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The Grand Budapest Hotel: My review

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL for http://www.clubfashionista.com

At times I feel that my tastes are unnatural compared to the opinion of the majority of the people in this planet. Some call it having a rebel mentality in which I do not follow the trends and what everybody is hyping about. I call it being opinionated and sticking to my feelings. Such is the case with artists like Beyonce and Rhianna. I openly admit to NOT liking their music and I have been called crazy for it.

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I went to see the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel with my hopes up. So many people have been raving about how great of a movie it is. Knowing that I was on my way to see a Wes Anderson movie, I knew to expect a well respected and talented cast ensemble. Such was the case with a great cast which consists of actors Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, among others. I was not dissapointed as to the acting is considered. Perfect line deliveries and Anderson’s deep rooted love for symmetry in his compositions is what actually kept me awake throughout the movie.

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This adventure-comedy-tragedy tells the story about a legendary concierge (Fiennes) at a famous European hotel on the verge of World War II and his protege, hotel boy and film narrator Zero Moustafa. It involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. Because of the lack of similarities between two actors playing the same character at different times, I became pretty confused at an early stage in the movie. Abraham (older Moustafa) and his early version, Tony Revolori, do not look like each other at all. By the time I figured it out it was already too late for me to catch up with the whole story. The crazy sped-up chase scenes added to my confusion. It became too chaotic and frantic. Even with the sections being introduced by titles with chapter readings, I was lost. Although I love comedy, I am not a fan of the caricaturistic technique used in some of it and this movie contained heavy doses of Anderson’s trademark gift which is making the most mundane look ridiculous.

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On the other hand, I absolutely loved the photography, images, symmetry and color. The visuals were breathtaking and perfectly executed. It was beautifully designed with a gorgeous use of color and texture. The Costume Design department might be on their way to Oscar night. The uniforms for the soldiers and hotel bellboys were immaculately designed.

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In conclusion, this quirky, fast paced, dark comedy is not on the list of my favorites. It takes more than engaging photography, list of a great cast, and people raving about it for me to leave the theater saying, “Wow, now that is a must see”. Still, it is all about perspectives and tastes!

Follow me now on twitter @darlenevaz    www.twitter.com/darlenevaz

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My latest film Mi Princesa at the Chicago Latino Film Festival 2014

There is an exciting world out there in the movie industry that many people have yet to experience. As actors, we often get asked when and in which movie theater our movie is going to be shown. Not every film makes it to the theaters. Some go straight to DVD or TV. Then you have the film festivals. Typically held annually all over the world, film festivals shed light on independent films, up-and-coming actors, and unique genres.

My heart is filled with happiness and pride as the Chicago Latino Film Festival wraps up. It was truly an amazing experience where stories were told through the eyes of filmmakers from all over the world. For us to be able to show Mi Princesa, a movie in which I had my first role as a lead actress, was an honor. We were one of the films representing my island, Puerto Rico.

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Top:  (Me during filming of Mi Princesa in Puerto Rico)

Bottom:  (With Mi Princesa Director Carlos Jimenez Flores at our movie premiere in the Festival)

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Our first presentation of “Mi Princesa” was on Saturday April 12. I did not know what to expect. Fortunately, we had a full house. It is customed that at the end of a movie being presented at a festival there is a Q & A (Questions and Answers) where the director, actors, producers step up to the front and respond to questions from the audience. I have to say that this was one of my favorite parts of the entire process. Being able to explain different aspects of working in the film, decisions taken as an actress for my role, and answering to the other curiosities from the audience was an absolute honor for me. Words cannot describe how I felt as I spoke to each and every one of the people that came to me after we exited the sala.

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Being an actress sometimes you go through your ups and downs, insecurities and fear regarding your career . It can be a very unstable lifestyle that you try to balance with family, friends and love relationships. But moments like these, when you receive immediate feedback from your work, is when you realize that you are where you have to be, you are doing what you should be doing. I met so many beautiful people. Words of encouragement, no agendas, simply pure love and respect. My heart was crying happy tears.

Attending these Film Festivals, you not only get the opportunity to interact with the audience but also with fellow actors, directors, and producers who are out there presenting their latest work of art, their “babies.” Through the daily luncheons provided by the swell festival organizers, we had the opportunity to meet, talk about our projects, make connections, share our experiences in the film making process while, of course, enjoy some great wine and food as well.

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(With Colombian actor Manolo Cardona)

How beautiful it is to sit in a room with people from completely different countries and backgrounds but with one big thing in common: a love for creating films. It has been one of my biggest gratifications so far. I will forever treasure the experience, the inspiration, and the kindness I received at the Chicago Latin Film Festival.

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(With Chilean actress Paulina Garcia.  She received the Career Achievement Award at the Festival)

I encourage everybody to support the Film Festivals. You learn to appreciate this art at a whole new level and at the same time learn about other cultures. Aside from our movie, “Mi Princesa”, I was able to attend various movie showings and enjoyed beautiful cinematography and storytelling. There is no need for a Hollywood budget to make a great movie. No big crews, not so much complexity on the story board. All you need is a good STORY to tell.

I want to highlight the movies “El Faro” (Colombia-Dir. Pacho Bottia), “No quiero dormir sola” (Mexico-Dir. Natalia Beristain), “I am from Chile” (Gonzalo Diaz), “Somos gente honrada” (Spain Dir. Alejandro Marzoa), “Corazon de Leon” (Argentina- Dir. Marcos Carnevale), and short film “Eggman” (USA-Dir. Victor Martin).

I also want to thank Festival Director Pepe Vargas for a well organized festival and for always being present and available for anything we needed. Congratulations on a successful 30th year Anniversary of the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

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(With Festival Director Pepe Vargas)

Follow me now on Twitter @darlenevaz
http://www.twitter.com/darlenevaz

 

© DarleneVazquetelles, [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [DarleneVazquetelles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Although many people see Puerto Rico as being too “americanized” because of its status of Commonwealth of the United States, the people in the island continue to emphasize loyalty to the culture and folklore that heavily exists in the island. There are hundreds of traditions that define the island of Puerto Rico and one of them is the great amount of festivals that we celebrate throughout the year.
One of the most famous festivals is called the San Sebastián Festival (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián). San Sebastián (Saint Sebastian) was a Christian who was martyred for his faith at around the year 288. There is a street on the north side of Old San Juan named in his honor and this is where this event takes place. Considered to be one of the biggest celebrations in San Juan, it is held the third week of January. It gets stuffed with crowds, food, alcohol, live music, and arts and crafts exhibited by our local artists. It has been an annual event since 1970, and what started as a community fund-raiser has become the festival to go to. This 4-day event is attended by both locals and tourists. You can compare it with Mardi Gras minus the beads and the breasts! Just imagine, crowds walking on the street dancing, singing, drinking and enjoying this event that is part of Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage.

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(SAN SEBASTIAN FESTIVAL-FIESTAS DE LA CALLE SAN SEBASTIAN)

One of the best gifts you could give to yourself when moving to a different country is to keep your traditions and culture alive, especially if you have children that are now being raised in a different place. You add some decorations from back home, hang the flag, paintings, souvenirs you brought back with you. You play the music, cook the traditional food, go online to keep up with the news from your country, etc. There are so many ways to maintain that connection with a country you hold so close to your heart, the one you first saw when welcomed into this world. As a way to remember your hometown, you also attend local events that represent that place, its traditions and customs. One example of a cultural representation away from home is the San Sebastian Festival IN MIAMI!
I heard about this last year while I was attending the festival in Old San Juan. At first I thought it was a joke. How can you possibly try to imitate such a big event in a little street in Miami? I found out a good friend of mine, actor Julian Gil, was organizing it and being that I was in Florida at the time, this year I decided to attend with my mother.

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(My Mom, Julian Gil and myself)

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(San Sebastian Festival in Miami)

I was very proud of this representation. They managed to close a busy street in the area of Brikell and turn it into a block party dedicated to one of our dearest traditions back home in Puerto Rico. I loved seeing people from different cultural backgrounds come to the event and learn a little bit more about this tradition. There were Rum and Coquito (our version of Eggnog) tastings, Puerto Rican fritters which represent our diet and even a pig roasting.

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When talking to Julian Gil he mentioned how the plan is to add more streets to this block party in Brikell in honor of the original San Sebastian Festival in Puerto Rico. It promises to be a new cultural event in South Florida.

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(This banner placed at the event in Miami simulates what the San Sebastian Street in Old San Juan, PR, looks like during the festival.)

In Miami you get more of the Latin flavor being that it has become the new home for people coming from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc. Many of us have left our countries for different reasons. The important thing is to be able to keep your values, your history, your roots alive. It is part of who we were, who we are and who we will be. It is what we pass to our children in the future, what we teach others who come along the way. I encourage to be open minded and learn more about other cultures. In times where there is still so much ignorance and racism, these type of events are important. You learn about others and at the end you realize there is always something you can relate to. After all… who doesn’t enjoy some good music, food and dancing!

Darlene

 

 

 

 

My Story: The Actor Behind MI PRINCESA

When people think of actors they probably think of these:  Hollywood, Glamour and Luxury.  Few are aware of the struggles most of the actors go through in order to be seen, get booked and be paid to do a job.  On the one hand, some make it all the way to the three I just mentioned.  On the other hand, some are happy just by getting paid doing something that they love.  The second is my case.  I started acting when I was in my early teens, doing local commercials and T.V. shows in Puerto Rico.  Although I wanted to work behind the scenes, life led me to the world in front of the camera and as time went by, I started considering acting as a career goal.  Little did I know that it was a decision that would involve more sacrifices than I could have ever imagined.

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting at a time when Latinas were still not accepted in the industry unless you were going for the maid, nanny or prostitute role.  Although some of these have not changed, Sofia Vergara has recently opened more doors for us.  When I first moved out there in 2002 I was constantly told that I had to take accent reduction classes.  Stubborn me, I refused.  Fast forward to the present and casting directors LOVE my accent as I sound like the girl from that show: Modern Family.

I never lost myself in the Hollywood field of dreams. I would be asked out by producers who thought I was going to be the “aspiring actress who would do anything for a role”.  I would walk away from these type of situations, with tears coming down my face as I faced the sad reality that can happen to young girls out there.  But nothing would make me give up.  I would wipe my tears and keep moving forward.  The sacrifice of being so far away from my family and the town that saw me grow was too hard and painful for me to get discouraged by the ignorance of some of the “powerful players” out there.

The money situation is another aspect that we actors struggle with.  Oftentimes, people joke about it but it is sadly the truth.  Because of the instability of auditions and work, we will be the ones acting as your server, bartender, hostess, etc.  If you think that sending resumes and going to a couple of job interviews is hard, imagine having to do that two to three times on a daily basis, to be called back one out of the last ten interviews (auditions). Although it can get frustrating, it is a matter of keeping your self-esteem and faith at a high level.

And then comes the times when an acting job parallels the reality of your life: “Too close to home” moments.

Such was my case for the movie I want to introduce to you called MI PRINCESA (My Princess).  I was sitting on the floor of my apartment in North Hollywood packing everything into boxes as my relationship of 2 ½ years came to an end.  It was a very emotional time for me when I was crawling around life with a broken heart.  Puerto Rican Director Carlos Jimenez Flores, whom I had worked for before in two other films, called and asked me to be in his next film which would start shooting in my hometown, Puerto Rico.  Although at first I did not want to do it as I was trying to take in what had just happened in my life, between him and friend and actor Sevier Crespo (who plays my brother in Mi Princesa), I was convinced to take the offer. I flew to Puerto Rico to work on the film and soon my life turned around for the better!

Although as actors we go through a lot of downs, there are the ups that you do experience when you are part of this beautiful art.  Talk about timing.  As my relationship with a love ends, I start working on my first acting job as the LEAD actress in a DRAMA/ROMANCE. Aside from having family and friends around to cheer me up, the irony of this life event brought smiles and laughter back to my life.  I arrived July 13th of 2012 and started shooting my scenes on the 14th. I did not have much time to settle in back at my parents’ apartment.  But there I was.  You move on and you show up for work.

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As I walked to my first day on set, I took in the beautiful scenery in front of me and thanked God for the opportunity to be working at home.  I was now playing the role of Mayra, a good girl who is full of life, surrounded by family and friends. The only thing she has been missing is love and she is about to find it.  Again, very ironic as I had just lost it in real life. Nevertheless, I was ready to play this character!

(CLOWNING BEHIND THE SCENES:  HUMOR ALWAYS WORKS)

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One of the challenges you can face when working on a film is a lack of connection with fellow actors, especially when shooting a romance. Being that Mi Princesa was shot without scripted lines and we had to improv, I was a little bit scared as to how the interaction was going to go between the actor who was playing my love interest and myself. I met him less than 10 minutes before shooting our first scene.  I have to admit that it was challenging at first.  The director let us know what he wanted out of the scene and we proceeded to give it to him, but it was a little bit uncomfortable at first, for both of us. This was his first acting job and I was fighting the emotions that were so raw inside of me as a result of all the changes that I was going through.  Still, we did our scene and after seeing the final result, it could not have been better!

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(First scene with my love interest in the movie, Ricky. Played by Roberto Perez Perez)

After the ice was broken and days of shooting went by, everything just started flowing in divine order.  The Director found some amazing locations where I got to enjoy the beautiful sceneries of my island that I had been missing for so long.  We shot at beaches, mountain view locations in the country, resorts, venues with great local live music, among others. I was finding that happy place again.  I was home.  I got to work with one of my best friends, actress Millie Ruperto, a great crew and the icing on the cake, my niece Kenya. The Director offered my niece a role in the movie and she flew in from Miami to be a part of it.  I had my team!

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(MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO)

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(WAITING TO SHOOT A WEDDING SCENE WITH ACTOR ROBERTO PEREZ PEREZ AND A GREAT FRIEND AND ACTRESS, MILLIE RUPERTO)

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(ABOVE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MY BEAUTIFUL NIECE KENYA DE JESUS)

(BELOW: KENYA RECEIVING DIRECTIONS)

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(OLD SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES)

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After two weeks of shooting my heart was feeling happy! We had an amazing project in our hands.  I was able to go back and work in my beautiful Puerto Rico surrounded by love and creating new memories.  I was back to being me.

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(WITH THE PRODUCTION CREW BY THE FORTRESS-EL MORRO IN SAN JUAN)

Production finished the last week of July 2012.  As in any production, there can be obstacles that can risk a movie to be finished and/or released.  So was the case with Mi Princesa.  Some of the crew parted ways, footage was given to the editing team later than expected, while other footage was lost with really important scenes we will not get to see.  The editing went from hands of the crew in Puerto Rico to another company in Chicago, which is Director Carlos Jimenez Flores’ hometown.

Three months ago I received a phone call the day after Thanksgiving of 2013 in which I was notified of some scenes that were missing that needed to be shot.  And off to Chicago I went.  I was pretty excited.  Not only was I going to go back to portray the character of Mayra which I loved, but I was also going to do it in a completely new scenario for me, SNOW!

Yep, I had never seen snow and traveling to Chicago to shoot three more scenes for the movie allowed me to go through this experience for the first time ever!!  I was feeling like a little kid!

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So here I was in cold Chicago shooting scenes that were supposed to be in warm Puerto Rico.  Fortunately the scenes were shot inside.

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(WITH DIRECTOR CARLOS JIMENEZ FLORES)

MI PRINCESA is a beautiful film which includes culture, traditions, love, beautiful images, friendships, music, family and the art of being able to forgive.  It is amazing to me how I started shooting this film coming from a broken heart and finished it a year and a half later in love with an amazing man God was saving for me.  His name is Fabian Alicastro, a Colombian singer/songwriter/producer who happens to have a song in Mi Princesa.

Things happen for a reason! Sometimes you have to go back home, to your roots, to your self in order to move forward.  Trust in God that everything in life has a purpose and with love and faith you are going to be all right!
I want to share with you a teaser for MI PRINCESA.

This film will be premiering in Fine Arts, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico on June 17th, 2015.

If you want more information you can contact me at darlavaz@gmail.com or through my twitter page http://www.twitter.com/darlenevaz

Love,

Darlene

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© DarleneVazquetelles, [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [DarleneVazquetelles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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