Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sex, Love & Salsa: What’s It All About, Julian?
Julian Suarez is a Salsa dancer who never saw Michael Caine in Alfie.
If he had, he might have been forewarned players like himself always
realize just a little too late when it is time to settle down. At least he has respectable taste in music
from what we can tell from Adrian Manzano’s Sex,
Love & Salsa (a.k.a.
BQE, trailer here), which opens
tonight in Brooklyn.
thinks he is so good at putting on the moves he actually gives classes to other
aspiring pick-up artists. He also
fancies himself a future reality TV-documentary franchise, so he and his
cronies compulsively film their Casanova antics. He will have his work cut out for him trying
to thaw Maria, a professionally trained Salsa dancer who recognizes a player
when she sees one. On the other side of
the spectrum, he is a little too successful seducing the very young and very
inexperienced Genny (practically from the block). Ingrid, his somewhat older friend-with-benefits
might be a better fit, but all her talk about suddenly wanting a baby has him
kind of spooked.
a director, Manzano relies too heavily on hand-held cameras and
as-seen-through-the-omnipresent-video-camera perspectives. However, he stages a very stylish formal
dance number down the stretch. As a screenwriter, he created one intriguing female
character in Ingrid, and gives Maria a few interesting moments, but poor Genny
badly illustrates the principle of diminishing returns. As his lead actor, I’ll leave it the women of
New York to judge how convincing Manzano is as an irresistible lades man. Anyone, anyone? Bueller, Bueller?
Manzano gives viewers a nice slice of New York nightlife, showcasing a number
of talented Salsa bands and dancers.
Shot on location in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens (wherever that is), SLS has a vivid sense of place, often
feeling like a tour of neighborhood Salsa clubs, which is cool. Maleche Stewart’s
black-and-white-with-flashes-of-color cinematography is also quite visually
appealing. It sounds kind of harsh, but SLS would probably be a better movie if
there was less story and more dancing.
Susan Quinn gives a rich, multifaceted performance as the tough but vulnerable
Ingrid. Likewise, Gabrielle Ruiz lends
the film a genuinely seductive screen presence and some nice Salsa chops as the
less than impressed Maria. Marisol
Carrere and Jorge Hoyos also do some nice work as Suarez’s mother and father, rescuing
an overwritten family breakfast scene.
The rest of the ensemble is a little spotty.
Manzano earns credit for not indulging in cheap
pay-offs, but viewers will still have a pretty good idea where it is all
heading. There are a lot of talented
musicians gigging in New York Salsa bands, including moonlighting jazz players,
so if SLS is good for business than
that’s great. Unfortunately, the awkward
drama does not always well serve the hot Salsa vibe. Mostly for diehard Salsa fans and chauvinistic
Brooklynites, Sex, Love & Salsa opens
tonight (11/14) at indieScreen in the County of Kings, with Salsa dancing to
follow each nightly screening.
Labels: New York Cinema, Salsa music