Like Water for Chocolate

The kitchen’s all steamy.

One of the sultriest films of the ’90s, this Mexican masterpiece combines sex and food, swirling the flavors together to create a savory dish to remember.

At the center of this tale of brooding romance is the absolutely wonderful Lumi Cavazos, who roared on to my radar thanks to this film and Bottle Rocket.

Like Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates, she seems to have retired early, with no IMDB credits after 2005.

Cavazos is greatly missed, but hopefully happy in this stage of her life, and will always be appreciated for the films she left behind.


Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

“You take care of the boy, I’ll take care of the father.”

He may be a low-life, boozed-up drifter, but Bennie, as played by the superb Warren Oates, does have a personal moral code.

Of sorts.

Chasing after a dead body, so he can hack off the head and collect a million-dollar bounty, he comes to identify with the hapless object of his search.

His sense of loyalty doesn’t help Bennie escape his madly-swirling life.

But, in a world of degenerates, it does make him slightly less of a cretin than the guys shooting at him.

So, there’s that.

The Hitch-Hiker

Your mom told you not to pick up strangers.

Two fishing buddies, headed to Mexico, make a mistake and end up with a third guy in their car — only the passenger is much more dangerous than the duo riding up front.

A beautifully-crafted hunk of film noir directed by Ida Lupino, this is a lean ‘n mean 71 minutes.

Just the right running time to get in, cause some damage, and get out.

William Talman, who made his rep co-starring on Perry Mason, is a creepy, sadistic brute in this one, taunting his captives as they head for a final showdown.

Nacho Libre

“Would you like to join me in my quarters this evening … for some toast?”

It took some arm-twisting, but once they started watching this off-kilter, and actually, very sweet-natured ode to the world of Mexican lucha libre wrestling, my nephews actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

Of course, being 10 and 8, their favorite moments came when Jack Black or some other hapless soul got kneed in the groin, had their underwear pulled up over their head, or collected an assortment of wet willies and purple nurples.

Which just means they have good taste, since their cinema teacher, Uncle David, heartily approves.


The Wild Bunch

Let the bullets fly.

Raining down hot lead, the anti-heroes at the heart of this blood-spattered Western exit in style, shooting their way into the sunset.

Notorious in its day for its crackling violence (and lack of anyone wearing a white hat), it still has a sizable impact, even if it doesn’t make viewers clutch their pearls as hard now.

Look past the blood squibs and bullet holes, and you get a beautifully melancholy tale of men who’ve outlived their time.

The old ways are fading, but they’ll be damned if they don’t go out in a blaze of glory.