Thursday, January 28, 2016

Now you'll learn what's Hell in Yankee Land.

Apparently, there's a drug problem in this country? Wait. What?

Now, I'm not much of a drug user, legal or otherwise, but I may just know a few people who dabble in such adult-oriented activities. I may even be related to some of them. Maybe it's my defeatist attitude, or general lack of interest in others, but people are going to do what people are going to do, regardless of the what the law says. .

Especially if it makes them wealthy, feel good, or...both. Even I personally don't agree with it, as long as there's a buyer, there will always be a seller. I'm sure of it. And you'll never be able to stop it.

No matter how big you build that wall.

Director Denis Villeneuve's 2015 thriller Sicario may not be about blowhard political candidates, but it's equally frustrating and hollow. Taking place on and around the border between the United States and Mexico, Villeneuve's latest effort depicts the ugly politics behind the even uglier war on drugs. It's an incredibly tense ride, that unfortunately ends right where it begins: somewhere f--king hopeless.

Emily Blunt dials down the badassery of the Full Metal Bitch only a notch or two, playing tough as nails federal agent Kate Mercer. Kate  is a pro, specializing in the kidnapping and rescue side of the drug trafficking business. After a raid in Arizona goes tits up, the straight-laced Kate is recruited by the extra slick, and vaguely-titled, Matt Graver (a moderately slimy Josh Brolin). You can imagine Matt as equal parts of each Jeffrey Lebowski, a laid back goofball who conducts business with little concern for the proper channels. Joining the aforementioned duo is a mysterious man named Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro, fulfilling his destiny), and let's go ahead and file everything about this dude as questionable. 

Mercer, after begrudgingly agreeing to join Matt's unit is thrust into the murky waters of unofficial business. Matt and his crew are getting things done in Mexico, but ethics and transparency were left at the border. Behind her unblinking eyes and unflattering gray t-shirt, it appears that Kate should have stayed behind, too.

Sicario is an gripping film filled with remarkable performances. Be warned, however, as it has many more questions than answers. Whatever truths we're presented hardly feel like anything you'd write down in pen, as the differences between good guy and bad guy are entirely indistinguishable. As quickly as I found myself rooting for one side, I'd then switch allegiances, before reconsidering and ultimately saying f--k all these people.

Easily my favorite part of the movie. These mounted shots are f--king incredible. 
Clearly that's the point, and from an entertainment perspective, I loved every second of it. But once my bowl of popcorn was empty, so too was my faith that this is a solvable problem. Like anything even remotely political, the war on drugs seems like yet another one of those situations despite shouting the opposite, no one has any answers. Not any good ones, anyway.

Also void of substance and credibility, are the Yays and Boos. But at least you can trust them. Usually. Sometimes. Okay, f--k them, too. 

I often think to myself, who had this hotel room before I did?
Rarely has the answer been Mercenaries, silly.
  • I often think I'd like to blow my shed to pieces (it's falling apart...'cause I'm not a man), right? Well, apparently I'm not the only one.
  • If you like bleak, but totally rad overhead shots then you might want to skip Redbox and buy this f--ker outright.
  • Maybe my favorite score of the year. This is the soundtrack of contemplating whether or not something's worth going to jail for.
  • Though it takes place far too early in the film, the best scene is this ten-minute ball-buster taking place in Juarez, Mexico. I guess it's a hostage extraction situation (this is unclear), but whatever it is, it's remarkably intense. I'm pretty sure I was breathing out my eyeballs, as every other opening on my body sealed itself shut out of fear.
  • Another great scene takes place at dusk, moments before the shit hits the fan. This intensity is cranked up with really intriguing visuals brought to you by night-vision/thermal cams. Everything becomes the most realistic video game you've ever laid eyes on.
  • The ending is heartbreaking in its indifference. Yep, all that shit went down last night. And, yep. This kid still needs to get to his soccer game.
  • And finally, as is often the case, Benecio Del Toro runs away with whatever film he's in. His Alejandro is a complicated dude, at least initially. He seems to exist in this place somewhere between uncontrollable psychotic and Uh, is he breathing? But by the end, one thing is painfully clear. He's most certainly alive. And he's all business. I can't stress this enough.
  • I rented this on the Friday before the blizzard. I returned it Monday. You know much drugs I could have bought instead? Me neither, but still.
  • From now on, whenever I'm looking at a new house, I'm going to have to ask that embarrassing question to my real estate agent: So, no dead Mexicans in the wall, right?
  • Even on private jets, you can still get stuck next to the weirdo with PTSD.
  • Kate is pretty much clueless for the entire two hours she appears on screen. Oh, Kate? She's us.
  • Hanging bodies in the street? F--k.
  • Tattoo Guy. Clearly this dude has made a lot of poor life choices. 
  • Speaking of, as hyped (and tense) as it was, the exit from Mexico was met with amounted to very little resistance, no? I grew up in Texas, see. I've seen two car fulls of angry Mexicans to dispute an angry lane change, much less stop an international incident. Seems like the big boss was trying to cut corners or something. 
  • Interrogate me all you want, but could you please get your dick out of my face?
  • F--k you, but I never trusted Ted. Not for una momento.
  • Am I allowed to feel bad for Silvio? 'Cause I do.
  • And finally, the end for Kate. Of course I understand, but what the f--k? Does anyone believe in anything?
Beneath all the shady political dealings, the constant threat of death, and the overwhelming sense of despair, there is actually a fairly sold takeaway from watching Sicario.

The world is truly a terrible place, full of terrible people.

Shit. Read that again. That's pretty f--king bleak, huh?

If only there was something I could do to take my mind off of all the troubles in the world. Something that would turn all that pain and sadness into something beautiful, something...euphoric.

Any ideas?


  1. This is one of my favorites of the year and I want Deakins to win that cinematography Oscar so badly. He deserves it.

    Also worst dinner table scene or best dinner table scene?

    1. Funny you should mention cinematography, as that is the category I've actually seen 4 of the 5 nominated films. And I can say, without the slightest hesitation, I have no f--king clue who they're going to give that to. Gun to my head, I'm going with Lubezki, but I wouldn't be mad with Deakins.

      Oh, best WORST dinner table scene.

  2. Del Toro is just incredible in this movie. The entire fucking cinema I was in was filled with such dread when that dinner scene happened

    1. It's been a week and I'm still haunted by how cold Del Toro's Alejandro was. He was driven by such an awful thing, and at times was borderline human...but overall, the dude was the f--king Terminator. So intense.

      I read something about an alternate version of that scene that made me want to cry it was so lame, but what they went with? Yeah, I would have shit my pants in the theater.

  3. I loved this movie. It sounds like you and I both appreciated the amazing performances. Del Toro's dead, dead eyes ... wow. And yes, it was relentlessly bleak.

    1. After I read your post, I kept thinking that 'dead eyes' was pretty much the best way to define Alejandro. Something really bad happened to him, and he's become a cog in this giant death machine. Del Toro!

      Yeah, I'm always excited for 'relentlessly bleak' but this one surprised me. What a shitty/perfect ending.