This week (at the time I’m writing this) Cartel douchebag ‘El Chapo’ just escaped prison yesterday on a Sunday (A day after the Pope ends his tour) & all the Spanish speaking news affiliates are going ape-shit nuts over this, more than the English speaking ones. This triggered me to start writing about a topic I wanted to hold off on, ‘Mexican Cinema’. Now I’m not well versed on the subject, but I know enough for me to rant & write about it.
Here’s one thing I’d like to ask both Hollywood & the small Mexican studios, mostly Hollywood; Why are the films that are released always depressing or Melodramatic?
I should correct myself, not every movie the Mexican industry releases is all a depressing melodrama pissing tears, but why are the depressing films the only ones that get all the attention & acclaim? Call it the ‘Guilt’ movie if you will, but it’s been a trend I’ve been seeing whenever I see ads for a film that didn’t use American money, actors or studios, sadly they get a major hollywood release (Mainly here in California, of course a movie about Mexicans wouldn‘t sell in the midwest). The only two movies that I can think of that weren’t meant to be Oscar bait are ‘Batteries Not Included’ (No, not the cool 80’s movie, there’s actually a movie made recently with the same title that is a terrible, trite comedy) about some guy who raises a little girl on his own & another movie from some years ago titled ‘The Devil Wears Nada’ (It also sucks, everybody wished it were a porno), both terrible movies that didn’t earn anything in box office returns & deserve to be forgotten. Then on the other side, we got the Mexican movies (Either made by a Mexican or involving Mexicans) that get the studio push & are always that contender for the year’s Oscar Awards, but they’re always the same depressing stuff using real life events as a crutch.
‘Under The Same Moon’, a movie about a kid who travels up North & sneaks into the U.S to see his (Neglectful) mother, Yeah that sounds like a fun romp, LAUGH OUT LOUD COMEDY I PISSED MYSELF SILLY! I forgot the title of the movie (Believe me, I fought tooth & nail to find the title through Google) that I saw in High School about a kid & his family living in the villages of Guatemala during the guerrilla conflicts, You know, FUN! The movie was anything but fun as the film displays realistic shootouts between militants, dead kids, forced roundup drafts for kids who turn 12 (or 13) & heartbreaking scenes of child anguish. Then you got that one movie where the dad & the son go around Los Angeles looking for their landscaping truck (The title escapes me, sorry for the brain farts people.) & no, it’s anything but happy. Now I’m not saying that Mexican film directors & writers aren’t allowed to do anything sad or serious or in Under The Same Moon’s case, to expose the other side of a double sided argument, but why is Hollywood (Mainly made up of white old people who don’t read scripts) so interested in depressing movies when they’re foreign? It kinda annoys me & just burns me because of their pretentiousness & their ignorance for the medium.
In a world where equal rights are still something everyone strives for, shouldn’t directors & writers & audiences strive for something fun & original? This just gives more to the idea that filmmakers & writers should birth a Neo-Exploitation film market or what I call a ‘Neo-New Hollywood.’ Just like African Americans did in the 60’s & 70’s with Blaxploitation films like ‘Black Belt Jones, Coffy, Dolemite & Black Sampson’, there should be movies where creative people challenge the studios & show them how to make something palatable using ethnic actors or ethnic ideas. Then again, this is Hollywood, the land where homogenized ideas, remakes & clichés sell, whether we the original fans like ‘em or not. Of course the latino actors are going to play the role of the landscaper, the hotel maid & the illegal, but we can be more. We can be action heroes, we can be badass villains & we can make badass movies that withstand the test of time.
I’m at confusion as why the Sad Mexican movies hit the mainstream, Mexicans aren’t that sad of people you know, we’re not like the Russians (No offense to the three Russians who are reading this). One thing, I will give credit to is one man I freaking love & that is ‘Robert Rodriguez’, he makes movies he wants to fucking make & he has fun with them. Machete was a movie that did not deserve to be in the Razzie ballot (The Oscar Awards for bad films), I haven’t seen the sequel but from what people have told is it’s not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. Robert makes fun movies, nothing melodramatic or sad & message filled; he’s even got a TV channel where he airs Drive-In exploitation & the cool Gialo/ Italian horror & spagetti Westerns. Love that man, but it seems he’s the only gold totem in a sea of crap & melodrama. ‘El Mariachi’ is a film I highly recommend, same with ‘Desperado’. Whereas I’m not a big fan of his forays into youth oriented films such as ‘The Faculty’ or any of the ‘Spy Kids’ films, he pretty much gets back into the groove with making bloody delicious classics like ‘Planet Terror’. He’s the middle finger to studios & their expectations of a film director & I cannot wait to see his take on the ‘Fire & Ice’ remake he’s in talks of doing. Those of you skeptical, Robert’s a Frank Frazetta fan, he can’t fail us.
Although Robert’s the only name I can only think about when it comes to Mexican directors/ artists who don’t delve into melodrama, there are other Mexican movies or movies where Mexicans are the lead that aren’t done in a stereotypical kind of way. ‘Born in East L.A’ was a hilarious film, Written & Directed by Cheech Fucking Marin. Some people would argue Cheech played the stereotype of the Mexican cholo in the Cheech & Chong movies, I don’t really see it that way. In every ‘Cheech & Chong’ sketch & movie, Cheech is always the smart, straight while high, one while Chong is always dazed & dumb, so I just shot the damn argument down. Fun Fact: Tommy Chong was in ‘Born in East L.A’, he was Jesus Christ in a portrait. I’m pretty sure there are other actors & directors & actors who don’t go through the mold, but like I said before, They’re gold totems in a sea of crap & melodrama.
You also have ‘Guillmero Del Toro’ which I kinda thought was ‘Spainish’. But then I’m reminded of ‘The Book Of Life’, a movie about the history of the Day of the Dead starring the most latino/ Mexican actors/ actresses of our time: Channing can’t act out of a whorehouse Tatum! …….I’m still surprised the SJW crowd still praises the film. Meh.
I mentioned in the beginning of this entry that ‘El Chapo’ escaped prison, which brings me to the next subtopic, Narco Cartel movies. As of recent the Mexican home video market has been shilling out that specific genre of movies & getting their money‘s worth. ‘Vice’ (That internet news source full of good political journalism, but terrible hipster current affairs reporting, I‘ll save it for another story) released a documentary short on how these movies are made, which I recommend watching. The only thing I’ll call bullshit is the journalist said that 98% percent of Mexicans don’t go to the movie theater (Somewhere along those lines) & all watch Narco cinema at home. I’ll say that not all Mexicans watch Narco cinema & the statistics may be different than what they actually are, people will watch what they like. The documentary pretty much tells how these films are the current trend & the money makers in Mexico since it’s hitting that chord with the plague of Cartels shootin‘ up & beheadings. Cartel flicks hit big in the 80’s, around this time the Mexican home video market (Which is still standing today) had the revenge action genre (Which was cashing in on the Hollywood trend of sleazy revenge exploitation flicks), the raunchy sex-comedies & the Musical Westerns. Think both ‘Paint your Wagon’ & a Bollywood film with tons of cowboy shootouts, singing cowboys, cow roping & lots of romance!
There are movies out there where the Cartels are the antagonists & our protagonists work for the law, but there are also movies in which the drug lords are the protagonists. This reminds me of all the unwanted fame ‘Tony Montana’ got from ‘Scarface’. “HE’S THE VILLAIN YOU IDIOTS!!!! HE SELLS CHINA WHITE, KILLED HIS SISTER‘S HUSBAND & TRIED TO HAVE SEX WITH HER!!!!! HE DESERVED TO GET SHOT IN THE BACK BY CUBAN TERMINATOR!!”
The 1983 Scarface was a remake (If you weren’t aware) of the 1932 original & they both use the final message of ‘Crime doesn’t pay’, the message that went over rapper’s heads. I feel that’s the same reason as to why these Narco films are getting the big bucks, people look up to the wrong side. I’m for sure wrong so don’t quote me on that. I don’t really get the allure of watching shit that’s plaguing the nation & is both scrappily made with sometimes terrible acting. They have their charm in a B-movie kind of way, but most of the time it’s clear the people behind these films are just doing it for the paycheck. These films don’t have high budgets (Which doesn’t always ensure a bad movie), but most of the time you’re stuck watching people who must’ve answered a casting call that ensured free beer.
I’m sure there are a few titles that actually are anything but cashing in on a trend, but they are so few in between rivers of crap. A little secret the actors don’t admit, but also don’t deny is that some of these movies are funded by cartels. This is also one of the many reasons as to why there are people who shouldn’t be actors & actresses, sometimes the guys funding the film would dictate what they want on their film, whether they‘re choosing who will be on their film (Friends, family, etc.) or sometimes work as technical advisors to these flicks. Don’t quote me on it.
I just miss old good fun when it comes to film in general, everything nowadays seems to have this quota to be gritty, realistic, moody or have as man times a characters can say ‘FUCK‘ or pop in a fuck scene without warning; have fun once in a while, the world can be a lot more shittier. Like I said before, not all films coming from Mexico are all depressing immigrant stories & cartel propaganda, Mexico is mostly known for the tradition of wrestlers as well as movies based off these guys. Yup, I’m talking about ‘Blue Demon’ & ‘El Santo’; they are by very definition the prototype of the masked pulp hero. Masked, Strong & Sensual towards the ladies, fucking 1960’s pulp heroes & they had a persona off screen as well as on. Of course the kids would look up to these guys & of course there would be movies, comics books & adventure novels based off these titans. If you’ve seen one of these B-Movie action flicks starring one of these two wrestlers, you’ve seen them all. El Santo & Blue Demon hit the core of Mexican audiences on the wrestling mat & on the screen. You had Santo or Blue Demon fighting mobsters, thugs, the common thug, then to step up their game they’d be fighting vampire women, aliens, mad scientists, even the MOTHER FUCKIN’ WOLFMAN!!!!! They drove fast cars, honed well tailored suits (Sometimes), romanced with damsels in distress, kicked ass, all while they kept their real identities secret. I know there are still wrestlers down in Mexico (Why wouldn’t there be, it’s tradition!), but I’m not seeing a lot of new wrestler, pulp hero based movies on the shelves of the supermarkets or Swap Meets. Sure you can buy the classic collections at a Mexican Supermarket or (if you really want to journey through this perilous swamp of a store) Walmart in those weirdly segregated ‘Latino Isles’ on the entertainment section. Sadly, just like every generation in the world, the youth don’t take the classics seriously. While I can see the hokey camp of some of these movies, they’re pretty much missing out on some fun entertainment due to their biases on anything pre-2006. This also reminds me of an interview on the ‘Projection Booth’ podcast in which the director of the documentary ‘The Search For Weng Weng’ talks about how the Filipino actor ‘Weng Weng’ starred in these 007 parodies & got stardom since he was a midget action hero. He was awesome, & the movies weren’t bad either. Then the director talks of how he went to the Philippines to do his research, upon asking the locals about Weng Weng, the common response he got was “Why do you want to learn about that?” in this kind of tone anyone would make if you were asked if you wanted to know how grass grows. I see it as this kind of loss & modern day snobbery the young people have (& I don’t mean all young people, I’m sure there’s some 12 year old today who gets a kick out of watching a 80’s action flick) & it‘s kinda sad. Why watch some cheap little movie starring some wrestler fighting a paper mache monster when we can watch a edgy, fast paced remake or an adaptation of something that didn’t really have a story.
Throughout this whole entry I bitched a lot, complained, kinda dropped some info & answered my own questions like a crazy person. All I’m saying is that it’s alright when some filmmaker decides to do a film on Illegal Immigration to provide a social forum & generate conversation amongst the audience. But when all that’s being released is Melodramatic movies & soulless cartel films, then you’re creating a void for both the industry & the audience. Using real social issues as a crutch for your crappy movie is awful & just sleazy. I’m sick of the illegal immigrant movies flooding the ballot for ‘Best Foreign Film’ & I’m sick of the cartel, drug DEA cheapo movies that flood the Latino sections in big chain stores. I know Mexico has a wide variety & diversity of movies out there, but it sickens me that all I’m seeing here in the U.S distribution is the shit movies. I hear Blue Demon’s son ‘Blue Demon Jr’ is still kicking around, why not give him a movie. You can make it all gritty & Dark Knight like, just give me something that isn’t melodramatic immigrants or fatass cowboy hat wearing Cartels fuckfaces!
All in all people need to stop beating the already dead horse & embrace new ideas & REPRESENT GODDAMNIT!!! Fuck the Academy, Fuck these people who think “We don’t have enough Cartel movies, go make more cartel movies!” & Long live CULT CINEMA!!!! I highly recommend you watch any of the Santo or Blue Demon flicks if you’re into that. If you’re not, then I’m sure there are other genres that will interest you. I’m just a voice in the forum so don’t quote me.
I hope all of you enjoyed this little foray into movie nerddom, I’ll probably do this again with another topic, but expect a ‘News of the World’ later on.
If you want to correct me or just tell me how full of shit this entry was, contact me
If any old people who work at the voting for the Academy awards is reading this, “YOU ARE SCUM & I HOPE A RAT GIVES YOU AIDS.”