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News / Film

A Theater Near You: La Mission

lamissionRemezcla readers love to take in culture, but don’t always have the cash for tickets. That’s where we come in. A Theater Near You is Remezcla’s guide to awesome Latin movies for the lazy and broke; you can watch these all at home (because sabemos que son flojos).

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The Movie

La Mission
Director: Peter Bratt
Country: USA | 2009 | 117 minutes
Language: English, Spanglish

I live in New York but I’m from the Bay. Yeah, I chose to move east, but much like an expat in exile I constantly complain about New York and long for my ‘home country.’ I miss the year-round sunshine, good Mexican food, and sometimes even the hippies. Watching La Mission is the perfect antidote. It’s a love letter to a neighborhood in San Francisco known as the Mission District (home to Mission Dolores, one of the oldest buildings in SF and a relic of the Spanish conquest.) The Mission is a hood that only SF could create. It’s populated with a mixture of Latino families, vegan and raw food enthusiasts, bike-riding hipsters, gangbangers, Chicano activists, wannabe artists, middle-class anarchists, and dot-commers. Brothers Peter and Benjamin Bratt grew up in the Mission. They decided to make a movie about the neighborhood they love and give voice to a community that often gets ignored.

Written and directed by Peter Bratt and starring Benjamin Bratt, La Mission tells the story of Che, a Muni bus driver and single dad who works hard to support his son’s dream of going to UCLA. Che is an old school O.G. cholo who has reformed his bad boy ways and spends his free time working on his lowrider. He and his middle-aged homies still go cruising down Mission Street every week and take it “low and slow.” Life is good for Che and his son Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), except for one thing. Jesse has a big secret: he’s gay, and he knows his O.G. dad will never accept it. The Mission District–right next door to the Castro, a neighborhood famous for being gay-friendly -provides the perfect backdrop for Jesse’s struggle for acceptance.

Only a homegrown duo like the Bratt brothers could capture the Mission so perfectly. In a conversation about cars, Che’s brother Rene says he’s thinking about converting his Impala to run on bio-diesel.

Yup, they got tree-hugging cholos in the Mission.

Soon after, Rene tells Che that maybe having a gay son “ain’t such a big deal,” to which Che answers, “If you believe that shit homie, you’ve been living in this town too fucking long.” The moral of the story is that living in SF might make you more earth-conscious but it won’t cure your homophobia.

Oh, and did I mention that Rene is played by Jesse Borrego? It’s like a Blood In Blood Out reunion! (Not to mention that Talisa Soto is in this, who shared Piñero with Bratt.) Except this movie is actually good.

La Mission transports you to a hippie-cholo land filled with colorful murals, sunshine, tattoos, and amazing music. It’s relaxed pace makes you feel like you’re cruising down Mission Street in a lowrider. The laid-back vibe is punctuated with moments of intense drama and conflict. As you become invested in the characters, you’ll feel like you’re part of their community. This film is not only a love letter to the Mission, but also to SF and the people who live there. But whether you’ve been to San Francisco or not, this movie is hella good and you gotta watch it. .

Where You Can Watch It Now

Netflix (DVD), Amazon (digital rental, download, DVD), iTunes, and YouTube (24-hour rental $3.99).