WHATEVER HAPPENS IN FRONTERA DOES NOT STAY THERE
FronteraIn the pre-cellphone age, communications moved more slowly, including efforts of Mexicans to get across the border into Arizona (actual filming is in New Mexico). One such migrant, Miguel (played by Michael Peña), goes along with an amigo and, after crossing the border, is met on horseback by Olivia (Amy Madigan), wife of ex-cop Roy (Ed Harris). En route, filmviewers see evidence of children who died trying to cross and large sums of money to pay for the passage. Whereas Olivia generously gives the duo water, a blanket, and directions to the place where they will be hired, three high school boys decide that day to shoot rifles at entering Mexicans “just to scare them.” However, one accidentally shoots Olivia, whose horse veers suddenly, ejecting Olivia, whose head hits a rock in her descent and soon dies. Hearing shots, Roy comes to the scene of the shooting and witnesses his wife’s death. Miguel, whose mug shot is on file from a previous illegal entry and deportation, is picked up as the likely suspect when Roy spots his photo from a file of mug shots. However, Roy is not so sure that Miguel is guilty, so he engages in a forensic search at the scene of the crime and locates bullet casings, which are traced to the three boys. One of the boys is the son of the police officer who replaced Roy on the force. So the main question in the film is whether the criminal justice system will be biased or work properly. However, there is an important subplot: When Miguel telephones long distance to México to inform his attractive wife Paulina (Eve Longoria) to inform her that he is in prison, under arrest for murder, she decides to go north to support him. Filmviewers now observe a truckload of migrants, who have to pay big bucks to be driven to the border. Paulina, however, is placed in a separate van to be raped. When the migrants arrive in Phoenix, including Paulina, they are and stashed away in a garage of a house with a For Sale sign, as their captors try to extort ransom for some or sale to employers. Frontera, directed by Michael Berry, presents many unexpected elements in the migration of Mexicans to the United States, and the outcome of the main plot may be the most unexpected part of the film. MH

A MOST WANTED MAN IS NOT WHAT YOU FIRST IMAGINE
A Most Wanted ManTo gain some credibility for the fiction film A Most Wanted Man, based on a 2008 spy novel by John Le Carré, credits at the beginning remind filmviewers that the 9/11 plot was hatched in Hamburg, and then inform that Hamburg is a closely watched city for jihadists. When the film begins, a bearded young man, Issa Karpov (played by Grigoriy Dobrygin), enters the city illegally from the waters of the port, and camera surveillance immediately picks up his trail. Günther Bachmann (played by Philip Seymour Hoffmann), a rogue counterterrorist official of the German government, soon discovers that the Chechen Muslim is applying for political asylum with the aid of a German human rights attorney, Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), having been tortured while in Russia. On learning that Karpov does not want a large sum stored by his gangster father in a bank safe deposit bank and is eager to donate the sum to Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), an Islamic leader suspected contributing to terrorist causes, Bachmann plays a wait-and-see game despite the impatience of American officials who are soon apprised of the plot. There is plenty of suspense as the story unfolds to the inevitable conclusion, yet a humanitarian gesture to Karpov is calculated to bring praise to the German government. Nevertheless, Bachmann engages in more rough pursuit that seems necessary, and the role of the Americans is clearly vilified. Directed by John Corbijn, A Most Wanted Man is yet another post-9/11-oriented film that portrays government as abusing power under cover of taking measures supposedly necessary to root out terrorism. Germans, meanwhile, will feel superior to the doublecrossing Americans. MH

September 15, 2014

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12 Years a Slave
42
2016
A Dark Truth
Aftermath
After the Wizard
Age of Uprising
All God's Children
Arbitrage
The Angel's Share
Argo
Bethlehem
Big Miracle
The Book Thief
Boys of Abu Ghraib
Broken City
Burning Blue
The Butler
The Campaign
Capital
Captain Phillips
Cesar Chavez
China Heavyweight
A Coffee in Berlin
The Company You
Keep

Coldwater
Compliance
Dallas Buyers Club
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Declaration of War
Devil's Knot
The Dictator
Divergent
Dormant Beauty
Elysium
The Emperor
Farewell, My Queen
The Fifth Estate
For Greater Glory
Fort McCoy
Frontera
Fruitvale Station
Gangster Squad
Generation P
Geography Club
The Giver
Go For Sisters
Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Hyde Park on Hudson
Ilo Ilo
The Immigrant
Kill Your Darlings
Knife Fight
The Last Sentence
Leonie
Legends of Oz
Lincoln
The Lone Ranger
Love is Strange
Lula, Son of Brazil
Lullaby
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The Master
Miss Bala
The Monuments Men
A Most Wanted Man
Mulberry Child
Nebraska
Night Moves
No
Omar
Out in the Dark
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Parkland
Philomena
Policeman
Polisse
Promised Land
The Railway Man
Red Tails
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Retrieval
Rio 2096
A River Changes Course
A Royal Affair
Sacrifice
Saving Lincoln
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Siddharth
Side Effects
A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding)
Trade of Innocents
Transcendence
W./E.
Wadjda
Walking with the Enemy
War of the Buttons
West of Thunder
White House Down
The Wolf of Wall Street
Won't Back Down
Zaytoun
Zero Dark Thirty



NOMINATED FILMS
FOR 2014
(click on a title to read
a PFS review)

DEMOCRACY
Cesar Chavez

EXPOSÉ
Bethlehem
Cesar Chavez
Coldwater
The Last Sentence
The Monuments Men
Omar
The Railway Man
Siddharth
Walking with the Enemy

HUMAN RIGHTS
Bethlehem
Cesar Chavez
Coldwater
Devil's Knot
The Monuments Men
The Railway Man
Siddharth
Walking with the Enemy

PEACE
Cesar Chavez
The Railway Man

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