A Lifelong Journey: Walter Dominguez and Shelley Morrison bring “Weaving the Past” to Light

L-r: Shelley Morrison, Angela Ortíz and Walter Dominguez ©2014 Adelina Ortiz

L-r: Shelley Morrison, Angela Ortíz and Walter Dominguez
©2014 Adelina Ortiz

It has taken eleven years, but actress Shelley Morrison and her husband of forty-one years, Walter Dominguez are finally able to share Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery, the story of Dominguez’ own ancestors interwoven with the largely unknown, but important history of Mexico and the U.S. It is a story of tragedy, hope, and discovery that he’s been working towards for his entire life, and especially since his beloved grandfather died in 1973.

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A few years ago, Walter decided the time had come to bring the project to fruition—“when the people in your life who have always been there are going or gone.” It was then that he realized it was time to collect his stories and pass them on to the next generation. “You need to let your children know they come from somewhere,” he said, “They didn’t just appear like mushrooms out of nowhere.”

Sister Sixto on The Flying Nun

Sister Sixto on The Flying Nun

And Morrison and Dominguez were just the ones to do it. Both have been involved in the entertainment industry for decades. Dominguez has remained behind the camera for the most part, but Morrison is one of the more recognizable Latino actresses of her generation. In her interview Angela Ortíz of Se Fija!, she talks with affection and insight about her best-remembered roles, including Sister Sixto on The Flying Nun with Sally Field, and Rosario on Will & Grace. “That was great,” she told Angela. “I’ve been blessed. But this is a whole different ball game.”

Weaving the Past begins with the history of the American West, and the violence, oppression, and tragedy that Dominguez’ ancestors–and almost all Latinos–faced. And it continues forward, well into the twentieth century, to see how families have grown and changed…and how they have stayed the same. “I wanted to let people go with me and experience the basic humanity of people everywhere,” he said. And the project was important enough to the couple that they invested their own money in the project, so they could do it the way they wanted.

Mrs. Portillo’s voice on Handy Mandy

Mrs. Portillo’s voice on Handy Mandy

Now, at long last, it’s ready to present to the community. Morrison and Dominquez both hope it reaches a wide audience as well. “We hope that people will bring their kids,” Walter says, especially older children who can appreciate a two-hour film with some pretty affecting imagery. “They’ll learn history that isn’t taught in our schools, not only for Latin people but for all people. The story of one immigrant family in this country is really a universal story. After all, most of us are from somewhere else.”

Rosario on Will and Grace

Rosario on Will and Grace

There are important and universal stories here, Morrison says, “There’s a journey, a lot of passion and a lot of real faces. People are hungry to see a film where they can connect again, where they can feel. They want to learn more.”

Meanwhile, Morrison and Rodriguez are already at work on their next project. Whitewashed Adobe chroniclesthe creation of Los Angeles from 1850 to 1950. They have already gathered more than twenty interviews from a wide range of people who were part of the city’s beginning, with much more to come. Work is well underway.

Any lover of history or geography, anyone who wants to learn more about the past and their culture will enjoy Weaving the Past. It premieres in a special set of screenings at the Laemmle Theaters in Pasadena, with four showings a day from August 15 to 21. There are even matinee prices and ample free parking.

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” Are In the House

MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYAugust has arrived! And the latest of the entry in the Marvel movie universe Guardians Of The Galaxy is in theaters now. And the geek in me was very anxious to see this film and I wasn’t disappointed—and for folks of a certain age, there’s some great nostalgic music of the 70s and 80s and more…

I enjoyed watching Zoë Saldaña (Gamora), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper(Rocket), and Vin Diesel (Groot) characters kick butt! And I’m already for the next installment. —AO

So Many Trailers, Not Enough Time – Part 2

Into the Stormcantinflas poster 721400.0900.fin.001._L.0184_CCWe have more Summer trailers to share with you. Here they are: Into the Storm, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, If I Stay, Cantinflas, Dolphin Tale 2, The Boxtrolls, Annabelle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Mad Max: Fury Road-Comic-Con First Look.

Into the Storm (August 8)

Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Jeremy Sumpter, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep, Scott Lawrence

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)

Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Noel Fisher, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Howard, Tony Shalhoub

If I Stay (August 22)

Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Aisha Hinds, Stacy Keach

Cantinflas (August 29)

Óscar Jaenada, Ilse Salas, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Gabriela de la Garza, Ana Layevska, Adal Ramones, Bárbara Mori, Rafael Amaya, James Michael Imperioli

Dolphin Tale 2 (September 12)

Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick Jr, Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd

The Boxtrolls (September 26)

Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan

Annabelle (October 3)

Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Eric Ladin, Brian Howe

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (December 17)

Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom

Mad Max: Fury Road – Comic-Con First Look (May 15, 2015)

Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz

Add These to Your Movie Collection…

America Ferrera and Michael Peña in Cesar Chavez

America Ferrera and Michael Peña in Cesar Chavez

Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman in Paris Blues

Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman
in Paris Blues

We’re always looking for interesting things to share; and here are a few films you might want to add to your collection. Nova: D-Day’s Sunken Secrets, A Night in Old Mexico, Orphan Black Season 2, Rio 2, Cesar Chavez, Made in America, Xena Warrior Princess Season 5, and a few oldies like Marty, Paris Blues and Separate Tables. They’re all available now on DVD and/or Blu-ray. —A. Ortíz

Nova-D-Day's Sunken SecretsA Night in Old Mexico150Nova: D-Day’s Sunken Secrets
PBS’ NOVA always has some interesting subject matter; here’s another for the WWII history buff in you or someone you know. This DVD explores a massive underwater WWII archeological site.

A Night in Old Mexico
One of those sleepy films that you usually don’t discover until it ends up on cable or on DVD. It’s not a perfect film, but it reunites Robert Duvall and Lonesome Dove screenwriter Bill Witliff, as directed by Emilio Aragón. Duvall plays an old-school Texan losing the property his family has owned for generations. Also starring: Jeremy Irvine, Angie Cepeda, Luis Tosar, Joaquín Cosio, Javier Gutierrez, Jim Parrack, James Landry Hébert, Michael Ray Escamilla, Abraham Benrubi, and Renee Victor.

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Orphan Black Season 2
If you saw the first season, you might want to check out the second. Also, nobody expected Tatiana Maslany to be as skilled an actress or as ridiculously cool a human being as she appears to be. You can get a sense of her Jennifer Lawrence-level charm and unaffected humor in this quick bit of an interview from BBC America’s YouTube channel.

Rio 2
Here is something for the kids or the kid in you. Brazilian animator/writer/director Carlos Saldanha offers a sequel to his hit feature about the plucky (and hilarious) birds of his native land, with Latino voices, both new and returning. Look for the sounds of Jake T. Austin, Bruno MarsMiguel Ferrer, Andy Garcia, Jeffrey Garcia, George Lopez, and Rita Moreno, among many others.

cesar-chavez-blu-ray150MadeinAmerica-150Cesar Chavez
I wanted more from this film, but it’s a good beginning—the first film to start a conversation about the life of UFW leader Cesar Chavez. There’s some fine work by America Ferrera, Michael Peña, Rosario Dawson, Yancey Arias, Jacob Vargas, Gabriel Mann, John Malkovich, and actor/producer Diego Luna makes a respectabledirectorial debut. You can check out our interviews with Diego Luna here and America Ferrera here.

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Made in America
Ron Howard’s first documentary–a collaboration between the Academy Award® winner and musician/producer Jay Z–is kind of a surprise. Given Jay Z’s involvement, you’d think the movie would focus on hip-hop only but no: it’s actually a celebration of both the unifying power of music and the pursuit of the American dream.

Xena Warrior Princess Season 5
Need some campiness in your life? You can’t go wrong with any of the Xena Warrior Princess episodes. And here’s a little trivia, writer/producer Roberto Orci was part of this series as co-executive producer and even a writer for one of the episodes during this season.

 

For those of you who enjoy some old classics, check these out:

Marty150Marty (available July 29, 2014)
Marty was originally a teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky. It was telecast live on May 24, 1953, on The Philco Television Playhouse with Rod Steiger in the title role. Then in 1955 it was adapted as a feature film starring Ernest Borgnine as Marty. Borgnine won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in a year that brought us quite a few movie treasures.

Separate Tables150

Paris Blues-French Cover150

Paris Blues (available July 29, 2014)
For me, you can’t miss with the likes of Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll in the same movie. Newman and Poitier are expatriate American jazz musicians living in Paris who actually have a regular gig at a small popular club. But they both have dreams of more. I agree completely with Emma Knightley of knightleyemma.com: “Aside from romance, this film deals head-on with serious issues- ambition, racism, and drug abuse. The costumes, scenery, lighting, music, and dialogue are pitch perfect.” Here’s a beautiful black and white film for your enjoyment.

Separate Tables (available July 29, 2014)
The stage classic makes a classic film as well: the stories told of several people as they stay at a seaside hotel, dining at “Separate Tables.” The leads are Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino), Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster and David Niven.

Ramón Franco AKA Fausto “el Diablo” Galvan on “The Bridge”

Ramon Franco and Angela Ortíz ©2014 Teresa Garza

Ramon Franco and Angela Ortíz
©2014 Teresa Garza

Franco, Puerto Rican-born and South Bronx-raised, is an actor who has been honing his craft for over 30 years. So when it came time to play “Galvan” on The Bridge, he was ready. Some of Franco’s credits include the new season of Orange is the New Black, Major Crimes, “Sucio” in Weeds and so many others. He’s back as part of Season Two of The Bridge, and we got a chance to chat with him on the set about his role–a part that was originally supposed to run for only two episodes, but keeps going and going and going.

Frank Grillo on “The Purge,” “Captain America,” and Being a Bad Ass

Frank Grillo ©2014 Angela María Ortíz S.

Frank Grillo
©2014 Angela María Ortíz S.

We all carry around a lot of preconceptions about actors–especially actors who make their biggest impressions playing iconic characters. That’s certainly the case with Frank Grillo; he’s been playing cops, criminals, and tough guys for close to twenty years, since Silk Stalkings and Minority Report, and these days he’s best remembered as playing Brock Rumlow (the future Crossbones) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now he’s about to make an even bigger impression as Sergeant in the sequel to The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, an action/horror film with a big social message and a number in the mix, including Kiele Sanchez, Justina Machado, Nicholas Gonzalez, Carla Jimenez and Castulo Guerra, among others.

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L-r: Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez and Frank Grillo

L-r: Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez and Frank Grillo

Se Fija! was part of a panel of journalists that got to sit down with Grillo a few days before the premiere of the picture, and we all got a pleasant surprise: not only was Grillo not the grim and scary guy we’ve seen in so many movies, he’s was actually funny, and a family man, and a professional who knew–and knows–exactly what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and what he’s doing next. Here are just a few audio clips from our talk:

Grillo really does come from the old-school tradition of Bad Assery. What characters does he look to as historical precedents and inspiration?

Origins (click for audio)

Frank Grillo has a reputation–borne of hard work–that he’s a tough guy in real life as well as in film. But he’s the first to tell you that’s not entirely true.

Tough Guy (click for audio)

And he’s aware of the opportunities his persona gives him…and its limitation. Read the rest of this entry »

Approaching El Matador: Three Personal Conversations with Roberto Orci, Alfred Molina, and Gabriel Luna

Matador-TV-Series-300Publisher Angela Ortíz sat down with three of the principles behind Matador (and you better pronounce it right!), Orci’s new action/adventure/espionage series premiering this week on Robert Rodriguez’ cable network, El Rey.

L-r: Alfred Molina, Angela Ortíz, Roberto Orci and Gabriel Luna ©2014 Anselmo Sinclair Ortiz

L-r: Alfred Molina, Angela Ortíz, Roberto Orci and Gabriel Luna
©2014 Anselmo Sinclair Ortiz

And make no mistake about it: it is Rodriguez’ network. As Roberto Orci told us, getting a series on TV–even for a high-powered writer/producer like Orci—is no easy task.. You’d think Orci could walk through any door these days; he’s been writing successful shows since Xena: Warrior Princess, he’s a major co-screenwriter for the Star Trek reboot, the power behind the Hawaii Five-0 reboot and the pop-cult supernatural success Sleepy Hollow among so many other project. But it’s no easy process…

 

…and he stayed very involved in developing the character of Tony Bravo and his world:

For all of Orci’s involvement in major projects on the big screen, he sees unique advantages to telling stories on television–and with actors that may be new to most of us.

Finding the right Latino actor to play Tony Bravo was important–even vital–and they found the perfect candidate in Gabriel Luna. A “relative newcomer” (a term that’s been applied to him all too often, as he tells us), he brings an intelligence and energy to the role that’s very welcome and a little unexpected. And he had to face physical and as well as acting challenges when he took it on… Read the rest of this entry »

Del Toro’s “The Strain,” “Ray Donovan,” “Masters of Sex” and “Devious Maids” Season Finale Tonight

The long awaited The Strain from director/producer Guillermo del Toro is finally on tonight at 10P on FX. The new season’s of Ray Donovan (Steven Bauer) is back on at 9P and Masters of Sex at 10P, both on Showtime. And the second season finale of Devious Maids (Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes) also at 10P on Lifetime.

Three to Check Out in Theaters Friday

It’s an interesting week: the long-awaited Dawn of Planet of the Apes, a movie about Boyhood that took twelve years to make, and Ron Howard’s first documentary, Made in America, about the wonders of all kinds of music. Something new and surprising for everyone! —Angela Ortíz

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the much-anticipated follow-up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes from 2011, and a basically silly as the idea is, the whole saga of The Planet of the Apes is very dear to those of us of a certain age. We can be quite protective and critical with remakes, reboots, etc., but I have to admit: I really enjoyed Dawn. The humans are interesting and likable (It’s always great to see Kirk Acevedo do his bad boy role), and of course Andy Serkis is brilliant as Caesar. So, if the Apes are part of your DNA, check this one out. Also starring Jason Clarke, Enrique Murciano, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Karin Konoval, and Lombardo Boyar.

Boyhood, written and directed by Richard Linklater and starringPatricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke, is an amazing project. It’s fiction, not a documentary, but Linklater got the actors to sign on twelve years ago, to make a groundbreaking movie about growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he grows up. Through the course of the movie, you can see the boy and the rest of the cast grow up and grow old–no age make-up, no special effects. Talk about devotion to a project—especially between adults and children. No wonder it’s been called “a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.” Out in limited release.

 

Made in America is Ron Howard’s first documentary–a collaboration between the Academy Award® winner and musician/producer Jay Z. Given Jay Z’s involvement, you’d think the movie would focus on hip-hop only but no: it’s actually a celebration of both the unifying power of music and the pursuit of the American dream. Howard has created an all-access backstage pass to a one-of-a-kind festival, with remarkable performances and backstage interviews with many of today’s biggest music stars. And ultimately, Made in America shows how one giant celebration of music can change people’s lives. Some of the performers include D’Angelo, Dirty Projectors, The Hives, Janelle Monáe, Odd Future, Rita Ora, Pearl Jam, Run-D.M.C., Santigold, Jill Scott, and of course Jay Z himself.

 

FX’s “The Bridge” is back; CBS has “Extant” with Halle Berry

Demián Bichir and Diane Kruger The Bridge

For a lazy July, there’s way too much going on. You’d think the last of the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Holland, the second season of Hulu’s East Los High on a computer near you, new episodes of Suits and Graceland would be enough to keep us busy, but no—time to warm up the DVR’s, what with the premiere of a second season of FX’s The Bridge and Extant, a new sci fi on CBS.

The Bridge, which was one of the breakout hits of last summer, picks up right where it left off, with continued storylines and (of course) new ones and many twists and turns along the way. One thing about the show that’s certain: there’s some good acting involved, so even if the story line doesn’t mesh a bit, the performances will keep you coming back. Among the actors worth watching: Demián Bichir, Diane Kruger, Matthew Lillard, Emily Rios, Alejandro Patino, Annabeth Gish and many more. On FX at 10P.

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Over on CBS, we have actress Halle Berry on Extant at 9P. Berry plays an astronaut who goes on a 13-month solo space mission and comes home pregnant. I guess that’s one way of keeping us tuned in — just to see what’s up. CBS started this “event programming” approach after the hit of Under the Dome last summer, but we aren’t going to talk about The Dome here. We’re just wondering if it’s going to be as interesting as it promises. (And it’s no sure thing: remember all the high hopes for NBC’s Rosemary’s Baby re-make with Zoë Saldaña?) The series comes from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, which knows its way around SciFi TV.

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