Po­etic in­jus­tice

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Rob DeWalt The New Mex­i­can

Spo­ken Word, norteño fam­ily drama, not rated, CCA Cine­math­eque, 2.5 chiles

IDirec­tor Vic­tor Nuñez, best known for quiet, emo­tion­ally dense char­ac­ter stud­ies set in his home state of Florida (most no­tably Ulee’s Gold and Ruby in Par­adise), trains his lens on North­ern New Mex­ico in this com­par­a­tively low-bud­get (around $4 mil­lion) in­die film shot in and around Chi­mayó and Santa Fe. Co-screen­writ­ers Wil­liam Con­way and Santa Fe-born spo­ken-word poet/pro­moter/ multimedia artist Joe Ray San­doval de­liver a screen­play partly based on San­doval’s life, en­list­ing plenty of lo­cal tal­ent and na­tion­ally rec­og­nized ac­tors with ties to New Mex­ico.

The film fo­cuses on the strained re­la­tion­ship be­tween spo­ken­word poet Cruz Mon­toya (Kuno Becker) and his fa­ther, Cruz se­nior, played by The Mi­la­gro Bean­field War’s Rubén Blades. When Cruz learns that his fa­ther is dy­ing of pan­cre­atic can­cer in Santa Fe, he re­turns home from his new life in the Bay Area over the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day to take care of him, leav­ing be­hind his artist girl­friend (Per­sia White) and a class­room full of as­pir­ing young po­ets.

When Cruz left Santa Fe to pur­sue po­etry, he shed nu­mer­ous demons, drugs and al­co­hol among them. Now, as he strug­gles to re­pair strained re­la­tion­ships with his wid­owed fa­ther and his brother Ra­mon (An­to­nio Elias) while med­i­cat­ing his bipo­lar dis­or­der, those demons beckon and he finds him­self los­ing the bat­tle to keep his ad­dic­tions at bay. Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters is Emilio, a dap­per night­club owner, mi­dlevel drug dealer, and for­mer friend of Cruz’s fa­ther, played by ex-Santa Fe res­i­dent Miguel San­doval ( Tor­tilla Heaven, Blow, tele­vi­sion’s Medium).

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