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2 Movies on my list: “Chef” and “Begin Again”

6 May
"Chef" opens in theaters this weekend. Written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.

“Chef” opens in theaters this weekend. Written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.

Summer Movie season is here. It’s time for popcorn movies, so I haven’t really been excited about any movie since the Oscar season wrapped in March.

But now 2 new movies caught my eye and I’m looking forward to seeing them at a local (arthouse) theater near you.

CHEF is the most recent movie written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also stars. The premise looks really interesting, with a chef who quits the restaurant business after a bad review and decides to reinvent himself with a food truck. It stars Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Booby Cannavale and Scarlett Johannson and it looks pretty cool, without any of the special effects you would see in one of those action movies that we’re bombarded with this season.

Speaking of which, Jon Favreau has had such an interesting career. He is the director of the three Iron Man flicks, which is probably his most lucrative and famous work to date. But I’ve been a fan and been following him (literally) since he did Swingers, Made and even his brief TV show “Dinner for Five” back in the early 200o’s. (Side note: at the time I was stalking Vince Vaughn so once I stood in the parking lot of Musso and Frank’s Grill in Hollywood where they used to tape the show. El Vince Vaughn llegó tarde, y entró rapídismo, but I had a chance to say hello to Jon and he seemed to be a nice guy.)

Anyway…

Last week I tweeted to him that I had read the fabulous NY Times article featuring him and that I was looking forward to his movie and guess what? Me hizo Re-Tweet and I got quite a few followers thanks to him. So gracias for reading and retweeting, Mr. Favreau, and I hope your movie does really well.

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Otra movie que se me antoja mucho is “Begin Again” with Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly. It is written and directed by John Carney, the same director who made “Once” a few years ago. (I love that movie.)

It’s another story about starting something new and changing your life (uh oh, is there a trend here I’m just realizing?) set in New York City, so I already give it a thumbs up.

I’m not sure when this opens but it seems like the thing I’d like to see soon. A ver que tal.

Click on the link below for the trailer. Maybe this is also your cup of tea?

 

 

Waiting for Gravity, the new film by Alfonso Cuarón

3 Oct

The number one reason why Fall Season is my favorite season of the year is movies. This year the list is long and very interesting, but there is one movie in particular that has caught my attention.

“Gravity” is a new film opening on Friday, October 4th, by one of my favorite movie directors, Alfonso Cuarón. It stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, so just by reading the cast I’m already in.

I’ve heard great reviews all over the place (like this one from Joe Morgenstern at the WSJ) and the theme is intriguing: imagine being lost and floating in space and trying to get back to earth without anything to hold on to. Claro que a mucha gente ya le pasa, some people are so despistados that they seem lost in space even while they are walking the earth, tanto que you don’t know what hit them… but I digress.

Here is the trailer so you get an idea. Pero, ¡AGARRÉNSE!

 

I was especially surprised to learn that in this film, Mr. Cuarón worked with his son Jonás co-writing the screenplay. OMG. Who knew he had a son that was so grown up? Last Sunday the LA Times had a great article about their working relationship, which you can read here. Making movies is typically a family affair for Alfonso Cuarón, who had already worked with his brother Carlos before, most notably in “Y Tu Mamá También” which was nominated for several Oscars.

If you grew up in México in the 1980’s, you remember “Sólo Con Tu Pareja,” the first película mexicana you went to see at the movie theater that was actually good, funny and well made. It was written, produced and directed by Mr. Cuarón and it became a big hit. This was a movie en español unlike anything we had seen before, with young and socially affluent people in Mexico City in a comedy of errors.  The story, the actors were all different from all the churros and B-stuff  produced in Mexico, things you had no intention of ever seeing. The Mexican Film Industry was  in shambles in the late 1980’s, and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Sólo Con Tu Pareja” changed all that. 

So you can bet I’m going to go see this one at the IMAX theater, getting my supersize popcorn and fastening my seat belt.

Just by looking at the trailer I’m extremely concerned and flying by the seat of my pants for Sandra Bullock. ¡Pobrecita! How can she survive? But if anyone is going to rescue her in outer space, it might as well be our favorite hunk, el George Clooney. Go George! Tú puedes, corazón. I wouldn’t mind being lost in a galaxy far, far away if I was lost with you, baby.

The nice people over at Warner Brothers sent us a few pix of the premiere this week in New York. I thought you’d enjoy them as much as I did. 

Let’s go see Gravity and hope they make it. As Cantinflas said in one of his movies,  “La gravedad, señores…¡depende del trancazo!”

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just love good movies and talented filmmakers.)

New York, New York - 10/01/2013 - Warner Bros. Picture News Presents The New York Premiere of "Gravity". The Film stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and was directed by Alfonso Cuaron .

New York, New York – 10/01/2013 – Warner Bros. Picture News Presents The New York Premiere of “Gravity”. The Film stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and was directed by Alfonso Cuaron . Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

-PICTURED: Jonas Cuaron,George Clooney,Sandra Bullock,Alfonso Cuaron,David Heyman  -PHOTO by: Dave Allocca/Startraksphoto.com

Jonas Cuaron,George Clooney,Sandra Bullock,Alfonso Cuaron,David Heyman
-PHOTO by: Dave Allocca/Startraksphoto.com- Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

There is chemistry here. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock greet each other at the premiere of Gravity in New York. Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

There is chemistry here. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock greet each other at the premiere of Gravity in New York. Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Oh hey...it's George Clooney. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Oh hey…it’s George Clooney. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers.

From the LA Times article last Sunday, father and son Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón, co-writers of Gravity.

From the LA Times article last Sunday, like father, like son: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón.

Visiting Gabriel Figueroa @LACMA

28 Sep

Mexico has a long history of amazing cinematographers, but none is more beautiful nor visually eloquent as Gabriel Figueroa.

Gabriel Figueroa was a master of light and shadows, one of the most prolific Mexican cinematographers who shot the films that are representative of the Epoca de Oro del Cine Mexicano. He worked with the most famous directors and actors of his day and helped create a collective image of a time and place in Mexico that existed mostly in black and white. And the remarkable thing is he did it with a film camera, a light meter, and film negatives. Remember those? There weren’t any computers, no Photoshop nor digital tools back in the 1940’s. 

LACMA recently opened a new exhibit featuring his work and influence. “Under the Mexican Sky-Gabriel Figueroa: Art and Film” is a joint project between LACMA, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Televisa, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and Conaculta. I’m glad all these organizations got together to make this happen because there aren’t usually many exhibits dedicated to cinematography. This is a real treat.

As you walk through the hall you see montages on large screens of his films with the directors El “Indio” Fernandez and Luis Buñuel. What struck me most was how much a single image, a still frame of a moving shot, could be a stand alone piece of art.

Those images convey beauty, sadness, pride, melancholy or just profound admiration for the landscape and scenery, el paisaje mexicano. I was also struck by how much women cried in these stories- puro melodrama y sufrimiento- and how men were  always “engrandecidos y valientes” almost to a fault. There are bits of his work from the movies Flor Silvestre, Maria Candelaria, Enamorada, Bugambilia, La Perla, Maclovia, Un Dia de Vida, Los Olvidados, among many others. 

You also see the influence painters such as Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco had on Figueroa’s work. It was like he was applying film to their paintings. My dear friend Alex Munguia used to tell me that if I wanted to take better photographs, then I should study famous painters and try to emulate what they did. Of course he was right, but it became completely evident to me once I saw the relationship between Diego Rivera’s Murals of the Mexican Revolution and Gabriel Figueroa’s Cinematography. Isn’t it interesting how different art forms relate and influence each other? The medium is different, but both are equally powerful.

Mr. Figueroa lived to be 90 years old and stayed active in film and the arts until the end. I hope you can go admire his work in this fabulous exhibit. It runs until February 2, 2014.

Gabriel Figueroa in 1945 during the filming of "La Perla" (Dir. Emilio "Indio" Fernandez)

Gabriel Figueroa in 1945 during the filming of “La Perla” (Dir. Emilio “Indio” Fernandez)

Los ojos de Maria Félix, forever immortalized by the lens of Gabriel Figueroa.

Los ojos de Maria Félix, forever immortalized by the lens of Gabriel Figueroa.

There are plenty of screens with montages of his works as well as still shots and other memorabilia.

There are plenty of screens with montages of his work, as well as still shots and other memorabilia.

Mexican beauties as observed by Gabriel Figueroa, who wa snot afraid of the extreme close up. Among his leading ladies are Maria Félix, Dolores del Rio and Columba Dominguez.

Mexican beauties as observed by Gabriel Figueroa, who was not afraid of the extreme close up. Among his leading ladies are Maria Félix, Dolores del Rio and Columba Dominguez.

Maria Félix and Columba Dominguez in a dramatic moment.

Maria Félix and Columba Dominguez in a dramatic moment.

"Dia de Flores" by Diego Rivera, apr of the exhibit and cited as one of the references in Gabriel Figueroa's cinematography.

“Dia de Flores” by Diego Rivera, part of the exhibit and cited as one of the references in Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematography.

Even if she wanted to look ordinary, Maria Félix was stunning on screen.

Even if she wanted to look ordinary, Maria Félix was stunning on screen.

The contrast, shadows and light are simply beautiful.

The contrast, shadows and light are simply beautiful.

Un paisaje con la "Mujer Dormida" al fondo.

Un paisaje con la “Mujer Dormida” al fondo.

Pedro Armendariz in all his glory.

Pedro Armendariz in all his glory.

Para mi, Roberto Cañedo is the most attractive man in Mexican Cinema. Here he romances Columba Dominguez.

Para mi, Roberto Cañedo is the most attractive man in Mexican Cinema. Here he romances Columba Dominguez.

Posters from Mexican movies, in different languages.

Posters from Mexican movies, in different languages.

Gabriel Figueroa checking his negatves in 1994. This photograph was taken by his son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores.

Gabriel Figueroa checking his negatives in 1994. This photograph was taken by his son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores.

EntradaGabrielFigueroa

Go see this exhibit on view at LACMA.

Go see this exhibit on view at LACMA.

Must See Documentary Discovery: Reportero

23 Aug
A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

Here is a documentary that I found online through PBS and that has hit close to home.

“Reportero” follows the experience of Sergio Haro Cordero, a reporter in Tijuana, and the editorial team of the independent “Zeta” newspaper in recent years. It is an excellent film directed and produced by Bernardo Ruiz, and from now until September 20, 2013 you can watch it online at PBS for free with this link:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/reportero/full.php#.UhcH_q79XYs

Or you can go to the POV page from PBS and click on the selection: http://www.pbs.org/pov/

This is not a particularly “feel good movie” nor an easy story to watch, but it’s important to see it. 

Journalism is a tough profession, especially when your life is at risk for pursuing the truth and writing it.  As we know, Mexico does not have a good track record in protecting its journalists nor its citizens- far from it- and this documentary is an eye opener to all the things they are exposed to in this day and age. It has definitely made me aware of how valuable their work is, and I admire them even more.  

About 15 years ago, I had the pleasure of being a colleague of Mr. Sergio Haro Cordero at my local newspaper. I wasn’t even done with college, I wasn’t even pursuing a serious career in journalism (me tocaba la seccion de Sociales, for crying out loud!) but I was impressed by his work ethic, integrity, professionalism (exactly what you see in the film) and generosity in teaching a “rookie” the ropes.

One time, I tagged along for an interview with the state governor (Ernesto Ruffo) and Sergio let me ask a few questions (and even took a picture of me doing so, for my scrapbook.) I remember him working nonstop, always on the beat, always had a camera in hand. It’s so amazing to see that time has not changed him one bit (maybe for a few extra canas en el pelo) and even more inspiring is to see his wife and son supporting him even with all the risks they face (¡que valientes!)… I am in awe of his story and the film. Además, I’m proud to still have the photos he took of my muy breve, pero divertido paso por el periodismo de Baja California. Espero poderlo saludar un día de estos para darle las gracias pues son de mis fotos favoritas.

On another note, Jesus Blancornelas, the founding editor of Zeta and one of the main characters in the film, also has a personal connection to my family. Era vecino y amigo de mis abuelos y hasta sirvio de testigo en la boda civil de mis padres, en los 70’s. Small world. Mi abuela se emociona mucho cuando los recuerda a él y a su esposa, Beba.

So if you have an hour, if you have the interest, please watch. I only regret not having seen it in the movie theater when it came out, but grateful to PBS for airing it now. Bernardo Ruiz y compañia, soy tu fan. 

No se lo pierdan.

Libros y Movies en Español this weekend en DTLA: Hola Mexico Film Fest & LéaLA

16 May

This weekend sounds just like heaven with libros y películas en español happening all over Downtown LA.

Yes, the Hola Mexico Film Fest and LeaLA Feria del Libro en Español are finally here.

Which only begs the question, why did these two events decide to coincide the same weekend? Nos vamos a tener que dividir entre tantas cosas que queremos ver.

The HOLA MEXICO FILM FESTIVAL, now in its 5th year running, kicked off on May 15 and runs all through the weekend till Tuesday May 22nd. It’s a unique chance to see películas en español that would otherwise be hard to see here in LA. Nunca traen movies mexicanas a menos de que sea en este tipo de festivales. Pero ese es otro asunto.

So if you’re a movie fan, si te gustan las películas en español, el buen party y la gente cool, this is definitely something you need to check out.

This year they are also expanding to include food and music as part of the program, with Bricia López from La Guelaguetza leading the way and a number of visiting Mexican chefs, like Baja California favorite Javier Plascencia, from Mision 19 in TJ, who always delivers amazing, innovative dishes.

Check out the complete sked for the film fest on their website here. The venue is the Los Angeles Theater on Broadway.

Hola Mexico Film Fest

By the way, here’s a movie trailer that made me laugh and is part of the lineup this weekend. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see it. Se llama Suave Patria and it looks like the kind of slapstick dark comedy that’s easy to enjoy. Salen los televisos Adrian Uribe y Omar Chaparro y Héctor Suárez (yes that Hector Suárez, parece que ya regresó) so maybe it’s worth checking out.

As I mentioned recently, something not be missed this weekend is the Feria del Libro en Español de Los Angeles, LéaLA starts on Friday at the LA Convention Center in downtown y se organiza por la Universidad de Guadalajara. It runs through Sunday May 19.

Libros y mas libros en español, conferencias, pláticas y presentaciones. Todo GRATIS (my favorite price) y con algo para toda la familia.

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 10.06.19 PM

Check out the program here and go support authors and publishing houses, libros en español que otherwise we would never have a chance to buy here.

Books and films this weekend, people. Truly my cup of tea.

Must see exhibit: Stanley Kubrick at LACMA

12 Apr

Authentic film buffs and admirers of the “cine de autor” genre have pretty high standards for their movie preferences, and surely Stanley Kubrick must be on top of their list.

He was a genius and a little far out in his ideas, one of those once in a lifetime people who changed the world (and how we see it) through his movies. Lucky for us in Los Angeles, at the moment we have an amazing exhibit that allows us to get to know the mind and the work of Mr. Kubrick.

Ongoing till June 30, 2013 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA) “Stanley Kubrick” is a great collection of the work of Mr. Kubrick, from his early days when he started out as a photographer for Look Magazine all the way to his film masterpieces. There are entire sections dedicated to A Clockwork Orange, Lolita, Paths to Glory, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and Barry Lyndon. There’s a collection of his film cameras, lenses, scripts and production notes, images and costumes from his movies, as well as personal mementos. It’s a real treat for movie lovers.

I never considered myself a fan of Kubrick’s work, (yo me veo mas como una Woody Allen person) but after this exhibit, this film god has my total admiration. Be sure to catch it if you can before it leaves in the summer.

Here are a few glimpses from Kubrick at LACMA.

The Kubrick exhibit at LACMA runs until June 30th. Go see it!

The Kubrick exhibit at LACMA runs until June 30th. Go see it!

in 1949, a young Stanley Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine. This is a great picture of Rocky Graziano.

In 1949, a young Stanley Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine. This is a great picture of Rocky Graziano.

IMG_4714

The wing for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

IMG_4718

I always found this movie to be very creepy. “A Clockwork Orange” is on full display.

IMG_4730

Remember these? Ay ay ay… “The Shining” cuatitas costumes on display.

IMG_4735

One of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite cameras, a Arri, for which he had special lenses made. Got goose bumps just to think what this camera has captured.

IMG_4762

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Yes, the typewriter is here.

OSCAR’s 2013 chisme and favorite moments

25 Feb

After the marathon show that was the 2013 Oscars, I think I’m gonna miss all the award shows that we were getting used to every weekend.

Personally, the Oscar show is a annual ritual for me, almost like an obsession where I sit in front of my tv and don’t move until it’s over. It’s been like that toda mi vida. What can I say, I’m a sucker for celebrities and Hollywood stuff. Yo hablo de los artistas como si fueran mis compas…

This year all the award shows seemed more exciting, with plenty of good movies to see and root for. It was a chance to see my two favorite men, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper again and again.

I’m glad Argo won and Ben Affleck got his Oscar for best picture (although my sentimiental favorite was Silver Linings Playbook which I saw 3 TIMES!) and made a wonderful, messed up speech que me hizo llorar un poquito. I saw it when he won with Matt Damon 15 years ago for writing Good Will Hunting, and it made me think of all those years in between when we thought we’d lost him, como decia mi amigo Alex. But he made it through!

Tambien me da gusto por la Jennifer Lawrence, although she definitely needs to work on her finesse for delivering speeches (never mind all those mishaps as she walks on stage, more on that later). But she looked beautiful nevertheless.

I was very upset that Robert De Niro didn’t win supporting actor, but I have yet to see Django Unchained, so maybe Waltz deserved it. And I can definitely say I am not a fan of Seth McFarland (really, Academy, you need to find SOMEBODY to host this thing with the grace and sophistication the show deserves.)

Other than that, me declaro fan oficial de Bradley Cooper y mi suegra, Gloria Cooper, with her feathered do and her sneakers on the red carpet, and frankly I’m a little jealous of JLaw and all the chivalrous gestures she receives from him in person and all the times he raved about her in interviews every chance he got.  Además, not only did Hugh Jackman rush to help her get up when she fell on her way up the stage, a few gifs on the internet show Bradley also running to help her. True gentlemen indeed!

Here are a few of my favorite images from the evening, taken from the Twittersphere and beyond.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are always happy to see each other. Here they are arriving at the Oscars. (photo from US Magazine Twittter)

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are always happy to see each other. Here they are arriving at the Oscars. (photo from US Magazine Twitter feed)

They have chemistry, these two. (Photo from Twitter)

They have chemistry, these two. (Photo from Twitter)

Saludando a la suegra, la mamá de Bradley Cooper, Mrs. Gloria Cooper.

Saludando a la suegra, la mamá de Bradley Cooper, Mrs. Gloria Cooper.

Like a good Italian-Irish Mama's boy, Bradley Cooper took his mom to the Oscars.

Like the good Italian-Irish Mama’s boy that he is, Bradley Cooper took his Mom to the Oscars.

¡Y que se cae la Jennifer Lawrence!

¡Y que se cae la Jennifer Lawrence!

But her two Knights in (black) shining armor went to her rescue: Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper. Suertuda!

But her two Knights in (black) shining armor went to her rescue: Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper. Suertuda!

From Ben Affleck;s Twitter: getting his Oscar engraved. Very happy for him.

From Ben Affleck;s Twitter: getting his Oscar engraved. Very happy for him.

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