Studio: Kino International
Cast: Jesus Moises Rodriguez, RubÈn Sosa, Nina Zavarin
Director: Amat Escalante
Release Date: July 2, 2009, 5:41 pm
Rating: Not Rated for (adult content, graphic violence, sexual situations)
Run Time: 01h:26m:01s
ìYou guys are gonna have to walk or take the bus or something.î - Construction Boss (Kenny Johnston)
Movie Grade: A+
DVD Grade: A
The first thing that popped in my head after experiencing the final act of Los Bastardos was the question: ìWhy the hell havenít I been reading about this film on movie-related sites for the last year+?!î Numerous Websites now have US movie buffs clamoring to see the best in foreign film months, and often years before we ever get the opportunity to stateside. Forget about waiting for this remarkable Mexican film, that I will even go so far as to say is a masterpiece in not only the ìhome invasionî subgenre, but in telling the clichÈd story of struggling immigrant workers in a way that never has, and probably never will be told again. Director Amat Escalanteís (Sangre) film needs to be seen immediately by anyone seriously interested in filmmaking, but, be warned, the content in the second half of the film is definitely not for those who are easily disturbed or offended.
This is one of those flicks that sneaks up on you, and in a very good way. It begins as what seems to be a simple independent film about the hardships of immigrant workers in the modern day United States. We see our protagonists, Jesus (Jesus Moises Rodriguez) and Fausto (RubÈn Sosa) struggling to find work on a daily basis, and itís rugged, labor-intensive stuff, when they do get it. In one instance, they have to haggle with a seemingly nice man, who caves in and agrees to pay them $10 an hour, and even says heíll drive them back after the job is done. He eventually does, but this treatment apparently stirs something up in Jesusí head. Soon after this, they encounter a group of Americans who wear their bigotry on their sleeve. When they say the wrong thing to Jesus and Fausto, a switch is flipped and a sequence of events begins that will change numerous lives forever.
The jump from the filmís initial focus being on these migrant workers to the ìnormalî Caucasian housewife is a shocking, drastic one. Eschewing nearly every stereotype imaginable, weíre taken into this womanís home where we instantly see her fight with her teenage son. Once he leaves, she proceeds to do something unthinkable and against everything we think we know about middle-upper class society. Weíre meant to feel sympathy towards her as she struggles to get through to her son, while dealing with a husband who is seemingly never around. Then the rug is pulled right out from under us as we see what she does, and our sympathy turns to scorn, yet, even that feeling is questionable given that most of us have done something similar at some point in our life.
The audienceís emotional roller-coaster ride is just beginning though, as soon after her shocking recreational activity, the lives of Jesus, Fausto, and Karen (Nina Zavarin) become dangerously intertwined. What happens from this point forward in the film is the epitome of a slow burn. Once Jesus and Fausto enter Karenís house, we know they have some sort of method to their madness, but it never truly feels like they aim to harm her. As we watch the proceedings unfold, and despite what goes on, we still never feel like they have cruel intentions. Still, I just had this horrible feeling that something was going to go terribly wrong, and, while I wonít go into detail, what does happen is one of the most horrific cinematic punches in the gut Iíve seen since the first (and still only) time I watched Gasper NoÈís Irreversible. In Los Bastardos, when ìitî happens, Escalante lets his camera linger on the immediate aftermath for what feels like an eternity, but is really only about 10 seconds. This meager 10 seconds is a chunk of the movie-watching portion of my life that I will simply never forget.
Thank you, Kino International for giving us the chance to experience (and watching it is, just that, an experience) Los Bastardos! Not only is it great to have the ability to revisit this gem over and over again, but itís presented with solid audio and video transfers, and a small, yet excellent extras collection. The nearly-half-hour documentary is simply riveting, covering a ton of ground in a limited time, and devoting a decent amount of time to an unfortunate incident that happened to one of the actors when the film was shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. When this disc arrived at my doorstep, I never dreamed it would be on my list of Top DVDs of 2009 at the yearís mid-way point.
Chuck Aliaga July 2, 2009, 5:41 pm