La Ciudad: The City

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • Drama

Not many films have the power to change how one sees other people, but this remarkable anthology of loosely connected shorts from writer-director David Riker just might. Riker offers four snapshots of Latin American immigrant life in New York City, each reflecting a profound sense of dislocation and powerlessness. In "Bricks," a group of "illegal" day laborers...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Not many films have the power to change how one sees other people, but this remarkable anthology of loosely connected shorts from writer-director David Riker just might. Riker offers four snapshots of Latin American immigrant life in New York City, each reflecting a profound sense of dislocation and powerlessness. In "Bricks," a group of "illegal" day laborers are taken to a demolished building where they're left to clean and stack bricks. After a serious accident, they realize their awful predicament: They don't know where they are. "Home" follows Francisco

(Cipriano Garcia), a young Mexican man, on his first day in New York as he searches for his uncle. He wanders into a Mexican Quinceanos party and meets Maria (Leticia Herrera), a homesick teenager who must stay in New York to support her family in Mexico. The people and the music make them

feel at home, but they're not; Maria is trapped and Francisco is lost. "The Puppeteer," Luis (Jose Rabelo), and his young, illiterate daughter (Stephanie Viruet) live out of their car, performing puppet shows in vacant lots for small change. When he tries to enroll his daughter in public school,

Luis learns a hard lesson about the land of opportunity and the true meaning of sacrifice. In "Seamstress," the strongest of the quartet, a sweatshop worker (Silvia Goiz) needs $400 to pay for her sick daughter's hospitalization. She hasn't been paid in weeks and knows she'll be fired if she makes

any demands. Painstakingly crafted over the course of five years, each film is beautifully shot in grainy black-and-white, and Riker makes brilliant use of mostly non-professional actors, actual locations and an episodic narrative in much the same way the Italian Neo-Realists did half a century

earlier to capture their own shattered world. But as bleak as Riker's portraits may be, there is hope: "Bricks" suggests power in organization, and in its thrilling final moments, "Seamstress" shows that power take root. (In Spanish and English, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1999
  • Review: Not many films have the power to change how one sees other people, but this remarkable anthology of loosely connected shorts from writer-director David Riker just might. Riker offers four snapshots of Latin American immigrant life in New York City, each re… (more)

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