Matthew Modine no longer looks boyish. He just looks old, which I cannot really let myself think about because if he looks old then that means . . . he’s not aging well. I choose to remember him like this:
If you have never seen Vision Quest (1985), you are missing out on some classic this-scenario-is-never-going-to-happen cinema. What I remember most about the film was the Journey song “Only the Young” during the workout montage, the preoccupation with working-class bootstrap narratives that characterized the Reagan years, and the American-Indian wanna-be, proto Noah Puckerman but without the singing, aka Kuch (pronounced KOOCH. Seriously.):
Vision Quest was a coming-of-age film, so it’s unsettling to see Modine playing a philandering doctor in a coming-of-age film about a young woman. What’s even more weird is that he’s a version of Joe Slovak from Gross Anatomy, you know after he’s left Daphne Zuniga and finally gotten around to having children with his second wife, whom he neglects and takes with him to his mistress’ place of employment—the kids not the wife.
I expected to hate this film a lot more, but it just made me tired: tired of precocious overburdened children and saucy, sexy, señorita, mamacita maids expecting to be rescued by Anglo saviors. Besides, I’ve seen this story before; it was called Spanglish. Just because you throw in a lovestruck bandido, a norteño house party, and a well-meaning liberal teacher with a hand-tooled leather bracelet trying to save other children because she can’t be a mother to her own daughter doesn’t mean you’re doing anything new. Rather, this film is tired, so very, very tired, which makes me wonder. What is Pantelion films up to?
Pantelion identifies itself as the “first major Latino Hollywood film studio” or so says its entry on Wikipedia, which should tell you something right there. In any case, its first offering was the disaster From Prada to Nada (2011), which it followed up with a string of films I am certain a great many people did not see. And then it acquired the distribution rights to Casa de mi Padre, which a handful of people did see, and now Girl in Progress, an utterly forgettable film. My point is that Pantelion’s record is very spotty.
The idea behind Pantelion films is that through strategic production and distribution partnerships—television, film, and movie theaters—it will become the leading studio for the Latino market. Sigh. I’ve said it a million times, but I will say it again officially here. Yes, I realize that 13 billion dollars are at stake in the Latino consumer market, but look at the spending patterns of Latinos. We are not simply consumers. We are people. We are people who like films. We are people who like films a lot. In fact, we spend quite a bit of money on our movie-going experiences. If I remember correctly, I believe we spend more than any other ethnic minority group, which means we are buying tickets to and watching mainstream fare with great frequency, doing our part to push up those box office numbers. We aren’t looking for niche market films. We are looking for entertaining films, compelling stories, complex characters, good chases, and satisfying venganza, all set to a Morrissey soundtrack. Where is that film? Make it, and I can guarantee a box-office smash or at the very least a bootlegged DVD that moves like hotcakes at swap meets and pulgas across the country.
I want a film where Vasquez is the one bundling up Bishop on the bridge for the voyage home after kicking alien booty. I want a Lupe Velez biopic that illustrates her disturbing genius, unbelievable sense of style, and dramatic flare. I want the Latin@ version of Pride and Prejudice about the familia Benítez and its overbearing matriarch who is trying to marry off her five daughters. Listen up Hollywood, I got a million of these ideas, and not one includes gardeners, maids, oversexed cha-chas, homeboys, or drug dealers. Have your people call my people, and have them ask for the EA.