Holy Rollers and South of the Border

20 Nov

I’ll review two movies here to make up for lost time. Also, as a disclaimer: If I did this for a living, (viewing and reviewing movies), I would certainly ensure that only awesome movies would ever make their way to my reviews, but unfortunately my several jobs keep me from constantly screening movies for my critiquing pleasure. Here are two movies worth a looksee.

Holy Rollers (2010)
Here we find yet another drug trafficking movie in which an unlikely protagonist finds himself in the center of an international drug ring. What makes this film different from the others? Said protagonist is Sam Gold (left), a Hasidic Jewish young gentleman played by Jesse Eisenberg who abandons the innocent life to become a drug mule, smuggling Ecstasy from Amsterdam to New York. Falling in love with the fast-paced world of beautiful women, international travel, and above all else, financial prosperity, Sam becomes a key player and right-hand man to his neighbor and “friend,” Yosef, who also falls from the graces of the conservative New York Hasidic Jewish community as he becomes more and more involved with the drug trade as well. Their operation burgeons thanks to Sam’s know-how, and he and Yosef begin recruiting more and more from their conservative Hasidic community. I suppose this film is unique compared to other drug-smuggling movies in that the drug-of-focus is not cocaine (Blow, Scarface), heroin (Maria Full of Grace) or marijuana/hash (Blow, Midnight Express). But for being all about ecstasy trafficking, this film sure is tame on the sex side of things. In addition, the obligatory love story feels unnaturally injected and somewhat unbelievable (though I still enjoyed it). I love Jesse Eisenberg because of The Squid and the Whale, and the premise was enough to keep me entertained, but it definitely didn’t blow my mind or even get all-too-exciting. When it comes to drug-trafficking films, the aforementioned ones are not to be dethroned by this 2010 feature, although it is worth checking out.

South of the Border (2009)
This Oliver Stone doc is short enough that you don’t really have an excuse not to check it out. As a “Latinamericanist,” I have always been interested in the politics and history surrounding Venezuela, so perhaps I am a little biased. For die-hards who are interested in Latin America, Hugo Chavez Frias, Venezuela or US foreign policy abroad, The Revolution Will Not be Televised is a little more bang for your buck. But if you know little to nothing about Venezuela’s 1989 Caracazo, the 1992 failed coup attempt or Hugo Chavez’s current presidency, this documentary does a good job at bringing you up to speed and exposing the ways in which the US and Venezuelan media along with the elite of Venezuela and the US government are constantly manipulating facts, footage and more in order to paint Hugo Chavez as an undeserving and cruel dictator. The film demonstrates why these actors would be interested in overthrowing the democratically-elected leader of VZ, (hint: oil), and how media outlets from all points of the political spectrum have had a hand in painting a negative picture of Chavez. It is an elementary film about the topic, but it covers a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. It is arguably biased, but it is necessarily so in order to counteract all of the misinformation that the world has been fed about Venezuelan politics in the past few decades. I wouldn’t say that I am pro-Chavez, especially in light of recent developments. However, it is refreshing to see “fair and balanced reporting” exposed for what it truly is much of the time: a vehicle for the political agenda of the rich and powerful elite.


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