Cesar Chavez

I should have worked ahead on my classroom material, but I got bogged down.  I brought out my novel and read a couple of chapters.  I didn’t get to talk with anyone about movies.  I stopped to buy a burrito before heading home and catching the overtime period of the Warriors game in Utah on the radio.  Apparently tired in playing their second game in two nights and having to travel, the Warriors had difficulty, but Stephen Curry scored key points in the extra period, and they won their 68th game of the season.  I settled down to watch the movie “Cesar Chavez” on DVD because I’m getting the day off from teaching today for Cesar Chavez Day.  The cast included Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, and John Malkovich.  This movie covers subject matter that seems to be of growing importance here in California, with the large Latino population here.  The criticism of this movie has centered on the character of Chavez, who is not memorable at all.  Maybe in securing the rights to the life story, the producers gave up too much after the negotiations with the Chavez family.  When he works in the fields, his back hurts, but we don’t feel it.  If his feet hurt during the pilgrimage to Sacramento, we don’t feel it.  When he gets hit in the ribs, he gets bruised, but an apple eases the pain, although I couldn’t see how.  For someone who was an important leader, he didn’t show much substance.  There is a bit of an argument with his wife about allowing herself to get arrested, but it is incomplete.  The story covers some of the ground we saw in “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Bound for Glory,” but from another perspective.  The movie focuses on the period from 1965 to 1970.  The son suffers at his school from incidents like having grapes stuffed into his locker.  A lot of pieces seem to be missing from the script.  How bad are the working conditions?  John Malkovich played one of those composite characters, this one named Bogdanovich, and he was the most memorable character besides Chavez.  In fact, you could make the case that this was another of those instances where the villain steals the show from the hero.  The movie was released two years ago, and ticket sales were less than the budget.  That is unfortunate but understandable.  There is a weak quality to this movie.  It’s a movie about a leader, but we’re not inspired to follow him.  I imagine that the difficulties in dealing with language really hurt the film.  I would have to question Diego Luna’s abilities as a film director.  In its running time of 102 minutes, it felt like the movie hardly covered any ground.  You don’t get the sense of a person’s life.  I fell asleep briefly and watched the Tonight Show from July 22, 1987, featuring Jearl Walker, a physicist who did interesting demonstrations.  He dipped his hand in molten lead and placed himself between two beds of nails, instructing Johnny to stand on top.  I became too tired to watch Patrick Duffy, so I went to sleep.  Some of the people who died on March 31 include Isaac Newton (1727), Charlotte Brontë (1855), Jesse Owens (1980), Selena (1995), and Jules Dassin (2008).  Today is a birthday for Angus Young (61), Al Gore (68), Rhea Perlman (68), Gabe Kaplan (71), Christopher Walken (73), and Shirley Jones (82).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 31, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, was released in 1939.  In 1984, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” made its television debut in syndication.  In 1993, Brandon Lee was accidentally shot on the set of “The Crow,” and he died.

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