Encanto (2021)

Encanto
Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith
Writer: Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush, Lin-Manuel Miranda (songs)
Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Adassa, Maluma
Seen on: 3.1.2022

Plot:
Many years ago, Abuela (María Cecilia Botero) had to flee her home together with her husband and her three children. On their flight, her husband didn’t make it, but Abuela got a gift, a miracle that gave her and her family magic powers and a safe haven in a magical house. Now the Mardrigal family uses their gifts to keep the village going. Everybody in the family got a different gift. Everybody but Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) that is. Now it is Mirabel’s little cousin Antonio’s (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) turn, and there is a certain tension in the air. What if Antonio doesn’t get a gift either? But even after Antonio is successful, there is something wrong – and Mirabel is determined to fix everything.

Encanto is sweet, touching and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it, its colorful world-building and characters.

The film poster showing a house wrapped in flowers and the Mardigal family in its courtyard, with Mirabel at the front.
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In the Heights (2021)

In the Heights
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Noah Catala, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony
Seen on: 30.7.2021

Content Note: colorism, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) runs a bodega in the Latinx community of Washington Heights, New York City, but he dreams of returning to Dominican Republic and get the bar his father ran there going again. And he is this close to making this dream a reality. Much closer than to aspiring fashion designer Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) who he has been pining for since about forever. His best friend Benny (Corey Hawkins) is also waiting for a girl – his boss’s (Jimmy Smits) daughter Nina Rosario (Leslie Grace) who is returning home form college for the summer – one of the few people who actually made it to college out of their neighborhood. But Nina Rosario is unsure whether she actually wants to continue with college.

I had no previous contact with In the Heights before seeing the film, but I went in expecting a bombastic feel-good movie and that’s certainly what I got. It didn’t quite pull me into the music as much I’d hoped, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time.

The film poster showing a big crowd of people dancing in the streets of New York, Washington Heights to be specific.
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