A Better Life

July 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Demián Bichir, José Julián, Joaquín Cosio
Directed by: Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”)
Written by: Eric Eason (“Manito”)

It might be a Mexican-American version of the classic 1948 Italian neorealist film “Bicycle Thieves,” but “A Better Life” could not have come at a more appropriate time, as immigration policy advocates continue to plead with the feds to rule on the constitutionality of a raft of new immigration laws being implemented in a variety of states. The film also comes on the heels of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist José Antonio Vargas’s startling and nervy revelation of his undocumented status in an essay he wrote for the The New York Times.

No matter where you stand on the subject, “A Better Life” offers an honest and deeply moving depiction of a Mexican immigrant’s struggle to provide for his son and raise him well enough to never have to follow the same difficult path he chose. While the themes have been confronted before (it’s comparable to, but less melodramatic than, “Under the Same Moon,” and isn’t paced as gradually as the locally produced 2007 drama “August Evening”), “A Better Life” has its own distinct voice and a tender stroke of humanity that keeps it from being lumped together with any overstated political message.

In a nuanced and award-worthy performance reminiscent of Independent Spirit nominee Pedro Castañeda in “August Evening” and Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor,” Mexican actor Demián Bichir (“Che”) embodies a father not only desperate to find a lifeline as a day laborer (his truck and landscaping tools have been stolen), but to also reach his teenage son on a level of emotional understanding and mutual respect.

The stakes are high in “A Better Life” and Bichir matches the film’s tormented tone with a portrayal of a man overcome by both fear and faith. It’s the latter, however, that encourages him to fight for the things that are most important to him no matter what may stand in the way.

Joaquín Cosío – Quantum of Solace

June 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In 1962, the first James Bond film, “Dr. No,” made an impact on audiences everywhere. The film featured a young Sean Connery as a British secret agent who traveled the globe to fight deadly assassins and rendezvous with femme fatales.

Growing up watching Connery and Roger Moore play Agent 007, actor Joaquín Cosío believes the opportunity to star in a James Bond movie was part of his destiny. Cosío, who was born in Nayarit, México, stars in the newest James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” as General Medrano, an exiled political figure. According to Cosío, his character is a “classic villain that makes up the James Bond franchise.”

During an interview with me, Cosío, who started his career in Mexican theater, talked to me about what it was like to be a part of the popular espionage series.

“Quantum of Solace” is your first English-language feature film. How was the experience?

It was a great experience for me to make a film of this dimension. It’s such a global story. I’m very proud because it has been a [dream] to be a part of such a great cast and to be led by a great director like Marc Forster. It’s a very important experience in my professional life. It was also very enjoyable and memorable.

Did you grow up watching James Bond films?

Starting in my adolescence, James Bond has been part of my life. I remember watching all the films of Sean Connery. The current saga starting with “Casino Royale” interested me. I feel that in this new series, the characters are more real. It has a new realistic tone.

What was it like to be on the set with an actor like Daniel Craig?

In the movie, I related a lot to everyone, in particular Daniel. My relationship with everyone was stupendous. I worked with Mathieu Amalric and it was extraordinary. I had a formidable experience. I feel very proud that I interacted with [such] recognized actors.

Would you like to continue to make more English films?

If I have more opportunities to make foreign films, I’m ready to do it. My perspective is that I’m not a Hollywood actor, but I am ready to work. Participating in this movie opens up other opportunities to star in other films.

Why do you think a franchise like James Bond has been popular for so long?

James Bond is a character that continues to be popular because it adapts to the current time. Now, he responds to the demands of the public. This character continues being mythic. He is a necessary character for iconography. He is a hero with principals necessary for contemporary fiction.