Paz, Amor, y Musica The Alex Ruiz Story/Natural Hair, Short Cut Review

We are going to look some documentary-type entries in the Frame4Frame Festival and see if they are worth your attention. We’ll start out with a man who can sing in two languages, Paz, Amor y Musica. Then, a crazy controversy that’s attempting to harm self-confidence with Natural Hair.

Paz, Amor y Musica The Alex Ruiz Story (Directed By Israel Marquez)

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What we have here is the classic artist story about one who rose from nothing and influenced the world with his/her talent. For this, it’s Latino musician David Alex Ruiz, performing Latin American music in Austin, Texas, where the lyrics can seamlessly be translated between English and Spanish by our singer himself.

The whole documentary is an hour-and-a-half, of interviews with the star, band members and fans, all talking about how talented and cool David Alex Ruiz is, mixed up with clips of his performance in action. In the beginning half, I was forgiving the audio hiccups where the sound quality with each of the interviewed individuals was inconsistent, mainly that I loved the enthusiasm of this guy and how he’s sharing the culture around using his talent.

Though, at the second half, it did come to a point where this man (or at least the director) is stretching his ego a little too much. No one else mattered in this documentary besides David Alex Ruiz as everyone else talks about how they met him, how relaxed he was in person and how great his music was, comparing him to Michael Jackson in greatness.

Probably a big difference compared to this and say “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, is that one man tackled grim life subjects using family entertainment, making statements about our world today. The documentary here is about a dude who’s really good at singing and fun to hang out with occurring to his admirers. While that’s cool and everything, the film never feels like a film, more of an extended interview you’d watch on YouTube.

I saw this using YouTube and did not ever feel like this should be on the Sliver Screen, but at the very least, it’s fine. There’s nothing better to describe Paz, Armor, y Musica other than “it’s fine”. You won’t find anything terribly exciting, nor will you dread watching this. They try to make things more exciting by telling you how David struck a deal with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, but Robert hires just any Austin Latino looking for work, as he did with Alita Battle Angel.

I find Quentin Tarantino to be a creep even before that controversial child rape encouragement came out, just for having an obsession with the N word and violence on female characters. I don’t mean to rain on David’s parade, but this story doesn’t stand out from other artists that have had documentaries about them, in fact a lessor version of those dozens.

Paz, Amor, y Musica The Alex Ruiz Story is a “Decent” watch, but you really won’t miss out on much if you decide on listening to his music instead, maybe see him perform in Austin.

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Natural Hair (Directed By Reginald Titus Jr.)

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Let me start off by saying that this controversy that the film, Natural Hair, is covering might just be one of the saddest types of discrimination. The movie knows this subject is ridiculous from the very beginning, when a white female newscast reporter is critiquing the hair of a specific black woman and the white male reporter responds by calling her out on trying to hair shame a black woman.

Plus, we got other absurd things in this real documentary, such as black guys rapping about how embarrassing this non-issue really is. The other, which took me a bit to appreciate, are these corny sitcom sketches illustrating how uncomfortable this situation is for females of color.

There is so much style and despite how crazy this idea is for racism by hair style/color to exist, you buy into this story, hearing about the different ladies trying to make a successful life out of themselves, held back by their hair not being what some others prefer. I suppose I’ve never experienced a 3rd-person witness of this issue or asked my black, latina or asian friends if this has been an issue for them, especially that some go into modeling.

On that same note, this is in Dallas and they never reached out to Leah Fraizer, who is a black woman, leading the modeling community in DFW. She would have been a great person to interview or at least share this documentary with.

It feels a little odd to carry on with the subject without such a big voice for black models, especially when talking about hair. I was able to forgive as this is a documentary I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, in a good way. It’s edited, shot and composed in a smooth cultural tone, similar to Luke Cage. No I know that’s a strange comparison, but both do tackle the modern black life and share a similar theme with their opening credits.

I’m not going to lie, I was taken back by this, going to the point of asking my colored peeps if they’ve been dealing with hair discrimination or know about it. The Natural Hair movie is over-the-top, but not too much in where you can’t take this seriously.

Small nitpicks, like going back-and-forth on telling you how men judge women by hair, when that opening scene is really the most accurate depiction, are noticeable, but not enough to take the film down. Nowadays, you can’t just get away with the “inspirational” sub-genre of documentaries, it needs to be bolder or crazier and Natural Hair the Movie is both.

I give this a high “Recommended” stamp, for being creative, knowingly silly, yet heart-felt and deep, ending on an important message for the modeling world, or just another racism issue to overcome. You need to see this by yourself and with folks of color!

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