Review: Book of Life

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Director Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo Del Toro center the story plot, animation and characters on Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday, which is celebrated on November 1 throughout Latin America. This festivity celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed away with parties and activities that serve to recognize death as a natural part of life, and also as a way to invite spirits to return from their eternal sleep and join their families in the celebrations.

The film follows the story of three childhood amigos who are caught in a love triangle. Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) is a tender-hearted hero who comes from a long line of champion bullfighters but finds his true passion in playing his guitar. Then we have Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum), a macho-man bandit rustler with medals around his neck and pride in his stride. These childhood friends vie for the love of Maria (Zoe Saldana), the smart and multi-talented daughter of the general who runs their village of San Angel.

All the while, two spirit forces watch over the trio and over their magical lands, a part of the story that taps into Mexican mythology surrounding the Day of the Dead. La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, roots for Manolo to win the heart of Maria while Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who rules over the Land of the Forgotten, believes Joaquin will win her heart.

As a result, Manolo is sent on an adventure through the whimsical lands and encounters a series of challenges along the way to seek Maria, who has fallen into a “Sleeping Beauty”-style slumber. Meanwhile, their village of San Angel is being threatened by Chakal, a metallic monster bandit with a gang of thieves.

Throughout the film, the Día de los Muertos theme is embraced through the vibrant characters and settings that have the most familiar symbol of the holiday with calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls). Mexican folk art inspires much of the animation, filling the screen with eye-popping colors and details. While the plot itself has been seen before, the visuals and the worlds seen in the film resemble a Day of the Dead themed “Candyland” setting, which is sure to keep the audience pleased.

The characters of Manolo and Joaquin represent positive human qualities such as nobility and self-sacrificial love. While Maria holds an empowering image for the main female role as a headstrong martial arts expert and bookworm, she falls under the “damsel in distress” role at one point and has to be saved by her hero. However, most of her character is positively depicted as an independent woman who is free to make her own choices.

Throughout the film, the significance of Día de los Muertos is constantly being portrayed through the adventures of the three amigos and the spiritual beings that influence their worlds. This multi-tiered plot takes the audience through the general cultural customs of Day of the Dead through acts that include the tales of life after death, good forces of nature over evil and the pursuit of staying close to loved ones who have influenced your world, long after leaving the human realm.

Review: Juanes Concert

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Written by Lucero Estrella

As a kid growing up in a border city, I was constantly exposed to Spanish music from different Latin American artists on the local and Mexican radio stations.  Among the mix of songs and artists on the radio was one amazing superstar from Medellín, Columbia, Juan Esteban Vásquez, more commonly known as Juanes.  With his mixtures of Latin rock and pop, Juanes has conquered the hearts of many people around the world with his music– and the 16 million of copies CDs sold, two Grammys, and 19 Latin Grammys are there to prove it.

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Being at the first weekend Austin City Limits (ACL) festival on Saturday, October 4, took me back to my childhood.  Juanes shared the stage with his group and constantly changed guitars to perform both old and new music. He played his new hits, “Loco de Amor,” “Mil Pedazos,” and “La Luz,” as well as older songs like “La Paga” and “Me Enamora,” and the popular hit “A Dios le Pido.” The moment that Juanes stepped on stage and began signing “Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor,” I felt goose bumps all over my body.   Standing in the front rows next to people singing and dancing along to Juanes’ songs was an unforgettable experience.

Juanes finished his performance with a surprising cover of Bob Marley and The Wailers’ “Could You Be Loved,” and then closed the night with one of his most popular hits, “La Camisa Negra. ” This left the crowd begging for an encore — me included.  After the performance, I waited with a crowd of fans to catch a glimpse of Juanes backstage, and I was lucky enough to stand less than a foot away from him and snap a few pictures.

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Being able to see Juanes live was a million times better than listening to him on my CD player — for the younger readers, an old-school device before the iPod.  His voice, appearance, and presence made me feel like a child once again. I can’t wait for Juanes to return to Austin so I can watch him once more.

An Aspiring Star

Photo Credit: Sara-ramirez.org

Photo Credit: Sara-ramirez.org

During our annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, we invite Latinitas volunteers, writers, and interns to share their thoughts on Latina entertainment, role models, and what culture means to them . Here’s what Kenia Guerrero had to say about her favorite actress, Sara Ramirez. 

I’m not interested in medicine, but about 6 years ago I found a great show, Grey’s Anatomy… I love everything about it. Especially Dr. Callie Torres, portrayed by the beautiful Sara Ramirez.

Sara Ramirez is way more than just the attending orthopedic surgeon at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. I’ve always found her character really interesting because of how much her story line changed in just a couple seasons. She was introduced in the second season of Grey’s Anatomy as George O’Malley’s love interest. She later become a regular and had the most adorable relationship with Dr. Arizona Robbins. You have to watch the show to understand everything because I’m not going to tell you!
But, I’m not going to talk only about Grey’s Anatomy because Sara Ramirez success started long before Grey’s. Born in She Sinaloa, Mexico, she later moved to San Diego, California where she found her true love: acting. She went to San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and later to Juilliard. She had the best start! Just in time for graduation, she got her Broadway debut role in Paul Simon’s The Capeman, a year later she appeared in The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm which earned her an Outer Critics Circle Award. She later appeared in several movies and even lent her voice to a video game. It was in 2004 when she was cast as the Lady of the Lake in the musical, Spamalot, and her performance was so good that won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
In fact, she was SOOOOO GOOD that the executives from ABC offered her a role on any series she wanted and she choose….. GREY’S ANATOMY ! She is AMAZING! In 2011, she released on iTunes three original songs performed by her. The real reason I’m talking about her is because she is everything I’ve wanted to be since I was 15. I’ve  always been a huge fan of Chicago, the Broadway musical, so when I found out Sara Ramirez had a role in the musical…. I wanted so bad to be her!
I wanted to be a Mexican actress who performs in musicals, wins a Tony, a role in a TV series , and wins a SAG! It’s interesting how much of an impact an actress can have on your life!  I don’t dance or sing, so it didn’t turn out well. As I grew up, I noticed that, although I love musicals, I want to write. Here I am, Kenia Guerrero, an aspiring journalist.
Want to join in on the fun? Check out the rest of our Hispanic Heritage topics:
http://mylatinitas.com/events/hispanic-heritage-month-2014

La Thrasher Extraordinnaire: Leticia Bufoni

DSC_0916 (2)Still challenged by stereotypes and lack of television coverage about who should be skateboarding, “girls who shred” are an elite and ambitious group of young women changing the culture of skateboarding one win at a time.  There are standouts all over the United States and Latin America thrashing at an Olympic level. We were lucky to catch Leticia Bufonia, Brazil-native-California transplant trend-setter and bronze winner in the women’s category at this year’s national X-Games competition in Austin, TX. 

Latinitas: Where did you start skating?How long have you been skating?

Leticia: Started skating at  11 yrs ago in Brazil. I moved to CA when I was 14.  Now, I live in California and I skate in California all the time.

 

Latinitas: What needs to come to the table for women’s skateboarding in the U.S.?

Leticia: We need support. Sponsors!!  Our girls need sponsors.  Coverage.

 

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Latinitas: What’s the best part of about skating for you?

Leticia:  I meet new friends every time I compete.

 

Latinitas: What would you tell young female skaters

Leticia: Go out. Skate everyday and have fun.

 

Latinitas: Who do you look up to in skating?

Leticia:  I used to look up to Alicia Fillback; she competed for X Games and other competitions.

 

Latinitas: What does it feel  to win?

Leticia:  I am super stoked. I got another medal. I’m stoked.

 

Latinitas: What’s it like behind the scenes? Who helps you be part of these competitions?

Leticia: I have managers – they help me with travel, sponsors, everything.

 

Latinitas: What would you tell “Latinitas” who like skateboarding and want to take it the level you have?

Leticia: Go out and skate!

Quiz: How Do You Handle Conflict?

Photo courtesy from http://counsellingandmediation.com.

Photo courtesy from http://counsellingandmediation.com.

written by Stephanie Hernandez 

Handling conflict can either make you look like a total spazz or as if you are cool, calm and collected. Whether you yell and scream at top of your lungs or excuse yourself to get your thoughts together, what you do says a lot about you. Are you curious to see what category of conflict resolution you fall under? Take the quiz and find out how you handle high pressure situations.

When confronting a problem with friends or family, which are you most likely to do?

a)         You tend to keep your feelings and opinions to yourself.

b)         You speak in a loud and demanding voice.

c)         You use sarcasm.

d)         You express your feelings clearly and appropriately.

Which of the following do you relate to the most?

a)         “People never consider my feelings.”

b)         “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

c)         “Oh my god, I love you……..not!

d)         “I can’t control others but I can control myself.”

 

If a friend talks behind your back, you _____.

a)         Hold in the pain and anger and wait for it to fade.

b)         Confront and yell at them in front of everyone.

c)         Spread a rumor about them.

d)         Talk to them in private and tell them what bothered you, in a calm and respectful way.

 

When your parents tell you to clean your room, but you really don’t want to, you _________.

a)         Clean while mumbling your frustrations quietly to yourself.

b)         Scream to your parents and tell them you’re not doing it.

c)         Tell them you are going to clean it in order to get them off your back, but the truth is you’re not going to do it.

d)         Listen to you parents because you understand that your room should be cleaned.

 

When you witness someone being mistreated verbally, you ______.

a)      Watch and hope that someone else stops the situation.

b)     Get involved quickly and harass the abuser, because that’s what they deserve.

c)      Know it’s wrong but don’t do anything  about it, and you later tell your friends all about it.

d)     Approach the situation in a calm matter and try your best to communicate with the abuser to calm them down.

If you answered mostly A.

You are passive.

Being Passive makes you avoid expression, opinions and/or feelings to those around you. You don’t do well with confrontations, and it means that you do not respond well to anger and tend to hold things in. This buildup of emotion can be harmful if you bottle it in, because it can get overwhelming and might lead to an outburst.

If you answered mostly B.

You are aggressive.

Being aggressive means you mostly care about your own feelings instead of others. Be careful with being aggressive because it may lead to disrespecting others without even realizing it. You tent to be confrontational, but sometimes you can  be physically or verbally abusive to others for the sake of being right/feeling superior.

If you answered mostly C.

You are passive aggressive.

Being passive aggressive is a combination of being passive and aggressive. You do not like face-to-face confrontation, but you act out of anger in subtle and indirect ways — like being sarcastic or making back-handed compliments/comments (like indirectas). 

If you answered mostly D.

You are assertive.

Being assertive is something everyone should strive to be. You are clear about your feelings and communicate them in a respectful way. You make your needs known without violating the rights of others.

Most people are a little passive, aggressive, passive aggressive, and assertive in different areas, but, in the end, most of us tend to lean towards one side a little more than the others. When handling conflict, always remember that you’re never alone. Talk to your parents or counselor for help.

Review: Rio 2

rio_two_ver6_xlgAs a sequel to the first “Rio” movie, this movie takes place three years later when Blu and his three kids with Jewel, another macaw, returns. Their “humans,” or owners, Tulio and Linda discover the flock from which Jewel comes from. They thought that their macaws were the only ones left in the world. As they investigate this circumstance, they encounter many obstacles such as Nigel, who wants to knock down the rain forest and build stuff which would result in killing wildlife. The new characters in the sequel to “Rio,” which screened in 2011, create a different plot from the first movie.

The message behind the movie is great for both adults and younger ones. Its message is about love and acceptance. This family friendly movie is entertaining for everyone because of the animation, the comedy, the message, and the enjoyment parents will find in seeing their kids take pleasure in the catchy tunes and colorful scenes. The amount of musical numbers adds to the attraction of the film because of its comical animation and entertaining motions and phrases. The 3D animation adds to the adventure and becomes a different take on the well-known family-friendly movie. The film does, however, contain the typical villainous plot which makes it, in a way, predictable. But this type of plot is still enjoyable because the story told in this movie is one that most families and children will enjoy. We all love happy endings so the overall plot of this sequel will be sure to please the audience.

This colorful and vibrant movie is a must-see for children and adults alike! The animation is very appealing to the eyes and keeps your attention throughout the movie. The colors and animation itself is reason to watch this movie, along with the humor that appeals to all tastes. Make sure to grab some popcorn or other favorite snack to enjoy with this movie with family and friends. Even if you think that this movie may be only for smaller children, give it a chance and let your inner child come to life with this adventurous and exotic film!

Quiz: Do You Know Your Mamá?

Latinitas El Paso - Mother and Daughter Workshops

Latinitas El Paso – Mother and Daughter Workshops

Do you spend enough time with your mom to know her likes and dislikes? Do you frequently have to ask her what she wants for her birthday or Mother’s day instead of knowing exactly what she wants? Some people say they know their mom like the back of their hand, but do they really? Take this quiz and find out if you really know your Mom!

1. When you’re shopping for a gift for your mom, what do you do?

a. Ask her what she wants

b. Get her what she’s been wanting

c. Call your dad to see what she wants

d. Buy her a gift card

 

2. When your mom gets home tired, what do you do?

a. Make noise all around the house

b. Make her a tea and clean the house

c. Nothing

d. Dirty dishes because you know she’s cleaning them

 

3. If your mom says, “I’m craving a chocolate” what do you do?

a. Say “me too”

b. Go to the store and buy her favorite chocolate

c. Go to the store and buy the first chocolate you see

d.  Say “well, go get one”

 

4. As soon as your mom gets home from work, what do you do?

a. Keep watching TV

b. Greet her, help with her bags, and ask how her day was

c. Ask her for money to go out

d. Tell her to make you food

 

5. It’s your mom’s birthday and when she wakes up you:

a. Tell her to be quiet, you’re trying to sleep

b. Make breakfast for her and tell her happy birthday

c. Yell across the house happy birthday because you don’t want to get up

d. Ask her when her birthday is

 

6. When your Mom says “I’m too tired to clean” you:

 a. Say “me too”

b. Clean for her, she’s had a long day

c. Do Nothing

d. Get mad at her because it’s so messy

 

7. You walk into your moms room and you see her struggling with heavy boxes and you:

 a. Tell her to put her back into it

b. Offer to help her right away

c. Tell her to call someone to help her

d. Tell her she’s weak

 

8. Your Mom asks you for a favor, and you:

a. Whine and stomp around

b. Offer to do it for her

c. Say you’re busy

d. Tell her to do it herself

 

9. You get home from school very hungry and you tell your Mom:

a. “I’m hungry, make me something!”

b. “Let’s make some food together”

c. “Buy me some food!”

d. “Why isn’t there any food!”

 

10. Your Mom is going on a trip for work, when she’s boarding the plane, you:

a. Tell her to bring you something

b. Say you Love her and to be careful and hug her

c. Say bye

d. Say “Finally!”

 

Now that you have finished this quiz you can look below to see where you stand, and how well you know your mom. If you’re on the good or bad side, if you need to work on some things. Good Luck!

Mostly A’s or C’s

Sometimes you make an effort to be nice to her or do something sweet for her, but you’re missing important things about her!

Mostly B’s

You know your mom like the back of your hand! You know exactly what she wants, exactly what she likes, and you always go the extra mile to make her feel loved, congratulations!

Mostly D’s

A little bit on the heartless side I would say. You know your mom is a person, she exists, but you don’t know exactly WHO she is. Pay more attention to her, spend a day with her, talk to her, and appreciate her, you only get one mom!

Quiz: Which Superhero are You?

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Photo Credit: Coursera.com

Have you ever wondered why you don’t have super powers? Or why you sometimes do so much for others that you should become a superhero? With this quiz, according to your personality you would be the super hero you fall under. But don’t forget, you might not be super, but you can always be someone’s hero. Enjoy!

 

1.  If you are faced with an evil villain, which super power would you use first?

a. Purr at them

b. Fly above them ready to attack

c. Use your power to create thunder

d. Get out neat gadgets

 

2. You start getting ready for crime-fighting, what costume are you wearing?

a. Tights to move around in, flexible

b. A tiara and a skirt

c. You have a long cape

d. Gadgets in your belt

 

3. What is your favorite quote/catch phrase?

a. “As I was saying, I am a woman, and I can be taken for granted”

b. “There are times when faith is all we have to rely upon on”

c. “Are you ready to be blown away?”

d. “Nothing will go wrong in my watch”

4. What type of movie/personality is your favorite?

a. Sarcastic, Witty, Change in worlds

b. Reliable, God-like

c. Action

d. Drama, technology-driven

 

5. How do you like to work?

a. Alone by choice

b. Alone, but always willing to help someone

c. With a team that benefits from your powers

d. With a team completely different from you, or alone; your choice

 

6. Who is your biggest enemy?

a. Everyone that comes in front of you

b. A jealous Cheetah

c. Evil Mutants

d. Abyss an enslaver

 

7. What type of hair do you have?

a. Short and black

b. Long and black

c. Short and White

d. Different Lengths and Red

 

8. If you could work with any other superhero, who would it be?

a. Batman

b. Thor

c. Wolverine

d. Hawkeye

 

9. What type of shoes do you wear when you’re fighting the evil?

a. Heel Black long boots

b. Long Red Boots

c. Heel Black short boots

d. Black Combat Boots

Now you are all done, look below to find out what superhero you would fall under according to your personality! Good Luck!

 

Mostly A’s

“Somebody say fish? I haven’t been fed all day!” You are a Cat Woman! Fearless, sarcastic, a cat and fish lover! You like to work alone, but that doesn’t make you feel lonely, it’s just how your personality is. You’re not ashamed of who you are, and when you’re feeling like someone needs your help you can always be counted on. Even if you don’t like to work with anyone else, at times you like to be side to side to Batman, your ally.

 

Mostly B’s

“Of all people, you know who I am . . .  who the world needs me to be.” Wonder Woman! You’re a feminist icon, fighting for justice in all. You do not like the criminals in the world, you are full of integrity and are always trying to do what is right.  You are a Warrior Princess and a believer in faith and relies on help of the Gods, and certainly would be an ally with Thor the Demi-God.

 

Mostly C’s

“Move back, it’s about to get windy.” You are Storm! With your long cape, silver-gray hair and your white eyes, you make storms happen.You like to stand out from the crowd, make them notice you, and you wish the best to your loved ones. Even though you make bad weather happen you know you can always turn the skies back around with our friendly personality and a unique smile. You are a great ally with wolverine and x-men.

 

Mostly D’s

“I’ve got this.” Black Widow! Brave, great gymnast, and awesome gadgets to use in the scene of the crime! You think you can solve everything on your own with no help, but sometimes you need someone to rescue you instead of you saving them. Remember that being helped does not mean you are weak, it means you are not alone. You show a tough face, a feisty look, but in the inside you are as fragile as glass. You know you can always count on your ally Hawkeye and the marvel avengers.

Review: The Lego Movie

the-lego-movie-2014-05Watching the previews to this movie, one may think that this is merely another movie for little kids—preferably boys. However, being that this movie is about Legos, it also caught the attention of those who are older as well—even teenagers. Most teenagers, even girls, play with Legos! Legos are a part of many teens’ childhood, and it’s always nice to be reminded of that wonderful, carefree time. The Lego movie definitely did it’s job in this regard!

The main character, Emmet Brickowski, is known in the “Lego world” to be a “normal” guy because of his “normal” job and his “normal” life. The movie shows the mundane tasks Emmet does everyday, including exercise and buying over-priced coffee. As a construction worker, he is a hard worker. One night, after he was done with his shift, he discovers a mysterious object called “The Piece of Resistance” and meets a girl named Wyldstyle, voiced by Elizabeth Banks. She explains to him that the one who finds “The Piece of Resistance” is the one who is identified as “The Special.”

Emmet, being the “normal” guy, wants to have such an honorable title. However, he finds it difficult to live up to this title. He is given many responsibilities with this title, the biggest of which he is to save everyone from President Business and his evil schemes. In order to accomplish this, Emmet needs to learn to break away from the “instruction manual” and learn to act spontaneously rather than only by what he is familiar with.

With the help of his friends and other outside sources, he is able to prove to himself and to everyone else that he is not merely a “normal” guy. He helps everyone see that anyone can be special no matter what others may think of them or by what they think of themselves.

This movie is a good family-friendly movie and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It includes the typical love story, jokes that are funny to a variety of tastes and there is surprising to twist at the end—everyone enjoys a good plot twist! From the cities to the vehicles to even the water, everything is made out of Legos! This movie is a must-see and the themes—anyone and everyone is special in their own way and that there is nothing you can’t make out of Legos—this movie will keep you laughing while enjoy some good family time.

Do You Wanna Buy a Snowman?

Do you wanna buy a snowman? Now you can with the new DVD release of Frozen. Disney’s new animated feature has captured audiences internationally. Overall, Frozen earned more than 368.6 million dollars in the box office and re-released a sing-along version in theaters. Now the time has come to bring Frozen into your home.

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For those who have not seen Frozen, the movie follows the story of Princess Anna of Arendalle and her sister, Queen Elsa. Elsa was born with magical icy powers. One day Elsa’s powers accidentally set off a winter storm leading Anna to brave the icy weather to save the kingdom from an eternal winter. Along the way, Anna meets Kristoff, a mountain man, and his reindeer, Sven, and an adorably hilarious snowman named Olaf. Together, they set off for a very cool adventure that you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Frozen stars Idina Menzel as Elsa and Kristen Bell as Anna. It is co-directed by Jennifer Lee who also helped write the story of Frozen. In an interview, Jennifer Lee said her perspective of being a woman at the screenwriting table helped her male co-writers see some stereotypes they were writing. Because of that, her presence at the table helped shaped two of the most independent princesses (who do not need a prince to rescue them) Disney has ever had.

If that hasn’t convinced you yet, here are five reasons why Frozen is awesome.

  1. The Princess: Anna is a fearless optimist who believes in the power of true love. Anna is a strong protagonist in the movie whose bravery is quite admirable.
  2. The Queen: Elsa is also a strong protagonist who was taught most of her life to conceal her powers out of the fear of being “too dangerous.” This twist on the cliché villain makes you think twice on why people may do certain things.
  3. The sidekick characters: As mentioned before, Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, are great characters that provide comedic relief to the dangerous adventure. Olaf, the snowman, is also a comedy relief for the audience and has the capability of melting your heart, even if you are snowman.
  4. The Songs: Okay, the songs are awesome. You’ve probably heard the covers of “Let It Go” and “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” over and over, but don’t be fooled. These songs are very catchy and very well-written. All the songs were written by the dynamic husband and wife duo, Bobby Lopez, three-time Tony Award Winner, and Kristen-Anderson Lopez.
  5. The Animation: The animation of Frozen is really quite remarkable if you are movie buff and know all the camera angles. Even if you are not, the animation is appealing to the eye. Some may dare to say it embodies the same essence as other famous Disney classics. The animation is listed here on the top five reasons to see Frozen because Walt Disney’s start in animation was a magical experience for audiences.

Add this new Disney classic to your collection on Tuesday March 18th, 2014.

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