Film | Nathaniel Rogers | News

BigGayDeal.com

Movies: La Mission

Picture 28

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION

In the first reel of Peter Bratt's LA MISSION we follow Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) through his typical day as a bus driver, lowrider enthusiast, recovering alcoholic, tough guy and respected man on the street in San Francisco's Mission district. Just when you begin to worry that the film is way too marinated in macho sweat -- you'll lose track of the number of "bros" uttered, fists bumped -- we're introduced to Che's teenage son Jes (Jeremy Ray Valdez) who happens to be secretly shacked up with rich white boy Jordan (Max Rosenak). The upcoming conflict is clear. How will the macho ex-con father ever deal once he finds out about his one and only son?

Jes and Jordan: Aren't they a cute couple? Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

Picture 5

Che doesn't think so.

He finds incriminating polaroids of the young lovers liplocking. After his initial shock and confusion, he verbally abuses and then violently disowns his son. This knee jerk homophobia and violence will kick off a downward spiral, throwing everything Che has built with his life out of balance, including his complicated budding romance with his progressive neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander). While La Mission is, at heart, a character study of Che Rivera and his deeply traditional neighborhood, this separation and its fallout doesn't mean we're done with Lena's story or Jes's... or even Jordan's to a small extent. The film can't always successfully juggle the multiple films it's trying to be including a romantic drama, a coming out story, an intimate character study and community story, but it's heartfelt. The setting and the focus on the father are fresh angles for a gay themed drama, too.

La Mission was written and directed by Peter Bratt and stars his brother Benjamin. They grew up in the barrio depicted. You have to give them credit that this all in the family vibe doesn't come across like a typical vanity project. There's honest if simplistic introspection and genuine warmth. And it's not every day you see an American movie that posits violence as a sickness rather than a cure-all.

Picture 45 Also Opening: Boring suburban marrieds Steve Carell and Tina Fey get mixed up with big city criminals in the action comedy DATE NIGHT. The stars are enjoyable but the rest is. well, not. When you're a good enough comic to write your own material, as Fey and Carell have done with wonderful results for both big screen (Mean Girls and The 40 Year Old Virgin) and small (Office Space and 30Rock), isn't it damaging your brand to headline a movie that's so obviously not at your funny level? It's the kind of movie that thinks that joke about the fey bitchy host at the hot restaurant isn't stale but hilarious. Nevertheless it could make a gazillion dollars given the stars and the recurring joke of the constant shirtlessness of Mark Wahlberg.

In limited release, Christina Ricci plays a dead girl in AFTER.LIFE and Liam Neeson is the creepy mortician who prepares her body. If you're looking for something off the beaten path (read: without a gargantuan advertising budget), your best bet is THE SQUARE a low budget neo noir from Australia about an adulterous couple who decide to steal a big dufflebag of cash with which to start a new life together. It's got no stars to speak of (unless you count Kinky Boots' Joel Edgerton who also helped write the film) but it does have intricate plotting, good acting, well earned surprises, and the must-have of all heist movies and noirs: an escalating "how-much-worse-can-things-get?" tension. Answer: Much worse!

Are you going to the movies this week?

Feed This post's comment feed

Comments

  1. Loved Joel Edgerton and Kinky Boots, so this is an easy choice. I'll see you in The Square. Besides, what's not to love about a good heist film?

    Posted by: Smartypants | Apr 9, 2010 4:53:14 PM


  2. Hoping to like the Bratts' film. Few know that Benjamin's Peruvian mother took her childen when he was a little boy to join the group, made up mostly of Native Americans, who "occupied" Alcatraz in 1969, believing that, since the prison had closed and the federal property then labeled "surplus," an old treaty required it be turned over to them. The group grew then dwindled over several months until they were forcibly evicted by government agents.

    In a brief interview about the film on Huffinton Post with Marshall Fine, he tells this revealing story of the distances that can exist even in a geographiclly small [47 not 49 square miles] town like San Francisco:

    "It's not by accident that the story this film tells is set in one of the most liberal, progressive cities in the world. Within the city, it's not un-ironic that La Mission shares a border with the Castro. And yet it's a world away. I was told a story by a now-out gay Latino man who was raised in the Mission. He was aware of a young gay Chinese man, first-generation American, raised in Chinatown, who until the age of 22, had no idea the Castro existed three miles away."

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Apr 9, 2010 5:11:18 PM


  3. I saw La Mission at a free screening in Manhattan and your review is pretty much on point. It is a good film and could have been better if Peter Bratt had left out the relationship angle with the tenant. It could have been a tour de force for Benjamin and Jeremy Rey Valdez (who is very good with the little he is given) had the movie remained focused on the complexities of their relationship vs. the culture and Che's personal demons and Jes' struggles. It was all a little too "neat."

    But I encourage everyone to support this film, if nothing else so that other films about gays of color can be made. There was a Q&A after the film with Peter and Benjamin. Peter said that when he shopped this script to Hollywood, they told him over and over that "the gay thing has been addressed and done." And when he asked how, what do you think they cited as proof? Brokeback Mountain and Will & Grace!!! So he had to do it himself. So please give it your support.

    And yes, I damn sure did go up and shake Benjamin Bratt's hand. That man is hot as hell, wrinkles and all. Damn his beautiful wife.

    Posted by: SB | Apr 9, 2010 6:55:06 PM


  4. Date night was unwatchable garbage. Just empty. The next hangover? Oy, fail. It seems like that's the new marketing gimick for comedies; to compare themselves to the hangover due to its inexplicable success. Don't get me wrong, the hangover wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good. I guess people are just really desperate for a laugh.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 9, 2010 7:28:42 PM


  5. i've heard of la mission. I didn't see it because benjamin bratt's overconfident acting style really irritates me.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 9, 2010 7:31:25 PM


  6. I'm looking forward to seeing this, and hope it receives generous support from the glbt nation wide audience.

    It's been too long since Broke Back Mtn....even if this isn't quite on BB's caliber, it's an important step in the right direction.

    Posted by: Geoff | Apr 10, 2010 12:53:17 AM


  7. "Then Square" is excellent!

    Posted by: Glenn | Apr 10, 2010 2:22:09 AM


  8. i just saw benjamin bratt on the view the other day. i liked what he had to say about the movie and his views on homophobia. can't wait to see the film!

    Posted by: paul cabral jr. | Apr 10, 2010 5:58:16 PM


  9. "La Mission" has played to packed theaters here in San Francisco. While there are obvious flaws in the movie - Bratt has awful Spanish, the Spanish/English dialog is stilted, the plot a little too inclusive, the pacing is a bit off - it's a good movie and worth a see. It's good to see Bratt play a dramatic role of a not-very-likeable guy. I'm also glad he did an indie.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 19, 2010 2:57:38 PM


Post a comment







Trending


« «Towleroad Guide to the Tube #631« «