Netflix has ramped up its efforts to woo Latin@ viewers, teasing the release of original shows and even creating the Premio Netflix contest. We’re pleased to report even more good news: nine great Latino films, that will satisfy your ganas for everything from documentaries to horror flicks, have been made available for streaming. Of course, we’ve got a breakdown for you. Get ready for a weekend of binge-watching.
Fast food in America has come under attack, and rightly so. But that makes it easy to forget that there’s a dark side to even the healthier options. In his documentary Food Chains, Sanjay Rawal takes up the plight of migrant farmworkers by focusing on their fight in Immokalee, Florida. Forrest Whitaker narrates as the workers form the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to push back against supermarket giants who essentially pressure farm owners to pay poverty wages. Eva Longoria executive-produced this film that’s a great follow-up to Harvest of Shame.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Of the five Paranormal Activity movies, this is the only one that features an all-Latino cast and is set in a working class neighborhood in Oxnard, California. Jesse and his best friend Hector are typical teenagers, spending their lazy summer days filming their silly hijinx with the camera Jesse got as a high school graduation gift. They make videos of Hector’s little dog Chavo, take tequila shots with abuela, and light fireworks in the parking lot. They joke about boners, R. Kelly, and their scary neighbor Ana who people around the hood call a bruja. When Jesse starts mysteriously developing freaky super powers his abuela is convinced that he’s possessed by a demonic spirit. She heads to her local botanica for advice and meets with a curandero who instructs her on how to carry out a limpia. Finally, a studio that set out to make a Latino film gets it right. It’s culturally-specific without pandering, plus it’s spooky, thrilling, and hilarious.
At 37 years old, time is not on his side. Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez can drop the best boxers with his lightning strikes, floor the most beautiful women with his devastating looks, and has a hard scrabble immigrant story and work ethic that make him a natural hero. But a willingness to call it the way he sees it and speak truth to power, has left him a virtual pariah in the notorious corrupt world of professional boxing. This is story of a man fighting to fight. But the clock is ticking. It may already be too late.
To say that a Cesar Chavez biopic was long overdue is a bit of an understatement. But, per his grandson, Chavez’s family was waiting to work with the right crew on the right crew. The Diego Luna-directed film doesn’t get everything right, but that’s the curse of the biopic; its subject is usually treated as deferentially as possible. It’s absolutely worth a look, though, because we don’t always have to be bent on killing our darlings. Michael Peña stars as the legendary activist and Rosario Dawson fights alongside him as Dolores Huerta in a screenplay by Keir Pearson (Hotel Rwanda.)
Given the opportunity, of course Jon Favreau wrote a movie in which he was once married to Sofía Vergara. Favreau stars as a popular Los Angeles chef who suffers a career setback and a bit of a breakdown; distraught, he accepts his ex-wife’s (Vergara) invitation to set up a food truck in Miami. Hilarity, a heartwarming family reunion, and drool-worthy food montages ensue. John Leguizamo is quippy and supportive as Favreau’s line cook/second-in-command.
Boxing entered a golden age in the 1980s, and saw some of the sport’s most popular and talented pugilists enter the ring. But you could sum up the era with the rivalry between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán. Though not exactly a David-versus-Goliath story, Durán certainly appeared to be the one to beat until he uttered those two little words (and then repeated them). In this ESPN-backed film that is part of the 30 For 30 series, director Eric Drath takes us through the paces that led up to one of boxing’s most memorable moments ever.
White, Blue and White
The dichromatic part of the title represents La Albiceleste, the Argentine national soccer team. History is revisited and wounds reopened in this 30 for 30 Soccer Stories tale that follows the rise of Osvaldo “Ossie” Ardiles and Ricky Villa, who led their team to victory at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Ardiles and Villa enjoyed a second career as futboleros on the British team Tottenham Hotspur, who they helped win the FA Cup in 1981. But the start of the Falklands War prompted Ardiles to leave his adopted British homeland to return to his beloved Argentina.
Frontera is a little reminiscent of Gran Torino; just substitute the U.S.-Mexico border for Detroit, and Ed Harris for Clint Eastwood as the old white guy who just can’t get used to having so many “damn foreigners” around. Harris’ sheriff character is also given a traumatizing reason for despising (or at least distrusting) Mexican migrant workers: he’s led to believe that Miguel (Michael Peña) has killed his wife. Luckily, Frontera has Michael Berry at the helm (and not a dude who doesn’t like chairs), so there’s actually some nuance in this look at border politics.
La dictadura perfecta
This political satire, starring Damián Alcázar, was the Mexico’s highest grossing local film in 2014. The story begins when Mexico’s President commits an embarrassing gaffe while welcoming the U.S. ambassador. In an effort to divert public attention and help their longtime friend and ally from falling into yet another image crisis, one of the most powerful local TV networks releases a video that scandalously ties Governor Carmelo Vargas (Alcázar) to crime and illicit business. Afraid for his political future, “Gover Vargas” negotiates a secret million-dollar deal with the network.
Cantinflas is the untold story of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved comedy film star of all time. From his humble origins on the small stage to the bright lights of Hollywood, Cantinflas became famous around the world – one joke at a time. Relive the laughter that has charmed generations.