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John Leguizamo , Alfred Molina , Sebastián Cordero    R (Restricted)   DVD

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In twisty thriller Crónicas, John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge) finally lands a lead role worthy of his talent. The Columbian-born actor is Manolo Bonilla, an ambitious Miami-based reporter for a Spanish-language news outlet. When a serial killer devastates a small town in Ecuador, he and his crew, Marisa (Leonor Watling, Talk to Her) and Iván (José María Yazpik, Innocent Voices), fly down to cover the story. Shortly after their arrival, Bonilla saves the life of shifty-looking salesman Vinicio Cepeda (Damián Alcázar). His intentions aren't as honorable as they seem. Cepeda claims to have information regarding the "Monster of Babahoyo" and Bonilla will do anything to keep him talking. Soon his star begins to rise as Cepeda provides him with more and more ratings-grabbing details. Then Bonilla discovers something even the authorities don't know about--another body. His decision to follow the lead on his own could make his career...or completely destroy it. Worse yet, another child may lose his life if Bonilla fails. Featuring Alfred Molina (Frida) as Marisa's TV host husband (seen only via monitor). Written and directed by Sebastián Cordero and produced by Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón, Crónicas was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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Lrguizamo,John ~ Cronicas

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 STARS) No News about the Media, But Still Intriguing for Superb Acting and Brooding Atmosphere Feb. 12 2006
By Tsuyoshi - Published on Amazon.com
`Crónicas' (2004) written and directed by Sebastián Cordero has authentic look of the countryside of Ecuador, and very strong performances from the three leading actors. The content of the film itself, part thriller about a serial killer, and part social satire about the media, looks more American than you might expect from the Ecuadorian-born director, who went to France at the age of 9, and studied filmmaking at university in California. But his semi-documentary touch proves he has originality, with realistic atmosphere that sometimes bring to us the smell of the places like seedy prison or humid swamps.

John Leguizamo plays a Miami-based TV-reporter who stumbles upon a big story about the heinous serial killer "the Monster of Babahoyo." Manolo, star reporter of Tabloid TV show (host played cameo Alfred Molina), believes that this timid middle-aged man Vinicio, who is now in prison because of one fatal hit-and-run accident, knows something about the killer that scares the local people.

While Vinicio offers a deal, there is another question - is he telling Manolo the truth? Or is he himself the Monster?

`Crónicas' has suspenseful moments, but it is not a murder mystery. If you're an avid reader of crime novels, you can predict the story fairly well, and the main characters - fame-hungry TV reporter, his female assistant (Leonor Watling, `Talk to Her'), and the portrait of the killer itself - are pretty stereotyped ones. Its oversimplified statement about the media, as is shown in its tagline (`If it's on TV, it must be the truth') looks old to me, having been repeated again and again in the films like `Mad City.' Today people don't believe the `story' so easily as the film thinks.

But the sinister, brooding mood of the places director Sebastián Cordero shoots with keen eyes, and the riveting acting from underrated Leguizamo, and creepy but convincing acting from Damián Alcázar is another thing. The director did a fantastic job of capturing the air of the small community.

Perhaps the film gets most chilling when it shows the darker (or I should say complicated) side of the people in this small town. Actually, the most impressive moment does not involve the serial killer, nor the media circus. I am talking about one long sequence, in which one dies and another is nearly killed after being brutally treated. Here Cordero shows his undeniable talent as director. The film is well worth watching for these terrific moments, not for the simplified commentary on the media that you might have already heard before.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Hurdling the Language Barrier Oct. 19 2006
By R. Schultz - Published on Amazon.com
The cover of this DVD says the movie is in "Spanish and English." However, at least on the DVD version I got, the "English" consists of just a couple of sentences John Leguizamo inexplicably throws into his conversation, and then a few of the bonus interviews. Other than that, you will have to rely on the English subtitles, unless you are fluent in Spanish. And since some of the characters play reporters who speak rapidly, with a Ben Hecht "Front Page" urgency - that means you will have to quickly read a fair amount of material. But believe me, this movie is worth the effort.

Like me, you might find yourself watching the movie twice - once to get the gist by reading the subtitles - then again to concentrate more on the actors and to fill in some details.

John Leguizamo does a good job playing the cocky, ambitious reporter intent on developing and breaking the story of the child killer himself, without tipping off the police. But the really memorable performance is turned in by Damian Alcazar. He plays his part with a brilliant mix of meek supplication and soft, compelling manipulative guile. Whatever equivalent of the Academy Award the South American movie industry may present - should go to him.

This movie also gives us a look into settings most of us will (thankfully) never experience in person. We are taken into the center of mob violence. We see what the interior of a South American jail is like, with its peeling paint and exposed, dripping water pipes and its encouragement of inmate violence. We see the resourceful, stilted shantytowns people in those small towns build with whatever materials they find at hand.

This movie may also provoke deep debate among you and your friends about who the real villain of the story is. Of course there is the child killer himself. But many have found the reporters equally culpable in their eagerness to take credit for unmasking the killer. I have an additional candidate to nominate for villain. It's not so much Damian's wife, who urged her husband to keep silent about his presumed knowledge of the killer's identity. But it is her desperate spirit of "let's not get involved" that I blame. Even for someone who is poor and struggling, that attitude should not be given a pass. It is the root of so much evil.

Whichever characters you end up convicting of the horror though, you will probably be haunted by the dark places this movie takes you to - long after you finish watching it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars [3.5]--The Responsibilities of Tabloid Journalism Sept. 21 2006
By Jenny J.J.I. - Published on Amazon.com
At first, this film is difficult to watch, given the subject matter of violence against children. Soon it becomes obvious that there is more to it than that, and that is where the hook comes in. `Crónicas' is a movie that begins with a terrific concept but sort of dwindles along the way.

It's a good move with a very good performances, especially on the part of John Leguizamo, as a popular and ambitious reporter Manolo Bonilla doing a story about a notorious serial killer, and Damián Alcázar as Vinicio Cepeda, a man that by accident runs over and kills a local kid (whose brother was killed by the serial killer), and is saved by Manolo Bonilla from a lynching mob. Vinicio Cepeda wants the reporter to do a favorable story about him, and possibly, by doing so, help him get out of jail, where his life might be in danger. In exchange he offers him some information on "Monster of Babahoyo", the pedophile serial killer.

Damián Alcázar gives an incredible performance as a kind, humble, god-loving man with some uneasy, disturbing quality. The only real shortcoming of this movie, in my opinion, is that it is undeveloped. The movie could use another half an hour of plot towards the end and it felt bleak and was a bit slow in some areas.

Even though I was a bit disappointed `Crónicas' is a powerful film that certainly puts a brutal spin on the issue of a reporter protecting his sources and ethics, even when the worst of the implications happens off camera.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Aug. 18 2006
By -*-Miss Lady-*- - Published on Amazon.com
First of all, watching this movie, you have to remember that it's based on true events.

Alright. Now, this movie was great. John Leguizamo, as always, played his character flawlessly.

This moview was about a serial killer in Latin America that killed more than 150 children - boys and girls - and the reporters that follow this story. I don't know if I can review this without spoiling the movie.

Alright, here goes. The movie was great. The beginning shows a little boy whose twin brother was killed by the "Monster" - the name that was given to the serial killer / rapist who has been taking young children and doing horrible - HORRIBLE - things to them. The little boy gets run over by a man who was picking up his son from school after taking a bath in a river (???). Then it cuts to a reporter who is quite famous in that country, who is covering the story of the "Monster."

He does interviews with the man who accidentally runs over the little boy. Turns out that the man who ran over the little boy has information about the Monster that no one but the Monster would have. As it turns out, the information is completely true, and this movie chronicles what the reporter chooses to do with the information given.

It is about what's important and what you are willing to sacrifice for fame.

I loved it, it pissed my friend off with the ending, but I would recommend watching it. It will give you something to think about and talk about, and debate about because this movie will have you walking away with conflicting feelings. On one hand, you know what's right, but what's more important, you or other people?

My advice? Watch it. It will make you think. Hard.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true thriller Nov. 7 2005
By Monet Melly - Published on Amazon.com
When I went to see Cronicas I was actually dragged to it at a Film Festival not to long ago. I hadn't had an interest in seeing it, but a friend talked me in to it. It was one of the best films I've seen all year. Not only is the film beautiful, but the acting is fantastic. It's about time that John Leguizamo gets a role worthy of the actor that he is! The movie was incredibly suspensful and touching, and I recommend it to anyone who likes psychological thrillers, it's really one of the best ones to come along in a while.

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