Tag Archives: Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek in Cirque du Freak- The Vampire’s Assistant (Movie Review)

salma hayek bearded lady

Hey, at least I don't have a unibrow this time

The film Cirque du Freak is based on the first three books of a young adult series called The Saga of Darren Shan or alternately, Cirque du Freak.  It is unfortunate that this film comes after several vampire movies and TV series because I am sure vampire fatigue will make some people dismiss it. That would be a mistake because Cirque du Freak isn’t annoyingly angsty and any love story is secondary to the plot. It is grittier, darker, and surprisingly fun.

I have not read any of the Cirque du Freak books, so I didn’t go see this movie with preconceived notions about what I thought I should see. I enjoyed The Vampire’s Assistant. It has lots of dark humor, seriously scary moments, and blessedly few cheesy ones (a graveyard pinball scene comes to mind).  The casting is pretty much perfect except for Mr. Crepsley. He was supposedly converted into a vampire when he was 20 years old but the actor, John C. Reilly, is clearly in his forties. Weren’t vampires supposed to look the same as when they died? This may be explained in the books, but not in the film. Overlooking that detail, Reilly does a great job as Mr. Crepsley. The circus freaks were wonderfully done by several brilliant actors, and it is a pity we didn’t get to see more of them. The only freaks I thought looked truly fake were the CGI creatures that look like mini-druids.

Darren Shan, the titular vampire’s assistant, lives in a suburban neighborhood where people dress in pastel and khaki, and absolutely no freaks are allowed. He is a straight A student and all-around good kid. His best friend Steve continuously gets him in trouble, so Darren’s parents forbid him to hang out with Steve. Still, Darren rebels and continues to see him anyways. They go to a Cirque du Freak show recently come to town and that’s where the trouble begins. From suburban teens, they end up becoming enmeshed in a war between Vampires and the Vampaneze.  The main difference between these two factions is that the Vampaneze feed off humans and kill them, while the Vampires don’t kill anyone they feed on. Darren and Steve become pawns of a Mr. Tiny, a character that at first reminded me of Fringe’s Observer, only this guy is truly evil and instead of just observing is an enthusiastic participant and instigator of the Vampire/Vampaneze war. (When I looked up the actor, Michael Cerveris, I discovered that hey, he was Fringe’s Observer with lots of prosthetic makeup. D’oh! I guess he’s been typecast.)

Salma Hayek plays the part of Madame Truska,  the Bearded Lady, who gets visions that she can’t remember. Her character has a romantic relationship with Mr. Crepsley and besides providing him support and blurting out random visions (and showing off her cleavage) doesn’t have much to do. This is very disappointing for an actress of Salma’s caliber. I am hoping that she chose this role because of the strong potential for sequels and that the character of Madame Truska will become more important in future installments. Come to think of it, all the female characters could do with more independence and strength and not be there for the sole comfort of males, offering up blood (or body parts) for consumption. Since The Vampire’s Assistant is clearly set up for at least one sequel, I hope things change for all the ladies, including Madame Truska.

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2009 Alma Awards Winners

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948  film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

Selena Gómez, Ricardo Montalbán (here with Esther Williams in the 1948 film “On an Island With You” ) and Lauren Vélez were were recognized at the 2009 Alma Awards ceremony

As an update to my previous post, here are my impressions of the Alma Awards. First, it was not live.  While I found this annoying in a way I loved how it shaved off show time. Usually award shows like this go on for way too long. This one was packed into two hours of nonstop acceptance speeches, video montages, and performances. The best performance was by a young singer called David Archuleta who I had never heard of before but since the tweens on Twitter were going crazy for him I looked him up and turns out he was last year’s American Idol finalist. He sang a timeless love song in español (Contigo en la Distancia- Together Across the Distance) effortlessly. Kudos to David! Shakira gave a disappointing overly sexual performace of She-Wolf. Shakira, you don’t need to do that, honey. Your talent transcends any body gyrations you can make onstage. Nelly Furtado sang Manos al aire (Hands Up) from her first album in Spanish (and I loved it). I think the only thing I really disliked about the Alma Awards was George Lopez’s sense of humor- repeatedly putting down your own people to get laughs really isn’t the best thing to do at a show that intends to transcend stereotypes. Lopez’s comments made me uncomfortable during the whole show. At least Eva Longoria was classy.

They didn’t present any winners to the “Year Behind the Scenes” category, so check the link below for the full list of Alma winners in case it was a separate ceremony. (It wasn’t up when I wrote this.) Here are some genre highlights from the awards ceremony:

  • Edward James Olmos presented a special sports award to boxer Oscar de la Hoya for his boxing and philanthropy work. We all know Admiral Adama likes boxing, so he was a fitting presenter for this particular award. Before presenting it, Olmos blessed the audience and I swear was *this* close to saying “So Say We All!” Maybe not- but I like to think he wanted to!
  • The gorgeous Salma Hayek, who has been in several genre films, was very gracious with her long time fans and dedicated her Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence to them. Thanks Salma!
  • When Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) accepted her best comedy actress award she said that there were many other nominated actresses more talented than she is. Perhaps, but this girl definitely has the potential of greatness and the fact that her show focuses on a Latino-heritage family makes it a win for families who watch Disney TV. Latino kids can watch other kids like them on TV, and other ethnicities can enjoy some Disney bubblegum with a Latino flavor. That’s inspiration right there.
  • Rita Moreno presented a special recognition of Ricardo Montalbán and his work helping other Latino actors in the industry. They had a great video montage, and his role as Khan was singled out! I had no idea how hot he was when he was young and starting out. Wow.
  • Dexter’s Lauren Velez won best TV drama actress. When she got up to accept her award I did a double take because there were TWO of her! Not really; it was her twin sister. Sweet of them to be together like that.

From one boxer to another

From one boxer to another

I don’t think the Alma Awards are very accurate in actually giving out awards; I suspect they are more image awards than performance awards, and they don’t like to repeat winners. It makes sense in a way because the Alma Awards is a concept created by the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. In the end, I suspect the award statuettes are an excuse to get together and celebrate Latinos in the business in one big fiesta. I’m OK with that to an extent, because awards might end up going to the same batch of excellent actors year after year, and that would get old fast. What we need then are more Latinos in the industry. When we become commonplace, award shows like this will become redundant.

Winners announced on the actual show were (full list here):

  • TVACTOR, COMEDY: Oscar Nunez, The Office
  • TVACTRESS, COMEDY: Selena Gomez, Wizards of Waverly Place
  • TV ACTOR, DRAMA: Benjamin Bratt, The Cleaner, A&E
  • TV ACTRESS, DRAMA: Lauren Vélez, Dexter, SHO
  • ACTOR, FILM: John Leguizamo, Nothing Like the Holidays
  • ACTRESS, FILM: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona


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