Deepwater Horizon

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”)
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan (“World War Z”) and Matthew Sand (“Ninja Assassin”)

“Deepwater Horizon,” a film that tells the heroic story of the individuals who survived a massive explosion on an offshore drilling rig in 2010, is an emotionally surface-level drama for a majority of its run time. That doesn’t mean, however, the true story isn’t compelling and executed with an effective approach by director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”). Most people will know this event simply as the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but by adding a human aspect to it like Berg is able to do for the most part, the dynamic intensifies the entire narrative.

Mark Wahlberg leads the cast as Mike Williams, a veteran oil driller who helps his comrades escape the rig when catastrophe hits. Behind schedule by 43 days and budget by $50 million, the drillers are pressured by the big wigs from multimillion dollar oil company BP to get the job done as fast as possible. Mike’s supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) is concerned with what he sees as cutting corners and making their work more dangerous. Of course, Jimmy’s fears are warranted when a blowout occurs forcing the drillers to find a way off the rig before it sinks.

Focused mostly on the hero of the story (but never coming off as ridiculous as Wahlberg’s other true-life survival story “Lone Survivor”) “Deepwater” stays engaging despite the lack of a real emotional hook until the very end. Kate Hudson does a fine job as Mike’s worried wife Felicia at home, and Gina Rodriguez provides some strong acting chops as the lone female on the rig. Other secondary characters, however, feel hollow, especially Dylan O’Brien’s character.  His role as a young driller on the rig feels like it was edited down to nothing. Then there’s John Malkovich, a “villainous” BP executive, whose Louisiana accent is distracting to say the least.

Although some of the characters are thinly written, the overall storytelling of “Deepwater Horizon” is done very well. This isn’t just a generic action film where Wahlberg jumps through flames (although he does jump over a fire once) and carries three men on his back to safety. Sure, sometimes films like this can fall too deep into “hero worshipping” (see the aforementioned “Lone Survivor” or something like “American Sniper”), but Wahlberg keeps everyone grounded without sacrificing the impression of true bravery.

Gina Rodriguez – Filly Brown

April 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In the drama “Filly Brown,” Chicago-born actress Gina Rodriguez (“Go For It!”) plays Majo Tonorio, a L.A. street poet who attempts to crossover into the music industry as a hip-hop artist. The film stars late banda/norteña singer Jenni Rivera as Majo’s incarcerated mother Maria. During an interview with me, Rodriguez discussed how Filly Brown can help be part of a Latino film movement and what Rivera, who passed away last December, meant to her as a friend and co-star.

Since “Filly Brown” is the first lead role of your film career, do you feel like you are part of the industry now?

It’s still a hustle. I’m still trying to prove to the world I can act and that I have a place in this industry. But it’s been a blessing. “Filly Brown” has done wonders for my career. It has gotten me the recognition I’ve always prayed for. Let’s hope that it does well in theaters because that’s all that matters. We have to tell the Latino community we can make “Filly Brown” part of the movement. If “Filly Brown” does well, more money will go into the next Latino film.

Unfortunately, statistics show Latino moviegoers don’t go out and support Latino-themed films on a consistent basis. Why do you think the support isn’t there?

I think you hit it right on the head. Latinos don’t go out and support their own films, but at the same time it’s not their responsibility. I don’t want the Latino community to think I think the reason Latino films are not doing well is because of us. It is not fully our responsibility. There are a lot of Latino Americans out there. They want to see themselves in the movies they go out to see like “Fast and the Furious” and “Total Recall” and the movies that are blockbuster hits. We want to see our brown faces in those movies.  I think there is a little discrepancy in the industry where they think the only places Latinos belong are in their own movies. That’s clearly not true with people like Zoe Saldaña and Michelle Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez. We have a few heavy hitters in the industry that are doing movies that don’t have anything to do with being Latino. I know we all desire more of that.

Do you desire that yourself as an actress?

I desire to be in a big blockbuster movie that has nothing to do with my skin color and just has to do with the fact I can act my ass off. I will play the characters with last names like Sanchez and Gonzalez until the day I die, but I also want to play the “Michelle Smiths.” I think all Latino actors want to be storytellers first. I want to be an actor first and then I want to be Latina. At the same time, a movie like “Filly Brown” is not all about “Viva la Raza.” It’s not all about me speaking Spanish. But these characters carry around their culture and what defines us as Latinos.

Although being Latina comes second to being an actress, it does sound like you are very proud of your culture.

Yeah, Latinos have power. We put the President in office! There are 50 million Latinos in this country. If two million go see “Filly Brown,” then Hollywood is going to start saying, “Oh, there they are. There’s the money. Now we have to actually start casting these brown folks because they want to see themselves on screen.” As many broke Latinos as there are – me included – we actually have the power with our $15 movie ticket.

Talk about working with the late Jenni Rivera and what she meant to you on the set.

I would give this whole movie to have her back. I would give my whole career to have her back on earth. This woman was tremendous. The woman that everyone saw when she would stop and talk to her fans, that was Jenni. She was never fake or phony. Outside of my mother, she was one of the greatest mothers I had ever seen. [Her death] is a lot to deal with because we have this movie that we are proud of and want to promote, but it feels like there is something missing. But she is our angel. She helped me so much with the music. I was terrified. I had never touched music a day in my life. But it’s time to celebrate her and what she does in this film.

Along with help from Jenni, how did you confront the musical elements of the movie?

I went to NYU School of the Arts for theater and trained my ass off as an actress, so I took the same approach for music. I watched Jenni. I watched Medicine Girl (Carolyn Rodriguez), Lala Romero, Diamonique, Chingo Bling, Chino Brown, Baby Bash for hours. I watched how far they stood from the mic. I watched how they enunciated their words. I watched the way they grooved. Now you can’t get me out of the studio!

Do you consider yourself a musician now?

Most definitely. I’m very new to the music industry and pay homage to those who came before me. By no means do I think I’m at the level of any of these musicians. I am now a musician in training. I will constantly be working on my music the same way I worked toward my acting. It’s going to take time and practice and patience. I’m far from where I want to be, but I’m on the journey.