‘Chico & Rita,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


The pickings among American animated features are so slim this year that they’ve allowed foreign-language animated films to slip into the category. But unlike American animated films, these aren’t kiddie cartoons.

Instead, they’re adult works of cinematic art like “Chico & Rita,” a love story that covers decades and continents, telling a distilled version of the 20th century history of jazz in about 90 minutes.

Or at least one strand of jazz history. But that strand touches on everyone from Woody Herman to Cuban legend Chano Pozo to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk.

At the center of the story is a pianist, Chico, and a singer, Rita. When they meet in Havana in 1948, Rita is a singer with another band; Chico lures her to his side by filling in for a sick pianist for a Woody Herman performance at Havana’s hottest club.

But Chico is a player – and Rita is a climber, someone ready to hop on the next rocket that will take her to New York, Hollywood and beyond. She even tries to take Chico along with her – but he chooses that moment to get drunkenly jealous of her career-advancing flirtation with a visiting impresario.

The story hops forward in time…

This review continues on my website.

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