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Hollywood Does Latin America: 21 Movies Shot South Of The Border

Hollywood has long been in love with Latin America. After all, it is a very diverse region in terms of natural landscape, cities and people. Production costs are also cheaper than in the United States because wages are lower and local governments often give movie studies tax breaks. Stereotypes about Latin America are also alive and well in the United States (ay, caramba, arriba, arriba) and directors often set their stories in the “exotic” and “enchanting” land bellow Rio Grande. The recent violence that has infested our region is also attractive to scriptwriters of action films and political thrillers.

Here’s 21 movies shot in our region: 

The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Location: Belize

Credit: The Mosquito Coast. Warner Bros.


This film directed by Australian Peter Weir follows the utopian dream of a father played by Harrison Ford, who sick of life in the city decides to move his family to a Central American jungle. Of course, cue the stereotypes here!  The film was shot in paradisiac Belize. Try not to cry when you see River Phoenix as Harrison’s son… a few years before his tragic death.

Titanic (1997)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Titanic. Twentieth Century Fox.


One of the highest-grossing movies of all time was shot in Rosarito, Baja California. James Cameron built a giant set that became a tourist attraction when filming wrapped up. That is the reason why there are dolphins swimming by the enormous ship when in reality there were none in the Titanic’s fateful path! 

The Tailor of Panama (2001)
Location: Panama (obviously!)

Credit: The Tailor of Panama. Columbia Pictures Corporation.


This international espionage thriller shows Panama as a corruption-laden country where geopolitical decisions are made in the dark. Panama City is shown in all its decadent splendor. Geoffrey Rush portrays a skillful tailor for the rich and powerful… who confide in him, making him quietly powerful himself. 

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Locations: Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru

Credit: The Motorcycle Diaries. FilmFour.

This amazing biopic follows Ernesto Che Guevara in his younger years, before he became a revolutionary icon. Guevara went along on a road trip throughout the continent with his friend Alberto Granado. Director Walter Salles managed to get Hollywood money to produce this authentic ode to the vastness of our region.

Star Wars: Episode IV. A New Hope (1977)
Location: Tikal, Guatemala

Credit: Star Wars: Episode IV. A New Hope. Lucasfilm.


That’s right! Remember that shot of the rebel bases in the first Star Wars movie? Did they look strangely familiar? Well, George Lucas decided to shoot in the Mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala. That’s a cool trivia fact you can share with your carnales eh?

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Location: Chile

Credit: Seven Years in Tibet. Mandalay Entertainment.


Hollywood has never been too good at respecting geographical specificity! This 1997 movie showcase Brad Pitt at the pinnacle of his fame. Brad plays a climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama when China was about to take over Tibet. Of course it was tricky to shoot in the actual Himalayas, so the production team shot in the Chilean Andes instead!

Salvador (1986)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Salvador. Orion

Mexico often works as a stand-in for all and any Latin American countries. This political thriller directed by Oliver Stone follows the fate of a gringo war photographer who gets into trouble during the brutal Salvadorian civil war in the 1980s. Stone chose the Mexican state of Morelos to appear as the Central American country even though locals have a completely different ethnicity to Salvadorians! Ah, Hollywood!

Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Romeo + Juliet. Twentieth Century Fox


Another movie starring Leo DiCaprio. This extravagant adaptation of the classic romance by William Shakespeare was shot in iconic sites in Mexico City such as the Castillo de Chapultepec, as well as the sweaty beaches of Veracruz.  Director Baz Luhrmann made sure the colors and surreal imagery of Mexico really pop on the screen! 

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Location: Chile (awk-ward!)

Credit: Quantum of Solace. MGM.


The location of this film is problematic: the action is supposed to take place in Bolivia, but it is in fact shot in the Chilean desert. Problem is that region has been disputed by these two countries, and it is a touchy subject to say the least. Talk about being insensitive! 

Proof of Life (2000)
Location: Ecuador

Credit: Proof of Life. Castle Rock Entertainment.


The chatter about this Taylor Hackford film had to do more with the passion that sparked between the protagonists Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe than for the film itself. Still, it shows some pretty amazing natural scenery that makes Ecuador one of the most biodiverse and gorgeous countries in the planet. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Location: Puerto Rico

Credit: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Disney.


La isla bonita  was chosen by director Rob Marshall to be the backdrop of Captain Sparrows escapades. Given that Puerto Rico was one of the epicenters of pirate culture in the nineteenth century, and that the island is amazing, this makes for an ideal location for one of the last installments of the franchise. 

The Night of the Iguana (1964)
Location: Mexico

Credit: The Night of the Iguana. MGM


This is the movie that made Liz Taylor fall in love with Puerto Vallarta, which then became a touristy hotspot. Taylor herself wasn’t in the film, but she was coming along with hubby Richard Burton, who starred in this John Huston movie. The beach scenes are iconic and show the best of the Mexican pacific coast.

Nacho Libre (2006)
Location: Mexico (pero por supuesto)

Credit: Nacho Libre. Paramount Pictures.


More than one lucha libre fan was worried when news broke out that Jack Black was going to star in a wrestler movie. Were the gringos just going to make a racist spectacle? Surprise! Director Jared Hess really did his homework and the movie is a colorful homage shot in iconic wrestling dens in Mexico City.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Location: Ecuador

Credit: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Miramax.


Another Peter Weir film. This naval adventure brings out our inner child and puts it in touch with our sense of discovery. The film follows Russel Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey, a British sailor who pursues a French vessel in South America. The scenes when they touch land in Ecuador are beautifully shot.

Apocalypto (2006)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Apocalypto. Twentieth Century Fox.


For all the things that Mel Gibson got wrong in this movie about the ancient Maya (who DID NOT have human sacrifices, those were the Aztecs, Mr. Gibson), the location was spot on. The jungle of Southern Mexico is the perfect backdrop for this gorgeously shot, action-packed chase.

Evita (1996)
Location: Argentina

Credit: Evita. Buena Vista Pictures.


Talk about a controversial film. Evita is one of the most discussed political figures in Latin American history and her legacy is still a touchy topic in Argentina. Director Alan Parker cast Madonna as the leader, which added injury to insult. The production shot in iconic buildings with the support of the government. At the end, it is a pretty decent and somewhat respectful musical. 

The Revenant (2015)
Location: Argentina

Credit: The Revenant. Twentieth Century Fox.


The movie that finally got Leo DiCaprio his Best Actor Oscar really tested his limits. This tale of survival and revenge was shot under extreme conditions in Patagonia, where the icy natural landscape squeezed every inch of energy off the cast and crew. One thing is for sure: the far corner of the world is sure pretty!

Elysium (2013)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Elysium. TriStar Pictures


What do you do if you want to shoot an apocalyptic version of Los Angeles? According to director Neil Blomkamp you head to the outskirts of Mexico City. This failed sci-fi movie does everything wrong: it takes advantage of a struggling sector of Mexican society to present what future poverty in Los Angeles is supposed to look like. Shame on them!

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Location: Brazil

Credit: Captain America: Civil War. Marvel Studios.


The Marvel Universe has travelled throughout the world, and the confrontation between Iron Man and Captain America happened with glorious Brazil as the backdrop. Remember those explosions in the high-security compound? Welcome to South America!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Location: Dominican Republic

Credit: xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Paramount.


This return of the xXx franchise sees Xander (Vin Diesel) the hero retired in paradisiac Dominican Republic (he faked his death to be left alone), only to be brought back to action by is former CIA accomplices.

Operation Finale (2018)
Location: Argentina

Credit: Operation Finale. Netlix.


One of the most recent and critically acclaimed Netflix movies tells the story of a Israeli secret operation to locate and capture a Nazi war criminal in Argentina (masterfully played by Ben Kingsley).

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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

UNIVERSAL MUSIC LATIN

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

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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

Alfredo Estrada / Getty Images

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.

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