Washington Heights tells the story of Carlos Ramirez, a young illustrator burning to escape the Latino neighborhood of the same name to make a splash in New York Citys commercial downtown comic book scene. When his father, who owns a bodega in the Heights, is shot in a burglary attempt, Carlos is forced to put his dream on hold and run the store. In the process, he comes to understand that if he is to make it as a comic artist, he must engage with the community he comes from, take that experience back out into the world, and put it in his work.
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Total Garbage!!! No reflection to Washington heights what so ever. If Ihad four arms, I'll give it four dumbs way down. Acting performanceworst than storyline. Truly over rated. Hour and a half of visualtorture.Rather watch Ben Aflec movies for the rest of my life. Feel badfor the films that lost to this crap. What were the judges at the filmfestival watching? Total Garbage!!! No reflection to Washington heightswhat so ever. If I had four arms, I'll give it four dumbs way down.Acting performance worst than storyline. Truly over rated. Hour and ahalf of visual torture.Rather watch Ben Aflec movies for the rest of mylife. Feel bad for the films that lost to this crap. What were thejudges at the film festival watching?
I was very disappointed in this movie. The charecter was not someone I could relate to. He had wierd hair and piercings. You don't really see people walking around like that in the Heights. The only good thing I could say is that the acting as pretty good but this movie was not my taste. I do give props to any Dominican out there doing there thing, I'm not trying to hate on you. But I have to say I didn't like the movie at all.
"Washington Heights" is a gritty slice of life and death in a New YorkCityneighborhood near the George Washington Bridge. A young artist andillustrator is struggling to find his place and work and has femaleproblemsas well. After his father, a bodega owner, is shot and paralyzed by arobber, the artist must take over the store, and discovers otherproblems,one of which shows him some direction. A good storyline, editing, andperformances make this film a success. I did not feel like a distantobserver--I was drawn in quickly--a good sign.
In 1973, Martin Scorsese revolutionized contemporary urban drama in filmwith "Mean Streets". Every movie about crime or blue-collar neighborhoodsmade since then--from "Godfather, Part II" onward--has owed much of itsvisual sensibilities, dialogue, and plot to Scorsese's early masterpiece.And the unfortunate side effect is that too many filmmakers try to rip itoff almost completely (ex: "Sugar Hill", "Monument Ave."). "WashingtonHeights" is the latest of such travesties, and one of the worst I haveseen.The film is about a Carlos (screenwriter & producer Manny Perez), anaspiring comic book artist living in the Washington Heights neighborhoodinNew York City, his disapproving immigrant storekeeper father Eddie(TomasMilian), and his stupid best friend Mickey (Danny Hoch). When Eddie getsshot by a robber, Carlos has to take in the old man and run the store forhim, much to the chagrin of them both. Plus Mickey thinks all hisproblemswill be solved if he can just scrape together $5000 to get to a bowlingtournament in Vegas, all his problems will be over. If you rememberRobertDe Niro's character in "Mean Streets", then you can guess how Mickey getsthe money and what happens to him.As for Carlos, it is very hard to sympathize with this guy. He is angryallthe time and is forever acting superior to his father, his girlfriend, hisfriends and his customers. And I've seen the artist son vs. the practicaldad once too often in movies to be particularly affected by it. That partof the film is done more artfully than Neil Diamond's version of "The JazzSinger", but not by much. The only truly interesting, likable characterwith interesting things to say is Eddie, the father. But he's hardly inthefilm.Aside from the cliched script, there are several technical aspects of thefilm I didn't like. First, it was shot with hand-held video cameras,whichgives the movie a "Blair Witch" feel: the colors are washed out, thepicture is never completely in focus, and the motion of the camera-man'swalking make the frame bob up and down all the time. Also the audio wasrotten, so the dialogue was difficult to hear (although that may have justbeen a deficiency of the theater I saw the movie in). And it has all theusual flaws that "Dogma 95" fans find so endearing, but the rest of uscan'tstand: over-long silences followed by over-long improvised dramaticmonologues, 30-second shots of a character doing nothing interesting, andamateurish post-production."Mean Streets" still teaches young filmmakers how to make a splash with afilm. Unfortunately, it does not teach that lightning rarely strikestwicein the same place, and that you can't make much of an impact with somebodyelse's ideas. "Washington Heights" tries very hard to be faithful to thefirst lesson and to ignore the second, but Manny Perez is no HarveyKeitel,Danny Hoch is no Robert De Niro, and Alfredo De Villa is certainly noMartinScorsese. 5 out of 10.
In the last few decades, the neighborhood of Washington Heights in upperManhattan has changed from the predominantly German Jewish area I grew up into one that is now almost exclusively Dominican. The change took placegradually after thousands of small landowners in the Dominican Republic weredispossessed in 1965-1966 following the U.S. military invasion andoccupation. When I think about the Heights of my youth, I can still smellthe freshly baked rye bread from the Jewish bakeries on St. Nicholas Avenueand taste the kosher pickles from my father's delicatessen on 193rd street.Now, as captured by first-time director Alfredo de Villa in the filmWashington Heights, the streets are filled with salsa music and bodegas anddomino players in the streets. Shot on digital video in basements, streets,alleys, and ground floor apartments in only 18 days with a minimal budget,Washington Heights is about fathers and sons, the conflict of generations,and the sad undercurrent of violence that is a part of the assimilationprocess.In the film, two sons are hampered in their attempts to realize theirdreams. Carlos Ramirez (Manny Perez) commutes daily to the East Village towork as a comic book inker and longs to have his own imprint house. He isunwilling to forgive his father Eddie (Tomas Milian) for cheating on hismother. Eddie, who owns the corner bodega, had to give up his own goal tobecome a bolero singer when he married and had a son and now scorns hisson's artistic ambitions. In a subplot, Carlos' friend Mickey, the son of anIrish building manager Sean Kilpatrick (Jude Ciccolella) dreams of winning abowling tournament is Las Vegas but his father does everything he can tokeep him stuck in his job as a building superintendent.Tragically, Carlos' plans are put on hold after his father is shot andparalyzed during a robbery. It is a struggle for both men to accept the newconditions of their life and old resentments quickly boil to the surface butthere are tender moments as well. When Carlos takes over the business,however, he discovers that his father owes a debt of $25,000 to Kilpatrickand is determined to work until he can pay off the debt. Carlos'preoccupation with running the business and taking care of his father putsstrains on his relationship with his dressmaker girl friend Maggie (AndreaNavedo) and she says to Carlos: "You think you are an artist but you're justa guy whose father owns a bodega." Things become even more complicated when his girl friend's brother, Angel(Bobby Cannavale) hides the money he is saving to return to the DominicanRepublic in his LP collection and foolishly tells people where it is.Ultimately, Carlos is able to use his experience with his father to deepenhis commitment to the neighborhood and to transform the quality of his art.I found Washington Heights to be predictable and sometimes amateurish, butit is an honest and involving film that portends a bright future for thedirector and his cast and one I would not hesitate to recommend.
I loved this film from the moment La Vida es un Carnival started till theend. It avoids so many of the cliches that other immigrant stories fallprey to, and instead gives us a real snapshot of the lives of a handfulofcharacters in this New York neighborhood. I can't stand films whereeverything is so neatly wrapped up and by the end all of the characters'conflicts are resolved. Instead, this film let's us see a handful ofveryalive characters fight to pursue their dreams against the barriers oftheirfamilies, history, loves, and, most importantly, themselves. By theconclusion, we don't know all the answers of where they'll be, but weknowwho they are, and we care about them immensely. Nat Moss and Alfredo deVilla deserve a huge round of applause for having written such a touchingand compelling story.The movie is also beautifully shot, with de Villa's hand adding to thetextas all great directors do. In one fantastic scene, we see one of thecharacters joyfully announce his engagement, ask for help from hisfriend,and have his friend reveal that he cannot help due to a debt betweentheirfathers. The character then responds in anger to the fact that hisfatherwould help his friend, but not his own son. As tightly as the scene iswritten, it is shot equally well, with the camera following thecharactersthrough the bodega, keeping up their increasing intensity. The shootingadds to the scene immensely. There is also a beautiful sequence that issetup over many very brief earlier moments where we see a realtransformationin the main character's artistic direction (he is a cartoon artist). Iwasstruck while watching it how hard it is to show in a film the growth ofanartist, or even the creative process. Yet here de Villa does sobrilliantly, making it completely believeable.Finally, the acting in this film is fantastic. As the star Carlos of thefilm, Manny Perez wonderfully alternates, like his neighborhood, betweenthehigh energy of his ambition, the frustration (and ultimate satisfaction)ofhis family ties, and his ambivalence about where he belongs. TomasMilianturns in an Oscar-worthy performance as the father/bodega owner. Andnumerous smaller roles reveal potential stars, including Danny Hoch, whoisbrilliant from start to finish, and Bobby Carnavale, who steals thescreennearly every moment he's on it.
There are so many films that instead of exploring the larger themes of life, try to reduce them in 90 minutes. If you like films that reduce things into simple sentences, then this movie isn't for you. But if you like films that get messy, that avoid easy interpretation, that capture life as it is, WH is definately for you.So many times we see movies with a "rubber-duck" se up. Tha is a set up that only serves to explain the rest of the film, that manipulates you into an specific mind-set. WH is not this kind of movie. The set up is intrinsically integrated to the rest of the film. Finally I see a movie where not just one characteristic affects the main character, but a slew of them. In this case, the film is life-like. It avoids easy interpretations and one-line summaries. If you like to watch films where you're challenged--as you are in life--then this is the film for you. If you prefer films which can be summarized in simple log-lines, stay away. The rhythm of the film also felt like the juggling we do every day. What's amazing about the film is that none of the characters ever explicitely say how difficult life is. The rythm--the way the scenes and sequences are put together--shows it. Haven't you ever experience it in your day-to-day life?
This film is a must see for everyone. With its universal theme, it's refreshing and superbly acted!! I watched it with my mom and we both could not stop talking about how well acted and how our Latinos were beautifully portrayed. Kudos to the director and actors for great job. I need to know if Manny Perez is single?
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS (2003) **1/2 Tomas Milian, Manny Perez, Danny Hoch,Jude Ciccolella, Andrea Navedo, Bobby Cannavale, David Zayas, CallieThorne, Judy Reyes. Well-acted morality tale about a talentedillustrator (Perez) with dreams of having his own comic book findshimself trapped in the titular neighborhood where he is forced to aidhis recently stricken father (Milian) to run the family bodega.Conflicts and conscience run high with the feel of early Lumet or Leethanks to newcomer Alfredo De Villa's use of digital video to give thefilm a feeling of intimacy and closeness that parallels theclaustrophobia felt by the main characters. Familiar yet watchable.
I really liked this film mostly because i can relate with the maincharacter, being latino and his situation with his art. Heights is a goodfilm but it suffers from some mayor flaws. The simple fact is that theaudience is cut off to the emotional climax. The reason? Bad editing?perhaps. Even though we get some climax with the father and son character,the relationship of the two lovers never comes to fruit actually theirproblems are never fully explained. This left me at least confused by thedeath of their relationship. Lack of resolution seems to be the main flaw ofthis movie, the conflict between the best friend and his father was neverresolved. I know its hard to put all of this in the film since the filmmakers wanted to leave enough room about the main character and his fatherbut perhaps these other situations should not have been brought up since itonly leads away from the core of this movie. In the end Washington Heightsis a good film and i would recomend it and im sorry to see that it wasoverlooked by some critics.
If the low quality, poorly lit texture of this film doesn't turn you off, the unlikeable characters and the thin plot will. The experience of watching this film is similar to watching a neighbor's poorly shot home movie. Perhaps having seen the beautifully simple film, "Raising Victor Vargas", somehow prejudiced me to this one. "Raising" did a better job of portraying life in New York's hispanic community. The characters, while not all likeable, were at least fully developed. The cliches of gangbanging, drug dealing family members, and unfaithful husbands, were clearly absent. Every character, with the exception of the wife or girlfriend of the main character (her relationship was not clearly addressed in the film), had a fatal character flaw: the unfaithful boyfriend/husband, the unsupporting father, the drug dealing brother, the thieving best friend, none of them inspired any sympathy from me. Don't waste your money on this film, even at the video store. If for some reason this movie comes across your tv programming someday, change the channel.
Washington Heights is geared toward the Latino community. A nice movieabout a small community inside a giant New York city. Much like itsaudience, the movie itself was made by the efforts of Latinos. Whilethe movie focuses on the main character and his interactions with hisfriends, enemies, parents, and girlfriend, the movie's strongest linkis the side story of the Father. It is the relationship between theFather and the Son that keeps many audience members interested in whatis going to happen next. Instead, the story jumps too much between theside stories of the friend who wants to go bowling, his girlfriend whois making dresses, and the neighborhood that jumps in and out ofeverybody's lives without warning. In the end, a nice story that hitshome on many levels. The story about a father and a son who were neverFather and Son is the strongest link in this movie's chain.
This movie explores a side life that few movies even try to show.Carlos is a complicated, sensitive and confused young man who has greattalent and loyalties to family. He is blessed with a wonderfulGod-given talent as a cartoonist. He harbors a bit of anger towards hisfather, whom he believes mistreated, his dearly departed mother.Despite the resentment, he still loves his dad and honors him. Romance,drama and adventure are skillfully woven to produce a heart- warmingtale of triumph and reality. The movie explores the marginal differencebetween poverty and dreams of business success. The thin line betweenthe legitimate hard working businessman and the under-the-table life ofopportunistic predators is well documented in this production. Carlosis the good guy everyone loves and wants to see succeed, but he has hisown demons to face. Carlos craves validation and affirmation from thoseclosest to him but it seems like he can only find that type ofappreciation from strangers. Many will see the silver lining of a darkcloud, while others will totally miss the point because they are fartoo removed from the premise of the film.
the only reason why i bought this movie was beause i saw it in a recreation center in my neighborhood. i live in the same neighborhood the movie is set in, washington heights, ny! the movie is amazing! its about pulling through againgst the odds. which is something i am going through personally.
Touching and very believable day in the life story of uptown Dominicans...interesting and well-developed plot with outstanding character development...tremendous acting!! Bobby Cannavale gets an A+!!!
This movie is worth a view. To sum it up, the main character, Eddie has dreams of illustrating comic books, and gets a shot at is, but he also has obligations to his father, and that is keeping him from focusing on his dreams. Being from a traditional family, you see how Eddie is forced to weigh both family and career obligations. I can't forget the scene of Eddie grudgingly changing the diaper of his injured father. He hates doing it, but he is loyal to his family, so he deals with it.The acting could have been better. I don't hold that against "Washington Heights" as it is an idie film from a young producer on a limited budget. The scenes of the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York are very vivid and accurate.
I have mixed feelings about a film whose production values are staunchly(read poor quality) independent and its subject matter is extremelystandard; almost Hollywood conventional. I had the feeling that the onlyrisk the filmmakers took was shooting the story on Digital. This is not aground breaking film. But it is an excellent calling card for its Directorto direct larger Hollywood conventional movies. He shows a facility forhandling actors and juggling several plot lines. Not a memorable film. Butnot an atoricity like virtually every other American film in the pastyear.
Being, myself, of a Dominican and Puerto Rican family, I really related to alot of the issues that were addressed in the movie when it touched on family relations... I found it really interesting to watch, and I would recommend it to anyone. It really shows some struggles that Dominicans in New York have to deal with.
It took a while to get into this film and its movement and its characters,but I got there and was never lost for a moment in a very complex story ofmany tiers and personalities -- all within a seemingly simple entry-levelUSA neighborhood.I assume the movie was whot in 16mm film and/or digitial video, and onceagain, a low budget does not mean a poor story. The direction and editingworked well in a story where the ensemble cast was homogeneous andperfect.Excellent. Excellent. Excellent.
washington heights is great slice of new york life movie about the struggles of 2 young men who are trying to break away from a neighborhood that both nutures and stifles them. it's a great heartfelt alternative to shallow summer blockbusters.