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Amat Escalante's "Los Bastardos"

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posted on Aug, 6 2010 @ 06:37 PM
Here's a sleeper I saw on HBO at 3 in the morning a couple weeks back and just now got the willpower to write about it. I figured some of its subject matter (illegal immigrants) seems pertinent enough to the mood at ATS/BTS that people would enjoy reading about it, and possibly go see it if they were so compelled.


A 2008 crime drama/soft horror movie directed and written by Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante. It's short, with a runtime of only 90 minutes.

Two illegal immigrant day laborers, Jesús and Fausto - played by Jesus Rodriguez and Ruben Sosa - invade the home of drug addicted, divorced and middle aged suburban housewife Karen and hold her hostage.

The two Mexican thugs and their upper-class hostage are the main characters of the movie, though Karen's son and her estranged ex-husband also play into it rather surprisingly.

Escalante chose a very minimalist style of filmmaking for his sophomore feature. I would have to say that as far as style goes, this movie is nearly identical to Michael Haneke's Funny Games. Continuous, stationary camera shots, real time story development and bleak lack of background/mood music keep the atmosphere tense and realistic. While I happened to like both of these movies and their presentation, I'm sure a lot of people would probably find it a little bit slow, or dull.

I won't give away too much of the plot, mostly because this movie seems to focus, rather than on a highly structured plot, more on a situation or an overarching theme, almost like a "Day in the Life" TV show segment. Some of the backstory, like Karen and her ex-husband's relationship, or her drug abuse, is muddled.

This piece also has some very subtle commentary on the complicated relationship between illegal Mexican immigrants and Americans. In his own words, Escalante said, "What I that both sides could be offended, not just one." The movie's portrayal of both the Mexican and American characters as vacillating between 'good' and 'bad' helps to prevent it from falling into either 'pro-immigrant' or 'anti-immigrant' status.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, no matter how surreal it felt at times. To me, this is soft horror at its best - the atmosphere and dread builds over the course of the film, until, just as quickly as the hostage situation began, it ends. The fashion in which it ends, I leave to you to find out.

[edit on 6/8/10 by Sink the Bismarck!]

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