Sunday 20 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Documentary · Narco Cultura

Narco Cultura

Crimes and rhymes collide in this disturbing and powerful documentary about the celebratory culture spawned by Mexico's drug war.

Rod Lott December 4th, 2013

Richi Soto is a busy man. As a crime scene investigator in Juárez, Mexico — aka the murder capital of the world — how could he not be?

Consider the city’s four-year homicide statistics, as shared in the opening minutes of the documentary Narco Cultura: In 2007, “just” 320 murders were committed there. In 2008, 1,623; in 2009, 2,754; and in 2010, 3,622. For perspective, that last year, the city with which Juárez literally shares a border — El Paso, Texas — had five.

Clearly, Juárez serves as home base for a brutal war between drug cartels vying for control of an industry worth $40 billion annually. Two warring factions would be bad enough, but five major cartels are in play in this ongoing battle. The popular culture that this violence has wrought forms the subject of Shaul Schwarz’s debut feature, which begins an exclusive run Friday at Harkins Bricktown Cinemas 16, 150 E. Reno Ave. Happy holidays!

Actually, the beautifully photographed Narco Cultura fits right in with the spirit of the season: It will make you thankful for where you live. Even the worst part of Oklahoma City appears safer.

With a probing eye amid the danger, Schwarz examines the chaos through the perspective of two men. One is the aforementioned Soto, who sometimes conducts public forensics while wearing an identity-shielding mask. His tireless efforts seem futile given that an estimated 97 percent of the homicides go uninvestigated, and that the guilty parties almost never are nabbed.

The other focus is family man Edgar Quintero, who possesses tremendous vocal talent that he employs with the band BuKnas de Culiacán. Part of a burgeoning sound called “narcocorridos,” the group’s members play the part of hardened criminals, in both song and imagery. The American equivalent would be the gangsta rap of the ’90s, if BuKnas’ tunes didn’t sound exactly like those of the roving musicians who entertain diners at Chelino’s; only the braggart lyrics — about cooking meth, shooting enemies, etc. — differentiate the two styles.

Rather shrewdly, Schwarz juxtaposes BuKnas’ good-time concert antics with the aftermath of real-life killings that demonstrate the polar opposite: bullet-ridden bodies of the young and younger, splayed lifeless in blood-specked cars and on cracked ground. It’s a tough but important watch, absolutely sobering.

Yet schoolchildren look up to the “narco,” both real (cartels) and imagined (BuKnas); the AK-47s and beheadings and dismemberments have come to represent the norm, their way of daily life. Viewers are forgiven in advance for expecting to see one or both of the film’s subjects executed before the documentary is over.

Comments a Mexican journalist, “It’s a symptom of how defeated we are as a society.”

However sad her statement, there exists a sadder one: The situation will likely worsen.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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