The Austin Chronicle

Tales That Must Be Told

Previewing the ninth Cine las Americas

By Toddy Burton, April 14, 2006, Screens

Hasta El Último Trago ... Corazón! (Until the Last Drink ... Heart!)

D: Beto Gómez

In celebrating the labyrinthine identity of Mexican women and their music, Gómez lovingly interviews the singers Chayito Valdez, Chavela Vargas, Lila Downs, Eugenia León, Astrid Hadad, La Negra Graciana, and Iraida Noriega. Representing widely ranging backgrounds, generations, and musical styles, each woman discusses politics, love, and religion with vibrant candor. The film weaves together concert footage with the interviews, providing a unique opportunity to experience rare, beautiful, and sometimes comically absurd stage performances. While North American viewers might experience many of these voices for the first time, both Vargas and Downs are delightfully recognizable from the Frida soundtrack. As the unique personalities emerge, a pervasive strength takes hold, contributing to a complex portrait of Mexico and its people. Each woman individually destroys any lingering stereotypes that dictate femininity cannot co-exist with strength. Indeed, they don't pull any punches when blasting Mexican politics or machismo. Yet conversely, all the women lovingly embrace the hard-fought passion they feel for their country. A lyricism pervades the songs, the language, and the filmmaking, and, ultimately, a sense of true inspiration erupts as each woman more completely reveals her own identity. The filmmaking has a home-movie quality, both visually and narratively, that supports its intimate themes. This delicate portrait evokes Mexico, its people, land, and music, with an honesty rarely seen on screen.

Thursday, April 20, 7pm, Metropolitan

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