After 35 years of performing to adoring crowds and cutting more than three dozen albums, Mexican rock hero Alex Lora deserves his own movie, but “Alex Lora: Rock ‘n’ Roll Slave” is too adoring for its own good. And given Lora being shown singing such lyrics as, “There’s an epidemic of motherfuckers who have sold out the country,” it’s a wonder Mexico’s governmental film agency, IMCINE, helped back the project at all. Following April playdates in Mexico, pic is rolling out across Ibero-America, where Lora has a vast and loyal constituency who will also keep it alive in vidstores.
Director Luis Kelly’s film is pitched to the fans, and outsiders will feel left out. But Lora’s boyish enthusiasm for blues-based, guitar-driven rock, his serious desire to connect as an aggressively populist performer with a predominantly working-class audience and his boisterous sense of humor are universally appealing. No sooner does Kelly focus his camera than Lora is mugging and playing it up.
Unfortunately, a non-Spanish-speaking audience also cannot catch the nastiest, funniest puns peppering Lora’s lyrics and conversation as well as his penchant for naming the names of Mexico’s worst public officials. He is shown, with wife and co-singer Chela (credited with coming up with the idea for docu) traveling the country, packing arenas, working the talk-radio stations and doing humanitarian work at schools and hospitals. Shown as an avowed nationalist, he spurs his fans to fight the system that keeps them down.
What Kelly’s film fails to do as it breathlessly chases down Lora touring with his longtime band, El Tri, is place the singer in the wider context of rock en espanol, and tell what the younger generation of Mexican rockers actually think of him.
Vid production is sharp, and the project is greatly propelled by Mercurio Bernal’s and Moises Carrillo’s high-charged editing.