John Huston was in love with Mexico where he filmed many movies and lived part time for several years in Vallarta (real estate). Famous among these is The Night of the Iguana, based on the Tennessee Williams novel, about a defrocked priest with a pedophilic nature. Much lesser known of films Huston was associated with is Juarez, of which he shared screenwriting credits. It’s a spectacular movie, starring the best of Hollywood at the time (1939); Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne and Claude Raines. The story of Mexico’s beloved president, Benito Juárez and his battle for democracy with the puppet government of Maximilian von Hapsburg, who was installed by Napoleon in an effort to maintain his firm grip over another far away country. Juarez portrays the history of Mexico without slapstick and hyperbole, sticking to the record.
Across the Line stars Brad Johnson as a border-town lawman who falls in love with an undocumented Mexican woman. We were charmed and humbled by the sympathetic point of view that enlightens the struggle of those crossing illegally. The emphasis on heartbreak of thousands of immigrants, their motivation and problems opened our eyes to their plight.
Although it deals with multiple stories in numerous locations, Babel , leaning heavily on communication problems, further shows the complexity, fear and intimidation that exist for Mexicans who embark upon relatively simple journeys. In Babel, the trip to her son’s wedding across the Mexico/US border ends in absolute disaster for a woman who has worked in California for 16 years and been considered part of her employer’s family.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 1 and 2: A silly Disney children’s comedy, starring loads of silly, famous stars, either in roles or as voice-overs, you won’t want to miss this movie for the simple reason it was filmed in Vallarta (real estate) and you will recognize not only locations but familiar faces, as well. (And the dogs are really cute.)
For romance, magic, passion and an appetite stimulant, we highly recommend Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). This is a luscious film about a time when marriage was still an arrangement in Mexico. The message is how all of us have a book of matches deep inside and that true love provides the oxygen for fire. The lives of three sisters are forever altered when their mother insists on having her oldest daughter marry first. The middle sister infuses her emotions in the food she serves, which over the years, in different scenarios, has a deep and lasting effect on the consumers. Watch it in the original Spanish. The subtitles are easy since the film is generally about emotions.
I’ve mentioned seven, actually and there are many more quality movies that can lead you away from the likes of Nacho Libre. Oops, that’s eight.
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