'Santo Domingo Blues'
Ry Who-der? Alex Wolfe's documentary Santo Domingo Blues adroitly traces a noble history of bachataa formerly ignoble Dominican musical formwhile feeling intimate all the same. Warm'n'fuzziness is lent by the genre's impossibly humble and genial "Supreme King," Luis Vargas, our guide from Santiago and Santa Maria to South Williamsburg. Bachata is quintessential Quisqueyana, but wasn't always so. Bachateros were maligned for years by the D.R.'s upper crust for playing "musica del bajo mundo" ("underground music," one among other less euphemistic terms), and ridiculed by some D.R.-to-N.Y. transplants for making "crybaby music," bachata being thematically infused with lost love and unresolvable bitterness. But hey, bitterness is contagious, and so is the music's sugary three-chord twinkle. Wolfe's anecdotal musicology succeeds precisely because of its bare-bones, bawdy yet beautiful approachjust like the music Vargas makes.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.