Review: ‘Living the Life’

Katrina Marie Gibson

As if it can't help itself, "Living the Life" pushes its well-regarded source material, Lynne Ewing's 1998 novel of gang life, "Party Girl," into the 'hood of B pictures. All the care helmer Alex Munoz applies to his carefully staged compositions is undone by Ewing's and producer Esther Shapiro's painfully trite script and an attractive but listless cast.

As if it can’t help itself, “Living the Life” pushes its well-regarded source material, Lynne Ewing’s 1998 novel of gang life, “Party Girl,” into the ‘hood of B pictures. All the care helmer Alex Munoz applies to his carefully staged compositions is undone by Ewing’s and producer Esther Shapiro’s painfully trite script and an attractive but listless cast. Suffering in comparison to Allison Anders’ similarly themed “Mi Vida Loca,” pic’s most likely resting place is deep cable.

Tight since the fourth grade, Cata (Katrina Marie Gibson) and Ana (Melida Prado) are gangbangers in the Ninth Street gang as well as a dancing duo on the local underground dance circuit, where they’re considered stars. Cata, whose mom (Angela Alvarado Rosa) drinks and has a different guy in the sack each night, says “a stone rolled in front of our futures” in the sixth grade, but Ana is poised to go to college. Latter’s decision to get pregnant to escape gang life seems ill-motivated, and Cata’s course of revenge after Ana is melodramatically gunned down is too unsure and hesitant for pic’s B-movie heart.

Living the Life

Production

A Richard and Esther Shapiro Entertainment presentation. Produced by Esther Shapiro. Executive producers, Richard Shapiro, Jack Mayesh. Co-producers, William Savage, Florie Shapiro Savage. Directed by Alex Munoz. Screenplay, Lynne Ewing, Esther Shapiro, based on Ewing's novel "Party Girl."

Crew

Camera (CFI color), Arturo Smith; editors, Susan Godfrey, John A. Martinelli; music supervisor, Draco Rosa; production designer, John Huke; costume designer, Yvonne Wilburn; sound, Skip Frazee; choreographer, Rosalyn Jones Tealer. Reviewed on videotape, L.A., July 27, 2001. (In L.A. Latino Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Katrina Marie Gibson, Melida Prado, Abel Soto, Yvette Cruise, Jay Hernandez, Roger Velasco, Roberto Alvarez, Angela Alvarado Rosa.
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