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Chico and Rita


  The first Spanish film to be nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, Chico and Rita is a one-of-a-kind collaboration among director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque, Calle 54), celebrated artist and designer Javier Mariscal, who also is credited as a director, and legendary Cuban musician Bebo Valdes. Set mostly in Havana in the late-'40s and '50s and overflowing with gorgeous, mostly hand-drawn images and lush period-style music, Chico and Rita plays like a Latin bolero — a tragic love story told in song — reimagined for the big screen. The film also celebrates the singular music and culture of Cuba at a crucial moment in its history, when Cuban musicians found their way to New York City and exerted a lasting influence on jazz. Among its many pleasures are animated cameos by Thelonious Monk ("Who's the guy in the funny hat?"), Cole Porter, Charlie Parker and others. Sensuous and sexy, Chico and Rita is strictly for grown-ups, and not to be missed by anyone susceptible to Cuba's peculiar magic. — KEN KORMAN

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