Demián Bichir

Danny Trejo Sherrybaby

Our official review of Machete Kills is pretty negative. Rightfully so, it’s a major disappointment following the purposefully cheesy yet still politically relevant first film. This time it’s all just silly, kind of like an Austin Powers movie for the Latino audience instead of 13-year-old boys — though the 13-year-old boys may still be the best audience for this. I want to recommend it solely for Demian Bichir, though, because he is a pleasure to watch every second he’s on screen. Maybe it’s just how great he is relative to the rest of the cast and movie, but I’d give him another Oscar nomination for this. If you think that’s ridiculous, you haven’t seen the movie (because that is ridiculous). If you don’t see Machete Kills, no big deal, even if you won’t know what’s going on when Machete Kills Again… In Space arrives. This week’s gateway recommendations have nothing related to any spoilers in the movie. Most are just better films starring parts of the sequel’s ensemble. I also almost thought about including Star Wars, not because I think any of you haven’t seen it but because I think you’d want to clean yourself in the form of a re-watch after seeing all the bad references here. Seriously, even if we’d never had 35 years of parodies, copycats, fan films and other works derived from and informed by Star Wars, the allusions here would still feel stale. The following ten selections are worth checking out whether you bother with Machete […]

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longoria

After earning an Oscar nomination for his acting work in the 2011 immigration tale, A Better Life, actor Demian Bichir proved himself to be a huge talent that mainstream audiences had been generally ignoring. Finally, after years of good work, the man got some recognition. It turns out he’s got ambitions beyond just taking that next step in his career as an actor, however, as Deadline is reporting that he’s now getting ready to direct his own feature, a romantic drama he also wrote called Refugio. The story of Refugio follows one particular character, named Refugio, who we meet through various phases in his life, with the overarching narrative being built on his search to find a long lost true love. Due to the jumps in the story’s timeline, the character is going to have to be played by multiple actors, and due to the fact that he grew up in the circus, Bichir is going to have to find a colorful cast of supporting actors to make up the circus folk. While all that sounds pretty daunting, the good news is that the work has already been done, as the new director has already got a cast in place and is prepared to start shooting in Mexico City soon.

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Dom Hemingway

After 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut to protect his mobster boss, Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is back on the streets and looking for one or two ways to celebrate. Can you really blame him? Richard Shepard‘s Dom Hemingway follows the titular ex-con, a safecracker, as he travels to his boss’ (Demian Bichir) palacial estate to get what he’s owed for his loyalty. As you can see, it’s a fantastic prize, but it looks like Hemingway should have learned by now that things don’t generally work out in his favor. With no money, no girl, and no place to go, he decides the time is just super for reconnecting with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke) and getting 12 years of anger and the insatiable need to party out of his system in a matter of days. The trailer is a fantastic montage of Law in a drunken haze, doing things like humping a safe open, swimming fully clothed with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and traipsing through a field stark naked (prominently featured: Jude Law’s extremely white butt). But while the trailer shows all of his fun, post-prison hijinks, it feels like the film is going to take a more serious turn just as this little glimpse ends. Eventually, he’s going to have to put the liquor bottle down and deal with the fact that he’s been gone for the last 12 years – especially with his daughter and grandchild. Maybe Bichir will have to answer […]

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Elegant white lettering reads: “Jude Law is Dom Hemingway, and you’re not.” Law himself slouches in a plush, lipstick-red seat, equipped with a drink and a smoke and a nasty sneer. High above Law sits a portrait of a baboon, proud and refined in all the ways Law isn’t. The poster for Law’s new film, Dom Hemingway, wants to create an image that’s totally unique. And it succeeds…sort of. Law’s self-important shtick doesn’t seem particularly new or different, but his primate artwork most definitely is. Plenty of posters put their lead characters (complete with an over-the-top personality) front and center, but far fewer posters devote half their allotted space to a baboon and refuse to explain the baboon’s presence. Dom Hemingway‘s second poster lacks baboon and therefore lacks the same level of interest. The only thing on display is an abundance of cheeky British wit, and the exact same sneer Law was sporting from under his primate pal. Check it out after the break, along with a new still from the film.

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Demián Bichir is the sort of actor who’s been doing great work for a while now, but who has still failed to achieve mainstream recognition. When he got a high profile role playing Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s Che, most of the buzz coming out of the picture was surrounding Benicio Del Toro’s work in the title role, or how Oscar Isaac was going to use it as a launching pad on to bigger things. He landed a role as a recurring character on the hit Showtime series Weeds, but all of the talk surrounding that show concerns Mary Louise-Parker’s increasingly frequent nude scenes, and not what a slimy and intimidating villain Bichir makes. He even got rave reviews and an Oscar Nomination for Best Actor for his starring role in A Better Life, but the film went criminally unseen by the public, getting its widest release on only 216 screens. The Oscar nod did seem to give the guy a little bit of juice in Hollywood, however, as he was reportedly close to getting the villain role in Star Trek 2, but had to turn it down due to stage commitments. And now Variety has a report that the actor has not one, but two big projects lined up for the future. Apparently he’s not only negotiating to join Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming sequel Machete Kills, but he’s also set to star as an Israeli operative in The Exorcist director William Friedkin’s next thriller, Trapped.

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actor

Each year, there’s a certain group of people who bemoan the Oscars (and pretty much every other organization’s awards) for being nothing but a popularity contest. They’re right, of course, but the Oscars also helps set the standard for quality films… at least quality films from those who are popular in the industry. However, when it comes to the Academy Award for Best Actor, it’s probably the biggest popularity contest out there (only to be matched by the battle for the Best Actress Oscar, of course). It’s not just about who gave the most solid performance in a motion picture, but also who schmoozes the best at parties and on the red carpet. These awards are also often sewn up early and are less unpredictable than the lower profile awards for Costume Design and Sound Editing (Jane Eyre and Transformers represent, yo!). Still, as one of the “big six” awards, Best Actor is an important one. A nomination alone can breathe new life into a career. Just look at what it did for John Travolta in the mid-90s. Likewise, winning an award can help make you a superstar, like it did for Nicolas Cage around the same time. (Of course, now the Academy claims no responsibility for Cage’s more recent career choices.) In any respect, this year’s race for Best Actor presents a slate of great performances from newcomers and veterans alike, even if it’ll all be a popularity contest in the end. Read on for the nominations and my […]

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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With A Better Life, director Chris Weitz moves away from the big-scale Hollywood fantasy filmmaking of The Golden Compass and Twilight: New Moon to an intimate tale of the relationship between a father and a son in search of a stolen vehicle. Obvious comparisons to Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief aside, A Better Life is the type of movie I’m surprised hadn’t been made precisely this way before. Sure, there have been many films about illegal immigration as an issue, but to pare the issue down, without oversimplifying it, to a straightforward tale of human relationships and the difficulties of everyday life seems as natural and familiar a story as it is a brave and risky one. There are certainly bumps along the road of watching A Better Life, but for a premise that easily lends itself to hamfisted didacticism or a superficial, characters-representing-perspectives brand of melodrama (read: Crash), Weitz’s film—while certainly not always subtle—ultimately emerges triumphant and genuinely touching because of its graceful sincerity.

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