THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #238

LOVE:

La Llorona:

la-llorona

Guys, I loved this movie in an absurd way. It’s not going to win any awards. It’s not ever going to be nominated for any awards. Nobody in their right mind would even consider nominating it for anything. But, for whatever reason, La Llorona, worked for me. This film is a part of the Conjuring universe, which is a series of films that explore the work of the Warrens — famous demonologists from the 70s — and clearly exaggerates their experiences. They aren’t documentaries, and if you go in to them expecting such, you’ll be sorely let down. As the movies have gotten more popular, the films have branched out to standalone pictures that don’t star the Warrens as the main protagonists. This is one of those films. And I hope and pray there is a sequel, because it was so damn fun. The story is set in 70s Los Angeles and the main character, Anne, is the widowed wife of a police officer. We never fully understand why he dies, but that isn’t relevant to the plot. She works for DHS and takes a case about a woman she has already investigated assuming it’ll be open and shut. IT WAS NOT! Anne makes it to the woman’s apartment, coerces herself in, and then is shocked to discover that the place is filled with candles, strange iconography, and a closet that is padlocked shut. Inside, she discovers the woman’s two children, who are cowering in terror. Her instincts take over and she has the kids removed from the home. Well, this wasn’t her finest idea, though it was the right thing to do. This set the curse of La Llorona on her. Now, if you don’t know La Llorona, you’re in for a treat. You’ve surely heard songs about her since anybody with taste has seen Disney’s second-best film, Coco. (Obviously, The Emperor’s New Groove is first.) Mama Imelda  sings the folk song as a BOP near the movies end. Let’s watch that. 

Anyway, La Llorona is a kind of Mexican bogeyman, a legend that parents tell their children so they behave. The story goes that La Llorona was a Mexican woman in the 1600s who discovered her husband was unfaithful to her. To get her revenge, she drowns her two children so that she can hurt her husband by taking away what he loves most. Once her crime of passion was completed, she is terrified by what she has done, and so she forever stalks the world looking for children to replace the ones she’s killed. It’s quite a terrible story and the film does an excellent job with it. So now that La Llorona has attached herself to Anne, she obviously is going to come for Anne’s two children. She does. And boy does she ever. It’s a wild ride, and it can be scary, but what this film did that so many horror movies fail to do is have fun. This movie is a hoot! I absolutely had the best time watching and I couldn’t turn away. I’m not going to spoil anything, but you have to go see. It has everything: the Catholic Church, a bizarrely large swimming pool, crucifixes made out of specialty wood, a funny defrocked priest, and amazing special effects. One thing was nagging me through the entire thing, though. The woman who played the mother in the apartment was very familiar to me. I saw her in my mind’s eye with a scarf over her head, but I couldn’t place it. I nearly screeched as the credits rolled when I realized who it was. It was Patricia Vasquez! Y’all she played one of the pivotal characters in one of the films that molded me into the man I am today, The Mummy. I couldn’t believe it. The woman does not age! Get thee to the theatre pronto!

“Medellín” by Madonna:

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People are being mean to Madonna again and I will not stand for it. Ageism is something that absolutely bewilders me. Nobody really wants to grow up and nobody wants wrinkles and we all want to dance with hot men when we’re in our sixties. So, why do so many people say such nasty things about our lord and savior, Madonna? I couldn’t believe some of the things I was reading about how she should just go quietly into retirement, how she should act her age, how she was creepy for dancing the tango with Maluma. Nonsense, reader. Full and utter nonsense. I’m so proud of Madonna, though. She doesn’t give a single shit about what people think of her. She posts wacky instagrams nonstop, calls herself Madame X, wears an eyepatch for no apparent reason, and has a hell of a good time.

I hope to be even a little like her when I’m older. It’s not that far off…oh well, I’ve accepted aging, and I’m going to treat myself to a little Botox for my birthday…so I suppose I’ll be younger than ever. That has nothing to do with Madonna, though. She has a new album coming out, and the first single is a delightful bop called “Medellín.” I’ve been a bit obsessed with this city lately, so the title delighted me. The first time you listen to it, I’ll be honest, it’s awful, but then by the third listen you’re counting to two, saying chachachacha, and mumbling in Spanish. It’s a hoot. And as fun as the song is in itself, the music video is superb. Nobody makes good music videos anymore, but Madonna just did. In the seven-minute movie, Madonna takes us on a wild ride. She looks like Eva Peron learning to tango, but with an eyepatch. She goes horseback riding through the Colombian countryside, but with an eyepatch. She dances with Maluma, but with an eyepatch. She gets married to Maluma wearing a gorgeous white cowboy hat, and with an eyepatch. Honestly, the eyepatch is the star of the video. I so wish that more people would wear them as an accessory instead of because of a medical condition. We need more capes and eyepatches and round sunglasses and the world would be a better place. Watch the video and fall back in love with, as Justin Timberlake once sang, “The M A the D O the N N the A, Madonna!”

El Chicano:

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I’m basically Mexican now, which is something you’re all going to have to get used to. 23&Me hasn’t robbed me of my Iberian DNA like they did with my beloved North African ancestry. I’m still smarting from that wound. So I’m like a Spanish Mexican, and honestly I get along just fine in Condesa and Polanco and people thought that I was Mexican, so that’s good enough for me. You don’t really need to know any of this. What you do need to know is something that I seem to write about every single week, La Reina del Sur. Has anybody on the planet spent more time enraptured by that program than me? If so, I’d like to meet them because we would obviously be the best friends in the world. Now that my beloved program is back, I have to wait with bated breath between commercial breaks. This is alright, Spanish commercials are more fun. Truly. But there was one in English for a film called El Chicano, and if I’m honest, it didn’t look all that interesting, but then there was a scene with KATE DEL CASTILLO in full mourning attire, holding a machine gun, and screaming about revenge for her family. I was sold immediately.

In Iowa, the film was playing in exactly one theater, so I coerced my sister into accompanying me and we went out for a feast of Cheesecake Factory appetizers and a movie. We ordered so much food that it took five different staff members to bring it all out. They seemed impressed. I don’t think we’ve ever been that full. Obviously we were ready to eat shortly after. Jessica had absolutely no interest in seeing this movie, she raised multiple complaints, she rolled her eyes a million times when I yelled, “Venganza para la familia!!!” But I got her into the theater. The movie was all about a cop with a dead brother who got deeply involved in a case with a cartel that wanted to repatriate the southwestern United States to Mexico. In a twist that was never fully explained, the cop’s brother was in the process of becoming El Chicano, kind of a superhero that took illegal justice in the Latino parts of LA. This apparently took years for the brother, but the cop decided to become El Chicano in a few minutes with some motorcycle grease and a dream. It didn’t make sense, but it didn’t matter because it was an absolute hoot from beginning to end. Honestly, it was camp, which the producers understood better than half the attendees of the Met Gala. It’s not exactly a good movie, but it’s a fun movie, and it is clearly setting itself up to be a franchise. And I so hope that this works out. My beloved Kate del Castillo was only featured at the very end, but she stole the show. And honestly it looked like they filmed the scene during a five minute break between shots on the set of La Reina del Sur, but it was perfection. El Chicano was responsible for the death of Kate’s family, so obviously she’ll be back for revenge. It’ll be a blast. Get this one on Netflix or stream it when you see it. It was a bop! 

“Veep” Finale:

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I was near to weeping last night, and that is something that I hardly expected. Last night was the finale of my favorite comedy, Veep, and seeing it come to a conclusion was so unexpected and so perfect. All shows should take a leaf out of Veep’s book because they managed to craft a really well done, hilarious, and genius finale that somehow wrapped everything up in a credible and absolutely hilarious way. If you haven’t seen Veep, you’ve been doing yourself a massive disservice, it’s one of the smartest shows that has ever aired. Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Selena Meyer, the Vice President of the United States. The first few seasons deal with her job in what is largely a honorific position. Vice Presidents really don’t do much, and that’s joke helps propel the various plots. When the president resigns, she finally becomes president and has a hoot of a time, but unfortunately she loses her election campaign. In the final season, Selena finally manages to secure the nomination of her party and the epilogue shows she becomes president. The entirety of the show is absolutely filthy and hilarious. And perfect. And while Selena is truly an absolutely despicable person, you can’t help but root for her. The cast is phenomenal, there is not a single weakness in the casting or acting. It’s all decadent perfection. If you’ve never watched, and you intend to, don’t read any more of this. I’m going to discuss the conclusion of the finale. After an insane — but oddly probably — turn of events, Selena chooses all-around idiot Jonah to be her vice presidential candidate because he’s the worst and as VP, he will have no power of any kind. The move disgusts her team but it propels her to victory. Victory is not something to savor, though, because to get to the position that she always wanted, Selena had to sacrifice all those she — kind of — held dear. Her daughter is repulsed by her. She accidentally got her husband murdered. She pushed away most of her team in her attempt to win. But most heartbreakingly, she uses her closest aide Gary as a scapegoat for a financial entanglement that would cost her the presidency. He was nothing but dedicated to her. He lived to serve her. And she chose the presidency over him. It wasn’t noble, and the viewer, for the first time, really becomes truly disgusted with Selena. It is a stunning portrait of who she is and what makes American politics work. When the show started airing in the Obama administration, it was an oddity because it was hard to believe people behaving that way. But now, with our current administration, the nightmarish comedic moments seem eerily real. Veep was a landmark show and it will go into history books. It’s perfect. I’ll miss it so much.

HATE:

Gravel Roads:

athabasca-county-frost-boil

I honestly don’t mind living in the country. I mean, if I could live in a big and bustling city with interesting restaurants and perfect public transportation, well, I’d be over the moon. But for now that isn’t possible, and I don’t mind living on a rambling estate with endless views. On a nice day, it’s really rather decadent. The sky can look like an impressionist painting when the sun sets. And on a summer afternoon, the quality of the light is almost intoxicating. But if there is one thing I can’t stand about this situation, it’s the country gravel roads. They are utterly absurd. At the best of times, they’re randomly full of loose gravel that drags your car one way or the other. Bicycling is next to impossible, which is a real shame as it’s one of the only exercises that I will actually willingly do. That list could be counted on the hand of a person who had undergone two finger amputations. So, that’s saying something. Lately, though, the roads have been even more unbearable. It rains often in Iowa, there’s nothing new about that, but for some reason this makes the roads nearly impassable. I’ve lived here for nearly three decades and I have no recollection of them ever being like this. It is absolutely absurd. The roads are more mud than dirt. They’re filled with holes, at times it’s like driving through a lake. For a while, getting to the highway was more treacherous than driving blind in a blizzard. I couldn’t believe it. So we all need to call our senators and representatives or whoever can help and get all the gravel roads covered in asphalt. One of the glories of Wisconsin is that almost all of their country roads are paved. You never have to worry about getting stuck in a mud puddle. You can easily go on a joyful bike ride. But the biggest sin of all is my car is always FILTHY. I hate having a dirty car. It gives me anxiety, honestly. I hate dirt. My car looks like I’ve been in some derby, and you all know that I haven’t been off-road driving. God, I hate that road. UPDATE: I just learned that the reason the roads are so bad is because of something called a frost boil. That doesn’t make the situation any more bearable, but now I can screech, “FROST BOIL!” as I careen down the road.

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