Near the US/Mexican border there are probably a thousand god-fearing Texans, squeezed into their self made nuclear bunkers, rifles fixed on Mexico, ready to repel the hoards of unwanted immigrants from South of the border.
Little do they know it’s not going to do them any good: Latin America has already taken over Hollywood. Last week saw the big screen release of Babel, Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu’s acclaimed third movie. Nominated for a
Like a disembowelled road kill, the story takes three unexpected and often violent threads. Imagine LA Story with graphic dog fighting, disfigured models, street gangs and a wry tramp. Add to this memorable performances from a host of rising acting talent, including Gael Garca Bernal, and it becomes essential viewing, in much the same way that Mean Streets has to be seen for a young Robert De Niro and Harvey Kietel.
Bernal is also one of the protagonists in Alfonso Cuarn’s Y Tu Mama Tambien. Essentially a road trip with a stomach knotting twist, Cuarn manages to fit in enough teen angst and sexual comedy to create a sort of Woody Allen/Dazed and Confused sub genre. If Cuarn’s quality was ever in doubt, a little further down the road, he went on to direct the fantastic Children Of Men.
Not for kids: Fernando Meirelles’ Ciudade de Deus (City of God)
Gritty underbelly: Adrin Caetano’s Bolivia
The films of Latin America are every bit as diverse, challenging and original as the continent itself. As many a frustrated budget backpacker will know, there simply isn’t time to do it all justice. But my advice would still be: take a gap year and pitch up in the ‘world cimema’ section of the DVD rental shop.