SOUTHWEST OF SALEM

  Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, MsInTheBiz.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com

"There's trouble right here in River City"...has never been truer than in the case of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh

Directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, "Southwest of Salem" explores the case of what would become known as the San Antonio Four.  In 1994, four women were accused, tried and convicted of assaulting two young girls (nieces of Ramirez).  Twenty years later these Latina women maintain their innocence, citing that the accusations against them were fabricated and perpetrated from the homophobic prejudice surrounding lesbians and that lifestyle leading to covens, cults and child abuse.

San Antonio Four Mugshots

It is heartbreaking to watch these women railroaded, much like the subject of the Netflix series "The Making of a Murderer".  It tore several families apart and ruining some relationships beyond repair.

When I spoke to the women at the Tribeca Film Festival, I offered congrats on their release, Those dolls were real quick to remind me that, their ordeal is not over yet.  In fact they could still go back to prison..  Let's hope not, so that these beautiful women and get on with the bit of life they have left to enjoy.

Carla and San Antonio Four

As much as it pains me to say this, the most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that when celebrities are "allegedly" accused of such heinous and disturbing acts, their wealth and fame often times assist them in alluding any jail time and/or the charges more often than not are overturned.

These four women were railroaded in court not only for their ethnicity, but in part their sexual orientation.  The prejudice and ignorance that is prevalent in the current American Diaspora gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "innocent until proven guilty".

Deborah S. Esquenazi does an excellent job of presenting a very strong argument as to why the women are innocent.  After meeting and chatting with them all, I can tell you that there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching women walking on the tightrope of life without a net.  Watching them live each day in fear of having freedom snatched, having the courts take their time setting a new trial date and not being able to move forward and enjoy life for yourself.

If you hate prejudice against women, LGBT community and injustice in general, here are some steps  you can take now to assist the San Antonio Four...

  1.  Call 210-335-2311.  Ask for District Attorney Nico LaHood's Office.  Here's what to say:  "I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh.  I want Nico LaHood and the District Attorney's office of Bexar County to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence and have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions."
  2. Tweet:  @BexarCounty @Nico4DA Take a stand about the @SanAntonioFour injustice! Recommend exoneration #FreetheSA4 @IPofTexas #southwest of Salem
  3. Post on Facebook:  I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, CAssandr Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh.  I want Nico LaHood and the ;district Attorney's office of @BexarCounty to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions. #FreetheSA4 #SouthwestOfSalem

https://youtu.be/j7jwawgzUJA

 

Here are some excerpts of our interview together...

Southwest Interview 2016

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/southwest-of-salem.mp3"][/audio]

CAROL

CAROL review by Carla Renata via UBNRadio.com and Carla Renata's Corner Remember the first time you fell in love? I mean REAL LOVE and not just a crush or something you knew would fade in time?  I remember mine well.  The man I fell in love seemed perfect.  He had a sense of humor, he was handsome and took care of me.  I mean REALLY took care of me.  He drew bubble baths for me, took me out dining to really cool restaurants and massages were plentiful...as was his undying attention to my every need.

So, you're wondering what happened? Is he still in my life?  Did I marry him?  Did we marry and divorce?  Well, one never knows...do one?  What I will tell  you is THAT relationship changed my life.  It changed how and why I love and taught me to live life to the fullest every second of the day!!

Directed by Todd Haynes, "Carol" centers around a young department store employee who falls madly in love with an older, married woman in the 1950's.

I've been a Todd Haynes fan all the way back to "Far From Heaven" starring Oscar winner Julianne Moore.  When Moore and Haynes teamed up again she took home the golden statue after numerous  past nominations.  Maybe teaming up twice will be a good luck omen for Cate Blanchett (who worked with Haynes in "The Talented Mr. Ripley").

Blanchett, who in my opinion, embodies with every fiber of her being what it means to be a "movie star", glows onscreen and takes command even when she is not uttering one single word.  The devilish complexity she layers Carol with makes you empathize with her for not being able to love who she chooses and how she chooses.

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Rooney Mara makes Therese transform from a child to a woman right before our eyes.  The impish childishness that she inhabits Therese with is absolutely endearing.  However, when her heart is broken you watch her growing up out of necessity and not choice.  It's absolutely phenomenal to watch.

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Mostly having seen Kyle Chandler on television the last few years have been very kind to hi with "Friday Night Lights" and "The Wolf of Wall Street".  As Carol's husband, Harge,  Chandler is  a bully with a heart of gold.  He can't stand the thought of his wife being with someone else, but he can't seem to let her go knowing it's what's best for everyone involved.

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According to one-half of Carol's writing team, Patricia Highsmith's novel (The Price of Salt) was inspired by a chance encounter she had with a blond woman in a fur coat that she saw shopping inside a department store in New York City, while she was working as a temporary sales clerk selling dolls, shortly before Christmas 1948.    She recalled completing the outline in two hours that night, likely under the influence of chicken pox which she discovered she had the next day, saying "fever is stimulating the imagination". She completed the novel by 1951.

The plot for "Carol" is loosely based on the romance between Patricia Highsmith and Virginia Kent Catherwood (1915-1966), an older woman and Philadelphia socialite who had lost custody of her child in divorce proceedings involving taped hotel room conversations and lesbianism.

"Carol" received a standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival international press screening/premiere and with 5 nominations, it is the most nominated film for the Golden Globes in 2015.

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