Picture by Magritte. Photo not by Stryder Simms

On Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Closer

I’ve been feeling a need for a change of hemispheres for the next installment in this series on films of our enemies. This batch of dispatches has not been easy to write. It’s my intention not to offend anyone, but things discussed here can be taken for ways other than those intended. Even making the choice of which films are chosen for the series presents a challenge.

Who are our enemies? Terrorists are, we are taught, but terrorists come from all countries and cultures. I’m reviewing films from places that are our enemies in the eyes of the State. So I’m not the one picking sides, my government is. When I analyze films of our enemies, I’m looking for similarities more than differences. The message reinforced by all of them, as far as I’m concerned, is why can’t we be friends?

No matter where filmmakers aim their lens, the overwhelming impression is that people are people everywhere. For instance, why do we consider the thugs in this film our enemies? They appear on one hand as a potent threat, but the story invites us to look beneath appearances, so that we might even take pity on this gang of bloody Caracaqueños, sighting common enemies instead.

As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your foes closer. I was not up to date on which countries in this great, bulging planet my country’s most pissed at, so I scooped up a few low hanging statistics. There are other ways to distinguish a snake from a hiss, but “enemies of America” is something anyone could search the Internet for a list, so that’s what I did.

It goes without saying Russia and Iran are foreign countries that make American kids nervous. That Mexico is considered an enemy threat, I would not have guessed. One of our most trusted trading partners is a nemesis? The place where millions of us vacation every year, we have reason to fear? What more complicated world could there be?

Before my research, I thought surely Venezuela abided higher up the list of terrorist threats, at least, ever since the reign of Hugo Chavez. But, since he’s been out of office for a few years now, Venezuela is pretty far down, as far as risk to the US goes, according to the latest list.

Nonetheless, it makes sense to review “Sequestro Express,” in terms of criminal trends that pose potential threats to the U.S. Latin America has been more thoroughly integrated over the past several hundred years, in our culture, than the Muslim orient ever was. Religious extremists aside, what’s to stop extortionists and racketeers from places like Caracas from working their way up here, if their precious cocaine trade were to disappear.

Caracas is been ranked the world’s most violent place. A hundred violent deaths a day is not uncommon. By contrast, Chicago just recently set an extreme trend with 50- some in one particular weekend. Does that make the average Venezuelan my enemy? I doubt it. The worst character in this sordid drama could be part of a barbarian invasion or just some unlucky bloke acting out his frustration while coming under increasing economic strangulation. One of the things that shocked me in this film is the way the nihilism of the urban youth in capitalist America seems so exaggerated against the backdrop of socialist Venezuela.

The majority of drugs that leave Columbia are consumed in Venezuela. I learned that on the director’s commentary track as well. Things began to deteriorate there with an epic demand for narcotics in the US began to swell. Nevertheless, like gas, cocaine is not a high profit trade on the streets down there. Both cost about a twentieth what it does here. so kidnapping is where the money is. It’s like nab or be nabbed down there, I guess. Now, watch this movie and ask how does someone stuck in that economy steer clear of that mess?

The film’s outlook is so bleak, in terms of where the story begins and ends, I think escaping through one’s art was the best alternative director Jonathan Jakubowicz would able to come up with. Of course, not everyone can do what he did.

It’s such a human trait to undertake drastic measures when pressed. I’m composing this series to prove that the majority of us act for the common good, naturally, whenever we’re inspired to do our best. Each one of these films, in its own way, has proposed that decent folks, under too much stress, on the other hand, can be turned into kooks, leaving wreck and ruin behind to the rest.

Films like this place the sicknesses of society under a magnifying glass. Subjects reviewed on Open Channel Content are chosen to alert and inspire individual to invent remedies for whatever ills become exposed in filming these stories.

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