This review isn’t going to be too long because I absolutely adore the film Despicable Me! It is a children’s film and in 3D, which seems to be the new route films are going these days, but it’s the kind of 3D film that is amazing!
When I first was invited to attend a screening I didn’t think there would be too much I’d enjoy about the film. The trailers didn’t really give a good idea of what the film was about or the humor that was presented. So when I arrived at the screening and sat in a theater filled with children under the age of 10, I really asked myself: “Bi, are you ready for this?”
Vivir Latino will be covering the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, specifically the world premiere of Youth Producing Change series where young media makers from all over the world create and produce messages and share stories important to them! From June 18-19th there will be 11 films featured.
All screenings are at Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, Upper Level (Between Broadway and Amsterdam) in NYC. The films are affordable and there are special discounts! For example:
Special Offer: BUY ONE TICKET for $8~ GET ONE FREE
Select the “YPC Special” online and receive a 2nd complimentary ticket at the Walter Reade Theater box office. This offer is subject to availability and only good for the YOUTH PRODUCING CHANGE screenings in the HRWIFF10. For group tickets please email email@example.com
I’m so excited to be able to see these films. Below is a list and brief synopsis of each film at the festival this year. Are there any specific films you VL readers would love to hear more about?
HANDS OF LOVE:
For David Were and his community in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, having access to simple facilities like a bathroom can be a matter of life and death. After a devastating attack on his father, David and his friends know their work to provide security, latrines, and clean-up projects is more than a struggle for a healthier environment —it is part of ensuring the survival of their community. *David Were and Justus Ongera will attend the festival.
Drawing from a series of dramatic life-changing events, 14-year-old asylum seeker, Kamran, narrates the story of his courageous escape from Afghanistan and his unaccompanied journey to the United Kingdom. *Kamran Safi will attend the festival.
Young people find themselves left on their own when parents are forced to seek work in other countries in order to support their families. Migration provides a new take on immigration, from the perspective of children left behind.
ALIMENTATION D’UN CONGOLAIS MOYEN
(AN AVERAGE CONGOLESE MAN’S DIET):
For 14 years, Congo has been ravaged with conflict. In Congo, food insecurity remains the norm. Millions have died mostly due to malnutrition or lack of access to basic medicine. The simple truth for children in Congo – having a meal isn’t always a given.
17 & UNIDENTIFIED:
Born in Batey Cuchillia, Dominican Republic of Haitian descent, Deivei was never provided with a birth certificate. Without it, he cannot continue his education, find a job, marry or travel. *Filmmaker Alicia Wade will attend the festival.
GROWING UP IN INDIA:
In the northeastern desert state of Rajasthan in India, Sangita feels the limitations of her culture’s caste system when she decides she must forgo an education to train as a dancer in order to support her family.
The Roma people have been the target of persecution and discrimination for centuries. A Roma grandmother shares her hopes for future generations as she prepares bread with her granddaughter. *Martina Hudorovič will attend the festival.
Being 16 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories today is to have one’s life dictated by curfews, clashes with soldiers at check points, arbitrary searches and arrests. Hudud (an Arabic word for restriction) illustrates the challenges that Israeli construction of the “separation barrier,” or wall, pose for Palestinian youth.
As Espie prepares for her quinceañera, a traditional rite of passage celebrating a 15-year-old Latina’s debut, her family comes to terms with Espie’s decision to “come out” in a different way. Espie’s story embraces the complexity of family tradition and sexual identity with an honest and brave heart.*Espie Hernandez will attend the festival.
SEE. LISTEN. SPEAK. NGARRINDJERI’S BEING HEARD:
After water is diverted from natural streams and lakes in the rural Coroong community and delivered by pipeline to larger cities, the aboriginal Ngarrindjeri face a disastrous water crisis, threatening their way of life. Ngarrindjeri youth speak out to protect their culture and traditions.
IMAGE OF CONTAMINATION:
The course of Air Force enlistee Diana López’s life changes forever when she learns that toxic waste has been seeping off nearby Kelly Air Force Base and into her community’s ground water. *Elizabeth Gonzalez and Antonio Rodriguez will attend the festival.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had no interest in seeing the latest Tim Burton film Alice In Wonderland in theaters because I already knew the story. I’m usually more excited to see a film whose storyline I have yet to see before (which is one of the reasons I have some diverse tastes in directors). Plus, after reading ProfSusurro’s amazing review of the film, why even try to write my own review? I mean ProfSusurro even did a two part review where she brought into the convo the SyFy Channel remake!
This film confused the hell out of me! And not in an “I’m confused why the protagonist is not really a actor I can be convinced is of this background” or “what the heck kind of accent do these people have because it’s messing with my ability to grasp a region and contextualize the story.” Good thing I went with my homeboy Ramon who is familiar with the video game that came out circa a long time ago of the same name, and could translate and help your girl stay on top of the storyline. Not that I thought we would be the oldest folks there, we were not, but we were definitely not the demographic for the film, at least in my opinion. Surrounding us were much younger males (under 25 years old) who were very much into the film and, unlike me, could follow along.
I’m going to be totally honest: I had no clue what I was going to see besides the phenomenal (Cat Daddy) Ben Kingsley. I didn’t even realize it was a Disney film until it started! So, there was some level of surprise for me as a viewer, and an unconventional viewer at that. The story, in short is about a Persian family that consists of the King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup), his brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley), the King’s eldest son Tus (Richard Coyle), his second son Garsiv (Toby Kebbell) and his adopted son Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal). Yes you read correctly, there is no presence of a Queen and her existence is never mentioned or represented, which I found extremely odd.
Last summer Mala shared with us a trailer for the film 9500 Liberty about Virginia’s Prince William County’s Anti-Immigration legislation acts that she saw at Netroots (which she is also seeking to attend this year so go vote for her to get a scholarship to attend!). She wrote:
On Day 2, I decided to make a more concerted effort to attend panels and events related to immigration and to meet up with some of the other immigrant blogger scholarship winners. After some morning blogging, it was to a lunch time screening of 9500 Liberty.
The independently made documentary by Annabel Park and Eric Byler takes the audience through Virginia’s Prince William County’s anti-immigrant and anti-Latino legislative actions and the protests against them. I thought it was really important for people to see how local initiatives across the country help add to the wider anti-immigrant rhetoric. It was also interesting to see how in progressive spaces, lip service can be paid to bloggers of color, specifically Latinos, while the hustle and dance is all about self-promotion and marketing.
Earlier this week my homegirl Elena, who lives in Surprise, Arizona, sent me an email announcing the premire of the film in Tempe, Avondale, and Scotsdale, AZ this week. Below is the screening information as it hits theaters tomorrow, Friday:
9500 LIBERTY Tempe, AZ
9500 Liberty Theatrical Premiere
Starts Friday, April 30, 2010
Showtimes 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00*, 9:00* Harkins Harkins Valley Art Theater
509 S Mill Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85281-3607
* Director Eric Byler in person for Q&A after these shows on Opening Night,
Friday, April 30.
9500 Liberty Theatrical Premiere
Starts Friday, April 30, 2010
Showtimes 10:00, 12:30*, 3:00*, 5:30*, 8:00, 10:30 Harkins Harkins Gateway Pavilions 18
10250 W. McDowell Road
Avondale, AZ 85323
Director Eric Byler in person for Q&A on Sunday, May 2.
9500 Liberty Theatrical Premiere
Starts Friday, April 30, 2010
Showtimes 10:40, 1:20*, 4:15*, 7:15*, 10:00 Harkins Harkins Scottsdale/101 Theatre
7000 E Mayo Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85054
Director Eric Byler in person for Q&A on Saturday, May 1.
I think the screening is coming at a very important time and if you are in the area please attend if you can. Both of the directors will be present to discuss the film on Friday evening. There also seems to have been an extended trailer that was created which is posted below.
Disclaimer: This is a review of the 2010 film Repo Men ONLY. For a discussion/review of similarities between this film and Repo! The Genetic Opera visit this piece here.
I had not heard or seen any advertisements for this film when I was invited to a screening, thus I did not know what to expect. Think Blade Runner meets Soylent Green meets Wall-E . It’s a futuristic tale that was difficult to watch, triggered many memories and emotions, and left me with little hope. It was an interesting film to have released during this historic time as President Obama signs the health care reform bill.
A film about two men, friends from childhood, Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) who have a dangerous job of repossessing robotic body parts sick people have purchased to help them remain alive. Yes you read correctly, Remy and Jake cut out the robotic organs keeping people alive because they have fallen back on the payments of the parts. But then, when Remy has an on-the-job accident and needs a heart transplant, he finds himself on the other end of the repossession experience.
It seems like it was only yesterday that Mala and I were tweeting that we were surprised we had not been invited to a screening of the upcoming film Our Family Wedding featuring America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Regina King, and Forest Whitaker. Then all of a sudden an invitation falls into my inbox! I’ll admit that when I started to see the trailers on television I just took a deep sigh as the images and storyline lead one to believe that it will focus on the racism that Latinos have towards Black people. And ya’ll know how I feel about that already.
The film follows Lucia performed by America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) who is attending Law School at Columbia University in NYC where she meets her fiancé Marcus performed by Lance Gross (House Of Payne, Meet The Browns), who is seeking a medical degree at the same University. We meet them as they are packing to head back to LA to visit family and announce they are getting married. Dating for less than one year, Marcus is excited to share his decision and love for Lucia with his single-father who raised him, Brad, performed by Forest Whitaker (Last King Of Scotland), who is one of LA’s most eligible bachelors ad a well known radio personality. Lucia however, is very concerned about telling her father Miguel performed by Carlos Mencia (The Mind of Mencia) and her mother Sonia performed by Diana-Maria Riva (Chasing Papi, What Women Want) about her wedding plans, dropping out of Law School to become a teaching to immigrant youth, and moving with Marcus to Laos for a Doctors Without Borders opportunity.
As I watched the film, I was entertained, but it became clear to me that the film was written by men because each of the multiple ways the female characters were developed (or not) and how they were portrayed as weak, sad, fearful, or chasing after men. Yet the men are angry, opinionated, and in various ways display levels of power not just within their specific communities but power over the women in their lives as well.
The good thing about the film Cop Out is that the term “coonfest” does not completely describe this film. The bad thing is everything else. I admit when I first saw the trailers for the film I said to myself “…but I’ve seen the 48 Hours films already.” Unfortunately, Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) did not have a lot to work with regarding the script brothers Robb and Mark Cullen (Heist) wrote and gave him.
The story is about two police officers in California who have been together for nine years. Jimmy Monroe performed by Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Paul Hodges performed by Tracy Morgan (30 Rock, First Sunday) have formed a “unique” way of attempting to solve crimes. Yet, their crime-fighting capabilities lead them to a 30-day suspension. While Jimmy worries about how to pay for his daughter, Ava’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding, Paul is preoccupied with the possibility that his wife, Debbie, performed by Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man) may be having an affair with the neighbor. Instead of agreeing to have Ava’s stepfather Roy, performed by Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), pay for the wedding, Jimmy chooses to sell a baseball card he’s had since his childhood. Upon attempting to sell his card the store is held up, his card stolen, and he convinces Paul to search for the missing card with him. This search leads them to a drug cartel run by (who else?) a Mexican crew led by Poh Boy performed by a very tired looking Guillermo Díaz (Weeds).
My exposure to Sherlock Holmes stories growing up was limited. As a result, when I heard that Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Snatch) was working on a film starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I let myself stay in that space of vagueness about the origins and history of the characters. There are times when you just want to be surprised, and often Ritchie’s films have been pleasant surprises, especially in the casting choices for characters. I’ve found that Ritchie’s films have helped in normalizing the people of Color that live in parts of the UK that US audiences may not get exposure to/consider/know about. I desired to have this same element of surprise for this film.
I do enjoy a mystery and even more a psychological thriller, and I do believe Sherlock Holmes offers both of these to viewers. There were some things I knew to prepare for regarding the film, such as a 2+ hour-long experience, and some UKish accents. Our theater was sold out and as we watched the trailers, my friend and I were not impressed with the films that are coming out in the near future. I was hoping this was not trying to set us up for a poor film experience.
When I first saw trailers for this film the one thing that stood out to me was actor Mark Wahlberg. You see I grew up in a generation where he was, and some may argue still is, a pop culture icon. There was some appeal because for many of us of a certain age who lived in the US, we’ve seen Wahlberg emerge as an artist whose craft has no longer focused on music but on film. However, the plot of the film centers, in my opinion, magical realism.
It is because of my love for magical realism that I went to see this film. I know it may sound odd to give a genre an ethnicity, but I do associate magical realism with Latinidad and since this film centers and builds off of our ability to suspend logic and believe something so magical to follow the story, it’s fitting to share my review with you all here.
I’ll first admit that I have not read the book by Alice Sebold that the film is based upon, so I cannot speak to it’s consistency with the original text and what is represented on the screen. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that there were people of Color in the film with speaking roles! I know it seems small, but usually this is not the case so it does stand out, at least to me, when I see such casting choices. The focus of the story is on a young girl named Susie Salmon who is murdered and watches over her family and killer from in-between heaven and earth. Can she allow herself to heal and forgive in order to make it to heaven? Or will her desire to witness vengeance against her murderer keep her in the in-between forever?
There is a mix of voice over as narration by Susie performed by Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), which for some may be distracting. I, however, found it useful especially since I was not familiar with the text. Mark Wahlberg (The Departed; Four Brothers) plays her father Jack, Rachel Weisz (Definitely, Maybe; The Constant Gardener) her mother Abigail, Susan Sarandon (Speed Racer; In The Valley Of Elah) plays her Grandmother Lynn, and Rose McIver (Legend Of The Seeker) plays her younger sister Lindsey. Stanley Tucci (Julia & Julia; Swing Vote) is fascinating as George Harvey, the man who murders Susie.
The film takes place in the early 1970s and Susie is like many 14-year-old girls, in that she is focused on her school and has developed a crush for a very handsome senior: Ray Singh performed by newcomer Reece Ritchie (10,000 BC). I was pleasantly surprised to see an interracial love story set in the early 1970s and have it be extremely normalized versus ostracized and objectified. Like many younger girls, Susie is intimidated by Ray’s age and does not pursue him. However Ray is into Susie and after they watch Othello in their film club together, he asks her to meet him at the mall for a date in a few days. Right before Susie is about to experience her first kiss a teacher reprimands another student and interrupts their hallway kiss. That same evening Susie is murdered and dies without having been kissed by her first love.
I’ll admit that I was tickled when Susie and her friend spoke about the film Othello they watched and had commentary about the blackface of Laurence Olivier and called it “creepy.” Ray also expressed his connection to the film and called himself “the Moor” in love notes he sent to Susie. This is more dialogue that recognizes difference and the racial formation people living in the US experience than any other film I’ve seen where people of Color are not the lead.
When Susie is murdered and she finds herself in the in-between place where she can watch her family and only interact with them in specific ways, she meets a young girl named Holly performed by Nikki SooHoo (Bring It On). Holly helps Susie navigate her new environment and helps mentor her towards healing and heaven.
As Susie’s family tries to find her murderer, police investigator Len Fernerman performed by Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) takes the lead on her murder. Her father Jack and siblings dream of Susie, feel, and see her in their daily interactions and do not give up finding her murderer. It is her mother Abigail that cannot cope with the disappearance and murder of her daughter and the search her family seeks to continue. Abigail chooses to leave hear family and work in an orchard picking oranges in California, alongside several working class people and people of Color. The children are left to be cared for by their Grandma Lynn while Jack works and this is where Sarandon shines in her role. Not only is Grandma Lynn comfortable as a grandparent, but she’s also comfortable with a drink in one had, a cigarette in the other, and a full face of make up. She is a diva and plays the role very well. At the same time, Grandma Lynn’s actions help us understand why there is contention between her and her daughter Abigail.
As the search for Susie’s murderer continues, Susie learns more about George and his past. As she discovers more about him, her family becomes more suspicious of him as well. Susie also meets other young women who are waiting for her to leave the in-between and discovers they are all there to meet her because they were all murdered by the same person. Susie is greeted by Flor Hernandez performed by newcomer Stefania Owen, one of George’s youngest victims, who attempts to welcome her into heaven.
One of my favorite parts about this film is that there are several lines that just make sense, especially for people who are mourning the loss of people in their lives like I was when I saw the film. Sometimes it means more to hear someone or something that has no investment in who you are and what you do wish you a long and happy life.