Amoeblog

?Silencio! - The Hispanic & Latino experience in the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 19, 2009 02:26pm | Post a Comment
Like other minorities in Hollywood (e.g. Asians, blacks, gays, Natives and women, to name a few), Hispanics and Latinos in the silent film era were almost exclusively produced by people who had little or no first hand experience of their subjects. But whilst Latinos may've been almost entirely excluded from the filmmaking process, a handful of actors found work in front of the camera and in the process opened doors for the generations that followed.

In film's first decade, a few Latinos in fact were involved in American filmmaking. Before the Hollywood era, the filmmaking process wasn't centralized and films were shot around the country by wealthy entrepreneurs, a few of which were Hispanic. However, most American films in the 1890s were under ten minutes long and tended to focus on single actions like sneezing, laughing or opening a door.

Though film roles in the 1890s tended to avoid any minority issues, there were a few minorities in film. In 1903, the first version of Uncle Tom's Cabin hit the screen and went on to be the most frequently adapted story in the silent era, suggesting that there was at least concern about black issues, if not other minorities. In the teens, with films like A Woman Scorned, The Squaw Man, Intolerance and The Italian, depictions of minorities broadened considerably.


May Is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 28, 2008 04:19pm | Post a Comment
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

Even in a multicultural, polyglot city like Los Angeles (which has the largest population of Asian-Americans (1.4 million) in the country and where the percentage of the population which is Asian-American is roughly twice that which is black) most discussions of race appear continue to be framed in the outmoded, bipolar terms of  black and white.  For example, whereas a lot of people and many organizations honor Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is by comparison almost completely unrecognized except by some Asian-American organization and individuals.

The centuries-long struggle and strife of blacks in America is well-documented and worth honoring -- many have suggested that Black Americans invented the Civil Rights Movement (some Native Americans might take issue with that). Asians, like other non-whites, have also been subjected to legal segregation, racist violence, widespread discrimination and harassment. So why is it that the Asian-American experience is so... obscure? I hadn't even heard of its existence until I was hipped to it by reknowned Asian-American rights activist, Ngoc-thu Thi Nguyen.


CONTINUED PREJUDICE AGAINST ASIAN-AMERICANS

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Montebello -- Montesmello if you're nasty!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 3, 2007 11:10am | Post a Comment
Montebello California
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Montebello

I went to a baptism the other day for one Mateo Gareza in the city of Montebello, the subject of this neighborhood blog. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for aLos Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

 Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of SELACO
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of Southeast Los Angeles County

For the occasion I was oaccompanied by none other than Miss San Gabriel Valley 05, 06 and '07, Ngoc Nguyen. Montebello, for those not in the know, is situated between the more interesting East Los Angeles, Monterey Park and Rosemead. It straddles the San Gabriel Valley and SELACO. They used to have a Puerto Rican parade, the only one west of Chicago, but it was deemed too much fun and moved to the Pomona Fairgrounds. It still has a lot of Mexican restaurants, chain stores and bakeries.

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Granada Hills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 30, 2007 06:05pm | Post a Comment
Today's Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Granada Hills. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

I drove to Granada Hills today to buy a rug for Lush Floral Design head-honcho, Ngoc Nguyen. To get there I used the Ronald Reagan Freeway, named after an actor from Illinois who made some films which are widely regarded as being universally unmemorable. The ex-actor, after retiring from Hollywood, went on to sell weapons to the Iranian dictatorship using the profits to arm death squads in Central America. He also used funds designated for cleaning up toxic waste to fund instead the campaigns of sympathetic politicians and he closed institutions for the mentally ill, which flooded the street with hundreds of thousands of crazy new homeless people that now fill our jails, sidewalks and parks.

     

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Lars and the Real Girl -- Finally an Idiot Man-Child Film I Wasn't Crazy About

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 22, 2007 01:02pm | Post a Comment
                 Lars... whoops- David Arquette                                                               The real Lars

In Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling plays a shy loner who is henpecked by nagging family and friends determined to engage him. He reacts to their attempts to set him up on dates and hang out in familiar and realistic shy guy fashion. Then he buys a sex doll which he falls in love with and all at once we're transported to a world I could only recognize as the familiarly formulaic "quirky indie film." Of course it's in the Middle West (Ontario in real life), the last bastion of quirky, lovable, soft-headed townsfolk with hearts of gold and fresh-baked good intentions.

What I had hoped was going to be a semi-comic observation along the lines of Punch Drunk Love or Chuck & Buck in one contrived bit plunged straight into the territory of an SNL sketch-cum-movie or an Improv skit that goes on for way too long (i.e. over 3 seconds). OK, it's not as bad as those examples, mostly because of the casting and because you don't have Horatio Sanz cracking up at the hilarity of it all. Ryan Gosling goes a long way in making Lars a character we care about even while the script or direction provide almost no insight into what's going on in his head aside from contrived instances with a psychiatrist. We never know if he really thinks the doll is real; does he ever have moments of clarity? What made him change from a believable loner into a delusional cinematic joke? We never know much of anything that goes on inside. You won't laugh, you won't cry, even though it's calculated to make you do just that. Ultimately Lars is just an icon with funny hair, funny clothes, a funny name and a funny relationship with others a la Napoleon Dynamite. Here's hoping he doesn't similarly inspire a legion of "hipster" imitators or else I'm going to have to make a lot more calls to the Redneck Squad.

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