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Santo Domingo Blues (Unrated)

Release Date: September 30th, 2005 (NYC-Cinema Village) by Mambo Media.
Directed by Alex Wolfe.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the rise of music from the Dominican Republic called Bachata.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Bachata is best described as romantic guitar music, but it is really so much more than that. It is also lively, full of soul as well as energy. This documentary does a very good job of telling the linear story of how bachata started out small, insignificant, to its more widespread use and acceptance. It originated in Dominican Republic brothels during the 1960’s and was generally regarded as very low class music—those who listened to it did so only in privacy. Interspersed between many exciting, tuneful musical performances, there interviews with the musicians. One of the popular musicians is Luis Vargas, who is so full of talent and charisma that it is no wonder why he has been so successful. There’s also the music of Raulín Rodriguez, Aridia Ventura, Joan Soriano, Luis Segura, and the list goes on. If you listen to the lyrics, you will notice plenty of intentional innuendo, much of which is quite funny and imaginative. As one musician puts it, if it weren’t for the existence of double meaning, bachata would probably not end up successful in America. This film truly does justice to both the beauty and controversy behind bachata. It is a form of expression that has certainly been through a lot of racism.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Blues and bachata are very similar because they are both derived from pain and suffering. There is something cathartic about expressing your pain through music. More often than not, the songs are about love, a very universal but also painful topic for some people. There is so much emotion in a bachata song that it is difficult not to be moved, whether you understand Spanish or not. This film also raises the issue of racism and prejudice, particularly toward lower class immigrants who spread the music to America. INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A very informative, thoroughly entertaining documentary filled with exciting musical numbers as well as insightful interviews with its talented musicians. By the end of this film you will have the urge to get up buy the soundtrack immediately---and that truly is its most remarkable achievement.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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