DEEP WATER and MUCHO MUCHO AMOR Are Top Notch Docs
For decades, filmmakers have captured dueling themes of lightness vs. dark, villainy vs. goodness, forgiveness vs. revenge. Doc Diving can be an intriguing way to get insight into those classic themes. Viewing a good doc can be rewarding when I already know a bit of the film's subject in advance. But when a movie introduces me to a whole new topic, that can be sensational. Both DEEP WATER: THE REAL STORY and MUCHO MUCHO AMOR: THE LEGEND OF WALTER MERCADO took me for a gratifying ride.
DEEP WATER: THE REAL STORY is the darker of the pair. Director Amanda Blue peels back the layers that hid dozens of homophobic attacks in Australia in the 80s and 90s. Starting with contemporary interviews of assault survivors, Blue assembles a troubling snapshot of homophobic youth and police negligence. She also uses recreations to create the gay cruising sites and the crimes committed there. By the time family members speak of the decades-long search to ascertain what had happened to their loved ones, the film scores its robust and powerful point.
I had never heard of MUCHO MUCHO AMOR: THE LEGEND OF WALTER MERCADO but noticed the film featured Lin-Manuel Miranda, who seems to have the Midas Touch. He talks about Mercado as a personal friend - someone who came to his television daily to talk about love, passion, and, most importantly - horoscopes. Like a Puerto Rican Liberace, Mercado dazzled with bejeweled floor-length capes. He is ageless and almost pansexual in the excellent archival footage, never giving himself a label or definition, just excluding love.
Born in March 1932, he benefited from a family that encouraged him to be different and follow his dreams. First, an actor-dancer, he ultimately moved to TV, reaching 120 million viewers worldwide. He became a cultural phenomenon in the Hispanic community and has been embraced by queer millennials today for his vision, beauty, and bravery.
Every day for decades, Walter Mercado mesmerized 120 million viewers with his extravagance and positivity. Now, surrounded by his family and long-time assistants, we see every side of Walter as he ages gracefully. I found the footage that ends the film of a photoshoot in heavy costumes very moving. Watching his face when swarms of fans of all ages and genders clamor for selfies with him reminds me of the power of his positive thinking,
The two films could not be more different, Taken together, we see that sometimes the great power of love and energy can sometimes light up the darkest times.
I watched DEEP WATER on Prime Video and MUCHO MUCHO on Netflix.