Estupendo! Maravilloso! Bravo!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 01/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of people don't know that film has been around for a century and they REALLY don't know that Latinos have been depicted in them since the beginning. Defeating notions that Latinos have only been in Hollywood since they were about to become the largest minority group, this documentary is a brilliant investigation of both Latinos and Hollywood. This is strong cultural studies in which the interviewees make clear why the analysis of race and representation is so crucial to academics, politics, and modern life in general.This film should be applauded for its gender-inclusivity. Not only are Latino and Latina interviewees featured, but the depictions of Latino masculinity and Latina femininity are examined as shown in film. Further, the narrator is a woman (Wanda de Jesus) at a time when most narrators are male (think of the narrator for VH-1's "Behind the Music", for instance). However, Ramon Novarro is mentioned as the first Latino Hollywood star, yet it's never mentioned that he was openly gay.While most of the film characters are Chicano, the interviewees range the gamut in terms of Latin American ancestry. The film not only features actors and actresses; it includes Latino directors, producers, set designers, and others. For readers of Latino film studies, it is great to see the faces behind prolific academics such as Noriega and Ramirez-Berg.This documentary is excellent in terms of covering film issues, but also Latino issues generally. The film mentions that Mexico banned American movies for a long time due to their negative depictions of Mexicans. Thus, politically-correct readings and protests are nothing new. The NAACP's boycott of "Birth of a Nation" was not the only time in which people of color fought Hollywood racism. The film mentions the civil rights movement, the Monroe doctrine, the bracero program and other events that affected Latinos inside and out of Hollywood. Latino actors talk about others encouraging them to change their names or dye their hair: issues that Latino non-actors face too. Further, the actors complain of Latino character roles going to white actors when perfectly good Latino actors are available. Thus, the controversy over the first film about Frida Kahlo is nothing new. Additionally, Latino actors talk about the crummy jobs they had to take to first break into film: matters that all actors face.The documentary is not perfect. The chronology falls about at places. There are two sections on the 1960s for no reason. There is a discussion about gang films from the 1980s and 90s before they even discuss Latino films from the 1970s. In order to get Latino actors to talk about their experiences, they have to avoid being critical of their work. For example, Ricardo Montalban defends the Latin lover type even though many would have problems with it. Elizabeth Pena is feature frequently, even though she has played highly degrading depictions of Latinas. Moreover, it must be noted that A-list actors are missing from this work (Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro). One wonders if they can't expose and critique the Hollywood that has made them so rich and famous.The sections of this documentary are written in grainy chalk writing for some reason. Additionally, this DVD had no Spanish subtitles or dubbing. In the US, the majority of Latinos are still foreign-born and many have difficulties speaking and reading English. I understand that documentaries don't have big budgets to include cool extra features. Nevertheless, the lack of a Spanish translation of this work will leave many viewers who would love this piece out of the loop. It's a true shame.Despite my critiques, this was the best thing I have ever rented in a while. I think this film says so much about Latinos in general, not just in Hollywood. I applaud everyone who was a part in its production. This will be worth everyone's time. It's an eye opener and nourishment for the brain."
Finally, we have our due!
Jeffery Mingo | 06/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though we still have a long way to go in Hollywood (they just keep seeing us as the "help" and not educated professionals). This documentary shows how we came a long way to finally get the respect we deserve. Latinos are always overlooked, the general public, Hollywood and the ads/marketing business seem to believe that Latinos have just appeared with "the latin explosion" a few years back with J. Lopez, R. Martin, Marc Anthony in music. But this DVD justifies that we have been here for a very long time not only in film but, to be exact over 500 years in human life. This is excellent documentary how we brought an unique "flavor"(whether it was bad or good) to a median called the movies. Excellent job!"
Jeffery Mingo | 04/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an exceptional documentary! Beautifully crafted and done with a loving and intelligent spirit. It is far from being a nostalgic celebration of old films. It aspires to more and ultimately succeeds in being a thoughtful and thorough analysis of the Latino legacy in motion pictures. The film is accessible to all audiences and is witty, funny and completely engaging. This would be an excellent purchase for all film lovers."
Good for conference disucssions too
barbara duncan | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 100 year overview of Latinos as viewed by Hollywood is a great blend of entertainment and education, with enlightening commentary. We used it recently in a conference about Latinos and it was a great way to stimulate disucssion about how to evaluate and improve images of various minorities in the media. Agree that there should be a version with Spanish subtitles. It was fasinating to learn that Spanish language versions of Hollywood films used to be shot at night, using same sets etc."