Book of the Month: Latinx Ciné in the 21st Century

Our recommendation this month is Latinx Ciné, a book edited by scholar Frederick Luis Aldama collecting 24 chapters divided in seven thematic parts.

Part I The questions of twenty-first century Latinx ciné
The collection opens with a series of papers introducing the variety of Latinx film-related products, providing an outline of 21st century Latinx documentary and spanning from docu-games to Latinx production companies. Particularly interesting are Monica Hanna’s text on the changing poetics in documentaries set on the US-Mexico border and Rebecca Sheehan’s text on docu-games, a narrative format often left unexplored.
Part II Reframing and center-staging Latinx nonfiction flicks
The following part focuses on biopics and a quite interesting read is Dobreva and García’s chapter on the representation of salsa in film, comparing Fania Records’ films and more recent biopic El Cantante.
Part III Toward a borderland ciné of precarity and situated excess
This section spans across the diverse lives and perspectives of migrants as depicted in 21st century Latinx films. Ariana Ruiz’s chapter on the work of Jim Mendiola delves into an alternative Latinidad in San Antonio, Texas, focusing on the insertion of print culture in his punk-rock film series Pretty Vacant and Speeder Kills.
Part IV Latinx futurities
The book collects here three chapters on Alex Rivera’s seminal border sci-fi film Sleep Dealer, tackling it from different perspectives. A very interesting chapter on Puerto Rican sci-fi cinema completes the section; Matthew David Goodwin analyzes in particular Carla Gavina’s Extra Terrestres and its depiction of scientific realism.
Part V Superheroic Latinx
The following part collects two chapters on Marvel’s Logan and the exploitation of the mutant superhero trope to represent immigration related topics. Danielle Alexis Orozco’s text focuses in particular on the young coprotagonist Laura, dehumanization processes and neocolonialism.
Part VI Pixelated browns
This section delves into animation, whether it’s a stereotyped Mexican character in Despicable Me 2 (in an interesting take by Sara veronica Hinojos), Disney’s Coco, or Del Toro’s multimedial saga Trollhunters, set in southern California and marked by a distinct Latinidad (Iván Eusebia Aguirre Darancou).
Part VII Twenty-first century engenderings of Latinx ciné
The volume is completed by a section taking on gender and queer studies, with two very different chapters on the representation of Latinas in biopics, as well as Richard Rodríguez’s text on Peter Bratt’s La Mission and the representation of a Latinx queer community.

Overall, Latinx Ciné comes across as an enriching read and a useful exploration on the topic, providing a diverse outline and definitely expanding the scope of Latinx film studies. Most chapters are written in a quite engaging way, making of the book a rather pleasant read.

 

Aldama, Frederick Luis, ed. 2019. Latinx Ciné in the Twenty-First Century. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.


Anna Marta Marini

PhD fellow in North American Studies @ Instituto Franklin–UAH. My main research interests are: CDA related to direct/structural/cultural violence; discursive and cultural representation of the US borderlands and Mexican American heritage; identity re/construction and narration through cinema and comics, especially related to minorities as well as otherness in gothic, horror, and (weird)western genres.

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