EL SUPER -- In Spanish with English subtitles at the Capitol Hill Cinema and K-B Studio.
New York City has never looked colder, dirtier or more uninviting than it does in "El Super," the story of a Cuban immigrant whose ten years up north haven't alleviated his homesickness. Like last year's "Bread and Chocolate," "El Super" offers a humorously realistic look at the day-to-day problems of an expatriate. It lacks the technical expertise of "Bread and Chocolate," but has the same gentle, bittersweet touch.
Raymundo Hidalgo-Gato is the bemused, bespectacled Roberto, a man who's worked as a New York apartment building superintendent for a decade but refuses to learn English. He awakens to the sound of tenants cursing and banging on the radiator pipes, and it's all downhill from there -- a pile of garbage here, a broken window there, a perpetually dying boiler.
But this is basically an upbeat movie, and Roberto never completely loses hope or his sense of humor. Bolstered by love of family and friends, he takes a positive approach.
The film is limited technically: Scenes shift abruptly and awful lighting makes everyone flushed red or tinged green. It gives a feeling of watching the efforts of a promising but impoverished film student; but despite this, quality acting and a message of tolerance and survival comes through.