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Gilbert Saldivar, Jorge Burgos, Kimberli Flores

“SHINE”  My rating: C 

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and conceived as a tribute to the indigenous but threatened culture of NYC’s Spanish Harlem, “Shine” is a heart-on-its-sleeve musical melodrama that excels when it sticks to music and flounders when it goes for drama.

Unfolding in a corner of Manhattan where Puerto Rican flags outnumber Old Glory by about 5-to-1, writer/director Anthony Nardolillo’s tale centers on two brothers whose lives take diverging paths.

In a prologue we see the boys’ childhood and their training in salsa dancing by their nightclub-owning, band-leading father (David Zayas). The two grow into accomplished dancers, strutting their stuff like Latino John Travoltas.

But a family tragedy intervenes, and the film jumps seven years forward. One of the brothers, Ralphi (Jorge Burgos), has gone to college and now works for a big British redevelopment corporation that’s trying to get a foothold in Spanish Harlem.  He’s sent back home to do some community massaging, to win over neighborhood leaders on behalf of gentrification and to stop a series of arson attacks on the company’s properties.

His brother Junior (Gilbert Saldivar) regards his interloping sibling as a traitor.  Junior, in fact, is one of those gasoline-flinging vandals.

And, oh yeah, there’s a girl (Kimberli Flores) in the middle.

Little by little Ralph comes to realize the errors of his way.  How to save his old neighborhood?

Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!

(more…)

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