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.

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.

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: Pixar and gregw66 / Flickr

… and its breathtaking Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

Pixar and latona / Flickr

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Recommend this story to a friend by clicking on the share button below. 

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

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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