Routine biography of the slain Tejano singer. Jennifer Lopez stars as Selena, who has a natural talent for singing. Her father (Edward James Olmos) was a failed musician in the 60s (he was part of a hispanic doo-wop group, failing to attract either whites or hispanics). He recognizes Selena’s innate talent, and pressures his three kids into a musical career. The children start singing at restaurants and fairs, but when Selena’s father convinces Selena to start singing in Spanish, (and when she adds a bit of sex appeal to spice up the act) she begins attracting fans. Soon the group is touring, and Selena’s popularity grows. But it is at this time the movie begins to bog down. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done in countless other “rising star” films. In fact there’s a bit less…the movie glosses over countless facts about her career. For example, the film only shows her cutting one record, late in her career, when she actually had several. By losing the details, the film gets hard to pin down in time and place. You rarely understand where exactly her career is throughout most of the film. And there’s not much else to fill in the gaps. The only significant conflicts in the film arise from the conflicts between Selena and her father (particularly when she falls for the wild guitarist Chris Perez (Jon Seda)). While Edward James Olmos handles his part very well, there’s just not enough there to sustain interest for over two hours. And that leaves the music. Selena’s songs aren’t bad, but director Gregory Nava directs the segments with much less mastery than he shows with the rest of the film. One segment is shot with a dated triple screen effect, dripping with metaphorical imagery. Another is comprised of a dizzying array of quick cuts between numerous performances. All are tackled with the sensibility of an amateur music video director, rather than with the even handed approach with which he handles the standard dramatic fare. Selena has a few enjoyable moments, and will no doubt be enjoyed by the hordes of Selena worshippers, if you are not among their throngs, don’t expect any insights out of Selena.
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