Friday, October 9, 2020

On CESAR CHAVEZ (2014)

Mexican-American actor Michael Peña should be a much bigger star than he is. Whether in a serious drama or a goofy comedy, he consistently proves his skill and versatility. He's got a career achievement that, if he was a Caucasian actor, would get mentioned by network morning news show hosts before they interviewed him in the studio. Michael Peña has had significant roles in five films that were Best Picture Oscar nominees: MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004), CRASH (2005), BABEL (2006), AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013) and THE MARTIAN (2015). MILLION DOLLAR BABY and CRASH won the Oscars. I guess you can tell that I'm in his fan club. Well, I am. Aside from always being impressed with and totally entertained by his talent, he reminds me of every cool Chicano dude I had classes with and served on the altar with when I attended Catholic schools in my South Central L.A. youth. (Yes, I was an altar boy.) It's Hispanic Heritage Month. When I was a high schooler in Watts, our teachers discussed with us the importance of Cesar Chavez and his social activism. In Los Angeles at that time, Chavez was reguarly in the TV, radio and newspaper headlines. It did not get a lot of attention from press when it opened, but Michael Peña starred in a pretty good biopic about the activist. I feel it's worth seeing especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. Here's a clip about the 2014 biopic, CESAR CHAVEZ. The movie was directed by actor Diego Luna.
Director Diego Luna, also Mexican, had a supporting role opposite Sean Penn in the Oscar-winning biopic, MILK. Penn played the late San Francisco gay rights politician and activist, Harvey Milk. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Luna was excellent with close friend, Gael Garcia Bernal, in Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. Here's more about CESAR CHAVEZ.
Again, this is some recommended viewing for Hispanic Heritage Month. The movie was overlooked when it came out -- but, I feel it's worth a look and it's packed with a talented cast headed by Michael Peña.

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