Actor Esai Morales made a personal appearance for the showing of his newest film “Gun Hill Road” at the Cinémas Palme D’Or in Palm Desert last Saturday evening. The event began with a viewing of the film. At the conclusion of film the Esai Morales joined Cinémas Palm D’Or host Bill Feingold (KNEWS FM 94.3) with audience members for a Q&A session.
Esai Morales has been a Latino fixture on both the small and large screen since his debut film “Bad Boys” in 1983. His numerous credits include “La Bamba,” ”NYPD Blue” and the science fiction show “Caprica.” For the most part Morales has played some vision of the Latino man, and this vision has often been written and conceived by non-Latin filmmakers – what he calls the vanilla filter.
Part of this is just the business, but after thirty years of filmmaking it appears to be tiring to the actor that is eager to stretch his acting muscles. When an opportunity came to play the role of Enrique in the independent film “Gun Hill Road,” a film written and directed by fellow Latino Rushaad Ernesto Green, it seem to be a perfect fit. Unfortunately, Morales was asked to forfeit his salary in order to allow the project to be made. And like many actors that want to star in films that don’t feature loud destructive mechanical aliens or the next comic book hero, Morales did take a credit as Executive Producer in lieu of payment for his acting services.
“Gun Hill Road” premiered at Sundance, and is the most successful independent film of the year. It chronicles the story of Puerto Rican family dealing with a father that is in and out of prison, a mother just trying to keep her family together and a teenager dealing with sexual identity crisis. Morale’s character, Enrique is a fairly typical Latino father with certain expectations of his teenager. When these expectations seem to be completely dashed, Enrique comes to a fork in the road. Should he accept his child, no matter what? Or is his own manhood dependent on his son meeting the expectations of his father.
Some audience members stood up to proclaim that the film touched them personally and that it reminded them of their own personal struggles with children that are deemed different.
Morales is not similar to most of the characters he has played. And he shows anxiousness for Hollywood to return to well-told stories, and work on being more authentic when telling stories about the Latino man, woman and child. Perhaps Morales is headed in the direction Tyler Perry was when he couldn’t get Hollywood to fund his projects. So far no Latino has come to the same conclusion, but a successful Latino studio is possible and if produced with thought could be very profitable – Just a suggestion Esai!
Please click here for my review: Gun Hill Road
Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones & no texting please, don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
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