Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Mexican Film Macario & My Uncle the Projectionist

When I was a little girl, my uncle worked as a cinema projectionist, operating the movie projector in a local New York City movie theater. Whenever, I visited my grandparents, especially during the holidays, he would bring out his old movie projector and show films right onto the back wall of the house for all of us, young and old, to see together. It was great and I have so many happy memories of these special private screenings.

One movie we saw that has always stuck in my head was Macario (Mexico, 1960).


The story of Macario, a poor starving mexican woodcutter, who dreams of eating a whole roast turkey by himself. It weaves a tale of magical realism, in which encounters with the Devil, God, and Death with unexpected results. It is based on the novel The Third Guest by the writer known as B. Traven. The first Mexican film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language, Macario is a must-see.


It's funny because I never thought these private family screenings out of the ordinary or especially cool back then but now I look back and see how my upbringing shaped me (my love of the arts, culture and media, technology, and foreign language cinema) and how very lucky I am.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Father's Day Giveaway: Denzel Washington DVD Collection

The folks at H&M Communications have partnered with Literanista to offer my readers a chance to win a collection of DVDs just in time for Father's Day that includes a Safe House DVD, an Inside Man DVD, and an American Gangster DVD.

Update: I have two prize packs to giveaway!

 It simple, enter below to win!
American Gangster (film)
American Gangster (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cover of "Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)...
Cover of Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* The DVD prize pack winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MAMITAS: Movie Debut

I wished I would've had the chance to see Mamitas last year at the New York Latino International Film Festival where it was nominated as Best Narrative Feature Film.

Since then the small indie film has gone on to win accolades at the Independent Spirit Awards, the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, the 2011 Urbanworld Film Festival, and the 2011 Napa Valley Film Festival.

 This is the first movie from Nicholas Ozeki, a latino USC film student, who wrote and directed the film. The cast includes: Pedro Armendáriz Jr., EJ Bonilla, Veronica Diaz-Carranza, Jennifer Esposito, among others.

The story follows an East LA High School boy and his struggles in life. Set in Echo Park and against Los Angeles' downtown skyline, this beguiling coming-of-age romance introduces two phenomenal young actors in EJ Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza. At school, Jordin (Bonilla) is a cocky but charming guy; One day Jordin meets Felipa (Diaz-Carranza), a bookish, no-nonsense New York girl who sees past the swaggering facade. The two immediately embark on an unlikely friendship that inspires Jordin to find out who he really is.

A movie about Latino identity, featuring a bookish, street smart Latina New Yorker, what? I am so in!

 

 The film opens: April 27 in select theaters in LA. More information available at Mamitasthemovie.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dichotomy of Savages: A Movie Preview & Critique

Last week, I heard about the upcoming Oliver Stone movie, Savages, adapted from the novel by Don Winslow, about a lethal Mexican drug cartel, starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir.

And, I thought yes, this sounds BADASS! I respect Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro as veteran Latino actors. I marveled at action movies Machete and Grindhouse. Then... I learned Salma would be portraying the head of the Mexican drug cartel and Benicio Del Toro is playing her macho enforcer, who kidnap Blake Lively.

Now that is sort of kickass, an empowered female lead as the head of ruthless outlaws but how many merciless drug cartels do you know of that are run by women, especially in Mexico? I know, I know, it's fiction, you're saying. But this is where the dichotomy of my internal struggle plays outs in a variety of perspectives explained below begin.

I'm glad Hollywood is putting the any spotlight on serious issues like violence, drug smuggling and corruption and bloodthirsty gangs south of the border. I'm glad Latino actors are able to have long standing careers in the media and are included in ensemble summer blockbuster films.  I'm glad authors are still cashing in on movie deals and we're seen original films on the big screen. And... It's nice that Salma isn't playing a maid or a nanny.

However, .... (and this is of course, speculative, since I have not seen the movie, and can only base my thoughts on what I've read so far) we see the same cliched tropes of the villainous, foreign Other - the merciless, brutal, and of course, hyper-sexualized - monsters with no humanity here fused with the old tired tropicalist tropes of the spitfire latina and the primitive macho exotic. Never mind, that Benicio Del Toro, who is Puerto Rican and Hayek, of dual Arab and Mexican descent, are both being portrayed, no, objectified unabated  as "Savages."

I write this not to point the obvious or air a tired argument but to open a discourse - to note that I too sometimes get sucked into these popular pan-ethnic constructions that highlight the terror of violence, corruption, and drugs and simultaneously exploit the narrative from a very racialized and gendered angle.  That I, as a latina, as a feminist, take issue with this film's concepts and framework but I will probably in all honesty, see it when it comes out this summer.

And, I know, I am probably not alone, as the country analyzes and deconstructs who gets to wear a hoodie and what exactly denotes a vicious, unwarranted crime perpetrated on a child, we should all be introspective about our own bias but we should also keep a careful eye on what the media is producing, glamorizing  and hawking as prescribed identities and their context within popular culture and society.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" Being Made into a Movie

Read more here: www.variety.com



BLESS ME, ULTIMA has been challenged/banned historically and is also a novel on former First Lady Laura Bush's Top 10 Reading List for All Ages.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Spirit (Dia de los Muertos)

In honor of what happens to be my most favorite holiday, right up there with Xmas and my birthday I'm posting a round-up of my all time favorite horror flicks.

For those of you who don't believe girls are into scary movies, wake up and smell the Bustelo! I love all things scary and spine tingling.


1. The Sentinel (1977) - My older sister and I, we never had curfew and so we would stay up late and watch the ABC late night movie often. This happened to be one we caught every so often and it terrified me as it will you.

2. The Exorcist (1973) - This movie scared me off ouija boards for years for fear of demonic possesion and even as a full grown adult sometimes the line "the power of Christ compels you" runs through my head for no reason.

3. Rosemary's Baby (1968) - I was very little when we saw this and never understood why these horrible people wanted her baby and how her husband was part of the scheme. I found it less scary though than other scary movies.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968) - Zombie movies scarred the living daylights out of me when I was little and my sister still made me sit through them with her, even though I made her sleep with me those nights.

5. The Ring (2002) - This movie was not as scary as it was haunting. Samarra has to be one of the most beautiful spirits ever except for when she comes out of the TV.

6. Carrie (1976) - "They're gonna laugh at you." I always wished I had a little ESP and secretly was please that Carrie lit all those jerks on fire.

7. The Amityville Horror (1979) - Just the music scares me, and I will never be able to live in a house that has those windows.

8. Poltergeist (1982) - The reason I would never move into a cookie cutter community.

9. Shining, The (1980) - RED RUM, how writers go crazy.

10. Espinazo del diablo, El (2001) aka "The Devil's Backbone" - My mom always swore I would end up in the orfanato if I was a bad girl...This movie will send you there via a haunting Spanish tale.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday post from bed

So I admit it every once in a while, I like to lounge in bed -- the entire day!

It's almost 6pm and I can't say I moved from bed too much with the exception of getting up for a cup Bustelo, black and sweet. I remember a boy I had once dated who shared his bed, his paper and his coffee with on a cold Spring Sunday with me till nearly 4pm, I thought I had met my soul mate, so what if he was a communist.

Anyway, it's August in NYC and it's in the 70s, I'm so loving the fall preview. Autumn is my absolute favorite season. Yesterday, while I had some down time I sat down with a bunch of catalogs that were starting to pile up and started planning my holiday shopping list.

I really need to start saving money though. Last night, I also went to the movies and saw The Last Legion. While it was a rotten tomato nominee, I thought it was great for my boyfriend's thirteen year old son. The story focuses on Romulus Caesar, who turns out to be King Arthur's father. I've always loved the King Arthur tale and we are a bit of history buffs so we had fun.

My boyfriend was awestruck by the beauty of Indian actress, Aishwarya Rai, and really who could blame him?

It turned out to be a double feature night and we also saw Rush Hour 3. I guess it might be up some people's alley but I detest dumb comedy and grimaced inwardly at the stupid humor.


On to more pressing things, the Spanish community in NYC is banding together to send the Peruvians much needed aid: Check out ny1 for more information.

I hope a similar effort can be made to help save New York's Lectorum Bookstore at Risk.

Weirdly, I've been having techie dreams, how geeky is that? Last night, I dreamt about Google. LOL!

My best friend, sfida is going to Paris, and now I totally want to go too, it didn't help seeing Rush Hour 3, which is mostly set there as well. I think I might plan a trip later on this year maybe even for my birthday in December. We shall see!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Support Hispanic Film: Movies to See This Weekend


Children of Men

Review:

Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón once again proves his dexterity at turning his hand to different genres and subjects with this thrilling adaptation of a PD James novel, which is his first film since directing ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ and his first screenwriting credit since his 2001 arthouse hit ‘Y Tu Mamá También’. Set in Britain in 2027, it’s a sort of sci-fi movie, but it’s the film’s nervous and energetic verité style, and creepy familiarity – not any wild vision of the future – that make it so involving. It helps, too, that Cuarón doesn’t allow the writing or the performances, most notably from Clive Owen and Michael Caine, to sink amid the film’s futuristic detail and pointed ideological concerns.

‘Children of Men’ is a clever and credible vision of London in the near future – a violent, paranoid, claustrophobic time when Britain is the only surviving nation, and a fertility crisis means that no babies have been born for 18 years. The Department of Homeland Security has ordered a militarised police to arrest all illegal immigrants and dispatch them to a fortified compound at Bexhill-on-Sea. Meanwhile, a rebel outfit of guerrilla refugees (or ‘fugees’) known as The Fish loom threateningly in the background, fighting for the rights of illegal immigrants and determined to cause major unrest. Cuarón’s smart trick is not to explain too much. Instead, he leaps straight in to his story, which is a good old-fashioned chase yarn that’s gilded with some unobtrusive and cheeky social commentary.

It’s civil servant Theo (Owen) – hapless innocent, reluctant hero and middling everyman – versus a miserable world in which his activist ex Julian (Julianne Moore) continues to take a political stand that he’s long since abandoned. It helps that Cuarón’s prognosis of the future is gripping from the off. Theo (wearing a faded ‘London 2012’ sweater) is buying a coffee on Fleet Street when he notices a news report on TV. The newsreader (a voice recognisable from television today) announces that the world’s youngest person, 18-year-old Diego, has died in a street brawl. It’s major news. The public weep. Theo takes a day off. And it’s no leap of the imagination to connect the reaction to Diego’s death with the death of Diana in 1997. It’s a moment that’s symbolic of Cuarón’s film: the future is not another planet, but a familiar version of our own.

The focus on migrancy and terrorism has an uneasy potency (not least when a bomb blows up Starbucks), and signals Cuarón’s determination to avoid distancing sci-fi tropes. It’s a film that could have been ridiculous. When Theo finds himself unwitting guardian to the only pregnant woman on earth (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a Messianic tone threatens to infect the film, but Cuarón backs off from stressing the Biblical overtones of James’s tale; at one point, he pointedly pulls the needle off a solemn John Tavener number and returns to the din of conflict as immigrants battle it out amid Bexhill’s ruins.In Cuarón’s hands, this film emerges as quite an achievement, both technically (look out for the impressive one-shot take that graces a battle scene late on; Cuarón resists the cut throughout) and dramatically (even Caine is amusing as Theo’s old mate Jasper, a cardigan-wearing, pot-smoking old sage).

It’s the director’s boldness that makes it work. He doesn’t bother with easy explanations, choosing instead to plunge straight into the action, shooting in a frenzied, documentary style (always handheld) and employing only the most necessary of special effects. His London is ours. The same red buses crawl the streets, only they’re older and more tatty. It rains incessantly and, though the city’s grey buildings are now adorned with moving-image advertising, the majority of our cityscape endures, from Brick Lane to the gloomy fly-overs of the East End. There’s fun to be had from all this – zebras roam St James’s Park and Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ now hangs in a (finally!) refurbished Battersea Power Station. But this is no joke: this is as real and as provocative as the future gets on screen. Dave Calhoun

Source : Time Out London Issue 1883: September 20-27 2006

http://www.childrenofmen.net/


Trailer:
http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/childrenofmen/medium.html



Or:
Pan's Labyrinth

Synopsis


The guardian of a labyrinth tells a young girl that she is the long lost princess of a magical kingdom and sets her three dangerous tasks that she must complete in order to achieve her destiny.
Review:<

A girl on the cusp of adolescence is inducted into a threatening fantasy world where she discovers her own power. It’s a familiar, even archetypal story well suited to the dreamlike parallel reality of cinema: Alice, Wendy and Dorothy found their ways on screen and have been joined by the young heroines of ‘Labyrinth’, ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Mirrormask’, to name just a few.
Pan’s Labyrinth’ is another version of the tale, but an unusual one in that it isn’t suitable for children. Not only is it replete with violence visited on the body, but its lessons – in the inadequacy of fantasy as a countermeasure to repression – might have sensitive youngsters chucking in the towel. As in ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and a prospective new project, ‘3993’, Guillermo del Toro (who is Mexican) arranges his supernatural drama against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.


The setting is 1944, so the conflict proper is over, but skirmishes continue between anti-fascist guerrillas and forces under the command of sadistic, narcissistic Captain Vidal (Sergi López) – or ‘father’, as young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is instructed to address him when she arrives at his forest base with her pregnant, ailing mother (Ariadna Gil), Vidal’s new bride. The maid, Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), is friendly and in some ways a mirror character for Ofelia, but the girl is basically alone – until a large cricket transforms into a fairy and leads her to a crumbling stone maze in the grounds, where an ageing faun greets her as a lost princess, pending her completion of certain tasks…It’s no coincidence that the fairy appears after the double-killing that establishes this fable isn’t kids’ stuff, or that the jeopardy of Ofelia’s challenges pales in comparison to real-world struggles.


Reality increasingly dominates the story; in fact, the faun’s realm can seem merely the stage for a series of set-pieces whose grotesque and detailed design impresses more than any sense of momentum or high stakes. Yet as escapist fantasies go, this supernatural is markedly muddy – both literally, as when Ofelia ventures into the belly of a great tree, and in the general creepiness that marks even those ostensibly sympathetic to her, like the faun, with its unnerving habit of appearing in her bedroom.


The labyrinth has echoes of authentic atrocity: a pile of children’s shoes lies ominously near the banqueting table of a bald-bodied, blank-faced baby-eater. At least as evident, though, is del Toro’s own immersion in fantasy and horror cinema, with nods to ‘Don’t Look Now’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Shining’ among others (not to mention Goya and ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’). It’s as a filmmaker, rather than storyteller, that del Toro is most successful here: a disjunction remains between the story’s childlike form and its gruesome execution, but few directors are so adept at conveying both the uncanny in the real and the recognisable in the fantastic.Ben Walters


Source : Time Out London Issue 1892: November 21-28 2006

Trailer:
 
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