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Summer Flicks With a Latino Twist

This season brings a diverse array of movies with Hispanic themes, actors and directors

The Lips (Los Labios)

Release date: June 13

An Argentinian film about three female medical workers treating the poorest of the poor in a rural backwater. An interesting blend of fiction and nonfiction, The Lips features scenes of the actors listening to the complaints of real-life families. What’s exposed is the shocking poverty of these people, as well as the dedication of those who try to help them. Less a full-blown story than a mood piece, The Lips intercuts private moments with the healers with the harsh reality of their work. The film, codirected by Santiago Loza and Iván Fund, has already enjoyed critically acclaimed screenings at the Buenos Aires and Cannes film festivals.

A Better Life

Release date: June 24

Already hailed by Entertainment Weekly as a potential Oscar contender in 2012, A Better Life stars Demián Bichir as an undocumented Mexican gardener in Los Angeles whose truck is stolen. Known for his role as the mayor of Tijuana in Showtime’s comedy hit Weeds, Bichir now plays single father Carlos Galindo as he navigates through the tough barrios of East L.A. to recover his means of livelihood while struggling to provide a better future for his son. A powerful drama from director Chris Weitz (Twilight: New Moon, About a Boy).

Monte Carlo

Release date: July 1

Summertime fun for teens and young adults , Monte Carlo stars Wizards of Waverly Place’s Selena Gomez as one of three girls who save for a dream trip to Paris. The trip starts out as a disaster, but when Gomez’s character is mistaken for a famous heiress, she and her crew decide to live the high life. Soon enough, romance ensues, but Gomez realizes living a lie isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Pretty people, lush locations and great clothes — what’s not to like?


Release date: July 22

A 30-something country boy (Roger Gutierrez) who’s lived most of his life on a Northern California cattle ranch decides to seek his fortune in L.A. He moves into a rundown neighborhood, looks for work and becomes involved with a female neighbor (Christina Woods), who has an unhealthy relationship with a local gangster (played by Danny Trejo — who else?). A slice-of-life film about dead-end lives on mean streets where gangbanging, drugs and violence are all too prevalent. Does geography determine happiness? That’s a question director Richard Kaponas’s film tries to answer.

The Smurfs

Release date: July 29

Those cute little blue people are back — and in 3D! When an evil wizard played by Hank Azaria chases the Smurfs out of their ancestral home, they wind up in New York, where they make their way to the apartment of Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays. A combination of live action and computer animation, this is the latest in the comic book/animated TV series/film franchise begun in the 1950s by Belgian artist Peyo. Jonathan Winters voices Poppa Smurf, with other voice characterizations provided by George Lopez, Sofia Vergara, Katy Perry and Alan Cumming.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

Release date: August 19

The latest in writer/director Robert Rodriguez’s hit series about a family of spies, shot in 3D like the previous episode. This time out, Spy Kids Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) are recruited to help the stepchildren of retired secret agent Jessica Alba, who has been called back into service to stop Jeremy Piven, playing a really, really bad guy who threatens to take over the planet by stopping time. Also starring Antonio Banderas, Melissa Cordero and the ubiquitous Danny Trejo.

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