Anna Ortiz, Chingonas, Dania Ramirez, Devious Maids, Eva Longoria, Judy Reyes, Latino culture, Latinos in film, Lifetime, Marc Cherry, Rosalyn Sanchez

Five Reasons to Like "Devious Maids"

A television series with Latina’s in the main roles has stoked some strident controversy. The new Eva Longoria production, Devious Maids, written by Marc Cherry have inspired comments on HuffPost and Twitter ranging from “…a wasted opportunity…” to “sell-out,” and “haters.”
Chingaó, (‘damn it’) what a lot of ruido (noise). But, you know, it’s good ruido, healthy. 

I have to admit, that when I first heard of the upcoming program (when ABC was considering it) I immediately thought of the late great Lupe Ontiveros who was often cast as a stereotypical maid, a lá Rosalita in Goonies. Second thought, this better not be another caricature of Latinas. Thirdly, when will film depict Latinas in roles that are multifaceted and realistic for most of us? 

The answer to the third thought: we have to write our own stories and support making these films (like Bless Me Ultima, Cesar Chavez film, and others that were crowd funded). 

But back to Devious Maids (DM). Tonight I found the pilot episode of DM on Lifetime On Demand channel-it debuts on June 23, 2013. I wanted to know what ‘side’ of the triangle I would be on: boycott, embrace, ignore.

Okay, only one way to decide. Watch the show and make up my own mind.

The five maids:

  • Zoila (Judy Reyes-Scrubs) is a caring mother raising a teenaged daughter, (Edy Ganem) Valentina. They both work for Mrs. Delatour  (Susan Lucci), who attempted suicide because her young pool boy amour wouldn’t introduce her to his friends because she’s “…over 40.” Her son, Remi Delatour, moves back in to help his mother. Valentina falls in love with him. “Rich boys don’t marry their maids,” Zoila says.
  • Marisol (Anna Ortiz-Ugly Betty) “…doesn’t have an accent, she sounds like she went to college…has attitude,” whines the new trophy wife Mrs. Stafford. Marisol is assertive, pragmatic, and carries a secret.
  • Carmen (Rosalyn Sanchez-Rush Hour 2) is a “…pretty girl with an agenda,” one titled, “I’m going to be a Superstar.” Confident, self-assured, a little manipulative, she works on staff for Alejandro, a famous Latino singer.
  •  Rosie (Dania Ramirez-Heroes) is a maid and a nanny. She cares for her boss’s baby while missing the young son she left behind in Mexico. She hires an immigration lawyer. Her phone call with her son is especially moving and well-acted.

So far, the women seem like chingona’s, in their workplace and in personality.                                                                               

This is what I liked about Devious Maids (DM’s):   
  1. The premier episode had an intriguing beginning (a murder) sets up the ‘whodunnit’ question. One of the DM’s will investigate the murder.
  2. The DM’s were varied, without falling back on stereotypical Latino cartoony characters. No Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Sofia Vergara) accents.
  3. Issues of rich vs. poor, prejudice, class distinctions, immigration, sexism, infidelity (I could go on, this is just a taste) are presented.
  4. Their names are other than Maria or Lupe, and there are no exaggerated mannerisms for comic effect.
  5.   There are some very funny scenes along with a couple of poignant moments.

To be fair, I didn’t like a few things either:
  1. The clothes the maids wear to clean house are ones I’d go out for coffee in: nice jeans, wedge sandals, blouse and cardigan.
  2. All of them are skinny, and under 40 (except for Judy Reyes, but she looks -40). Where are the curves?
  3. The maids look homogenous: morena, brunettes, petite. Where are the rubias, the Afro-Cubans, the indias
  4.  The maids employers are caricatures: rich, white, (except Alejandro), entitled.
  5. The glamor shots of the maids at the beginning of the show. It’s so 2005, as in Desperate Housewives, and its spawn, Real Housewives of Orange County, Beverly Hills…Do something fresh, get more creative.

I follow a few television series: The Big Bang Theory (I love nerds), Grey’s Anatomy, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and Mad Men. They all peek into the lives of people very different from me and my upbringing, but I find their stories fascinating.

I can’t say I’ll be a follower of Devious Maids, I don’t know yet. From this first episode I can say that I’m interested in hearing the stories about the lives of these Latina characters. It will be an episode by episode kind of thing before I can say I’m a fan but I’ll be watching-at least the second episode. 

Andy Garcia, Catalina S. Moreno, Cristeros War, Dean Wright, Dr. Rudy Acuna, Eva Longoria, Faith, For Greater Glory, Jean Meyer, Mauricio Kuri, Mexican History, Religious freedom, Ruben Blades, Strong Women

What Price Would You Pay for Freedom?

For Greater Glory-photo filmofilia

As a Latina and an American of Mexican descent, I often anticipate the release of films that highlight the history of Mexico or the Latino experience in the United States. That was the case with For Greater Glory with it’s thought provoking tagline:

                                                  What price would you pay for freedom?

From the movie’s website: FOR GREATER GLORY:  General Gorostieta (Garcia), the retired military man who at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife (Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war. As an atheist he hesitates joining the cause but soon becomes the resistance’s most inspiring and self-sacrificing leader, as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen… he transforms a rag-tag band of rebels into a heroic force. Yet it is those he meets on the journey – youthful idealists, feisty renegades and, most of all, one remarkable teenager named Jose – who reveal to him how courage and belief are forged even when justice seems lost.

The movie is the true story of the Cristeros War (1926-1929) which manages to blend personal, religious, political and historical events. 

The faith of the Cristero martyrs and the ruthless violence of war make this a heart and gut wrenching movie to watch.

The Cristeros War was touched off by a rebellion against the Mexican government’s attempt to secularize the country, which had a four-century-old Roman Catholic history. President Calles attempted to enforce the 1917 Constitution, which called for secularization including his own ‘amendments’ that clerics could not wear vestments in public, celebrate Catholic Mass, or give Catholic sacraments. Soon President Calles used violence to enforce the law.

There is an interesting article  written by Dr. Rudy Acuña, Professor Emeritus and historian. He states, “In my view, “For Greater Glory” must be put into historical context. The Cristeros… were not calling for religious freedom for Protestants or Jews. It was inspired by the Catholic hierarchy that eventually sold out the peasants.” 

The Vatican stayed mostly aloof from the bloodshed although President Calles ordered the execution of many priests and targeted any Catholics. It was said that Pope Pius XI was sympathetic to the Cristeros, but was reluctant to break altogether with the Mexican government. Other Catholic groups, including the Knights of Columbus in the US, actively supported the Cristeros and pressured for US diplomatic intervention. The US government, having intervened militarily in Mexico in the previous decade (Mexican Revolution), was eager to see the conflict settled so that Mexico could continue selling oil to the US.

Over the three years, approximately 90,000 Mexicans died in the fighting, at a time when the total population was about 15 million. To put those numbers in perspective, the same level of violence in the US today would mean nearly 2 million American deaths

The roots of For Greater Glory are deep. A young French graduate student named Jean Meyer arrived in Mexico in 1965 to write his doctoral thesis on the religious war known as the Cristiada. After five years of research and hundreds of interviews with Cristiano’s his thesis was completed and published by a Mexican publishing house in 1972. The book is in its 20th printing. The work done by Meyer ultimately helped to provide the general framework for the movie. Pablo Barroso, the movie’s executive producer, is a Mexican-Catholic who wanted the full story told.

As a viewer I felt this movie was well acted, especially by Ruben Blades and newcomer Mauricio Kuri, who gave a very moving performance in the film, as 14 year old José, a mischievous schoolboy who witnesses the atrocities of Calles’ law first hand and makes a pilgrimage to join the Cristeros and fight alongside General Gorostieta. I like the inclusion of the women’s role in this movie, illustrated by actor Catalina S. Moreno (of Maria Full of Grace movie). She and many of the other women are depicted as strong, intelligent, clever, loyal, and an integral part of the Cristeros movement. 

Dean Wright, (Lord of the Rings, Titanic), directed. The incredible cinematography of the movie lends to an authentic feel. Notwithstanding the accuracy of the historical facts and motivations regarding the movie’s theme, but  for ‘entertainment’ value this is a movie I’d recommend and see again.