Cinema Review: Cartel Land


Posted October 10, 2015 in Cinema Reviews, Film

NCH – 25 sep-3 oct-22 Desktop

Cartel Land

Director: Matthew Heineman

Talent: n/a

Release Date: 4th September 2015

 

Four words in the opening credits that let you know this documentary about Mexican drug cartels is going to be red hot, spit-shined State Department propaganda: ‘Executive Producer Kathryn Bigelow’. The Zero Dark Thirty director’s middle-American, imperialist sensibility pervades this study of the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico – a country portrayed in the familiar terms of American fiction cinema as a hinterland of transcendental savagery and violence – and the efforts of vigilantes on either side of the border to tackle criminal activity. In the US, Tim Foley’s Arizona Border Recon believe they are fighting the cartels, when they seem mainly to capture ordinary migrants entering the state illegally. South of the line, Dr. José Mireles’ Autodefensas’ brief heroic spell as popular police force gives way to their assimilation into extant police and military forces cooperating with cartels. In a film of such shades of grey, the absence of interrogation of the US imperialist narrative is telling, though hardly surprising.

Words: Oisín Murphy-Hall

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