Entertainment

‘The Book Of Life:’ Looking Back At The ‘Other’ Día De Los Muertos Movie That Is Also Awesome

Sometimes two movies of a very particular theme come out within a few years and, sadly, one of them sort of overshadows the other. Pixar’s “Bug’s Life,” for example, became the epitome of insect kids movies and the very smart and very funny “Antz” from DreamWorks, has been sort of forgotten. 

This is the case with the two Day of the Dead films to come out of major American studios. Yes, almost everyone remembers Pixar’s amazing “Coco”, but fewer in mainstream audiences hold the same place for Twentieth Century Fox’s “The Book of Life.” They are both amazing films that, surprisingly for a Hollywood production, respect Mexican traditions and do their homework to avoid cultural appropriation. Of course, there are some stereotypes and twisted facts when it comes to history and Mexican lore. 

1. “The Book of Life” was released in 2014, three years before “Coco” hit the screens.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

In fact, it could be argued that “The Book of Life” prepared the ground for “Coco” to be a success. Us Latinos are used to traditions involving the dead, but not many international markets are. Day of the Dead might seem “weird” or “creepy” for some cultures that are less used to dealing with the afterlife. 

2. The film was produced by Oscar-winner Guillermo Del Toro, the wonderful Mexican director.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

And well, we know that he has high respect, and even reverence, for tradition. The director oversaw every aspect of the production and we can see his imagination permeate some of the shots in the colorful, joyous movie. 

3. Yeah, yeah, but what is the movie about?

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

The movie follows Manolo, a man who has to follow his own path in life even if this goes against his family tradition. This adventure takes him in three realms of reality, or worlds, in which he encounters the mysteries of life and death. Does it sound a little bit like “Coco” to you? Yeah, it kinda does eh? Well, but Manolo is an adult and of course, there is a damsel in the picture. 

4. The film was going to be called simply “Day of the Dead.” “El Matador” was also considered.

Oh, man, they really dodged a bullet. If they had called the movie “The Matador” we can only imagine the many rightful protests that animal rights organizations would have staged. And, to be honest, “The Book of Life” really celebrates the meaning of Day of the Dead: it is a celebration of past and present lived experiences. 

5. The movie starts in the best place for any kid’s movie to begin… 

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

Yes, the story is told through a magical book found in a museum. What a good lesson for los chiquitos. 

6. And the music!

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

When you got an Oscar winner and the musical baggage of Mexico to score a film, chances are the results will be pretty spectacular. As The Saturday Star reported back in 2015: “Besides the original score and songs by two-time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) and veteran songwriter Paul Williams, there are fun, mariachi-flavored versions of pop hits like Mumford and Sons'”I Will Wait,” Radiohead’s “Creep,” and Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” Yes, that is right, a mariachi version of “Creep.”

7. But the plot is much more than adventure, it is an ancient predicament.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

The scriptwriters had to be super cautious with respecting tradition, so they came up with a new very interesting mythology. As The Independent summed up when the film was released, the story is pretty creative: “The plot is set in motion by squabbling married gods La Muerta (Kate del Castillo) and Xibabla (del Toro regular Ron Perlman), who make a wager as to which of the two men Maria will choose. Meanwhile, the Land of the Living is beset by the villainous monster Chakal (Dan Navarro) and his gang of bandits. Acerbically commenting on the proceedings from the sidelines is the whiskered, elderly Grandma, hilariously voiced by Grey Griffin.” Kate del Castillo fighting Ron Perlman? Yes, please! Woman power!

8. Critics just adored the animation and the magical world created on the screen.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

The 3D visuals just pop with color and we can almost smell the copal and the flowers. The Satellite critic judged when the film was released: “The unique and mesmerizing animation is unlike any other film of recent memory and its quick wit makes it genuinely funnier than most major comedies”. And he found it sad that the film risked being ignored: “As we close the book on another school holiday, The Book of Life may fly under the radar of most moviegoers, especially with its late release and the loud roar of engines bursting through the walls of surrounding cinemas”. 

9. So yes, Ron Perlman collaborated with Guillermo Del Toro once again.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

What an amazing creative pair. The “Hellboy” actor voiced Xibalba, an ancient indigenous spirit. He is big and amazing, just like Perlman, one of Del Toro’s most trusted collaborators and who acted in the director’s first feature film, “Cronos,” when young Guillermo was unknown. 

10. The movie shows a strong female lead.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

Yes, the backbone of the film is the decision that Maria will take in terms of her romantic life. This might seem a bit macho at first, but you gotta see the film to realize that she is so much more than a damsel in distress.

11. The voice talent is amazing, like a Walk of Fame in a movie.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

Our very own Kate Del Castillo, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo, Channing Tatum and even the Spanish opera superstar Placido Domingo. Seriously, the voice talent by itself is a monument, an ode to diversity. That’s how it is done, mijos. 

12. Director Jorge R. Gutierrez draws from various visual traditions.

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

What makes this film so special is the number of influences that the director is able to conjure in the festive final product. Jake Wilson, from The Sydney Morning Herald, was super impressed: “Gutierrez’s style is colorful, even freakish: he draws from Mexican folk art, but also from Cubism, stop-motion animation – The Nightmare Before Christmas is a clear inspiration – and underground cartooning. Though the characters have a limited expressive range, their stiffness is given a neat rationale: they’re imagined as intricately carved wooden puppets, with visible joints, big blocky bodies, and spindly legs”. Yes, you can stop the film in any frame and just be impressed by the craftsmanship. 

13. And of course, the characters have gotten their own Funko Pops!

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

Yes, this is proof that they have broken into mainstream popular culture. 

14. Will there be a sequel?

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

It certainly seems so! In 2017 Gutierrez announced that a second film was under development. But let’s remember that they take years to be produced due to the complexity of the art.

15. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful padre-hija duo

Credit: the_book_of_life_manolo_sanchez. Digital image. Costume Works

Can we get a collective “Ay, cositos”?

16. But did “Coco” monopolize Day of the Dead culture?

Credit: The Book of Life / Twentieth Century Fox

No! Why can European folktales have multiple film versions and Global South traditions can’t? The more the merrier!

17. There is some pretty awesome fan art out there, in case you were wondering.

It is clear that “Coco” might be the most commercially successful telling of Día de los Muertos, however, “Book of Life” is one we all remember and love.

READ: Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

President Trump Declares Día de Muertos a ‘National Remembrance Day’ For Americans ‘Killed By Illegal Aliens’

Things That Matter

President Trump Declares Día de Muertos a ‘National Remembrance Day’ For Americans ‘Killed By Illegal Aliens’

Photo: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

On October 30th, President Donald Trump released a memo declaring November 1st a “National Day of Remembrance for Americans Killed By Illegal Aliens”.

Almost immediately, Latinos recognized that Trump’s “day of remembrance” directly coincided with another significant day of remembrance–Dia de Muertos.

The proclamation stated that the purpose of the rememberance day was to honor the lives of Americans who were “so egregiously taken from us by criminal illegal aliens.” It continued: “As sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and as American citizens, these precious lives are an irreplaceable piece of our national community.”

Trump concluded the statement by saying that we “recommit to ensuring that those responsible for these tragedies face justice, while taking every action to prevent these horrific acts from occurring in our Nation.”

Naturally, many Americans saw this as a direct slap in the face to Latinos who celebrate Dia de Muertos on the same day.

It is no secret that Trump has openly derided Mexican immigrants on multiple occasions, calling them “drug dealers”, “criminals”, “rapists”, and “bad hombres”.

Throughout his term, he has sought to limit all forms of immigration from the Southern border–even asylum seekers. His reasoning is that immigrants from Mexico are violent and dangerous, but statistics paint a different story. Studies have shown that crime rates are actually lower among immigrants than they are among native-born Americans.

This type of cultural insensitivity reminds is reminiscent of Trump’s Oklahoma campaign rally over the summer. As a refresher, Trump held the rally in Tulsa on June 11th–also known as Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery. The fact that the rally was held in Tulsa also added insult to injury. Tulsa is the infamous site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, where jealous white Americans slaughtered residents of Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” en masse. Either Trump didn’t do his homework, or he was blatantly inflaming historical racial wounds. Either way, the decision was thoughtless.

Of course, many people on Twitter were shocked and appalled by Trump’s ‘National Remembrance Day’ proclamation.

This proclamation reeks of blatant race-baiting and overall disrespect for this deeply sentimental Latin American tradition.

This Latina doesn’t seem to be convinced that the date Trump chose for this “Remembrance Day” was coincidental.

The anti-Latino sentiment coming from Trump is undeniable this time.

This Twitter user couldn’t help but point out the hypocrisy of calling certain immigrants “illegal” when the OG illegal immigrants were white colonizers.

Where is the remembrance day for the millions of Indigenous people killed by European colonizers? Or the millions of Africans who were stolen from their ancestral homes and forced into slavery?

This Twitter user pointed out the statistical disparity between Americans killed by “illegal aliens” and those killed by COVID-19.

We wish Donald Trump would’ve used this same energy when it came to containing and controlling the spread of the coronavirus across the United States at the beginning of this year.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Cannabis Dispensary in Santa Ana Had a Dia De Los Muertos Event and Here’s Everything You Missed

no pos wow

This Cannabis Dispensary in Santa Ana Had a Dia De Los Muertos Event and Here’s Everything You Missed

Dispensaries, especially unlicensed shops, are not known to be the friendliest of places. For first timers, it can be quite intimidating to go into one and be presented with a plethora of products, where do you even begin? As you stand there trying to figure out what everything means, the pressure grows as fast as the line behind you and the budtender gives you simple responses that don’t even answer your inquiries. You probably ended up leaving with more questions than you went in with and picked the best sounding products, but don’t really know what you got or what to do with it.

Tropicanna is here to change that narrative.

The dispensary, which is located in Santa Ana, serves and delivers to the greater Orange County area, including Anaheim, Irvine, and all the way to San Clemente. You can spot the shop from blocks away, the bright turquoise and pink building is easily discernible among the surrounding storefronts. The inspiration for the decor and color scheme is tied back to the original Tropicana Club in Havana Cuba, mixed with Miami vibes and culture for a modern and Instagrammable experience.

“At Tropicanna, we want people to have fun and feel at home,” co-owner JP told mitú. “When people walk into the shop, we want them to forget about all the other bad experiences they’ve had. We’re here to help, whether it be with medicinal or recreational cannabis, we want everyone to feel comfortable enough to ask all the questions they have and leave our store confident with their choices.” 

Having been to various dispensaries, I can confidently attest to the fact that their customer service team is unparalleled. Seriously. At no point in time did I feel rushed, and when I talked to the reps it was like I was talking with a friend. The shop is well stocked in all types of products, and the customer service reps were able to help me figure out which ones were right for me based on the experience I wanted to have. I even ended up leaving with a couple of products for my mom (she needs her chocolatitos to help her go to sleep).

Not only is Tropicanna changing the customer experience game, they are also inviting the community to get involved and participate in the various events they host, the most recent of which was for Dia De Los Muertos.

“We would be nothing without our community,” continued JP, “so we wanted to let them know that we appreciate them and are proud to be a part of it. That was where the inspiration for the event came in. At the end of the day, at Tropicanna we want to stand out in the experience we provide but also community presence.”

The main event setup was in the parking lot, but there was plenty to see inside the shop. As soon as you walked in you were able to sign up for a giveaway, which was complete with products from the vendors stationed outside. Cempasuchil flowers and calaveras were everywhere, most of the staff was in full calavera makeup, and there was even an altar!


If you purchased any products from the companies that were sponsoring the event, you got some free treats from the vendors outside. 👀

Food was provided by @chef_flip_fantabulas

Chef Rudy, the founder of @cannabiscateredevents, has figured out how to take delicious food and elevate it. He’s at Tropicanna every Tuesday with a weekly rotating menu. This time he made carne asada esquites that were so good, just thinking about them is making me hungry. The meal was not infused, but Chef Rudy encourages customers to season and infuse their food at home with products you can purchase inside Tropicanna! Check out his IG for more info.

Nomad Cocktail Co.

I needed something to wash down my esquites, so I went over to @nomadcocktailco and got a mocktail. Maddi, the business owner and former bartender, works with products from @kan_ade_ and Cannabis Quenchers to create specialty drinks that are as delicious and potent as they are pretty. My favorites were the piña drink with the chamoy rim and the blueberry pomegranate, complete with a cempasuchil flower 😋 Check out @nomadcocktailco and @kan_ade_ for more!

La Familia

By far one of my favorite brands, La Familia is Los Angeles based and Latino owned and operated, which is rare in the cannabis industry. I first discovered them when they launched their infused chocolates, which come in flavors like Mazapan, Fresas con Crema, and Cajeta, just to name a few. This time Tania Noyola, the brand ambassador, introduced me to some of their newer products such as their Chocolate Abuelita cookies and their Churro Rice Krispie (both super yum), and their aguas frescas, which come in flavors such as Horchata, Mango, Fresa, and even Limón con Pepino! Rumor has it they even have some chile covered gummies dropping in the next few months. @lafamiliachocolate is definitely a brand you’re going to want to keep tabs on.

Wonderbrett

Wonderbrett is another Los Angeles local vendor and they brought with them artist @eternallovetribe, well known for collaborating with BJ The Chicago Kid and bringing his design to life. The design is now the packaging for one of Wonderbrett’s most popular strains, “Black Orchid,” which is “perfect for relieving stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain.” It was really cool to watch @eternallovetribe’s art process as they created a custom piece for the event. Check out Wonderbrett’s website here.

Humboldt’s Finest Farms

What makes Humboldt’s Finest Farms different from all the other brands? For starters, they are a co-op of 3 farmers who are all about sustainability and giving back to the community. From the way they grow their plants to the biodegradable packaging, everything that Humboldt Farms does is with intention. Their goal is to produce the highest quality products in the most natural way. Click this link to check out their website.

Dreamt Products

Another minority owned business! Created by Latina scientist, Carolina Vazquez Mitchell, Dreamt Products began when the founder started suffering from insomnia. Dr. Vazquez Mitchell had been working with cannabis since she was 17 years old, and decided to take her experience and combine it with her education to find a natural solution to her problem. Today, Dreamt Products has tinctures and vapes designed to help you get the sleep you need. Click here to find out more!

If you still had room for dessert, Afters Ice Cream was there to satisfy your craving.

Naturally, I went with their mango sorbet and added tajin and chamoy. Not available infused, but still delicious 😉

If you missed the event, don’t fret! Tropicanna told mitú they’re planning on having at least one event every month. As far as what else we have to look forward to in November, they’re having major markdowns for Black Friday and will be having even more for delivery on Cyber Monday. Check out Tropicanna’s website for more info!

Tropicanna can be found at 1628 S. Grand Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705

Questions? Call (714)701-8186 for more information.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com