Mosquita y Mari
The Film Collaborative
Coming-Of-Age Drama Revolves Around Lesbian-Curious Latinas
Besides being 15-year-old Chicanas, Yolanda “Mosquita” Olveros (Fenessa Pineda) and Mari Rodriguez (Venecia Troncoso) are about as different as night and day. The former is a straight-A student and the only child of overprotective parents (Joaquin Garrido and Laura Patalano) with high expectations for their dutiful daughter. The latter, by contrast, is a relatively-troubled rebel being raised by an overwhelmed widow (Dulce Maria Solis) who’s been struggling just to keep a roof over their heads since entering the U.S. illegally after the death of her husband.
The Rodriguez’s plight as undocumented immigrants means that Mari has to work part-time to help out her mom financially, a burden that has taken a toll on the kid academically. Consequently, the grieving, underachieving street urchin has learned to mask her pain with a tough “I couldn’t care less” veneer.
Mari and Mosquita’s paths do cross when the Rodriguez family moves next door to the Olveros in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood located in the Huntington Park area of L.A. The two sophomores initially forge a grudging friendship at school, trading off tutoring in geometry for protection from a clique of mean girls.
But soon, they’re happily spending so much time together in the afternoons and evenings that Mari loses her job while Mosquita’s grades start to suffer. The plot thickens as it becomes clear that these polar opposites are not only lesbian-curious but experiencing barely-contained pangs of puppy love for each other.
Tension builds as the schoolgirl crush blossoms into a passion simmering close to the surface as each waits for the other to make the first a move. But the best these awkward neophytes can do is snuggle under a blanket while studying and scribble their names in a dirty automobile’s dust.
Finally, the moment of truth arrives after a handsome boy asks attractive Mosquita for a date around the same time that a seedy man offers cash-strapped Mari money for sexual favors. At that point, obviously, something’s gotta give. The question is whether or not they’re ready to take a big leap.
Marking the marvelous writing and directorial debut of Aurora Guerrero, Mosquita y Mari is a subtle exploration of coming out from the perspective of introspective adolescents at an awkward age. However, the movie has much more to offer, as it is equally sensitive in its examination of a variety of issues of urgent concern to the Latino community.
To think that in just one generation we’ve gone from Chico And The Man to Chica And The Girl!
Excellent (4 stars)
In Spanish and English with subtitles
Running time: 85 minutes
The Queen Of Versailles
Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets.
Billionaire Builds McMansion For Trophy Wife In Dysfunctional Family Documentary
Real estate mogul David Siegel founded Westgate Resorts back in the ‘70s and went on to strike it rich selling luxury timeshares in 28 locations around the country. Unfortunately, his obsession with work took a toll on his first marriage, but after a messy, decade-long divorce battle, he started another family with a gorgeous trophy wife 30 years his junior.
The 74-year-old CEO now has seven children with Jackie, eight if you count her orphaned niece they adopted. Although Siegel was already keeping his flamboyant, young spouse in the lap of luxury, against his better judgment he also agreed to build her the biggest and most expensive single-family home in the United States.
A replica of Louis XIV’s 17th century Palace Of Versailles, plans for the sprawling, 90,000 square-foot estate included 10 kitchens, a grand ballroom with a staircase at either end, a skating rink, a bowling alley, a health spa, tennis courts, a baseball field, a performance theater, maids quarters, etc. But when the real estate bubble burst in 2008, the economic recession took a terrible toll on Siegel’s entire empire.
Not only did he have to lay off 7,000 corporate employees at Westgate Resorts, but he also had to scale back his on his lavish lifestyle. The household staff shrank from 19 to four, the kids were moved from private to public schools, and the family started flying on commercial airliners instead of by a private Gulfstream jet. In addition, the dream mansion project had to be halted halfway to completion when the bank threatened to foreclose on the property.
The stress started taking a toll on the Siegel marriage, too, especially after David tried to put Jackie on a budget. And when the reckless 43-year-old failed to implement some of the suggested cost-cutting measures, he went so far as to threaten to trade her in for a couple of cute 20 year olds.
All of the above was captured on camera by Lauren Greenfield, the masterful director of The Queen Of Versailles. The dysfunctional family documentary is compelling because it invites the audience to see just how decadently the other one percent lives, which only makes it that much easier to take pleasure in their subsequent misfortunes.
A brilliant biopic which elicits an emotional response that’s the epitome of schadenfreude!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 101 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening August 3, 2012
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (PG for rude humor). Third installment in the underdog-friendly franchise finds hapless protagonist Greg (Zachary Gordon) hanging out with his portly pal Rowley (Robert Capron) and pretending to be employed at a country club after all his summer vacation plans fall through. With Steve Zahn, Devon Bostick and Rachael Harris.
Total Recall (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, brief nudity and intense violence). Colin Farrell stars in this remake of the Schwarzenegger, sci-fi classic as a factory worker plagued by disturbing nightmares who ends up on the run from the brain police accompanied by a member of the resistance (Jessica Biel) of corporate mind control. Co-starring Ethan Hawke, Bill Nighy, Kate Beckinsale, John Cho and Bokeem Woodbine.
360 (R for sexuality, nudity and profanity). Screen adaptation of La Ronde, Arthur Schnitzler’s class-conscious play exploring the sexual mores of a peripatetic jet set spread out over Vienna, Paris, London, Denver, Phoenix, Rio De Janeiro and Bratislava. Ensemble includes Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.
Assassin’s Bullet (R for violence). International thriller about a U.S. Ambassador stationed in Europe (Donald Sutherland) who enlists the assistance of a former FBI agent (Christian Slater) in order to track down the vigilante killing terrorists on America’s 10 Most Wanted list. With Elika Portnoy, Timothy Spall and Marian Valev.
The Babymakers (Unrated). Biological clock comedy about a sterile, wannabe daddy (Paul Schneider) who recruits his buddies and an East Indian mobster (Jay Chandrasekhar) to steal the sperm he sold to a fertility clinic years ago so that he might still impregnate his miserably-childless wife (Olivia Munn). With Aisha Tyler, Wood Harris and Noureen DeWulf.
Celeste And Jesse Forever (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use). On the rocks dramedy revolving around the effort of an almost-divorced couple (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) to remain friends while simultaneously pursuing new relationships. Cast includes Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts, Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen.
Craigslist Joe (Unrated). My brother’s keeper documentary chronicling 29-year-old Joseph Garner’s attempt to survive for a month relying on the kindness of strangers he met on the internet for food, shelter, transportation and companionship.
Dreams Of A Life (Unrated). Maudlin postmortem revisiting the unnoticed demise of Joyce Vincent (Zawe Ashton), a British woman of Caribbean extraction whose body wasn’t discovered until several years after she passed away of natural causes while ironically wrapping Christmas presents for family and friends. With Neelam Bakshi, Jonathan Harden and Lee Colley.
Soldiers Of Fortune (R for profanity and violence). Action adventure about wealthy thrill seekers who encounter a lot more than they bargained for after paying to tag along on a military mission led by a former U.S. Special Forces soldier (Christian Slater). Starring Ving Rhames, James Cromwell, Freddy Rodriguez and Colm Meaney.
Sushi: The Golden Catch (Unrated). Raw fish documentary traces the evolution of sushi over the past 30 years from a fast food sold by Japanese street vendors into an international delicacy popular at restaurants all over the world.
You’ve Been Trumped (Unrated). David and Goliath documentary about the legal battle mounted in Scotland by locals to block Donald Trump’s application for a zoning variance that would allow the smug billionaire to turn a picturesque seaside village into a luxury golf resort.