to make money, the poster grumbles bitterly.

    After the film's premiere in Puerto Rico, salsa singer Ismael Miranda, a Lavoe contemporary who plays his father in "El Cantante," publicly condemned the film for focusing too much on the tragic artist's drug abuse, which eventually led to his death from AIDS complications. Miranda was joined in his critique by singer Domingo Quiñónez, who also has a bit part in the movie, and Cheo Feliciano, a revered vocalist and member (along with Miranda and Lavoe) of the Fania All-Stars, the '70s' super-group that helped launch the salsa boom.

    But the worst was yet to come.

    It turned up Wednesday on that Yahoo forum in the form of a post from none other than Willie Colón, the bandleader who was Lavoe's partner and producer for two decades. Even though Colón had been hired as a consultant on the film, he now says he's disappointed with the results.

    "The creators of El Cantante missed an opportunity to do something of relevance for our community," Colón wrote. "The real story was about Hector fighting the obstacles of a nonsupportive industry that took advantage of entertainers with his charisma and talent. Instead they did another movie about two Puerto Rican junkies. . . .

    "It's difficult to comprehend how two individuals who are in the music business like Marc and Jennifer are not aware of the damage and the consequences of promoting only the negative side of our Latin music culture."

    I caught up later with the bandleader, who was on tour in Europe. Via e-mail, I asked him what he would want the world to know about Lavoe that the movie doesn't convey.

    His sense of humor, Colón said, his agile mind, his sex appeal, his ability to communicate effortlessly with audiences, his loyalty and fearlessness in standing up for what he believed was right.

    "I would show why he became so beloved among his fans," said Colón. "This way, when he does fall, the movie viewer will understand him better and empathize with his character."

    True, the movie fails to explore the creative process or try to explain Lavoe's popularity. It's primarily a love story, through the eyes of Lavoe's late widow, who helped generate the original script and wanted Lopez to play her onscreen.

    And that's part of the problem -- two dominant women taking center stage in a man's world. After all, salsa is a macho business, and the tough-talking, coke-snorting Perez was reviled when she was alive as a gold-digger who exploited Lavoe during their 20-year relationship and then abandoned him in his dire final days.

    Now the Bronx-born Lopez is feeling the blow-back from those who resent her for turning a movie about a cultural icon into "The Puchi and Hector Story," another Hollywood distortion.

    "I believe that Puchi actually caused Hector's downfall," Colón said. "I never understood why he put up with such a negative, homely, vulgar person. The biggest crime is the canonization of Puchi so that Jennifer can play her."

    The controversy seemed distant from the industry crowd celebrating after the Hollywood premiere. Some danced in the Grand Lobby as a DJ played Lavoe's original music and wandering waiters served rum drinks called Blue Lavoes.

    The party itself was a throwback to salsa's heyday, when the music was the cool thing in celebrity circles. For all the film's faults, it focuses renewed popular attention on a cultural phenomenon that was in danger of being forgotten. Ironically, those critical salsa stars in Puerto Rico spoke at a news conference announcing a new tour in tribute to Lavoe, something that probably would not be happening if not for the movie they were knocking.

    "I think it's good for the business," said salsa pianist Larry Harlow, another member of the Fania All-Stars. "It'll create a little stir in the Latin music scene, and believe me, New York really needs it. Anything we do about Latin music is good for Latin music."

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    Elite Member DoveFeatheredRaven's Avatar
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    Warning- very un-PC remark to follow:

    Does anyone who isn't Hispanic or Latino even care about this movie? It just seems like they are trying to cater to the growing subpopulation in America. This was doomed to fail.

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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    I'm Hispanic and/or Latino and I don't care...

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    Elite Member MissVenus's Avatar
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    The only people who take J-Lo and her ghoulish bedfellow seriously are J-Lo and her ghoulish bedfellow.

    Can someone please let them know that NO ONE ELSE GIVES A RATS!
    vaya con dios

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    Who the hell was this man anyway?!?!?! I've listened to salsa music my entire life and I've never ever heard of Hector Lavoe. I'd heard of Willie Colon since I was a child, but who was this dude Hector Lavoe? IMO he wasn't this 'legend'. Maybe 'some' Puerto Ricans knew of him but I don't think he was this mega-star, otherwise his music would've surely sky-rocketed after his death. Instead, his name has been unheard of for years. Sure, maybe he was amonst the first salsa singers of that era in New York, but the man was heroin addict. I read somewhere that Lavoe was even into witchcraft (Santeria). Supposedly, when he contracted AIDS, he spent most of his time drugged out of his mind looking for cures with Santeria healers. That meant isolating himself amongst the religion and it's followers. The movie sure didn't cover that. It also didn't cover the fact that Puchi and him hadn't been together in years and really hated each other at the end I've read. Put it this way, nothing about Hector Lavoe sounds like good news.

    Hector Lavoe couldn't have been as big as this movie is making him out to be. Obviously, Marc and Jennifer wanted to hype up the movie and the character for THEIR benefit. They produced this move and really went out on a limb--they wanted it be a big box-office hit. I bet you they saw 'musical figure', 'latino', 'tragic ending'--and then dollar signs. They were probably hoping that a Hector Lavoe movie would do for Marc Anthony what the role of "Selena" did for Jennifer Lopez---make her a mega star. Personally, I think they failed.

    I know a few people who saw the movie this weekend and they said it was 'alright' but it wasn't worth paying full price for...it wasn't Oscar material and they said the movie wasn't as good as they had expected.

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    ^ Oh, so now it's the 'whites' against 'minority groups' and all minorities have to stick together to prove a point, otherwise we're racist too? Sorry, I don't follow the crowd or that sort of mindset. I can think for myself. I praise righteous people who don't need to be glamorized in a script and have their lives hyped-up for Hollywood just to sell a film.

    Racism is the wrong word. It's being real. And racism goes both ways...be proud of who you are but don't exaggerate accomplishments just to make a person a 'hero' (especially if they weren't). Nothing good comes out of false adoration or making someone larger than life and supporting that just because they happen to be the same ethnicity or culture as you...that's bull. I'm human first. I will support and look highly upan ANYONE of any culture when it's merited. I'm not going to support anything or anyone if it's not worthy of it, just because I'm black, white, latino or whatever. There are good and bad people in every culture---not just 'whites'. Anyone can be racist, it's not just a 'white' trait....it can even be...dare I say...people like us....LATINOS?

    Valio madre la pelicula...bottom line. We as latinos don't have to support a shitty or exaggerated movie to prove how down we are with ours. That's just crazy.

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    Elite Member Gen X EJC's Avatar
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    Now I want to find out the real story of these two so I can find out if she really was this awful Yoko Ono type or just another strong woman maligned by the macho jerks around her.

    Then again, I can't see Jennifer Lopez making the standup feminist movie of the year, soooo.... PASS.
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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    ^^
    The reviews I have read have been mostly favorable as far as the music and Marc Anthony's ability to portray Hector Lavoe; the criticisms have been that there should have been more "Hector" and less "Puchi". One reviewer said the movie should have been called "La Esposa", because it focuses more on her character reminiscing about Hector than on the story of the man himself and his life.

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    suddenly Im hungry for tacos.

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    I saw "La Vie en Rose" a couple of weeks ago. I knew virtually nothing about Edith Piaf, I went because my husband who is French adored her. Wow, what a life, what a voice, what a movie. If a movie is good, people will say so, be it about American, Spanish, Peurto Rican or a French singer. JLO's movie is O.K., that's all, nothing great, nothing good.
    If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrettyGirl View Post
    ^ Oh, so now it's the 'whites' against 'minority groups' and all minorities have to stick together to prove a point, otherwise we're racist too? Sorry, I don't follow the crowd or that sort of mindset. I can think for myself. I praise righteous people who don't need to be glamorized in a script and have their lives hyped-up for Hollywood just to sell a film.

    Racism is the wrong word. It's being real. And racism goes both ways...be proud of who you are but don't exaggerate accomplishments just to make a person a 'hero' (especially if they weren't). Nothing good comes out of false adoration or making someone larger than life and supporting that just because they happen to be the same ethnicity or culture as you...that's bull. I'm human first. I will support and look highly upan ANYONE of any culture when it's merited. I'm not going to support anything or anyone if it's not worthy of it, just because I'm black, white, latino or whatever. There are good and bad people in every culture---not just 'whites'. Anyone can be racist, it's not just a 'white' trait....it can even be...dare I say...people like us....LATINOS?

    Valio madre la pelicula...bottom line. We as latinos don't have to support a shitty or exaggerated movie to prove how down we are with ours. That's just crazy.
    Muy bien dicho PrettyGirl. Anyone can see right through J-Lo's intent to corner the Latino market. It is nothing more than a sad attempt to remain relevant. I can assure you that the majority don't give a shit about her. Give us some credit.

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moongirl View Post
    I'm Hispanic and/or Latino and I don't care...
    I second this!! No amount of cultural pride can obscure the fact that this is a vanity project for both of them, they're in it purely for self-glorification. And it's gonna suck accordingly.

    Though I thought Marc Anthony was at least familiar with salsa music as his own music is close, isn't it?...well, maybe he's more of a balladeer. I have to confess I don't have a good grasp on what genre his music falls into, I've only heard snippets and I don't pay attention I just know his fan base consists almost entirely of spanish speakers. At least his work actually deals with hispanic music and culture--unlike Jennifer Lopez who could hardly string together coherent sentences at the Spanish-speaking premieres of this movie.

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    i had no idea that marc anthony was american. i'd have to see it but the whole showing latins in a negative light thing bugs me. if they were junkies (and he was) so be it.

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snuffy View Post
    I would LOVE to be there when someone plays this in front of J.Lo. That South Park episode was just too damn funny.

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