Doing Good Against Impossible Odds
Directed by Argentina’s Pablo Trapero, White Elephant effectively dramatizes shantytown life, especially the often-dispiriting toil of idealists trying to change conditions against indifference and opposition. The acting is superbly in key with the film’s desperate realism. Life and death are packed tightly together in Villa Virgen, turf wars between rival drug gangs turn deadly and violence breeds reprisal in a place where hope is doled out in smaller rations than the portions at Father Julián’s soup kitchen.
Julián and Nicolás enjoy a precarious respect from all sides, but their Roman Catholic bishop isn’t fully responsive to the poor, the police descend upon the slum in SWAT team raids and the gangs continue clawing out profit from the wreckage of human life. Fighting violence with love is the hardest mission, and White Elephant shows the fatigue of doing good against impossible odds—without melodramatic gestures or bad Hollywood music telling us how to feel.
White Elephant screens at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, as part of the 35th Annual Latin American Film Series, which runs April 12-19 at the UW-Milwaukee Union Theatre. Admission to all films is free. For more information, visit uwm.edu/clacs/filmseries/.
Home Movies/Out on Digital
Jackie Robinson: My Story
At UCLA, Jackie Robinson was a star in football, basketball and track. Baseball was an afterthought, yet he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Regardless of whether it was a good move casting an actor as Robinson to narrate his life from beyond the grave, the story he tells in this documentary is inspirational. As a child, he witnessed a cross burning in his yard—in Pasadena. As an adult, he worked against great odds to overturn the obstacles preventing African Americans from enjoying full citizenship.