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Fowler’s Flix 05.03.19: "Born in East L.A." (And Even Further South)

Shout! Factory
Cheech Marin tries to get back to America in the comedy "Born in East L.A."
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One of my absolute favorite comedies of all-time—definitely top five material for me, folks—is and always has been Cheech Marin’s 1987 comedy Born in East L.A. Over the past 30 years, however, it’s amazing just how prescient the flick has become, probably even more than before.

While I’m sure most of us know the story of East L.A. mechanic Rudy (Marin) who, when picking up his undocumented cousin (Paul Rodriguez) at a toy factory, gets caught in a raid by your typical la Migra scum. Accidentally forgetting his wallet at home, he gets deported by an uncaring immigration system and desperately tries scheme after scheme to get back home, finding friendship and even love along the way.

With an undeniably triumphant conclusion that is still inspiring people all these years later, we finally get the most complete version of Marin’s flick, courtesy of Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray. The supplements are fascinating—for example, we learn things like Robert Altman was the original director of the film—to, after years of clamoring for it, the complete television cut of the film featuring plenty of theatrically cut scenes reedited to make up the two-hour TV running time.

Based on a suitably obscure Egyptian novel of the same name, filmmaker Jorge Fons’ Midaq Alley (Film Movement) is a vibrant yet heartbreaking collection of intertwining stories in a small Mexico City neighborhood. Far beyond slices of life, in this magnificent film we follow the closed-off lives of the closeted homosexual Rutilio (Juan Manuel Bernal) and his falling-out with his son, the lusty Alma (Salma Hayek) who search for passion leads her down very dark corridors, and finally Susanita (Margarita Sanz), a simple spinster who longs for a chance at love, no matter how false it might ring.

While these are mostly simple stories, they all have such a dark turn of realistic circumstances—telenovela-style, if you will—that it’s easy to forget these same explosive happenings are happening in most of our own neighborhoods, and maybe even our own houses. Director Fons has justifiably won numerous awards for this beautiful film, including Best Picture at the Ariels, Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The Best Foreign Language Film winner at the 1985 Academy Awards, The Official Story (Cohen Media Group) has been given an all-new restoration, and not a moment too soon. A haunting remembrance of the evils of a past that we may not even know of but can definitely still feel the pulse of, The Official Story takes place during the final years of Argentina’s military dictatorship and the forced disappearances that occurred during that time.

An upper class family in Buenos Aires has an illegally adopted child, one that may be a child of the desaparecido, enforced by the dictatorship which was involved in everything from corruption to outright genocide, leading to the disappearance and murder of over 30,000 left-wing subversives. A heart-rending story of the recent past…and our wholly possible future.

Finally, if you’ve got some extra time on your hands, pick up the more recent film from Argentina and their new wave of storytelling, the feral female serial-killer flick She Wolf (Film Movement), directed by Tamae Garateguy. While not quite on par with the films above, it does the trick as an otherworldly exploitationer that’s worth the shocks it’ll definitely provide.

Next week: Real-life sex, drugs and death!

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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