This historical biography about the important 1960s labor organizer so actively skews away from Hollywood theatrics that it begins to feel downright quaint.
Cesar Chavez, as you perhaps remember from the 10th grade, was one of the heroes of labor rights back in the 1960s. During the Johnson and Nixon administrations, Chavez united the Latino and Filipino vineyard laborers into a workers’ union for the first time, induced a years-long strike, and effectively incited people to boycott grapes. The boycott cost the grape growers millions of dollars, and ultimately led to fairer employment practices. Until that point, the Mexican workers in the fields didn’t even have bathrooms, “because Mexicans don’t know how to use them,” their racist white masters would gripe. This is all important to the Latino community and the community at large, and kids need to know this stuff. Look up what AFL-CIO stands for sometime.
Actor Diego Luna (from Milk and Y Tu Mamá También) has now produced and directed a calm, muted, downright quaint biopic of Chavez, tracing the history of the strike in incidental, matter-of-fact terms. Michael Peña plays Chavez as an enthused, one-track-minded officiant, free of anything that might approach folk heroism. This is …read more