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I Like It Like That

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

"A Hispanic woman unexpectedly discovers a new outlook on life after taking a new job in this heartfelt, observant comedy-drama. Young Bronx mother Lisette (Lauren Velez) has enough to deal with without taking a job, as she is struggling to raise her three young children and keep her marriage to bicycle messenger Chino (Jon Seda) afloat. When Chino is jailed after committing a robbery, however, Lisette turns to the want ads to find a new source of income. Expecting a one-time modeling gig, she stumbles into a position as assistant to Stephen Price (Griffin Dunne), a white music executive handling Latino music. Lisette proves a natural at the job, finding a new sense of purpose and self-assurance. Unfortunately, Chino isn't particularly grateful for her efforts, especially after hearing a rumor that Lisette has been cheating on him with Stephen. Director Darnell Martin populates her debut film with a mosaic of colorful supporting characters, ranging from Lisette's transsexual brother (Jesse Borrego) to Chino's meddling mother (Rita Moreno)…”


-Blaise, Judd.  “Review Summary,” The New York Times, accessed December 8, 2012,

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Bronx, New York City, NY
Other Interesting Production Info: 
The story takes place in the neighborhood where Martin grew up. There are many shots of places she frequented, such as her old schoolyard.
Categories About the Film
interracial relations
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
African American
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Darnell Martin
Ann Carli, Victor De Jesus, Wendy Finerman, Lane Janger, Stephen Lloyd, Diana Phillips, Tracy Vilar
Alexander Gruszynski
Primary Cast: 
Lauren Velez, Jon Seda, Tomas Melly
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Sony/ Columbia Pictures
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
DVD widely available

Festivals: 1994 Cannes Film Festival 


1994 New York Film Critics Circle Award: Darnell Martin, Best New Director (Winner)

1995 Independent Spirit Awards:

Alexander Gruszynski, Best Cinematography (Nominee)

Lauren Velez, Best Female Lead (Nominee)

Darnell Martin; Lane Janger, Best First Feature (Nominee)

Jon Seda, Best Male Lead (Nominee)

Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

When Darnell Martin directed I Like It Like That for Columbia Pictures in 1994, she became the first African American woman in Hollywood to direct a major motion picture. The plot revolves around choices Lisette Linares (Lauren Velez) makes when her husband Chino (Jon Seda) lands in jail, leaving her to care for their three children while insisting she stay jobless. The film resonates deeply with Martin, who grew up in a poor, single-parent household in the Bronx. In it, she recalls the vibrant music and colorful streets of her neighborhood. She also conjures memories, like the times her mother found only a few dollars to feed the family. The camera often gravitates toward the constant street drama, sporadically zooming in on characters’ faces to capture emotions they struggle to conceal. Eighteen years later, I Like It Like That is an inspiration to anyone looking to crack a smile in the darkest times. 

-Ariel Kraakman


Steve Monroe, “She don’t like it like that – motion picture director Darnell Martin’s ‘I Like It Like That’ focuses on character development,” American Visions;Oct/Nov94, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p43, accessed December 16, 2012, dio: 9411041845.