Cochez: Hands of Stone “heightens greatly Latin America cinema”
PANAMA CITY.- The former ambassador to the OAS in an exclusive interview shows us another facet: film critic. Guillermo Cochez not only expressed his views on the newly released film based on the life of the Panamanian boxing legend (Hands of Stone), but told us some secrets revealed by Durán himself.
It is always a pleasure for Panama Today team to talk to Guillermo Cochez, a prominent lawyer and politician who has held important positions such as mayor, Member of Parliament, and the most internationally renowned position, ambassador to the Organization of American States. But today those issues of political or economic importance are left behind, and while enjoying a good coffee, he began to talk about another little lighter matter, but just as important and perhaps even controversial: the Latin American cinema.
He says he does not intend to be a film critic, but in our opinion he is not bad at it. What is interesting of his comments is that, as Roberto Durán says – Panamanian boxer’s real name – told him he disliked the fact that his wife Felicidad was portrayed in a way she has never been. She never smoked, for example. Despite these contradictions with reality, says Cochez, “the film is worthwhile because it portrays a different Panamanian, exceptional, able to put everyone to be on his side, as no one has ever made it. Neither Mariano Rivera nor any other Panamanian has done it as he has. The funny thing is that he still does it despite having retired from the ring several years ago.”
For “Willy”, as Cochez is nicknamed in Panama, several scenes plagued with sexual content were unnecessary. He believes that “children should not be exposed.” But despite the censorship that he makes in this aspect, he states that “Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz’s direction heightens greatly Latin American cinema.”
The ambassador – who was impressed by the great physical likeness between actor Edgar Ramírez and Durán himself – says that this film has “a great social significance” because it depicts the life of a Panamanian who could overcome major social and cultural limitations. Cochez highlights that for him it is even deeper that, despite his achievements and unlike other legends in the world of sports, Hands of Stone could have “a normal life with his family where he has all his needs met while maintaining Panamanians respect and admiration, who will applaud his sympathetic eccentricities,” he says.
Guillermo Cochez regrets that “film critic in the United States sees the film as routine, without the spark of other boxing movies, rating it between D and F, as a flop.” He acknowledges that he does not understand these parameters and for him it is more than enough that for Panamanians the film is well made.
He considers the characterization of Ray Arcel performed by “the great” Robert de Niro as splendid, as well as the performance of Pedro Pérez (Plomo Espinosa) and Cuban actress Ana de Armas (Mrs. Felicidad), “perhaps the victim of Durán’s hectic life, who is always accompanied by his four children,” says Cochez and adds that “the role of Mecenas de Durán, Carlos Eleta, was very well performed by Rubén Blades, another national pride”.
By the time we finished our coffee, the ambassador insisted on my going to the movies this weekend to see the film so I could find that we are facing a production with an unbeatable plot, “national pride that we all must see to understand a country with great human fiber and that pulses with such valuable and humble people as Roberto Durán Hands of Stone”.
Cochez did not want to end our meeting without first commenting that the rivalry between the Panamanian boxer and Sugar Rey Leonard was in his view “the axis of the film, because it depicted a Durán who knew how to use his natural instinct to beat Leonard in their first fight, but he failed to conform to what he learned in the second.” “Willy” told us he had the opportunity to go to New Orleans to see the legendary Durán’s confrontation with the US boxer and he will never forget “Leonard mocking him permanently during the eight rounds the fight lasted.”