Political Film Society - Newsletter #305 - April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008


The Bank JobPhotographs were taken while the late Princess Margaret was sleeping with someone at a Caribbean island resort in 1971. They were conveniently stored in the safety deposit box of Michael X (played by Peter De Jersey), a gangster kingpin, in order to trump any efforts to prosecute him. However, when Martine Love (played by Saffron Burroughs) is caught with drugs at airport customs on her return from a Moroccan vacation, a plot is cleverly devised by a member of the government, MI5 agent Tim Everett (played by Richard Lintern). She will not be prosecuted if she can round up a gang to rob the bank of safety deposit boxes and turn over the purloined pictures. Moreover, the gangsters will be allowed to keep their booty. However, safety deposit boxes contain not only cash and jewelry but also other blackmail pictures, including two members of the government being flogged by dominatrixes at the brothel of Sonia Bern (played by Sharon Maughan). The bank indeed is robbed by a gang headed by her onetime boyfriend Terry Leather (played by Jason Statham), a used car dealer in debt to loansharks, but the aftermath is the most exciting part of the film, as a porn king’s payoffs to government officials, particularly the police, are among the records obtained serendipitously. Thus, the scandal involves the royal family, high-ranking members of the government, police, and major and petty criminals in the largest robbery in history. The events depicted are true at least as far as the government would allow disclosed. Directed by Political Film Society awardwinner Roger Donaldson (for best film on peace of 2000, Thirteen Days), The Bank Job clearly exceeds last year’s awardwinning American Gangster in every respect. The Political Film Society has nominated The Bank Job as best film exposé of 2008. MH

La misma luna (Under the Same Moon)La misma luna (Under the Same Moon) is a touching saga of a nine-year-old Mexican boy, Carlitos (played by fourteen-year-old Adrian Alonso), who seeks to join his mother Rosario (directed by Kate del Castillo) after the untimely death of his grandmother Benita Reyes (played by Angelina Peláez). Directed by Patricia Riggen, the film begins in México, where adorable Carlitos is being reared by his grandma. His mom left for Los Angeles four years earlier, and his birthfather Paco (played by Gabriel Porras) abandoned Rosario for Tucson before Carlitos’s birth. When Benita dies in her sleep one day, Carlitos is determined to visit his mom on her birthday the following week. The on-the-road film poignantly demonstrates conditions that illegal Mexicans endure in pursuit of the good life in the United States. The early part of the trip involves applying to be smuggled, coming up the $2,000 for the trip, and the smuggling itself. His small body, placed in a minivan’s secret compartment, fools the authorities, but the car’s owner forgot to pay traffic tickets, so the vehicle is impounded at the Texas border pending payment of the fines. That night, Carlitos crawls out and begins his journey on foot. A minor, the bus company will not accept his money to travel alone, so he must hitch a ride. He accompanies illegals hired to pick tomatoes, and filmviewers see a raid by immigration authorities. During the raid, Carlitos and Henrique (played by Eugenio Derbez) hide undetected. Carlitos tries to bond with Henrique, who does not want to be burdened with him, since his destination is New York, but increasingly Henrique finds meaning in his life in caring for Carlitos, who finds a dishwashing job at a diner on condition that Henrique is also hired. In Tucson, Henrique assists in finding his birthfather, who over a hamburger paid by Carlitos promises to take him to LA to reunite with Rosario, but the following morning he fails to arrive at the diner to begin the trip. Carlitos and Henrique then take a bus to LA. Carlitos only has a post office box address, so his only hope is to stalk the telephone booth from which Rosario calls him. With clues about the box site near a laundromat, a pizza shop, and a mural somewhere in East LA, they search in vain. One night, after sleeping on a park bench alongside Henrique, the latter leaves to bring breakfast. Police spot the boy alone. While the police try to apprehend Carlitos, Henrique returns, throws the breakfast at the police to serve as a decoy, and Carlitos flees as the police arrest Henrique, and indeed he locates the pay telephone. Meanwhile, the scene has been shifting back and forth to Rosario’s life in LA. She is a cleaning woman at two houses, but snooty Mrs. McKenzie (played by Jacqueline Voltaire) peremptorily withholds pay while firing her, knowing that she cannot complain or police will deport her. Then her search for a replacement job is unsuccessful. While frustrated, the woman who arranged the smuggling tells her that Benita is dead and the whereabouts of Carlitos is unknown. She now has to choose between marrying a generous Mexican-American whom she does not love to get a green card or returning to México in search of her lost son. The last frames end on an upbeat note after a film that profoundly raises emotions of filmviewers to see the plight of illegals in very human terms. One Mexican family, with a mother and father and two small boys, were observed leaving a West LA screening serene while the mother caressed one of her sons, as if to say that she is grateful that their family has stayed together despite the booby traps set in a country that refuses to normalize the situation for millions. MH.