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What Mexican and American critics are saying about Disney/Pixar’s groundbreaking film “Coco”

Coco has premiered to great fanfare at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, and so far, the buzz is positive! Hearing about good buzz is different than actually reading it, so here are seven reviews from both American and Mexican critics, all of which have something positive to say about the film that finally breaks through Pixar’s color and non-Western cultural barrier.

“A walk among the Mexicans”

The general impression is one of admiration and even respect [;].although it does not give us one of the biggest Pixar movies, at least it gives the world the possibility of dreaming of a walk among the Mexicans.—Alonso Díaz de la Vega, El Universal [translation]

Disney/Pixar

Coco [points] toward a less-homogenized…future”

“There’s no getting around that Disney/Pixar hope “Coco” absolves them of past ethnic-representation sins in forging popular movie fare. But the honest feeling coursing through “Coco” is its own marigold bridge in a way, pointing toward a less-homogenized, but no less universal-in-theme future for creators of animated movies.”–Robert Abele, The Wrap

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco speaks] of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray.”

“[T]here is a series of data, winks, images, phrases and faces that speak of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray, fruit undoubtedly of a deep investigation and without hurries. Coco gets it not without stumbling, but with a kindness that will leave you open-mouthed more than once.”–Erick Estrada, CineGarage [translation]

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco is] free of the watering down or whitewashing [in] Americanized appropriations.”

“Delivering a universal message about family bonds while adhering to folkloric traditions free of the watering down or whitewashing that have often typified Americanized appropriations of cultural heritage, the gorgeous production also boasts vibrant visuals and a peerless voice cast populated almost entirely by Mexican and Latino actors.”–Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich and his team [demonstrate] an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition.”

“Unkrich and his team avoid reductionism by demonstrating an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition through a respectful and caring approach, and seeking the opportune moment to pay tribute to iconic Mexican cultural icons such as El Santo, Frida Kahlo, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante and, Of course, José Guadalupe Posada, whose engravings immortalized the figure of La Catrina. Although the film abuses the somewhat naive and childish physical gags – almost all linked to the ease with which the dead manipulate or lose their own bones – Coco is a film about the celebration of the family, the importance of memories and the connection through the generations[.]–Luis Fernando Galván, En Filme [translation, links added]

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich…embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”

“For Mexican audiences — or those who live in California, Texas, or any place with a visible Latino presence — the cultural iconography of the Land of the Dead ought to look quite familiar, as Unkrich (who previously oversaw “Toy Story 3”) embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”–Peter Debruge, Variety

Disney/Pixar

“The most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful.”

“One thing is for sure: the creators of Coco did the homework.The various research trips they made to the country are evident in what could be the most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful and even hopeful[.]”–Jessica Oliva, Cine Premiere [translation]

Coco comes to theaters Nov. 22.

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Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” trailer is here, and some are already comparing it to “The Book of Life”?

Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s Coco is a film many of us have been waiting on for a while, and the trailer is finally out! Check it out for yourself.

Now that you’ve seen the trailer, let’s get into some discussion. First, this film is making Disney/Pixar history as being the first film the joint companies have made about Mexican culture. But while the trailer looks magical, as all Disney trailers tend to do, some potential audience members are calling foul on some aspects, particularly the fact that the film is yet another piece of media centralizing Mexican culture around Dia de los Muertos.

Dia de los Muertos is probably one of the most gentrified, appropriated holidays in recent memory, with too many Americans wrongly assuming the holiday is “Mexican Halloween.” There are way too many folks appropriating the sugar skull look just for aesthetic reasons.

There’s another reason some folks are already irritated with Coco; there are some shots that look very similar to  Jorge R. Gutiérrez’s The Book of Life. For instance, there’s a skull woman in the trailer, kinda similar to La Muerte and Manolo’s dead twin relatives Ardelita and Scardelita Sanchez:

Disney/Pixar (screengrab)
Twentieth Century Fox Animation (screengrab)

And the city of the dead looks really similar.

Disney/Pixar (screengrab)
Twentieth Century Fox Animation (screengrab)

Of course, the stories are different, aside from the Dia de los Muertos aspect. But still, the similarities have been noticed by many who have watched the Coco trailer and have seen The Book of Life. However, there are plenty of fans who are psyched for the film, including Jorge R. Gutiérrez himself, who tweeted that he’s “looking forward to seeing the film!”

What do you think about Coco? Are you going to see it when it premieres November 22? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Why is Storm wearing a raincoat and holding an umbrella in “Dark Phoenix”? Plus other first look thoughts

I recently received the cover to the latest Entertainment Weekly issue, which features tons of first look images. The cover features Dark Phoenix, a film I’m not looking forward to at all.

I have a big gripe with the all of the X-Men films, especially the new crop of X-Men films, which go through the trouble of painstakingly replicating certain time periods, but neglect the background that influences the X-Men comic books–the Civil Rights Movement. Granted, X-Men has always shown racial and cultural animus in the country through the gaze of white characters, but the X-Men comics have seemed to have a much more political, and sometimes radical, bent that doesn’t ever come through in the movies. It’s frustrating. Dark Phoenix seems to sum up all of my aggravations with the X-Men franchise by deciding that it’s Jean Grey‘s story we need to hear about. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) has never been that compelling as a character, and to base an entire film around her (especially with bad special effects, as shown in the first look images) is mind-boggling to me.

Also mind-boggling is that young Storm (Alexandra Shipp)–the goddess of weather– is not acting like Storm at all in this film.

As Kid Fury wrote so poignantly on Twitter:

Why? Why has Storm been disrespected so hardcore in this franchise? Why have all of the black characters been so disrespected in these reboots? The main reason I’ve never seen it for the X-Men: First Class reboot series is because in First Class, Darwin–a character who can adapt to anything–uncharacteristically dies. He dies as the first and only black man in the entire film. I immediately checked out and never sought to seek out the series again (except when I went to a party and saw X-Men: Apocalypse, but not on my own dime).

The only image I like from this set of Dark Phoenix images is Jessica Chastain in an icy blonde look. I don’t know who she is, but I think she looks really cool. I just wished she looked really cool like this in another movie.

In short, boo to you, Dark Phoenix. I am not watching you.

There are some films and TV series I would love to see though. Entertainment Weekly has first looks of lavish costume drama Mary, Queen of Scots, starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, and of Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso in the second season of National Geographic’s Genius. 

Let’s not forget that Aquaman is coming; this first look of Jason Momoa gives us a very good look at a serious Arthur Curry.

Also, The Incredibles 2 was featured in this issue. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve grown tired of Pixar sequels, so much so that I can’t muster the hype to get excited about this, and I was one of the people who yelled at Pixar for years to make a sequel. At this point, I’d rather Pixar just stick to making original films like Coco, which have the potential to make a much bigger impact culturally and socio-politically. But at the same time, I do want to know what Pixar’s First Family are going to do this go-round.

Also, I have to address the elephant in the room–Altered Carbon. I’ve talked about so many projects that feature white people as Asian people in the past two years, that I’m frankly surprised Altered Carbon didn’t decide to go against the grain and, I don’t know, be respectful. Takeshi Kovacs is a biracial Japanese-Eastern European character; it could have been cool to actually hire a biracial actor for this role instead of Joel Kinnaman. Also, how many times are we going to see neon and big cities in a glossy sci-fi film? ENOUGH.

There’s a ton more first look images at Entertainment Weeklycheck them out!

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