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First preview of the Disney-produced Juan Gabriel series has surfaced

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Rumors that Disney was working on a series based on Juan Gabriel’s life have been circulating the lavadero — that’s where gossipy Latina women divulge all sorts of chismessince last year:

The dramatic emission, which will have 13 episodes and is based on unpublished testimonials, will retrace the steps of Alberto Aguilera Valadez (Juan Gabriel’s real name) as he worked to accomplish his dream of becoming famous.

I had quite the dramatic emission myself when I found out this series was even a thing, and, after watching the “first exclusive footage” scored by Ventaneando (it’s not, but I’ll get to that), I may just have another:

Is that the amazing María Rojo playing Juan Gabriel’s mom? Nice.

I still can’t tell who’s playing Juan Gabriel and the series’ IMDB is not helping, so if any of you know, please drop it in the comments.

A few observations: this 13-chapter-long telenovela appears to be based on Juan Gabriel’s official biography — which is pretty good, BTW — and not “unpublished testimonials.” Also, the first teaser of the series has been floating around Youtube since last year, but what Ventaneando scored is more footage. Here’s the previous trailer:

In the US we’ll be able to watch Hasta que te conoci on Telemundo when it’s finally released. I couldn’t find a release date — not even on Telemundo’s official twitter for the series, which looks severely neglected — but since the whole thing appears to be done, hopefully we’ll be able to watch this it soon.

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Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is that freaky fish sex movie you’ve been waiting for

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The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s latest flick starring British actress Sally Hawkins, is the freaky fish sex movie you’ve been waiting for – if that’s the sort of thing you’ve been waiting for, I mean. It’s also an unconventional love story about very conventional love, and Michael Shannon, the antagonist, plays a great asshole.

Warning: Spoilers ahead, so don’t read the rest of my nonsense if that’s a problem for you.

I love Guillermo del Toro because he’s not Alejandro González Iñárritu, meaning that, unlike the other Mexican powerhouse director, Guillermo’s stories don’t consistently bank on putting characters in miserable situations – see Amores Perros, Babel, Biutiful, The Revenant – in order to cheaply exploit the audience for super sad feels.

Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in the film The Shape of Water.

At times, Guillermo’s use of monsters and the fantastical may seem like a gimmick, but he’s an excellent storyteller, and that’s his real forte. Not always, sure  – Pacific Rim was horrible, let’s be real – but Memo is usually consistent, and The Shape of Water is very much the Guillermo everyone loves.

A very quick synopsis: The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa Esposito, a timid mute played by Sally Hawkins, who cleans a government lab. It’s set in the early ‘60s, and the mousy woman has a funny gay neighbor, who’s also her closest confidant, and a cool coworker, played by Octavia Spencer. One day Elisa builds a strong bond with a freaky sea creature that was secretly brought in to her even more secretive workplace. Elisa tries to rescue the fugly thing before it’s killed and dissected for science stuff. 

Michael Shannon, the antagonist, is an awesome, off-putting, oddball asshole. Listen, fuck sentimental Jon Hamm in Mad Men because, as evidenced by his role in The Shape of Water, Shannon is the kind of vintage American dick that would have kept me from sleeping through that boring-ass, slow-paced show. Dude is super sexist, racist, petty, violent – you know, a typical ‘60s man, or any man in any era, really. Michael keeps this movie together, and he really delivers, especially in a hilarious sex scene.

Michael Shannon in The Shape of Water.

There’s lots of Guillermisms in place: nostalgia for old technology, relatable otherworldly creatures, beautiful cinematography – though, oddly, there’s no gears anywhere. From Cronos to Hellboy, clock-like gears are always a thing in Memo’s movies, but not here. However, the most notable rehash of all his ideas is a big one: the kafkaesque fishman in The Shape of Water is basically a mute Abraham Sapien, from the Hellboy universe.

Again, although this is an unconventional love story, replace the monster with a socially-awkward incarcerated man, and the movie becomes a very conventional love tale. The Shape of Water is engaging and it never feels slow, but the storytelling is not exactly perfect, at least structurally.

For example, the bond between Elisa and Frogface – I don’t know the monster’s real name – is rushed, and it almost fucks up the whole movie. Her case as to why she would befriend a crazy-ass, violent creature is brought up too late in the story, and by then too much shit has already happened.

Abraham Sapien, from the Hellboy universe.

Plus making The Shape of Water into romantic flick also feels like a wasted opportunity, or a lazy crowd-pleaser. I don’t want that from Memo. If the movie’s focus would’ve been limited to developing a strong, unusual kinship with an anthropomorphic monster, deeper emotional angles could’ve been explored. Instead, a silly love story was wedged in because people can’t see movies without them? Hollywood? I don’t fucking know.

And, listen, I’m no prude, it’s fun to imagine banging some horrendous fish – props to Guillermo there  – but Frogface’s character isn’t sufficiently developed in order for the audience to truly believe there’s an involved, emotional relationship. The protagonist would also need to be more eccentric, and not so well put together. As a result, some of the scenes have the same seriousness as vintage creature porn (very NSFW, don’t click on the link).

The film is still fun to watch, but it’s mostly because of Guillermo’s solid visuals, and the cops and robbers angle. Michael Shannon really carries the movie with the occasional quip by Octavia Spencer, who’s still working at that lab from Hidden Figures, apparently. Sally Hawkins’ acting is solid, too, and FISH SEX.

Go see it, why not. See the trailer below.

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Coco triggers Mexican on Mexican hate because #mexicanscanthavenicethings

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Alright, unless Miguel gets that reggaeton contract I’ve been writing about, this is the last thing I’m going to write about Disney-Pixar’s The boy who wanted más gasolina, dale más gasolina – I mean Coco.

So Coco is a huge success, both in Mexico and the US, but apparently a group of Chicanos are not having it. Gustavo Arellano Miranda, a well-known writer for Pocho, among other outlets, penned a very interesting column on the success of the movie. He essentially defends Lalo Alcaraz, the Mexican-American cartoonist, from a bunch of naysayers.

Lalo decided to participate in the production of Coco as a consultant, and that did not sit well with the Disney-hating activists:

“Disney did what any smart corporation would do: They hired someone to teach them how to do things right. Better yet, they hired Alcaraz as a cultural consultant for Coco. That led armchair Aztecs to accuse Alcaraz of being a vendido—a sellout. Even allies of Alcaraz engaged in a lot of Facebook hand-wringing and asked Alcaraz why he decided to help his Moby Dick try and tackle a Mexican holiday.”

The way I see it, Disney was gonna make Coco with or without any Mexican input. The fact that the all-powerful company decided to bring in lots of Latino talent – even if it wasn’t done out of the kindness of their own hearts, but to make sure nobody the Cultural Appropriation Crowd got off their balls – is still better than nothing. The voice actors, most of them Latino, as far as I can tell from IMDB, are getting some recognition. The co-director, Adrian Molina, is of Mexican descent (he grew up in Yuba City, poor soul), and will obviously gain a huge amount of visibility thanks to the success of Coco.

So Mexicans are getting their names on the marquee and making dough. Coco is respectful, well-liked – even by Yours Truly, though I did have a few quibbles – so I’m definitely siding with Gustavo and Lalo here.

We live in a capitalist country, and Disney is still going to pocket most of the money, but, as Arellano puts it, the company still knows who “butters their tortillas”:

“[Working-class Mexicans]—like the masses in general—know a good product when they see it and resent yaktivists who tell them they should give up real pleasures to score nebulous political points. Disney knows who butters its tortillas, too: All the ride instructions at its Anaheim parks are in English and español. They still air Handy Manny on Disney cable channels for the little ones. The recent DuckTales reboot reimagined Gizmoduck as a Latino (voiced by Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda, but Mexicans will take him). Coco came out to be a great movie.”

So great, the numbers say, that Disney even decided to show Coco in Spain in Mexican Spanish, a first in over 25 years.

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Culture

Video: Carmen Yulín Cruz killed it on Colbert last night

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Carmen Yulín Cruz, the current mayor or San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a guest on the The Late Show last night. Although I could have done without the salsa intro – where’s the reggaeton, damn it! – she killed it by reminding American viewers that La Isla del Encanto is still hurting.

“About 50% of the population still doesn’t have power, and that ones that do have, it’s very unstable.”

I have no idea what her politics are really about – liberal-leaning, assume, especially if she’s on Colbert – but it’s great to see an articulate Latina politician, especially one that’s serving a primarily Spanish-speaking Island, be on a national show. Carmen carried herself gracefully and, unlike Trump, who previously called Yulín a “nasty” woman, she never rambled carelessly.

Check out the interview below.

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