Sunday, February 12, 2012

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Miss Bala
Release Date-September 9, 2011 (Mexico).
Running Time-1 Hour 53 Minutes.
Spanish w/English subtitles.

This is the sorry tale of a young Mexican beauty, played by the beautiful and talented Stephanie Sigman, who goes off to take part in a beauty pageant and gets caught up in a whirlwind of madness that defies logic but puts the narco-wars into the type of perspective that makes absolute and total sense. Props must be given yet again to co-executive producers Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal for taking part in yet another great Mexican production. These successful young men should be lauded for their efforts in putting such tremendous efforts into the issues that plague not only Mexico but many Latin American countries, and they do so without the banal sentimentality that one would expect if we were dealing with lesser talents.

The film begins with Laura Guerrero telling her younger brother he'll have to find someone else to take him to school. She takes off with a friend to participate in a beauty pageant, and that's when the madness begins. Later that evening her friend is partying with some men who she feels will pave the way for their success in the pageant. Soon after, there is a massacre in the nightclub and that's where Laura is found hiding by a narco boss. He tells her everything will be fine as long as she keeps her mouth shut, and that may have been the end of it if not for a fatal mistake Laura commits the very next day.

The next day she goes to a policeman requesting information on the victims of the previous nights' massacre for the purpose of finding her friend, whose fate is unknown. The corrupt officer assures her her statement will be taken by the authorities, but does exactly the opposite and places her in the hands of the gangsters responsible for the killings. The leader turns out to be the same cat who told her to keep her mouth shut. The bad guy, played by Noe Hernandez, another Mexican actor who has absolutely no biographical information on the internet, plays one of the most ruthless and diabolically savage villains this side of Don Logan from the British film "Sexy Beast".

He takes her on a dizzying descent into the brutal and senseless chaos of life in the narco-wars, with one scene overtaking another like a runaway train of utter and complete madness. The unbridled corruption is left open for all to see like a gaping wound, just as the real-life killings and acts of violence that have taken so many lives in Mexico for the sake of North Americans who just love to get high.

This film is based on a true story of former beauty queen Laura Zúñiga, who unlike the Laura of this film was in real life the girlfriend of a Mexican drug lord and was busted in a car full of guns and cash while holding the prestigious crown of Nuestra Belleza México of 2008. Though there were rumors that her contest was fixed by her powerful narco-boyfriend, the pageant directors stripped her of her crown after her arrest and awarded the prize to the runner-up. Here she is posing for the cameras after her arrest on December 8, 2008.


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