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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tivoli
Tivoli
Desert Mountain Media // Unrated // February 11, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted April 23, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

There's much to be said about the state of World Cinema, but, as far as I'm concerned, any film that gleefully exhibits curvaceous young Latin women popping their tops off at a moment's notice has got a lot going for it, country of origin be damned (and with that sexist rant, my friends, I have successfully alienated most of whatever female readers were perusing this review.) But Tivoli has got a lot going for it besides T&A. This 1974 Mexican film, directed by Alberto Isaac, lovingly recreates the twilight days of 1940s/50s Mexico City nightlife, a time where venues like the legendary and infamous Tivoli Theater regularly showcased burlesque performances that featured dancers, variety acts, comedy, extensive usage of elaborate production values through sets and costumes, and, yes, voluptuously yummy young ladies flaunting their esteemed assets in various acts of glorious Technicolor nudity.

Not that this was accepted by everyone, of course; the government, some members of the community, and commercial developers had their own reasons for seeing the Tivoli Theater placed out of commission. Early in the film the theater owner reads aloud a flyer that states: "If you are a good Christian with solid morals, don't go to the Tivoli Theater, where they show naked women and tell disrespectful jokes." (Naturally, he is producing the flyers himself to entice churchgoers.) Since the theater stands in the way of progress and development, a well-timed injunction threatens to shut down the Tivoli Theater (and its colorful performers) for good.

Tivoli is light and breezy entertainment, peppered with an endearing cast, a lean script, and some of the most curvaceous women to ever grace the silver screen. It makes its points about the value of entertainment and the overbearing obnoxiousness of governmental regulation without excessive heavy-handedness or emotive browbeating. If the plot is slight and at times rather inconsequential, Tivoli bounces back with its infectious exuberance and the bubbly sincerity of its talented cast. The "Humongous Blowout Bash" is worth the price of admission alone. I mean honestly, how can you not enjoy a movie that features two roosters dancing to a samba version of The Blue Danube? Now reread that last sentence and picture it in your head; we're not talking animated roosters – two live roosters. Pure movie magic.

The DVD

Video:
Tivoli sports a 1.85:1 letterbox transfer that is not anamorphically enhanced. The quality of the video is mixed but generally positive. On one hand, the colors are, for the most part, very well displayed, with excellent chromatic separation and a vibrant lushness that speaks well for a film of its age. A few scenes, especially near the beginning of the film, sport some bleeding and oversaturation, as well a general unnatural feel to flesh tones and backgrounds, but the overall color schema is extremely positive. The negative is riddled with minor specks, debris, and wear; nothing excessive, but they are there. Wear on the print is visible, while excessive grain structure is nowhere to be found. Contrasts are broad and well rendered, while occasional edge enhancement is visible, as are some infrequent moirés and pesky jaggies. Images are sharp and display excellent detail. I found no evidence of compression noise or other digital artifacting. Overall this is a good presentation, detracted only by faults originating on the negative and some occasional overzealous sharpness correction.

Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0 – while this is a stereo track, the brunt of the audio rests squarely in monaural territory. The track is presented in its original Spanish language audio, with optional English subtitles. The overall audio is serviceable, but dialog levels fluctuate to the point of frustration. At times it comes through clear and distinguished, while at other moments the audio is dim, harsh, and at times slightly distorted. Orchestrations and ambient noise are maintained through the front channels, although directionality and separations are indistinct.

The Extras:
The only extra on this DVD is a Biography section which provides biographical information for several members of the cast and crew. There is also a Latin Cinema Collection "trailer" that appears when you first put the disc in the player, before the Main Menu appears.

Final Thoughts:

The exquisitely gorgeous Lyn May does a slow striptease that rivals Salma's snake dance in From Dusk Till Dawn, which is as good a reason as any to watch this movie. As an extra incentive, the film features the great actor/writer/director Alfonso Arau in a lead acting role, who many of you might remember as the director of A Walk In The Clouds, Like Water For Chocolate, The Magnificent Ambersons (the TV version, 'natch), and as the great and villainous "El Guapo" in the underrated comedic classic The Three Amigos. Or you might want to see Tivoli simply because it's an entertaining little movie that never wears out its welcome.

There's nothing of value in terms of extras on this disc – if you're interested at all, it will most likely be for the film itself. The audio/video presentation is serviceable if not spectacular, but again considerations can be taken into account. The video quality fares much better than the audio – the color and clarity of the transfer was rather impressive given the film's age and level of preservation.

Desert Mountain Media has released Tivoli on DVD as part of their "Latin Cinema Collection" line. If your tastes run the gamut of Spanish-language entertainment, you might want to give Tivoli your time.

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