Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
El lugar sin límites (1978)
Considering that this film was made in 1978 when no one - especially no one in Mexico - was making films about gay men, this film is remarkable for the way it presents a critique of macho culture. La Manuela, played brilliantly by Roberto Cobo, doesn't want to be a man because she doesn't want to be a "bruto," an animal. Pancho and his brother in law, Octavio, represent everything that's wrong with Mexican men. They are obsessed with appearing "manly" in the eyes of the world. They treat women like objects, they are violent, and they like to control other people. Pancho is especially pathetic because he is obviously attracted to la Manuela but can't admit it. On the other hand, la Manuela is very honest and open about who she is and what she wants. She doesn't care if people make fun of her and call her names. She is kind, supportive, and in decisive moments, brave. In case you're thinking this is a male-bashing film, it's not. Don Alejo, the aging cacique (boss) of the town is an old fashioned patriarch who has his flaws, but he is not threatened by men like la Manuela. He doesn't pass judgment on people and he recognizes wrongdoing when he sees it. He suggests that there are other ways to be a man in Mexico, and that people like Pancho and Octavio are threats to society. The relationship between la Manuela and her daughter, Japonesita, is sweet and touching, like the mother and daughter roles in a 1940s melodrama, but with a modern twist! Although la Manuela sometimes acts campy and parodies female behavior, it is clearly just part of the spectacle or show. When she's not on stage, she's down to earth and practical, like any of the other "girls" who work in the brothel. This film shows the seamy side of life in a small town, but ultimately suggests that the people who live and work in the brothel are more honest and sincere than those who belong to the so-called "respectable" outside world. Roberto Cobo is perfect in the role because he's not beautiful or feminine looking, but he knows how to seduce with words and gestures. The final "dance of the kiss" is hypnotic, and it's easy to forget that he's not a "real" woman as he dances for Pancho. Running like a thread through the whole film is a commentary about how life in Mexico is changing and how small town life is disappearing. It's a great film, well worth seeing, the best film coming out of Mexico in the 1970s, without a doubt.
Raising Victor Vargas (2002)
I enjoy seeing films that deal with people who don't get a lot of representation in Hollywood film, and watching this movie about young Latinos growing up in NY was a treat. I especially like the way it deals with the subject of family and friends. This isn't the typical white middle class neighborhood with mom, dad and a dog. To a large extent, the kids are raising themselves, and trying to figure out who they are without a lot of help from the adults in their lives. Some of them are emotionally wounded, but nevertheless they're strong. They survive without hurting other people, and when times get tough, they come together and support each other. I didn't think it was overly romanticized in the way it deals with the subject. True, the film doesn't focus exclusively on the horrible, depressing things that go on in poor neighborhoods. We don't see rapes, gun fights and rats running around, but I'm glad that someone made a film about Latinos that doesn't focus on drug use, violence, and gangs. These characters just seem like normal people who are trying to get by and do the best they can in the circumstances. They don't come across as victims, we aren't supposed to feel sorry for them or pity them. It's a nice character study, and shows that relationships between young people aren't simple. I especially loved the grandmother, who came across as very human and showed real depth. I would recommend this film to people who are tired of run of the mill stuff and want to look at something different.
There are so many documentaries that talk about how horrible Fidel is, all of the abuses and crimes that Fidel has committed since the Revolution, how the Cubans are so unhappy and mistreated, etc. It's easy for people in the United States to think that no one likes or admires Fidel. This documentary helps explain why he has supporters. Yes, it's a sympathetic look at Fidel and Cuba, and it makes Fidel seem charming. But, there are lots of people in the world who think he IS charming, and don't think of him as a monster. Estela Bravo isn't alone in her admiration. It's interesting to see another perspective and understand that there are two sides to every story. I'm tired of seeing everything slanted from the perspective of Cuban Americans who lost everything in Cuba and hate Fidel with a passion. I think it's healthy to have another perspective, and this film will help you understand the situation between the United States and Cuba more fully.
not bad for a tv movie
I was pleasantly surprised at this film. Given the anti-Cuban bias of most things we see in the media, I thought this movie did a decent job of presenting Cuban history from a neutral position. It explains why the Revolution was needed, why people supported Fidel, and what some of the challenges were after the Revolution (Bay of Pigs invasion, etc.) For people who know nothing about Cuban history, it gives a good overview and makes for a dramatic story. It relies too heavily at times on melodrama, and Gael García Bernal as Che is ridiculous. The Mexican actors who play the lead roles are ok in general, but there are times when it looks more like a soap opera than a film (not a coincidence that the stars are well known soap opera stars). Still, for this kind of bio- pic, it's fine for what it is. The ending is a little over the top. I think the director is trying too hard to show that Fidel has become isolated from the people. If you follow news, you know that this isn't true. But the parts that deal with the early stages of the Revolution are especially good, and it's fun to see the costumes, old cars and settings of pre-revolutionary Cuba. I also liked the parts that deal with the Revolutionary battles. It gives a good idea of what the Cubans were fighting for, and the dramatic scenes between Fidel and Celia Sánchez are good.
Si Adelita se fuera con otro (1948)
Jorge Negrete in his prime
If you are a fan of Mexican ranchera movies, here is a good one, starring Jorge Negrete as a follower of Pancho Villa. The film is set during the Revolution and is based on the well known corrido, "Adelita." It essentially just fleshes out the story told in the song. The love angle is secondary to all of the songs. Adelita is a rich girl who leaves home to follow her husband (Negrete) into battle. But while he goes off and fights, she stays behind. At times she even disappears from the film for blocks of time, while the men are off fighting and singing. But at the end, she comes back to a rousing chorus of "Adelita" and she and Negrete are reunited. This is typical stuff from 1948 Mexico, with above average musical numbers. It's not true to life history, but it's fun to watch.
worth seeing for Ninón Sevilla
I'm a big fan of Ninón Sevilla, the Cuban cabaret artist who showed up in a lot of Mexican films during this era. This is a typical "cabaretera" film, where the girl who dances in the cabaret tries to go straight, she falls in love with a decent man and wants to have a family, but things never work out right. A subplot featuring Agustin Lara provides a lot of good songs written by Lara and performed by great singers like Pedro Vargas and el Trio Los Panchos. Sevilla's dance numbers are energetic and full of life. She does a great mambo, and her costumes are wonderful. There are no surprises in this film. It follows the plot line of many other cabaretera films, but it's still worth watching for the musical numbers.
La devoradora (1946)
Maria Felix was famous for her femme fatale roles, and here she is at her best. She is a BAD BAD woman, who is nevertheless irresistible to men. She looks gorgeous, but she destroys men. When she kills one of her ex-lovers, she manages to get a new lover to help her hide the body. While she is seducing one man, she is plotting to marry another one. She destroys families. She destroys men's careers. She steals their fortunes. She stops at nothing to get her way. Of course she gets punished in the end (how could she not?) but she's one of those characters you love to hate. The costumes and sets are beautiful. Maria Felix's eyes are magnificent, and they burn with fire when she's plotting some evil deed. With a slight cock of her head to the side and an ironic smile, she makes men go mad. The final shot of her in her wedding gown is great - what a commentary on the "purity" of the woman wearing the white dress.
El jardín del Edén (1994)
An interesting look at the U.S./ Mexican border
This is not a commercial Hollywood style film, and if you're looking for a lot of action, you won't get it here. El Jardín del Edén is a thoughtful, intriguing character study and gives us a glimpse of what life is like for different kinds of people who end up at the U.S./Mexican border in the mid-1990s. Migration is not a one way street, and just as there are Mexicans who want to go to "the other side," there are people from the U.S. who are drawn to Mexico and are searching for something there they can't find at home. Not all Mexicans living in Tijuana want to cross to the U.S. Not all Mexicans who cross want to stay in the U.S. This film breaks down a lot of stereotypes about what the border is, and it makes it clear that we can't put people into neat little categories. People are motivated to do things for a lot of different reasons, and sometimes cultural and personal differences are so subtle that people offend or hurt each other without even realizing it. I would recommend this film to anyone who has seen too many violent, action packed films about corruption, greed and crime along the border, because it shows that things are not always so dramatic and wild as we imagine. Here, the border has a definite and unique character of its own, but it's no better and no worse than any other place. Sometimes people find what they're looking for, sometimes not, but there is a certain degree of hope in the film that keeps the characters moving forward and imagining a better kind of life for themselves and others.
Entre tinieblas (1983)
definitely worth watching
This is early Almodovar, and if you've seen his other early films, you know what to expect. If you haven't seen them, then you might be surprised. The film is funny, unpredictable, and endearing in a kinky, warped kind of way. Almodovar's nuns are wonderful characters. With straight faces and looks of piety, they do outrageous things without batting an eye. There are probably many ways to interpret the film, but I think it's about acceptance. We're all "sinners" in one way or another, as the nuns would say, and it's not up to us to judge or condemn other people. The sisters are very forgiving - in fact, they love sinners! - and they create a little haven where marginal people can find shelter. They are eccentric, they do things that mainstream society condemns, but they don't really do any harm to anyone and maybe even help some people find their path in life. This isn't the Catholic Church's idea of what a convent should be like, and I understand that very devout people would be offended by the way Almodóvar treats the subject. Still, he does it in a kind of gentle, good humored way and he offers an alternative vision of religious devotion that can make you laugh if you aren't too uptight about these things. Things don't always make sense, but that's fine, things don't make sense in life sometimes, either. Just sit back and watch, and enjoy the twists and turns.
the best! a must see film
At first, it seems like this is going to be another standard melodrama, but within 10 minutes, you know that you're seeing really great actors at work in a very important film. Pedro Armendariz and Dolores del Rio are larger than life, absolutely perfect characters who love each other so sweetly and purely it makes everything else you've ever seen seem small in comparison. The photography is breathtaking, and the Mexico they live in - the floating gardens of Xochimilco at the turn of the century- is the stuff myths are made of. Of course there is conflict and drama and tragedy running all through the film, but the characters are so noble you can't feel sorry for them, no matter how badly they're treated. No one ever said this is supposed to be a realistic movie, but it certainly delivers an emotional jolt. It makes you not only fall in love with Maria Candelaria and Lorenzo Rafael, but with Mexico. It's like watching a beautiful dream unfold. No wonder so many Mexicans still mention this as their absolutely all time favorite film. Put it at the top of the list of films to see if you want to know more about Mexico's golden age of cinema.
Ahí está el detalle (1940)
This film is a hoot!
I'm not a big fan of comedies, but Cantínflas is absolutely wonderful and this is one of his best films. I laughed out loud all through the film, and loved it so much I bought the dvd. Most of the humor is verbal, like in the best of the Marx brothers films, so I'm not sure how it comes across with subtitles to a non-Spanish speaking public. I suspect some of the puns and witty responses don't hold up well to translation. If you know Spanish, you will marvel at Mario Moreno's verbal skills. If you don't know Spanish, you can still enjoy his silly behavior, his funny facial expressions, and the general exasperation of other characters who try to follow his logic. The pace is fast, the gags are constant, and you will really understand why Mexican audiences flocked to see Cantínflas films for so many years when you see this movie. He's a cultural icon, and you can't really understand Mexican films without knowing something about this man. He makes fun of authorities, he turns the system on its head and comes out on top against all odds. It's worth watching to see how he does it.
Miel para Oshún (2001)
a complex and thought provoking film
The first time I watched the film, I wasn't that impressed, but I watched it again and realized that there's a lot more to it. Solas uses melodrama as a vehicle to explore the pain that Cuban exiles feel when they come back to the island, but it's a very restrained form of melodrama and a lot of the changes the main character, Roberto (Jorge Perugorría) undergoes are subtle. It takes time for someone to change a lifetime of thinking and learn to see the past in a different light. The pace may seem slow compared to Hollywood films, but this really isn't a light romantic comedy. It has moments of humor and fun, but essentially it's a serious drama about the search for identity. Perugorría does a great job of portraying the uptight, emotionally crippled Roberto, and it's great to see him loosen up and become more "Cuban" once he gets to the island. Pilar and Antonio are fantastic characters who help him understand more about life in Cuba. He realizes everything he's missed by growing up in the U.S. and not sharing the same fate as Cubans on the island. He gives up his starched shirts and rental cars and ends up riding bikes and hitchhiking like everyone else. He leaves the five star hotel in Havana and sleeps in the huts where country people live. You can literally see him transforming himself into someone else as he moves through the film. This film doesn't show Cuba in overly romantic terms, but it's a pretty realistic and intelligent look at what it means to be Cuban. Roberto isn't as likeable as some of the characters Perugorría has played in other films, but I think that just shows the range of Perugorría's talents. We don't have to love Roberto to sympathize with him.
Cuarteto de La Habana (1999)
This is a lightweight romantic comedy but it has its moments. It deals with cultural differences between Cubans and Spaniards and shows clearly "why does everyone want to go to Cuba?" (as the tagline says). Segis and Walter arrive in Havana with all the jaded superiority of Europeans who think they're better off than the Cubans, but it quickly becomes apparent that the Cuban women they're interested in are a whole lot smarter than they are. The love story is pretty unconventional by Hollywood standards but that makes it more interesting. Underneath there are some bittersweet moments as Walter realizes that growing up in Spain doesn't mean he's Spanish. He was born in Cuba and there are still lots of things the tie him emotionally to the island and the people. It's a little disconcerting to see how Lita (Mirta Ibarra) and her neighbor (Daisy Granados) covet new appliances and a refrigerator full of food - it reminds us that not all Cubans are as well off as these characters, and dependence on foreign currency does have a down side. But all of that is glossed over, so you don't have to think a lot about it if you don't want to. It's not a realistic look at life in Cuba, but it's still an interesting glimpse into cultural differences and how Cubans are managing to survive in times of economic crisis.
Ok, this isn't great cinema, but it's very sweet and entertaining and is certainly as good as most of the romantic comedies coming out of Hollywood. Plus, you get to see Havana, which looks gorgeous in this film, and you get to see some very good acting. The secondary characters are just as interesting as the main characters. I like the idea of overlapping stories because it shows that everyone, regardless of age, nationality, race and sexual persuasion, just wants to be happy in love. The older characters (Ulyses Dumont and Veronica Lynn) are especially endearing. Sure, it's not "realistic" that all of these characters would meet each other on the streets of Havana by accident, but since when do we measure romantic comedies in those terms? This film captures the special charm that Havana and Cuba in general has for visitors from other places, and it really does make you fall in love with the island. It's not a political film. It doesn't make you want to run out and become a communist. If anything, it's just a romantic and idealized travelogue, but what's wrong with that? As long as you're not expecting anything else, you won't be disappointed.
Cosas que dejé en La Habana (1997)
a bittersweet comedy
Foreign films are so good at combining comedy with drama and creating films that leave us wondering if we should laugh or cry. There are lots of moments in this film that are funny, but overall it's a sobering look at what it feels like to live in exile. The film starts out in Havana so we can understand what the characters are leaving behind. Spain offers more economic opportunities, but none of the Cubans who go there are really happy. They want things they can't have at home - career opportunities, money, a nice house - but they miss the warmth and color of their island. The aunt (Daisy Granados) has tried to become less Cuban and more Spanish, but she's just a bitter and frustrated woman who wants everyone else to be as unhappy as she is. Although she claims she can't stand Cuban food, she sneaks into the kitchen at night and eats it cold out of the pot when no one is looking - what a perfect metaphor for the way she covers up her true identity in order to "fit in" in her new country. Nena (Violeta Rodriguez) and Igor (Jorge Perugorría) have great chemistry and make a great romantic couple. The constant struggle between money vs. love, economic opportunity vs. home is heartbreaking. It makes you realize that most Cubans who leave the island are only leaving because of economic hardships, and that if they had a choice, they're rather not leave.
Fresa y chocolate (1993)
This movie is about accepting difference and learning to appreciate other points of view and other ways of life. It's not really a movie about gay men - get over that! It's about friendship, and about the love Cubans feel for their country. Jorge Perugorría is absolutely great in this role, as are all of the other characters. The scenes of Havana are beautiful and heartbreaking. This film conveys what it must feel like for Cubans to leave their country, and how difficult that is. It's also about learning to think for yourself and to have opinions and do things that others might not find "politically correct." There's nothing subversive about this movie, and nothing that you need to hide from the kids. In fact, I recommend that people show the film to their teenagers and talk about it, because it sends such a great message about accepting people as they are. It's also tender and funny, and has just the right balance of humor and drama. Nancy (Mirta Ibarra) is wonderful.