Entertainment

The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

In the final weeks at the end of a decade that began with promises of a film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical, “In The Heights.” Well, the full trailer is finally here and it’s more rico than we could have imagined. Fans have been waiting for the movie since 2008 when Universal Pictures announced their plans to adapt the musical for theaters by 2011. Universal canceled the project. Big mistake. Huge. Then, The Weinstein Company gained rights to the film. After Harvey Weinstein was canceled due to heinous sexual misconduct, Lin-Manuel Miranda removed Weinstein from the credits in 2017. Finally, Warner Bros won the rights to the movie in 2018 and finally, finally, a decade later, the trailer is here, and it’s delicious. It’s no accident that the trailer begins with the voice of a young girl asking, “What does suenito mean?” Each frame and verse will inflate your heart with the immense weight of hope that our immigrant parents and many of us carry to this day in America. Anthony Ramos answers la niña’s question: “Suenito? It means “little dream.” 

“That’s it? No story?” another little boy asks Ramos’ character, Usnavi de la Vega. 

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“Alright, alright everybody sit down,” Usnavi tells the children on what seems like the beaches of the Dominican Republic. “It’s a story of a block that was disappearing,” he tells the children, “En un barrio called Washington Heights. The streets were made of music.” 

As the music begins to play, the trailer swells to fast cuts, showing countless scenes and characters.

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We see Usnavi, named after the first thing his Dominican parents saw as they arrived in America – a ship with the sign US Navy open up his bodega and lock eyes with beautiful Vanessa, played by Starz’s Vida, Melissa Barrera. “These blocks, you can’t walk two steps without walking into someone’s big plan,” Corey Hawkins, who plays Benny, says. The trailer promises to be a story of a neighborhood full of dreams. “A dream isn’t a sparkly diamond. There’s no shortcuts. Sometimes, it’s rough,” Ramos tells the children.

Olga Merediz powerfully reprises her role of Abuela Claudia.

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“We have to assert our dignity in small ways. Little details that tell the world we are not invisible,” Claudia softly touches a traditionally embroidered tea towel as she confides in another woman. If you’ve had the privilege of watching the musical, you know how Claudia’s story goes. For the rest of you, we won’t spoil it. Rest assured that the massive production of the film does Abuela Claudia justice, as we see velas lighting the streets as neighbors raise their hands and march in her honor.

Miranda’s America in the early 2000s is far different from 2019 America, and it seems that Abuela Claudia may face a different fate in the film adaptation.

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“They’re talking about kicking out all the dreamers. It’s time to make some noise,” Gregory Diaz, who plays Usnavi’s cousin, Sonny de la Vega, calls his neighborhood to action. “This is going to be an emotional rollercoaster. The odds are against you,” we hear a lawyer tell Usnavi and Sonny. “But there’s a chance right?” Usnavi asks. From there, the trailer erupts into dance and song as we hear Ramos rap, “We came to work and to live here. We got a lot in common. DR, PR, we are not stopping until the day we go from poverty to stock options.” Intermingled we hear Merediz belt, “Every day, paciencia y fe” Usnavi and Vanessa dance in a club, a group of dancers perform in a classic Washington Heights fountain at the heat of summer, and the trailer’s final words: “Today’s all we got so we cannot stop, this is our block!” 

Fans are actually weeping at the release of the long-awaited trailer.

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NPR Latino’s head journalist Maria Hinojosa tweeted, “I AM WATCHING ON REPEAT stuck on my plane and I can’t stop CRYING 😭❤️✊🏽!!!!” Another fan asks, “Why am I crying at a trailer??” while another says, “I might be full on bawling right now I can’t wait for this.” “Hydrants are open!!!!” tweets another knowing Washington Heights resident. This daughter of a Nuyorican is right there with y’all. 

“In the Heights” comes to theaters on June 26, 2020.

You’ll have to hold onto more paciencia y fe as we count the days until we can sneak mofongo and arroz con gandules into the theaters and watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s student project come to life on the big screen. When Miranda makes it, we all make it.

READ: We Finally Got A Peek At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Casting Picks For ‘In The Heights’ The Play That Made Him Famous

The Internet Reacts to Jennifer Hudson In the New Aretha Franklin Biopic Trailer

Entertainment

The Internet Reacts to Jennifer Hudson In the New Aretha Franklin Biopic Trailer

United Artists Releasing

On December 20th, the teaser trailer for the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” was dropped for the first time. The 44-second clip shows Oscar-Winning actress Jennifer Hudson silhoutted in front of giant letters spelling out the word “Respect”. We then hear the legendary lyrics: “What you want, baby I got it. What you need, you know I got it” almost completely in A-Capella, save for a few background singers. 

With the lights finally highlighting her face, Hudson is transformed into the Queen of Soul, standing alone onstage wearing a sparkling gold dress  and a wig fashioned after Franklin’s signature 60s-era bouffant ‘do. Unfortunately, that is all the sneak-preveiw the trailer gives us into the upcoming movie before quickly cutting to black.

According to the video’s description, “Respect” is “the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice”. The description goes on to explain that the hotly-anticipated movie will follow “the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom”.

The trailer made waves upon its release and has racked up almost 5 million views on YouTube as of publication.

Hudson has already proved herself as a powerhouse actress and vocalist, winning over the hearts of America in the third season of American Idol. She then further impressed the world in her star turn as Effie White in 2006’s “Dreamgirls”. For that role, she earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.Recently, on “The Kelly Clarkson Show”Hudson shared her gratitude at being given the chance to step into the iconic Queen of Soul’s shoes for a short period of time. “My [audition] song for American Idol was ‘Share Your Love With Me’ by Aretha Franklin’. To flash forward fifteen years later where I’m playing Aretha…She’s an iconic figure that we all love and respect”.

The role is a boon for Hudson, who was hand-picked by Aretha Franklin before her death to play her in the upcoming movie. According to Hudson, Franklin made the final decision after seeing her perform in “The Color Purple” on Broadway in 201_. “We were in talks a long time about me playing her,” Hudson told People magazine earlier this month. “So I just hope I make her proud [and] do her justice.” 

The biopic has been in the works since at least 2010, when Franklin suggested that Halle Berry should play her in the movie.

The movie has been through many changes since then, cycling through many different potential cast members, directors, and producers. As of now, the movie is a star-studded affair that boasts a cast of household names like Forest Whitaker, Marlon Waynes, Audra McDonald, and Mary J. Blige. In addition, the movie has the distinct honor of being directed by a woman of color, “Jessica Jones” auteur Liesl Tommy. 

This movie has been long-awaited, as Franklin’s life was truly cinematic. Born in Memphis in 1942, Franklin was born to a father who was a pastor and a mother who was a professional pianist and a vocalist. Noticing her gift for singing, her father began managing her career at the age of 12 after she stunned her congregation with her show-stopping solos. By the time she was 21, she was already being crowned the “Queen of Soul” by her contemporaries. She is most famous for her chart-topping hits “Respect”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”. She died of pancreatic cancer on August 16th, 2018 at the age of 76.

In general, fans on the internet heartily approved of Hudson playing The Queen of Soul in her official movie.

For once, the internet didn’t immediately disapprove of the casting of an upcoming movie.

This Twitter user summed up the general reception of the trailer perfectly: 

Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones we didn’t even know we needed.

Of course, some people joked about the tendency for Hollywood to white-wash films that are based on true stories:

Based on the cast and the director, we’re pretty positive that this movie isn’t going to veer into problematic territory. 

Of course, there were whispers of another Oscar on the horizon for J-Hud

If there were ever a role Hudson was born to play, it’s this one. 

This person made a snarky joke about Hudson’s less-than-stellar recent track record with movie musicals.

In Hudson’s defense, no amount of raw talent and impressive vocals could’ve saved “Cats” from its critical and commercial declawing.

A Musical About The Life Of Rock N’ Roll Legend Ritchie Valens Is Reportedly Being Developed For Broadway

Entertainment

A Musical About The Life Of Rock N’ Roll Legend Ritchie Valens Is Reportedly Being Developed For Broadway

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It’s been more than 60 years since Rock N’ Roll legend Ritchie Valens tragically passed away but his legacy is still relevant today more than ever. That’s why a new stage musical about the rock pioneer is in the works, according to Deadline. The show, titled “Come On, Let’s Go,” a reference to his 1958 hit single, will be produced by Brad Garfield, while the play will be written by Richard Montoya. Los Lobos’ Louie Perez and David Hidalgo will be behind the original music and the show will be directed by Tony Taccone (Latin History for Morons).

The plan is to develop the production in southern California next year and hopefully bring the show to Broadway after that. It will focus on the life of Valens growing in the San Fernando Valley and his quick rise to Rock N’ Roll fame. This will be the first big project focusing on the life of Valens since the 1987 biopic “La Bamba.” Garfield has the backing of the Valens family and says the production is a tribute to his iconic role in music history. 

“We are excited to create an original rock musical–a rockumentary that needs to be told about a legendary pioneer…With 100 percent support from Ritchie’s three siblings who are still alive, our award-winning team is filled with desire, passion, and responsibility on keeping Ritchie’s true legacy alive,” Garfield said in a press release.

Ritchie Valens is not only an icon in Rock N’ Roll but a pioneer in the Chicano rock movement. 

The late Mexican-American star is beloved by countless Latinos who grew up playing his music and wanted to be just like him. To understand the importance of Ritchie Valens, you have to start with his upbringing in Pacoima, California where he grew up in a working-class Latino household. By the age of 17, Valens, a self-taught musician, was already a star in the San Fernando Valley playing local gigs. After meeting Bob Keane, the owner of the record label Del-Fi Records, an incredible recording career that lasted only eight months would ensue. 

It was instant stardom for Valens when his hit single “La Bamba,” which Valens adapted from a Mexican folk song, shot to the top of the music charts. With his fusion of guitar and vocals, Valens made the song his own and had a crossover hit that made him beloved in many Latino circles that never heard a Spanish-speaking rock star before. 

Just as his fame was rising, tragedy struck on February 3, 1959, a day described as the “Day the Music Died.” Valens, along with other hit rock & roll stars, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly, died in a unfortunate plane crash. The tragic event would leave a gaping hole in the Rock N’ Roll industry that would be felt for decades. 

Ritchie Valens was just 17 years old at the time of his death. His song “Dona” would eventually peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 after his death. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

The upcoming production is a long time coming and is a well-deserved tribute to one of Rock N’ Roll’s biggest icons.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Garfield, who plans to include never-before-heard music from Valens in the play, says that he wants to tell a new story about Valens that audiences might not be aware of. He says that most people connect Valens’s story with that of the 1987 film but instead, he wants the production to show who the Rock legend really was and his ensuing impact. 

“‘La Bamba’ was a great commercial success, but Ritchie wasn’t ‘La Bamba’ and ‘La Bamba’ wasn’t Ritchie,” Garfield said. “Ritchie’s music was diverse. It’s an exciting blend of true rock & roll.” 

Garfield hopes a whole new generation will get to learn and love Valens and his incredible rise to fame that left the world wanting more. With a musical, that will include songs that influenced Ritchie himself, fans should be in for an amazing show that will only serve as another reminder of his legacy. 

“Ritchie lived the American Dream, which wasn’t an easy task for a Chicano in the late 1950s and, as we see in our world today, these difficulties and prejudices that Ritchie faced are still a reality in 2019. Ritchie was a pioneer, and he had an original sound that truly opened the door to Latin rock & roll,” Garfield said. “His journey is a journey that needs to be told in a documentary-type of way through his music and new music by no other than Louie Perez and David Hildalgo of Los Lobos. They encompass the true meaning  and understanding of who Ritchie was.”

READ: So Brazil Has A Netflix Show Called “The First Temptation Of Christ” And In It Jesus Is Gay And Brazilians Are Furious