Selena

For the third season of Ten Movies we’re watching the films of Jennifer Lopez. Though today she is acclaimed, celebrated and beloved, in 1997 she had yet to star in a major film. Her first big role was Selena, the true story of the Mexican-American pop singer whose meteoric rise to fame was cut short by her tragic murder at the age of 23.

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So here’s the thing. The story of Selena is important, one about Americans whose stories are not often told, especially in such a positive, celebratory way. However, the movie of Selena is … not great? There’s some stellar performances, especially Edward James Olmos as Selena’s father, and Jennifer Lopez really makes you believe that Selena was a world-class performer.

But the movie was made with so much reverence for its subject that it becomes an extended exercise in hagiography – it’s the canonization of a saint. On the one hand, it’s easy to see why, given that her family – who had just lost their young, beautiful, talented daughter – was closely involved and what she represented to so many Mexican-Americans and other Americans from Latino backgrounds.

On the other hand, it makes it tough to judge this solely as a feature film. But judge it thusly we must, here at the distant remove of 2020.

Are we wrong in our criticisms? Or are they, perhaps, simply beside the point? Join us and see.

Anaconda

For the third season of Ten Movies we’re watching the films of Jennifer Lopez. You may know her as J Lo, or Jenny from the Block, but back in the day she was a young actress looking for a place to shine and one of her earliest roles was the giant snake horror-thriller Anaconda.

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Is the giant snake movie any good? Well, Hemal and Brian did not entirely agree on the quality of the film as a work of art, but did agree that if you like giant snake movies on the whole, you will be pleased with Anaconda. They also both enjoyed the work of Jon Voight, who plays a malevolent, supercilious villain. (Sounds like maybe he’s kind of a malevolent, supercilious person in real life, so there’s some real verisimilitude here.)

The film also stars a number of other supporting actors who would go on to do good, or at least recognizable, things, including Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, Eric Stoltz and – despite Hemal’s reluctance to admit it – Kari Wuhrer.

Join us as we discuss this cinematic work, its impact on the culture, its relative wokeness in casting a Latina in a starring action role 20+ years ago and what it tells us about Ms. Lopez and her place in the American popular canon. Also we talk about the various ways the snake ate people. There were a lot.