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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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‘Saved By the Bell’ Reboot Mocks Selena Gomez’s Kidney Transplant and Francia Raísa Thinks It’s Not Funny

Entertainment

‘Saved By the Bell’ Reboot Mocks Selena Gomez’s Kidney Transplant and Francia Raísa Thinks It’s Not Funny

It appears that the Saved By the Bell reboot is off to a bad start. The much anticipated NBCUniversal’s Peacock series garnered tons of negative press over the weekend for making what many viewers considered inappropriate jokes about Selena Gomez’s health struggles.

One of the offensive scenes in question had two characters arguing about whether Gomez’s kidney donor was “Justin Bieber’s mom” or Demi Lovato. Later in the episode, a wall was spray-painted with the words: “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?”

Fans flocked to social media to condemn the program for making light of Gomez’s harrowing health journey.

“I can officially say that this generation is full of some sick and insensitive ppl,” wrote one Selena stan on Twitter. “The fact that if her surgery went wrong, she wouldnt be here today. and a whole ass show producer thought it was okay to mock her for it? the script writers too? what??” Many similar sentiments were echoed on social media.

The blowback became so bad that NBCUniversal was forced to apologize for the tasteless joke. They have since removed the “jokes” from the episode.

“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC,” they said in a statement.

Selena Gomez’s kidney donor, fellow actress Francia Raísa, addressed NBCUniversal’s apology via Twitter. “Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall,” she said.

Selena Gomez has been candid about the trauma she’s endured over the years due to her autoimmune disease, lupus. Gomez’s lupus forced her to undergo chemotherapy and eventually, seek a kidney transplant.

“I had arthritis. My kidneys were shutting down. My mentality was just to keep going,” Selena revealed in a 2017 interview with the Today Show. “That was it. And I didn’t want to ask a single person in my life and that was the day I came home, when I found out, and [Raísa] volunteered and did it.”

But Gomez’s kidney transplant wasn’t the end of her health journey, both mental and physical.

After her surgery, Gomez struggled with body image issues, specifically surrounding her surgery scar. In a recent Instagram post, Gomez revealed that it took her a while to become confident in her own skin after her surgery.

“When I got my kidney transplant, I remember it being very difficult at first showing my scar,” she wrote. “I didn’t want it to be in photos, so I wore things that would cover it up. Now, more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through.”

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Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

Things That Matter

Google Paid Tribute To Mariachi Music With A Doodle And Break Out The Mezcal Because It’s Gonna Give You Tears!

ULISES RUIZ / Getty

Mariachi is officially getting the search engine clout it deserves!

Google Doodle’s latest feature celebrates the musical genre of mariachi. As an ode to the anniversary of the week that UNESCO inscribed mariachi on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The genre of Regional Mexican music goes back to the 18th century.

Google’s latest Doodle features an animated video of mariachi serenading.

Remote file
Google

Singing “Cielito Lindo,” which is a song that encaptures Mexican pride, the doodle features a band of mariachi members.

Together they sing the following lyrics”De la Sierra Morena/cielito lindo, vienen bajando/Un par de ojitos negros/cielito lindo, de contrabando/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Canta y no llores/Porque cantando se alegran/cielito lindo, los corazones.”

The lyrics translate to “From the Sierra Morena/Lovely sweet one, is prancing down/A pair of little black eyes/Lovely sweet one, is sneaking by/ Ay, ay, ay, ay/Sing, don’t cry/Because singing makes rejoice/Lovely sweet one, our hearts.”

For the doodle, the mariachi band wears traditional trajes de charro (charro suits) while strumming the traditional instruments of the genre.

Plucking away at the guitarrón, vihuela, and violin, other members use a trumpet and harp. According to Newsweek, “The tradition of mariachi originated in west-central Mexico around the turn of the 19th century, though its exact origins are murky. The musical genre began as entirely instrumental, made up of the sounds of stringed instruments, before vocals and the trumpet were eventually added.”

No doubt Google’s latest Doodle has won over the hearts of various searchers.

“What a beautiful tribute… thank you!” one user wrote.

“The Google doodle for today is a tribute to mariachis & it’s a little video that plays cielito lindo I am not okay, cielito lindo is my favorite mariachi song, it’s too cute,” another commented while another user wrote “I was so shocked when I clicked on this last night. What a wonderful surprise.”

Sweetly, the doodle really seemed to hit home for so many. “The Google Doodle today nearly made me cry,” one very happy user noted. “It was so unexpected and made me miss home for the first time since I moved.”

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