Entertainment

We Saw A Preview Of Pixar’s ‘Coco’ And Here’s All The Cool Stuff To Look For When You Watch It

“Coco,” the latest animated film from Pixar, is only a few months away from its official release. The Dia de los Muertos-themed movie features an all-Latino voice cast, including Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ulbach, Edward James Olmos, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jaime Camil. We had a chance to watch the first 30 minutes of the film, and it’s clear Disney/Pixar worked hard to create a film that authentically captures the feel of Dia de los Muertos.

Here are some things to keep an eye out for if you watch the film.

“Coco” uses Dia de los Muertos as a backdrop to tell a story about family.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

The film centers around Miguel Rivera, a boy who comes from a long line of shoemakers with an unusual aversion to music. Miguel, who is obsessed with the tunes of legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz, hides his love for music because he doesn’t want to get a regañada from his parents or abuelita. But the call to become a musician is just too strong. So, Miguel makes a choice that feels right to him, but upsets his family.

Co-writer Adrian Molina says the film centers on family and all the dysfunction that comes along with it, which he had first-hand experience with growing up in a Mexican-American community. He explains it was his goal to be “truthful to the fact that families aren’t always completely functional” since that’s a “very universal thing.”

“Coco” is short for Socorro.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

Socorro, better known as Mama Coco, is Miguel’s bisabuela, or great grandmother.

The Rivera family’s hometown of Santa Cecilia is inspired by Oaxaca…

CREDIT: Credit: Pixar and gregw66 / Flickr

… and its breathtaking Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

CREDIT: Pixar and latona / Flickr

The Land of the Dead, however, is inspired by the city of Guanajuato.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar and jubilo / Flickr

Sets supervisor Chris Bernardi says their research in Guanajuato turned up photos that had “an incredible sense of buildings being jammed in together to form new shapes and new neighborhoods and winding walkways.” Bernardi and his team worked to capture that same feeling with their imagining of the Land of the Dead.

For the Land of the Dead, production designer Harley Jessup said they were going for a “fantastical verticality” that would be a stark contrast from the flatness of the town of Santa Cecilia.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar (Concept art by Ernesto Nemesio)

This early concept art that was created for the film became the inspiration for the Land of the Dead you see in the film. If you look closely, you’ll see that the base of this city features pre-Columbian architecture. As you go higher and higher, it goes from colonial architecture to more modern architecture. The design team did this to reflect the era in which spirits have entered the Land of the Dead, from past to present.

If you get emotional during movies, take extra Kleenex.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

Early on, the film establishes that Dia de los Muertos is the one day out of the year when the dead are allowed to return to the land of the living and visit their relatives. The scenes in which living families reunite with loved ones who have died will conjure bittersweet memories for viewers. It does a great job in honoring the spirit of Dia de los Muertos.

Somehow, they managed to give skeletons personality.

CREDIT: Pixar

How do you make skeletons express emotion? If you’re an animator for Pixar, that’s a question that leads to more questions: should a skull have lips? Should it have teeth? Should it have facial hair?

According to character art director Daniel Arriaga, the Pixar team went through concept after concept until they struck the right balance of eyes, lips, bone structure and face paint to give each character a unique look and personality.

The look of the skeletons was also inspired by the engravings of Jose Guadalupe Posada.

CREDIT: “La Catrina” by José Guadalupe Posada. Photo credit: Mundo del Museo

“The Posada engravings, especially the Catrina, is really iconic for the holiday. We really embraced the Victorian costumes and architecture and wanted that to be a part of the world of the dead,” says Jessup.

Ernesto de la Cruz, the legendary singer who Miguel idolizes, is inspired by Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

Voiced by Benjamin Bratt, Ernesto de la Cruz is the most famous Mexican singer and actor of all time. Miguel feels a special connection with de la Cruz, whose music and movies inspire him to become a musician, despite his family’s wishes.

Gael Garcia Bernal, who voices a mischevious character named Hector, is one of the clear standouts of the film.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

The moment Hector appears on the screen, you know you’re in for lots of laughs. Garcia has great chemistry with Anthony Gonzalez, who plays Miguel, and it’s clear he’s having fun with it.

“Gael really went for it,” says Molina. “He started keying onto things like, ‘I want to call [Miguel] ‘chamaco,’ because that feels like an old-timey kind of way that this guy might relate to this kid.’ And we’re like, ‘OK, do it. Go for it.'”

The character of Pepita is inspired by alebrijes, Mexican folk art sculptures that aren’t normally associated with Dia de los Muertos.

Disney / Pixar         Pictured: Pepita (top), Alebrijes (bottom)

Alebrijes were invented in the 1930s by an artist named Pedro Linares, who had a fever dream about animals and insects with different body parts. Imagine a tiger with the head of an eagle, the wings of mosquito and the legs of a giraffe. He was inspired to create sculptures of these creatures, using papier-mâché to create the colorful animals, which gained popularity with artists such as Frida Kahlo.

Pepita, a chimera-like animal who is a spiritual guide in the Land of the Dead, was not originally designed as an alebrije. Animator Alonso Martinez, who grew up collecting alebrijes as a kid, said his colorful collection helped influence the eventual look of Pepita. And since alebrijes are a relatively new art form, they aren’t attached to any celebration or religious event.

“There’s no specific mythology or religious background that this comes from,” says Martinez. “So each person can bring their own meaning and symbology to it.”

Dante, the adorable street dog who becomes Miguel’s sidekick, was one of the toughest characters to animate.

CREDIT: Disney / Pixar

Dante is a xoloscuinctle, an ancient breed of dog that the Aztecs believed would guide the dead toward Mictlán, the land of the dead.

Dante was difficult to animate because he’s essentially hairless, save for those wayward strands of hair on his head and tail. That means Pixar had to carefully animate the dog’s body movement because there’s no hair to hide behind. Look at those wrinkles on Dante’s back in the screenshot above. Now imagine having to animate those intricate details for every movement Dante made in the film. ?

Pixar’s cultural advisers played a significant role in the film.

CREDIT: Pixar

According to co-director Lee Unkrich, some of the notes they received ended up making “Coco” more entertaining. In one of the early versions of the film, Miguel’s abuelita carried a wooden spoon and smacked people with it. “It was one of our advisers who said, ‘No no no no, it has to be her chancla. She’s got to pull off her slipper and beat them with it.'”

Watch the latest trailer for “Coco”:

Credit: Disney/Pixar / YouTube

WATCH: Guillermo Went Back-To-Back With Actors From Disney, Marvel And ‘Star Wars’ Franchises

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Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

Entertainment

Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

intheheightsmovie / anthonyramosofficial / Instagram

The 92nd Academy Awards were filled with unexpected wins and losses. However, the red carpet was home to some of the most memorable moments of the night. One moment that really stood out was Anthony Ramos telling Ryan Seacrest one of the first bits of advice Lin-Manuel Miranda gave him.

Anthony Ramos dazzled on the red carpet at last night’s Academy Awards.

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Oscars.

A post shared by Anthony Ramos (@anthonyramosofficial) on

Ramos and his fiancée Jasmine Cephas Jones stunned on the red carpet with their looks. Ramos and Jones got engaged in December 2018 after knowing each other for three years as costars on the wildly successful “Hamilton.”

During his interview with Ryan Seacrest, Ramos recalled a touching moment he had with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Seacrest asked the rising star about his time spent working with Miranda and Ramos had a touching story ready to go.

“Lin told me a quote one time,” Ramos told Seacrest. “I cracked a joke and I was like, ‘Ah. That’s kind of hood. I should probably change the way I speak.’ Lin said, ‘Papa, you never need to change the way you speak. You just have to make sure that people understand you.’ I’ll never forget that quote.”

Ramos added about the authenticity Miranda draws from him: “Just be honest. Just be who you are and be honest and he just kind of let me do my thing on set.”

The advice is something so many people of color can relate to and appreciate.

Credit: @XxNess_ / Twitter

Whether it is sounding hood like Ramos said or speaking with an accent, our voices have been made to feel less than. Miranda’s advice is something so many people could have used when they were younger. There is nothing more empowering than owning every part of your identity and your voice and accent are part of that. There is nothing wrong with sounding like your background as long as you make sure everyone else can understand you and who you are.

The moment is reminding fans how much they care for Ramos’s and Miranda’s relationship.

Credit: Mali Worrad / YouTube

A quick search on the Internet will show you the kind of friendly love between the two entertainers. Miranda has spent time in his own career to uplift the upcoming actor. During the awards ceremony, Miranda called Ramos a movie star giving a nod to the highly anticipated performance by Ramos in the upcoming “In The Heights” film.

Who else is excited to see this bromance grow this year?

Credit: anthonyramosofficial / Instagram

It is these kinds of those friendships that we want more of. Thank you for showing off that Latin excellence while uplifting each other. That’s the kind of energy we need to take into 2020.

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

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Entertainment

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Columbia / Instagram

As the youngest in five, I rarely had the chance to travel alone.

How could I? With a paranoid mom and a closed-off dad, it was hard to ask for permission to venture out on my own. Sure, I had traveled a lot including abroad but I was either always with a family member or close friends. One year, my friend Sandra and I ventured throughout Mexico — a country I had never discovered on my own. When I was younger, I mostly stayed in the state of Nayarit because that’s where my family is from. So I never had a reason, or the courage, to learn more about the surrounding states in Mexico.

That was until my friend Sandra introduced me to a magical city, right in the center of the country.

queretaromex / Instagram

She had studied in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of her study-abroad program in college. I felt a little ashamed that someone like me — a proud Mexican Latina — had never been there, let alone any other state outside of Nayarit.

She took me there years later when I was 25 and fell in love with this incredible historic city — and sequentially someone else too.

ready4trips / Instagram

One night — at a club — I saw a man, unlike anyone I had ever seen before.

Think of a Mexican version of John F. Kennedy Jr. He was dapper, preppy, and totally hot.

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Completely out of my league too — or so I thought.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, but the following night we returned to that same club and there he was, but this time at the table next to ours.

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I coyly started dancing with him because why not? We ended up dancing the entire night together and I felt like I was literally floating.

Being there, in Queretaro, among local Mexicanos, listening to their music — unfiltered and unAmericanized, I had never felt that alive in my life.

qbarlounge / Instagram

This is when I discovered so much incredible Latin music like FobiaCafe Tacuba and Shakira.

I should rephrase that. I discovered Spanish-speaking Shakira years after she had released her 1998 album “Dónde Están los Ladrones?”

The album catapulted her into a Latin superstar and I was in awe of her rocker chick vibe.

shakixfan / Instagram

While I loved my individuality as an alternative Chicana, I sure didn’t embody the independent woman I longed to be.

Even though I expressed a love for Spanish rock music, I was in a lot of ways very shy.

DaddyIssues / Instagram

But Shakira’s album made me feel different.

The song that truly moved me on that album is called “Si te vas.”

At first listen the song comes off as a ballad but it’s much more of a painful rock song that happens to be about a loss of love — as most songs are.

However, in this track, Shakira’s angst is infused throughout it just by the way she vocalizes certain aspects of the words.

shakixfan / Instagram

But this is my favorite part:

“Si te vas si te vas si te marchas

Mi cielo se hará gris

Si te vas si te vas ya no tienes

Que venir por mi

Si te vas si te vas y me cambias

Por esa bruja pedazo de cuero

No vuelvas nunca mas, ya no estaré aquí.”

But back to my imaginary love story. His name was Antonio.

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And he was an architect that lived in Queretaro. I was infatuated, to say the least. After our night of dancing, we went on a couple of dates, and one, in particular, that is too steamy to get into.

Soon after I returned to California soon after still on cloud nine.

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But that’s all it took.

I really thought I was in love with this Mexican heartthrob.

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When I returned to my real life, Antonio and I kept in touch.

We emailed, talked on the phone, and in my head, I was already scheming about how to go back to see him.

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I didn’t know how I would go back to Queretaro, but I knew that I had to. What I felt for Antonio was undeniable and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

I didn’t tell anyone about my plan.

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I would just sit in my room — yes, I was a 26-year-old that still lived at home — and listened to Shakira’s album and think about Antonio.

One day it hit me. I would save money, enough for three months’ worth of rent, and move to Queretaro.

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I talked to my parents about it and simply said: “I need to get away and just write.”

My parents didn’t fight with me over the plan.

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I secretly think they just wanted me out of the house. And so I saved, and saved, and saved, every penny I could get my hands on. When I finally had enough, I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City. I don’t even remember being scared.

I just remember having a direct plan and listening to my Shakira playlist.

@trulysocial / Instagram

It didn’t feel like I was alone either. When you’re traveling alone and listening to music, it’s like your famous friends are there right there with you.

I stayed at the most picturesque house in Queretaro and didn’t even tell Antonio that I was coming to town.

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Yes, that was probably a mistake, but I didn’t care to hear anything negative. I guess underneath I knew what I was doing was kind of nuts, but love makes you do crazy things. When I did tell Antonio that I was in town, he said what I was dreading:

“You didn’t come here for me, did you?” he said.

“No! Of course, not. I came to write,” I said quickly.

“Oh, that’s good, because I have a girlfriend,” he said.

I think at that moment my body went numb because I don’t remember feeling sad or angry, just kind of in shock.

“How long have you been with her?” I said. I should note that it had only been a few months since I had last seen him.

“Always,” he said. “I’ve always been with her.”

The next couple of hours were a daze, but I cried myself to sleep that night. Here I was in Queretaro, all alone, and three more months to go. The next morning, I got up early, turned on my Shakira playlist and went for a run.

Credit: Araceli Cruz

Even though I was sad about the fact that Antonio had a girlfriend the entire time we were together, I realized how special it was that I was in this amazing city.

For the next three months, I did write.

I wrote a lot in fact, and I also met someone else.

Identity / Giphy.com

That relationship didn’t go beyond my time in Queretaro, but I loved knowing that heartbreak would not be the end of me.

The joy of being alone in Queretaro and doing exactly what I had envisioned all on my own was all I needed.

qrobici / Instagram

Even now when I listen to “Si te vas” I never feel sad about Antonio, just pure happiness that I did something pretty extraordinary and have memories that will last me a lifetime.