Friday, June 17, 2016

Viva (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Viva” Adds New Life To Father-Son Bond
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

A friend of mine used to work for Viva, a sexy women’s magazine published by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. In the new film of the same name, a young Cuban man spots the magazine on a table when asked what name he’s auditioning under and choses it as his drag queen stage name -- “Viva.”

Although set in Havana, this is an Irish film directed by Dublin-born Paddy Breathnach. Paddy is known for such indie outings as “Blow Dry” and “I Went Down.”

“Viva” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

In it, a young Cuban hairdresser named Jesus (Héctor Medina) aspires to perform as a drag queen, but he needs a makeover. Turning an awkward guy into a sexy gal takes some doing. But Jesus A/K/A Viva has good tutors.

Viva’s stage debut literally hits a bump when a guy jumps out of the audience and punches him in the face. Turns out, the guy is his estranged father, a macho boxer. Angel (Jorge Perugorría) has different expectations for his son. However, after an absence of 15 years, Jesus/Viva doesn’t think his father should have any say-so. Thus, we have a clash between progenitor and offspring. As well as a clash between the Latin machismo world and the drag world.

Héctor Medina is known for his appearance in “Truck Driver.” Jorge Perugorría is remembered for his leading role in the Cuban classic, “Strawberries and Chocolate.”

“Viva” was proposed as Ireland’s entry as Best Foreign Language Film in the 88th Academy Awards. While it didn’t make the cut, getting that far should serve as a recommendation to cinephiles.

This film should resonate here in Key West where we have a well-entrenched community of drag queens ... along with a large, more traditional Cuban population.

While this drama features the show biz backdrop of drag performers, the relationship between a son and his long-absent father crosses all boundaries.

No comments: