Friday, December 01, 2017

A Film for Your Brain: Coco

Melinda Palacio
Miguel and his guitar in the movie Coco, photo from Google Images.

Pixar's new blockbuster Coco may also have added benefits to your coco, cabeza, and brain. That is if the film inspires folks to take up the guitar. I saw the film on Monday with my friend Lora who was still crying as we exited the theatre. We both enjoyed the meticulous animation, hilarious dialogue, and themes surrounding Día de Los Muertos, family, and honoring your antepasados. The film has a beautiful story, even though (SPOILER ALERT) Coco dies. The movie will warm the heart of any who might cry cultural appropriation without bothering to see the film.

True, many who never grew up with the tradition of honoring loved ones of the Day of the Dead might have already made a tradition of skeleton face painting, donning lots of marigolds, skeleton garb, and Frida Kahlo dresses during Halloween, or anytime during October. I must admit I had been skeptical about any kind of animated film about the tradition of Día de los Muertos, ever since learning about the controversy from cartoonist and satirist Lalo Alcaraz, who blasted Disney in 2013 for wanting to trademark the phrase Día de los Muertos in anticipation of the upcoming movie's merchandise. But in a genius move, Pixar brought in Lalo as part of a team of consultants in an effort to get Coco and all the film's details right.

I haven't seen all the current movie related merchandise, but I did notice that the Coco guitars are front and center at many places that sell musical instruments, especially guitars. Over the past two months, I've renewed my interest in learning how to play the guitar. In September, I dusted off one of Steve's old guitars and started practicing. My diligence paid off and for my birthday Steve took me guitar shopping. As pretty as they are, I didn't fall for the Coco guitars Disney and the Guitar Center were pushing. The guitar that found me was at a local music shop, Jensen's in Santa Barbara. I am the ecstatic owner of a gorgeous Martin Road Series guitar. It's probably the best birthday present anyone has ever given me. I will have to practice much more to become worthy of such a gift.

One of the more interesting things I've read about playing a musical instrument is that it serves as a total body workout for your brain. Read the article or watch the Ted Talk (thanks to fellow bloguera Olga for calling my attention to this piece). No other creative outlet works both sides of the brain the way playing a musical instrument does.

In the film, Coco, the main character, a boy named Miguel, must choose between his passion for music and his family. (LAST SPOILER ALERT) The film's heart-warming ending is a win-win with Miguel gaining his family's blessing to play the guitar. I truly do hope the movie inspires children of all ages to pick up the guitar. I can attest that it is loads of fun and a great hobby. I feel smarter already. The Coco guitar is one marketing gimmick I can get behind. Pixar did a good thing by bringing in Lalo Alcaraz, and their team of Latino consultants. Anyone who loves animated films, musicals, or a good story will not be disappointed. If guitar isn't your jam, pick up another instrument, your brain will thank you.

Me with my new guitar
Martin Road Series, hecho en Mexico and Pennsylvania

1 comment:

msedano said...

A Martin! We will have to play some duets. Trios, Steve has to bring strings.