10 Good Movies for Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Whether you’re Mexican-American or just enjoy an excuse to drink a little more in the middle of the week, these 10 good movies for Cinco de Mayo should provide you with some extra entertainment during the May 5th festivities. And for all you ignorant gringos out there (myself included), here are a few interesting facts about Cinco de Mayo before we jump into the movie recommendations:

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But enough of the history lesson. Let’s get to the list of 10 good movies for Cinco de Mayo.

Stand and Deliver (1988) – Edward James Olmos gives an inspirational performance as Jaime Escalante, a real-life math teacher at an East Los Angeles high school who helps his students learn calculus and gain increased self-confidence. Olmos received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the stubborn and quirky Escalante, and Andy Garcia and Lou Diamond Phillips also turn in notable performances. If you like films with teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, then Stand and Deliver is a must-see.

La Bamba (1987) – Lou Diamond Phillips makes his second appearance on the list, this time in the big screen bio about the all-too-short life of 50’s rocker Ritchie Valens. From his meteoric rise to the top of the charts to his difficult relationship with his half-brother (Esai Morales), La Bamba weaves an entertaining tale appropriate for all ages. It also features plenty of catchy music, and all of Valens’ songs are performed by Los Lobos.

Real Women Have Curves (2002) – Before she was Ugly Betty, America Ferrera starred in this indie coming-of-age tale about a bright young Mexican-American girl living in East L.A. and coping with romance, family issues, and constant concerns about her size. George Lopez co-stars as a teacher who encourages Ana (Ferrera) to pursue her dreams of attending Columbia. Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Selena (1997) – Watch Jennifer Lopez become a star in this biographical account of Tejano music star Selena, who was tragically murdered by the president of her fan club at only 23 years of age. Edward James Olmos co-stars as her father, and John Ceda plays Selena’s husband, Chris Perez. A robust tale of a young woman pursuing her dreams, and, like La Bamba, you’ll be able to watch it with the whole family.

My Family (1995) – Filled with life and love, this film from director Gregory Nava tells the story of three generations of the Sanchez family, who immigrate from Mexico and settle in Eastern Los Angeles. The three principal actors are Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales and Jimmy Smits, and Jennifer Lopez makes her second film appearance. Overlooked at the American box office, My Family is definitely worth a look this Cinco de Mayo.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) – Anthony Hopkins stars as the original Zorro, an aging nobleman named Don Diego De La Vega. In an attempt to reclaim his daughter (stolen and raised by the villainous Don Rafael Montero) and prevent the bad guys from buying California from Santa Anna, Don Diego trains a young bandit named Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) to be his successor. The result is loads of swashbuckling action, including horsemanship, swordplay, and the always-lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones as Don Diego’s daughter (even though Jones herself is Welsh).

Born in East L.A. (1987) – Based on his hit novelty song, Cheech Marin stars in his first film without Tommy Chong. He plays Rudy Robles, a native of East Los Angeles who gets mistaken for an illegal immigrant during a raid and deported to Tijuana. Co-starring Paul Rodriguez, Daniel Stern and Jan-Michael Vincent.

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) – Directed by Robert Redford and set in the fictional New Mexico town of Milagro, the film tells of a scheme by big business to dry up the local crops by diverting water and then buy up the land. But they don’t count on Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera), a local bean farmer who refuses to give in. Co-starring Sonia Braga, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Ruben Blades, Melanie Griffith, Freddy Fender and Christopher Walken. For a detailed account of the filmmaking process, track down the essay by John Nichols (whose novel inspired the film) titled “Night of the Living Beanfield: How an Unsuccessful Cult Novel Became an Unsuccessful Cult Film in Only Fourteen Years, Eleven Nervous Breakdowns, and $20 Million.”

Desperado (1995) – The second film in the Mariachi Trilogy from director Robert Rodriguez, Desperado picks up with Antonio Banderas in the title role of a vigilante musician out to take down a drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida). Filled with action and bloodshed, it also has the distinction of debuting Salma Hayek in the U.S. market (and what a debut it is!). Cheech Marin and Quentin Tarantino make cameos, and Steve Buscemi and Danny Trejo also get in on the action.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) – The third installment in Robert Rodriguez’s Mariachi Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico finds El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) recruited by a quirky CIA agent (Johnny Depp) to kill the Mexican general responsible for the death of his wife (Salma Hayek) and child. Depp takes center stage in this one, gobbling down Mexican food and shooting anyone who gets in his way. Between he and Banderas, there’s plenty of eye candy for female viewers, and guys get treated to both Hayek and Eva Mendes. The rest of the supporting cast includes Mickey Rourke, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Willem Dafoe, Danny Trejo and Enrique Iglesias.

All of these 10 good movies for Cinco de Mayo can be purchased through Amazon or rented from Netflix, and the small commission we receive helps us stay in business. In fact, Netflix offers new customers a free trial membership. For more reading, you can also check out the following links:

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