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Cesar Chavez

Updated: Monday, June 2 2014, 10:12 PM CDT

I have been a big fan of Michael Pena for years. He was the actor that made Observe and Report funny for me. His acting in End of Watch was something to write home about; to write to all of your friends and tell them about this noteworthy performance. Now he finally has the lead and not just in any film, but a film about a hero who fought for farm workers' rights. 

Directed by Diego Luna, Cesar Chavez tells the life story of the civil rights leader and labor organizer. It shows the toll it took on him trying to be a good husband and father while trying to fight for a decent wage for the laborers. The focus is around the 1960s that include the Delano march, the grape boycott, his first hunger strike, and the coming to the bargaining table with landowners. To fight for the cause, it even shows where Chavez travels to Europe to gain support for his cause and to block grape shipments sanctioned by the U.S. government intended for the European market. He empties crate after crate of grapes off a bridge showing how much he was committed to his people.

The character development is outstanding. It shows Chavez's trying to be a good father. He is there for his son after he is in a fight and gets a black eye. He cuts an apple in two and puts it on his son's eye while giving him advice. It comes full circle when Chavez has a bruise on his leg and his son does the same for him.   

This is one of the most inspiring movies that I have seen. There was a standing ovation for at least 2 minutes at The Paramount Theater on opening night. Cesar Chavez's son was there. I got chills down my spine. I have been to many film events at that theater over the last 14 years, but I will never forget this one. I know I will never turn on Cesar Chavez Blvd and think the same way again. The film really brings the man to life. I will think about that man and I will remember Michael Pena's portrayal.

By Ken The Critic @kenthecritic

Cesar Chavez


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