Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Secuestro Express

Ok just one more departure from the Rio thread but not too far away, still in Latin America.

I went to see Secuestro Express today. Secuestro meaning kidnap, express meaning, well, quick. 'Secuestro express' is a phrase coined in Latin America to represent those kidnappings of wealthly kids held in ransom for quick cash. Its unfortunately an integral part of the culture.

This is the first Venezuelan film I've seen. For a first, I'd say Venezuela has a future in film making. The movie was very well done. The filming is fragmented and fast, angles are hyperextended and nothing is in frame for very long - chaos permeates all. Editing must have been a nightmare, so cheers to the team that managed to create seemless chaos. Jagged, raw and very sexually charged, it follows one young wealthy couple on their secuestro through the pulsing, crowded streets of Caracas. There were a couple of priceless moments but ultimately it paints a sad, scary reality of polarizing wealth and poverty in Caracas and the group of thugs called a police force that do anything but protect and serve.

The acting was generally good but Mia Maestro (playing the kidnapped Carla) and Carlos Julio Molina (playing Trece, the romantic kidnapper) burn up the screen. Ordinarily I would object to romance comingling with this amount of aggressive violence but in this case there was a very natural progression from one to the other.

Somewhat confusing was the film's very heavy-handed illumination of have, have not discrepancy in Caracas and the motivation for secuestro express. On one hand they seemed to be saying that the poverty stricken class is 'forced' into these extremes in order to survive. On the other hand, the kidnappers (except for Trece) seemed more about disrespect, anger and drug use, not survival. Not once do we see how these kidnappers live, how they struggle just to get food and other necessities. What we do see is a lot of gratuitous coke, X and herion use and an anarchistic terrorist mindset.

Another thing that did not flow with the movie - random insertions of drag queens and one scene that was pretty close to gay porn. Right then, so there are gay men and drag queens in Caracas. Wow, imagine that. Insert smirk here.

"Oh Jim, these things happen infrequently." Wrong. Here is a website from Argentina listing all of its country's known secuestro expresses. Its not pretty. Secuestro Express Argentina

"Oh Jim, these things only happen in other countries." Wrong. 3 years ago one of my neighbors was forced into the trunk of his car at gunpoint, driven to an ATM, withdrew cash, then was left on Industrial Blvd locked in his trunk. Yes, he lived to tell about it, fortunately he was found by the Dallas police the next day.

The tag line at the end of the film was a cry for social justice if ever I heard one.

You either feed the monster, or invite it to dinner.

Overall I give this strong Venezuelan entry a 9/10.


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