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Angelique Flores is the executive editor of Home Media Magazine. Her two home entertainment passions are Latino film and fitness. Flores has executive produced Home Media Magazine’s Latino DVD Conference and Latino DVD Awards. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Hispanic magazine, the Los Angeles Times, as well as other regional publications in Southern California. She is a graduate of Stanford University.


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17 Apr, 2014

RIP Gabo


Today we lost one of the greatest writers of our time. Gabriel García Márquez died at age 87 of pneumonia in Mexico City.

The Nobel Prize-winning author from Colombia ignited the explosion of Spanish-language literature and magical realism. Many of us have read or at least heard of his great novels One Hundred Years of Solitude, which led to the author’s Nobel Prize, and Love in the Time of Cholera.

I implore you to read García Márquez’ work. But if you are more inclined to watch movies than read, then check out some movies based on some of his novels or his screenplays. 

Love in the Time of Cholera is available on DVD from Warner and stars Oscar-winning Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt. (How I would have loved to be the female lead in that movie!)

Other films available are Oedipus Mayor (Facets) and No One Writes to the Colonel (Maverick), starring Fernando Luján, Marisa Paredes and Salma Hayek. Released just last year on DVD (Distrimax) is Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes, which is based on my friend’s favorite García Márquez novel (you know who you are).

Many other movies have been made based on his writing — Eréndira, Cartas del Parque, María de mi Corazón, Of Love and Other Demons, In Evil Hour and Milagro en Roma — but unfortunately, they are not available on DVD or Blu-ray. Hint, hint, studios…


12 Mar, 2014

'From Dusk Till Dawn' Series Available Digitally


Who’s looking for new badass content from Robert Rodriguez?

El Rey’s supernatural crime show “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” will be available to U.S. viewers digitally on Amazon, iTunes, Sony PlayStation, Xbox, Vudu, Google Play, CinemaNow, Blackberry and Target Ticket.

Each episode of the show, which is based on the 1996 movie that Rodriguez directed and Quentin Tarantino wrote, will be available the day after broadcast starting March 12.

The show centers on bank robber brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie Gecko (Zane Holtz), who are wanted by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw (Don Johnson) and Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia). While on the run to Mexico, the Geckos encounter a family, whom they take hostage, using their family RV to cross the border. All hell breaks loose when the group detours to a strip club occupied by vampires.

Rodriguez is among the executive producers of the series, which expands on the film, adding new characters and backstories, and developing the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club.

Entertainment One Television holds the domestic DVD and digital rights for the show and will likely release it on disc at a later date.

“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is a production from El Rey Network, a new 24-hour English-language network co-founded by Rodriguez, who curates the channel along with his artistic collective. Not surprisingly, El Rey’s content features original dramas, grindhouse content, cult classic actioners, and horror and sci-fi movies and shows.

According to its boilerplate info on the press release, “the network will unite the most culturally diverse generation in history through fearless, badass and original content that awakens the renegade in everyone.”

With that description, who wouldn’t want to watch any show on this network?


14 Oct, 2013

PBS’s 'Latino Americans' Should Be Required Viewing

It’s about time a series like Latino Americans was made.

At more than 53 million people, we — Latinos — are the largest minority group in the United States, according to the U.S. Census.

Latino Americans is the first major documentary to tell the stories and history of our people in this country.

If you didn’t catch it when it aired on TV, PBS has you covered with it’s two-DVD set, available for $34.99, or online to stream on their website.

Narrated by Benjamin Bratt (love him!), the six-episode documentary series goes all the way back to Latinos in the United States from the 1500s to today. That’s right, it goes back to when areas like California and Texas were actually part of Mexico.

It also sheds light on the various waves of immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and how U.S. policy is responsible for many of the laws and programs that brought Latinos here. These sorts of stories put into context the current events of today — and also might enrage you, if you look at the big picture. That is, brown people haters, if you only knew your history, you might see how foolish and contradictory your xenophobic and racist ways are.

But on a positive note, not only was it inspiring to see all these intelligent, successful, prominent Latino historians, professors, authors and many others tell our history, but it was impressive to learn that most of the production team behind the documentary are Latino Americans too.

During these six hours of viewing of this program, I felt an unprecedented sense of understanding and clarity on our history. I better understood our role, our struggles and our influence in this country. And I felt proud of both my Mexican culture and my American nationality.

But I also felt sadness and anger about the injustices and violence our people have endured over the years. It was heartbreaking to see the stories of racism against and lynching of not only innocent Latino American citizens but also against brave, decorated U.S. war heroes of Latino descent.

It also dismays me to think that many of these stories that are significant to U.S. history are not taught in our children’s classes, but hopefully programming such as this will help open people’s eyes.

PBS has started the dialogue, and they hope to keep it going. Visit their website to submit your own videos and share what being Latino means to you.

Read a little more about the Latino Americans in my review.


26 Aug, 2013

BeFit in 90 Expands Beyond YouTube

For those who like those complete boxed set workout systems, Lionsgate has got something for you.

Lionsgate is packaging the videos from its popular BeFit in 90 channel as a set and for digital download, filled with extras.

The BeFit in 90 Workout System will be available exclusively on Amazon for three months beginning next week on Sept. 3.

The three-DVD set ($20.93) contains the 90-day total weight-loss program led by Samantha Clayton, an Olympic sprinter, and Garret Amerine, a former Marine.

These two ass-kicking trainers lead three months of 35-minute total body workouts featuring cardio, strength training and yoga to burn fat and build muscle.

Over the three-month program, the workouts become progressively more challenging, with a unique routine each day to avoid both muscle memory and repetition.

The set also comes with the Trainer Tip videos from the BeFit in 90 channel, a workout calendar designating workouts and rest days, a fitness journal to set goals and track progress, and a nutritional guide with healthy recipes and dietary information.

The BeFit in 90 Workout System already is available for digital download on iTunes in standard definition ($19.99) and high definition ($20.99). iTunes offers a link to download the workout calendar, nutritional guide and fitness journal.

Sure, the videos are available on YouTube for free, so why pay the $20 for the disc and materials? The bonus materials, the elimination of the YouTube ads, and the convenience of having the workouts streamlined and packaged in three discs are more than worth the retail price.

The set will be available widely at retail stores in December.

Lionsgate launched the Be Fit in 90 in January 2012. As of today, the channel has 28,076 subscribers, and that number continues to grow.


21 Aug, 2013

Netflix Loves Latinos

If you read my July 8 blog, Latinos Love Netflix, you may have caught my suggestion at the end for Netflix to create original Spanish-Language content. Well, I apparently (and unknowingly) was reading their minds.

A few weeks ago, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield tweeted: “Netflix takes 1st “baby” steps toward creating original content outside US, “The Burrow” in Brazil.” See my colleague Erik Gruenwedel’s report.

Greenfield included a link to an article from Jornal O Globo with more info, if you can read Portuguese. According to O Globo (with some help from freetranslation.com), I learned the show is called “A Toca” (The Touch) and is a comedy comprised of skits, based on “The Office.”

The show is written and produced by Felipe Neto, a popular comedian on YouTube from the channel Parafernalha.

Neto told O Globo he had complete creative freedom — sounds similar to what “The Arrested Development” and “House of Cards” producers said of Netflix — and the program touches on subjects traditionally taboo on TV, similar to Neto’s YouTube show “Não Faz Sentido.”

“A Toca” is new content adapted from Parafernalha, and according to Andrew Wallenstein’s report from Variety, the show appears exclusively on Netflix, which licenses the series.

The program debuted Aug. 9 with three 30-minute episodes on Netflix, which has been available in Brazil for two years now.

Unlike Netflix’s other shows, "A Toca" will be available only in Brazil. Jonathan Friedland, chief communications officer for Netflix, told O Globo that the show is “very Brazilian” and that comedies don’t translate to other countries as well as dramas do. He pointed to “Arrested Development,” which is doing great in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, but not so well in Latin America.

“A Tocar” marks Netflix’s first original programming outside of the United States. I think it’s pretty cool the service chose a Latin American country for this milestone.


20 Aug, 2013

A Peek at Recent Chilean Cinema

Last year’s No, starring Gael García Bernal, garnered much critical acclaim, becoming the first Chilean film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I had seen director Pablo Larraín’s other film, Tony Manero (a good and most creepy drama), and so I was curious about another recent film from Chilean director and writer Sebastián Silva (The Maid).

Silva’s Magic Magic, recently released on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, takes place in Chile and stars an interesting cast: Emily Browning, Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Agustín Silva (Sebastián’s brother) and Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace).

The film is beautifully shot, and the acting without any complaints here. But to be honest, I’m still scratching my head on this one. It’s a thriller with some sorta creepy parts that might seem mysterious and nefarious, but in the end are not. On top of that, the characters are mostly pretty unlikable too.

So onward with my quest for more good Chilean films.

 


8 Jul, 2013

Latinos Love Netflix

For years and years … and years, we’ve all been hearing about the rising power of Latinos. This isn’t new. But what is new is the recent report from Centris Marketing Science, which is yet more evidence of our rising power in entertainment.

The U.S. Communications and Entertainment Insights report shows that Latinos are watching more videos online than the rest of the U.S. population. But the finding that I found interesting was this: Thirty-three percent of Latino households subscribe to Netflix, versus 25% of U.S. households overall.

Netflix doesn’t have a lot of “Latino” movies or even that many Spanish-language films. And what the service has is filed under regular genres or foreign films. You have to really dig to find them. The company has even fewer films dubbed in Spanish, and it’s mostly animated movies. And as far as I know, there haven’t been any major marketing campaigns aimed at U.S. Latinos.

I would like to note that for its Latin American subscribers, Netflix does have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter (@NetflixLAT).

Some might think Netflix is leaving money on the table by not marketing to Latinos in the United States, which historically overindex in entertainment consumption in general. But I tend to think Netflix would be spending money frivolously if they did do a huge campaign. Blockbuster has long had their Latino sections and marketing, but did they ever work out that well? It’s pretty well known that Latinos prefer to watch the mainstream blockbusters.

While I do wish Netflix offered more Spanish-language movies and Latino fare, I don’t think a move like this would necessarily boost Latino subscribership. Latino films, if well made, would appeal to anyone, just as the good non-Latino films appeal to Latinos. 

And speaking of well-made content, maybe Netflix in the future will create original Spanish-language content, which could also appeal to their subscribers in Latin American countries. With Netflix trying to compete with HBO, it would be nice to see the company compete with HBO in its HBO Latino programming such as “Epitafios” and “Capadocia” — both of which I absolutely loved and own on DVD.


20 Mar, 2013

Enter Our Fitness Sweepstakes

Is anyone in a fitness slump? Do you need a new fitness routine to keep you motivated?

Well, I just may have the answer.

Home Media Magazine is hosting a sweepstakes for a free copy of nine different fitness DVDs from Lionsgate.

The winner will receive a copy of Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast with Mary Helen Bowers, The Biggest Loser: Power Ab Blast with Bob Harper and Dolvette Quince, Billy Blanks Jr.: Dance Party Boot Camp, Denise Austin: Fit in a Flash — 7-Minute Solutions, Jane Fonda: AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, PrayFit: 33-Day Body Toning System with Jimmy Peña, Step Up Revolution: Dance Workout with Bryan Tanaka and Micki Duran, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Yoga Transformation: Weight Loss & Balance with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles, valued together at $134.82.

These are some of my favorite fitness instructors, and I think there’s something in here for everyone at every level and any fitness preference.

To enter the sweepstakes, readers must go here and "like" Home Media Magazine’s Facebook page and enter a valid email address. Entrants can invite friends and receive five more entries per friend that enters.

The sweepstakes runs through noon April 8. A winner will be chosen at random that day.

It doesn’t cost you a thing to enter.

Do it now!

 


12 Mar, 2013

Cast Your Vote!

It’s that time of year again for consumers to vote for your favorite DVDs and Blu-rays of last year.

This year’s fitness category has some great nominees:

• Colleen Saidman's Yoga for Weight Loss (Gaiam Vivendi)
Denise Austin: Fit in a Flash (Lionsgate)
Jane Fonda: AM/PM Yoga (Lionsgate)
SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting (Acacia)
Step Up Revolution Dance Workout (Lionsgate)
Transform Your Body With Brooke Burke: Tone & Tighten (Sony Pictures)
Rodney Yee's AM & PM Yoga for Beginners (Gaiam Vivendi)
What to Expect When You're Expecting Workout (Lionsgate)

Visit www.HomeMediaAwards.com through April 14 to select your favorite title in this and many other categories for the Home Media Awards.

The results of the consumer vote will be combined with ballots submitted by a panel of journalist and blogger judges. Winners will be announced April 29 in Home Media Magazine.


5 Mar, 2013

Pick Your Battles

I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for what I’m about to write, but here it goes.

I finally watched the Best Picture winner Argo on Blu-ray the other night, and I was impressed with producer-director-star Ben Affleck’s film. The multi-Oscar winning movie tells about CIA operative Antonio “Tony” Mendez’ rescue of six American diplomats in Tehran, Iran in 1979 during the hostage crisis. Pictured at right is Mendez (left) with Affleck (photo by Kris Connor).

Much of what I had read from pundits in the Latino community was list of complaints: Affleck should’ve cast a Latino in the role, Affleck doesn’t look Latino, Mendez’ character was whitewashed and on and on.

I have to say that I disagree with much of these whiny grumbles.

As the producer, Affleck had the right to cast whomever he wanted, especially himself. If it wasn’t for him, the film wouldn’t have been made, and most of us wouldn't even know who Tony Mendez is or what he did.

I don’t see this situation as Affleck choosing to not cast a Latino, but rather as Affleck choosing to cast himself. If he had cast a non-Latino other than himself, then I’d probably say, yes, it was the “missed opportunity” that everybody claims it is. But this is Hollywood — who doesn’t want to keep the meaty roles for themselves, given the chance?

Not everyone is like Johnny Depp, who as Ruben Navarette Jr. points out in CNN.com turned down the role of Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa, saying it should go to a Latino. Another difference here though is Villa was 100% Mexican, while Mendez is only part Mexican-American.

As far as Affleck not looking Latino, have you pundits looked at what the real Tony Mendez looks like? He looks like famed film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, who as far as I know is not Latino and has never been mistaken for one. Honestly, I don’t think Affleck looks any less Latino than the real Mendez. We come in all colors, remember? You critics are quick to point that out when it’s convenient.

Now this whole business about Mendez’ character being whitewashed and his ethnicity being ignored — really, gente? How is he being portrayed as white? To me, he is being portrayed as an American —and again, like Latinos, Americans come in all colors and ethnicities.

Argo is a film about an American hero — not a Mexican hero. Tony’s achievements were done while working for the United States, not Mexico. He was honored by the U.S. government, not the Mexican government. His ethnicity had nothing to do with his triumph in Iran, which is the focus of this movie. So why does it matter if it was pointed out that he was Mexican?

If anything, in the most important part of the film where Mendez shares intimate details of his life with the houseguests (hostages), he says his full name: Tony Mendez. Anyone with a brain would deduce the guy probably has some Latino in him. And I stress the word some, because Mendez is also part Irish, Italian and French. Has anyone complained that he isn’t Irish or Italian or French enough in the film or that these parts of his heritage were ignored? Not as far as I’ve heard.

Now, I’m not denying that Hollywood has a long, terrible history of casting non-Latinos in roles with real-life counterparts or characters who are Latinos and should have been cast as such (see La Bamba, West Side Story, Hell to Eternity). But I just don’t think that this is quite the “missed opportunity” that so many critics and journalists say it is. 

Mendez is even quoted as saying “I don’t think of myself as a Hispanic” to NBCLatino! So if the man himself doesn’t see himself as Hispanic, why are other Latinos trying to force this Hispanic-ness on him?

Latinos, look at the big picture and do your research. This sort of bellyaching is just ridiculous and makes us look like a bunch of complainers. It sets us back with a “boy who cried wolf” syndrome for when we want to address more important issues. Let’s put our effort toward real missed opportunities.