Elpidia Carrillo

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Seven Pounds Review


OK
Consumed by remorse and despair, a successful businessman gives up all hope after accidentally killing six strangers and his beloved wife. To make amends, he decides to off himself and donate his bodily organs to seven strangers.

That's Seven Pounds in a nutshell, and it sounds more like Saw 6 than a holiday drama reuniting Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino with Will Smith. But unlike Happyness, the feel-good movie of 2006, Seven Pounds is just the opposite -- a feel-bad movie -- and its unpleasant aftertaste lingers in your mouth for days. After watching this depression-inducing saga of sadness, you'll need a Zoloft prescription.

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Salvador Review


Excellent
It's like two Hunter Thompson characters come to life. In Oliver Stone's harrowing Salvador, James Woods and James Belushi play two real-life guys named Richard Boyle and "Doctor Rock." Boyle's a down on his luck journalist (I mean way down). Rock's a San Francisco deejay. Together they take El Salvador by storm in an unforgettable musical!

Okay, scratch that last bit. Salvador is actually a gripping docu-drama about the horrors of the revolution in that country in the mid-1980s. From raped nuns to the mass dumping of dead bodies, Stone's gaze is unflinching on the horrors that occurred, and Wood's Boyle is there to document it all, despite an utter lack of charisma, money, or morality.

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Bread And Roses Review


Very Good
Not to be confused with Bread and Tulips, this oddly compelling look at illegal immigrant janitors who unionize in San Diego is far more interesting than its plot description. While Adrien Brody is engaging as the brash organizer and Pilar Padilla makes a wonderful impression as an immigrant organizee/love interest, the show is all but stolen by George Lopez's hilariously dead-on turn as the evil janitorial foreman.

Nine Lives Review


Weak
A well-cast compilation film suffocating on its own self-importance, Nine Lives aims to tie together nine vastly different stories, but ends up telling hardly any of them well. The conceit of writer/director Rodrigo Garcia is to take nine vignettes, each centered around a different woman (usually in desperate circumstances), and give us a brief glimpse into her life before cutting away to the next one, while stringing a few connecting threads between them all. To ensure that he's not playing favorites, each piece is done in one single Steadicam shot and kept to only nine or ten minutes in length. A minor character from one vignette becomes a major player later on, or vice versa. As in literature, anthology works like this are a hit-and-miss affair, and in this case the misses far outnumber the ones that connect.

Nine Lives opens strong on Sandra (Elpidia Carrillo), an imprisoned mother. Mopping up a floor, she's threatened by fellow prisoners, and harassed by a guard (Miguel Sandoval) who's convinced she can give him information. Everyone tells Sandra she's not going to make it, but you think she just might be able to, hunkering down turtle-like and just plowing through the rest of her sentence. But then her daughter visits, and the phone doesn't work, sending Sandra into a stunning explosion of rage, like a mother bear kept from her cub. It's a short, unrelentingly powerful story, and done by itself it would stand as a sublime little tragedy. The same goes for the final piece, in which Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning (hardly a better match could be imagined) visit a cemetery and talk with sublime ease about not much at all. But then comes the rest of the film in between.

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Predator Review


Bad
The scariest thing about Predator is that its lead actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently serving as governor of California. I'm not questioning Schwarzenegger's leadership or intellectual abilities, but it does worry me that the he-man who, in this movie, swings from trees, rolls in mud, and mumbles lines like, "If it bleeds, we can kill it," is leading the most populous state in the country. Beyond Schwarzenegger's startling career change, Predator offers little else that's remotely frightening. Unless you are still sucking your thumbs and cuddling with teddy bears, Predator offers only laughs, not chills. If you're mature enough to cross the street by yourself, you're far too mature to find Predator scary.

Yet, Predator does exhibit a few morsels of potential. Given the effective atmosphere and pacing of the film, it is evident that more capable minds could have molded this thriller into an ageless, unrelenting struggle between man and beast. Unfortunately, instead of penning a daring, original plot, writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas recycle formulas from movies like Rambo and Alien. It goes without saying that Predator brings nothing new to the table, and lacks both surprise and suspense.

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Bread & Roses Review


Weak

"Bread and Roses" isn't a movie so much as a political soapbox made of celluloid, so if you lean to the right on unionization and immigrant's rights, you might as well stop reading right here.

Personally, I tend to lean left. But no so far left that I'm ready to embrace this movie's selfish, ungrateful main character just because she makes minimum wage without benefits as a janitor, one month after sneaking over the border.

Maya (Pillar Padilla) is living in Los Angeles on the good graces of her older sister Rosa (Elpidia Carrillo), who helped her get into the country and got her a job cleaning offices in a downtown skyscraper. And even though generous, sacrificial Rosa -- who supports an injured husband and a handful of kids on her meager salary at the same job -- specifically asks her to not rock the boat at work, Maya gets involved with a union organizer named Sam (Adrien Brody) and it isn't long before she's helping lead marches and protests against the building's owners, tenants and contractors.

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Elpidia Carrillo Movies

Seven Pounds Movie Review

Seven Pounds Movie Review

Consumed by remorse and despair, a successful businessman gives up all hope after accidentally killing...

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Nine Lives Movie Review

Nine Lives Movie Review

A well-cast compilation film suffocating on its own self-importance, Nine Lives aims to tie together...

Predator Movie Review

Predator Movie Review

The scariest thing about Predator is that its lead actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently serving...

Bread & Roses Movie Review

Bread & Roses Movie Review

"Bread and Roses" isn't a movie so much as a political soapbox made of celluloid,...

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