Oliver Stone's crass, slick and sleazy violence-porn Savages, Ridley Scott's ludicrously pretentious The Counselor, or the Denis Villeneuve's more recent starts-out-well-then-turns-ridiculous Sicario) or documentaries from Bernardo Ruiz's limited-in-scope and somewhat shallow Kingdom of Shadows to the film under consideration here: CARTEL LAND. Is this because the subject is simply too awful, crazy, ugly, impossibly huge and hydra-headed to even begin to pin down? Or perhaps it is due more to the fact that so much dishonesty, venality and betrayal is embedded here that any film tackling the subject runs the risk of embroiling itself in the very culture it depicts.
Matthew Heineman (shown at left), which has found its way into the five films nominated for Best Documentary "Oscar," though one of the better examples TrustMovies has encountered in all of these docs and narratives, still ends up making one question what has been left out of the movie as much as what is actually in it. The film blends two narrative strands, one of which involves an American-set group of para-military vigilantes who say they are trying to stop this violent Mexican drug war culture from entering our country (hello: It has been here for decades now) and is much less interesting and important than the second strand.
Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled his group "extremists" -- and than proceeds to unintentionally explain why this is true. While it is clear that the filmmaker wanted to show us vigilantes on both sides of the borders, it seemed to me that those on the American side were much less interesting or productive (but perhaps more trustworthy?) that those to the south.
The Orchard and running 100 minutes, is available for streaming now via Netflix and elsewhere.