Sunday, October 16, 2016

Desierto [2015]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB () (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*
SensaCine listing* (J. Oliva) review*
El Pais (L.B. Beauregard) review* (S. Franco) review* (N. Euler) review*
Slant Magazine (C. Dillard) review
The Guardian (J. Hoffman) review
The Hollywood Reporter (T. McCarthy) review
Variety (J. Chang) review

CNS/USCCB () review
Los Angeles Times (K. Walsh) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Desierto [2015 [IMdb] []*[SC]* (directed and screenplay cowritten by Jonás Cuarón [IMDb] []*[SC]* along with Mateo Garcia [IMDb] [SC]* is a very simple / straight-forward thriller, but IMHO it certainly works:

Moises (played by Gael García Bernal) and Adela (played by Alondra Hidalgo) begin the film as random people, presumably mostly Mexicans, in the back of a random "delivery truck" -- in other days the truck could have been carrying fruit to market, this day it was carrying people North to a deserted spot along the U.S.:Mexican border.

Well the truck breaks down, still "some clicks" South of the border and then not necessarily at the most optimal spot.  One of the young (maybe in his late teens / early twenties) "coyotes" asks the Boss "Lobo" (meaning wolf): "Isn't this the spot where sometime back ...?"  No matter, there's "a schedule" to maintain.  Now "chinga..." the truck's broken down (and will have to be fixed ... or abandoned).  So Lobo has "other" more business / logistical "concerns" on his mind.  This will have to do ...

On the other side of the border is a swilling Jack Daniels straight out of the bottle (while driving ...)  "Minuteman" named "Sam" (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in a beat-up pick-up truck, small Confederate flag flapping off of the antenna, trusted Dog and Rifle (with a BIG telescopic sight) at his side.  He's driven out to the Border to "shoot some rabbits" and, well, maybe a Mexican or two ...

When he runs into the 15 or so already quite exhausted / dehydrated and at least partly _lost_ Mexicans in Moises / Adela's group, well, it seems BOTH "like an invasion" ("My God, THEY just keep coming ..." he says to himself) AND ... "a turkey shoot" as he methodically picks them-off one-by-one on the open Desert plain with the precision (and less forethought) of American Sniper [2014].

12-13 of the Mexican "illegals" "drop" (die...) quite quickly.  So soon it's just Moises and Adela vs "Sam and his Dog."  The rest of the story / movie follows ...

Okay, A LOT OF (NORTH) AMERICANS will not like this movie, and a LOT OF OTHERS will be disturbed by it.

Is it _really_ THIS BAD?  Well ... I invite Readers here to google a stunning award-winning documentary called Cartel Land [2015], which is about vigilante groups on _both sides_ of the U.S. Mexican border (in Mexico they're called "auto-defensas" and these groups exist there to "take on the drug cartels").  On both sides of the border, these groups justify their existences by saying that they've only "taken up arms" to do what their respective governments have "thus far failed to do."

Yes, the current film here is (still) an exaggeration.  BUT Cartel Land [2015] suggests that we're FAR CLOSER to this reality than most of us would think.

A very disturbing story ...

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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