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Review: ‘Water & Power’ Film Leaves Critics Electrified

Edward James Olmos opens up to Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper this week about his latest project called "Water & Power."  Pete Parker Photo

Edward James Olmos opens up to Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper this week about his latest project called “Water & Power.” Pete Parker Photo

By Tammye McDuff

Hews Media Group received an exclusive opportunity to interview Edward James Olmos and Emilio Rivera, as they began a promotional tour of a powerful new film Water & Power.  Olmos Productions is presenting the film, with Rivera as co-Producer and star.

The film was taken from the stage play written by Richard Montoya in 2006-2007.  The storyline deals with twin brothers. One is a police officer called Power and the other a State Senator, named Water. As the movie starts off it is a rainy night in Los Angeles. “This right away, tells you that it is a random night” Olmos chuckles “because as you know, rainy nights in Los Angeles are few and far between.”  The two brothers have been named by their widowed father who works for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The movie patron states “I named you Water and Power, because without water there is no power and without power there is no water. All of Los Angeles … everything … runs through this company.”

As the story opens, the police officer, Power [played by Nicholas Gonzalez] kills a Pelican Bay inmate who had just been released from prison. The other brother, Water [played by Enrique Murciano] the State Senator comes to see his brother in a motel where he is held up. Meanwhile the entire town is looking for Power, from the Los Angeles Police Department to gang members and FBI agents. It is an intense look at the psychology of family dynamics, the truth about the political and power driven community that is LA and what happens when you have to give up your integrity and sacrifice yourself for another.  At the end these two brothers sacrifice everything for each other.

The film is being presented as Chicano Noir genre. When asked what Olmos though of this new category he says “Yeah? This is spot on. If you know anything about our cinema, Zoot Suit [written by Luis Valdez in 1981] was a play that went on to be a film. Richard Montoya is the only other playwright/ film maker that can even stand in the shadow of Zoot Suit. Zoot Suit is the grandfather to Latin films.”

Olmos says “We have the triad of the Chicano Noir genre with ‘Zoot Suit’ being the grandfather, ‘American Me’ the father and now ‘Water & Power’ is the son. These films give an introspective view into the Mexican-American Mafia and gangster lifestyle. Looking at the Eastside of LA and looking at what makes us who we are as human beings.”

In a speech delivered at the Bellflower Bravo Awards in 2012, Olmos notes the many different cultures are present in LA, stating “We are living in some interesting times politically. With some incredible divisionary behavior, the battlefield is being drawn. We are all different thumbprints, but we are all connected.” This becomes even more evident within the film. When asked if there was a correlation between the movie and the ongoing investigation of corruption within Central Basin Municipal Water District, Olmos very blatantly agrees “Of course. There are politics. Then there is power within those politics, its’ usage and the choices that are made. The Calderon brothers did things for themselves, where the brothers in the film make choices for each other.”

The story is different. The film must be seen with an open mind, Olmos terms the language a sort of ‘street Shakespeare’. Olmos insisted “You don’t quite catch it off the bat. You have to really pour yourself into the moment. Catch every nuisance; catch every breath that is taken. ” Rivera states that he is the eldest of eight siblings and has seen the movie nine times, he adds “It is a movie that will have you thinking, it will have you feeling. More than anything else it is a love story between two brothers. What would you do for your sibling?”

Shot in twelve nights with a budget just a little over 500k, Olmos believes that this film will break the barrier for Latin films. Olmos says “I am saddened by the fact that there is so much resistance with Hollywood embracing Latino films. The simple fact is that our films have not been able to make money. As soon as they begin to make money, you will see a slew of them. We have had some beautiful successes. However this film, Water & Power, I believe will be the one to break the barriers.”

It is being shown exclusively at AMC theaters in 18 cities between Los Angeles and San Diego.

“This is an amazingly well written story” states Olmos “I must say, the more I see it, the more I appreciate how complex and how incredibly beautiful it is, the irony, humor and depth of character that comes across.”