Monday, October 23, 2017

The Day I Met El Chapo (2017)

Somewhat coincidentally we've seen a series of movies recently about someone doing something transparently — almost suicidally — dumb and then spending the rest of the running time attempting to survive the consequences. 

There's the aforementioned Jungle and 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain in which Josh Hartnett's character takes a load of class A drugs and then goes snowboarding in the middle of a monster storm. 

Netflix's new three part documentary The Day I Met El Chapo is cut from similar cloth. 

By the end of it Kate del Castillo has played the gender card, the oppressed Mexican citizen card and just about any other card available to her in this quest for 'closure', but viewers are left none the wiser really WTF she actually thought she was going to achieve in meeting Guzmán Loera face-to-face. 

Her friends express their consternation that 'Say-Anne' Penn came equipped with get-out-of-jail letters from Rolling Stone magazine for himself and the other males with him, but not for poor Kate. The trouble is that the previous episode had made it clear that the actress had no idea of Penn's private agenda (an interview) until they were all sitting around the table with the capo and his cronies. If her own intentions had been journalistic, she'd have thought about this, wouldn't she?

Penn clearly concluded that it was already too obvious what a dick he is, so there was no real need for the big Netflix exposé treatment. Without his participation, or that of any of the other men present, this film becomes something of a smokescreen for Del Castillo's already non-transparent decision-making process. A retired DEA-agent called Hector Berrellez (otherwise famed for revealing the role of the CIA in the murder of Kiki Camarena) becomes the loan voice of unqualified censure. 

I warmed to the concluding contribution of producer Epigmenio Ibarra who observed how important it is that this story should be told by Hispanics and not gringos, Kate's version, not the stereotypical Hollywood one, for only that way would all the nuances remain. 

And nuances there are a-plenty. A notable one for me is that Del Castillo seems blissfully unaware just how much she herself is as much an emblem of everything that's cockeyed in Mexican culture as El Chapo himself — the dynastic nature of celebrity, Televisa and its dubious relationship with truth and the consistent casting of hijas de papi from the elite as downtrodden, mixed-race characters from the underclass e.g. La Reina del Sur.

The stand-out character in this tale turned out to be the kingpin's legal counsel Andrés Granados. Now, I am aware of an abogado here in these parts I tend to refer to as the 'Gunboat Lawyer'. 

Not the sort one would retain for everyday tramites, but rather for those slightly more serious litigious niggles where another party is being a bit obstreperous / brincón and could do with the legal equivalent of the Royal Navy showing up just off their shoreline. Like Granados, this man has that ex-cuque, seasoned perpetrator of atrocities aura about him. 

El Chapo's abogado appears arguably scarier in person than his most notorious client. Yet your standard Hollywood mobster-lawyer is usually a bit of a venal slimebag. Consider for example Pablo Escobar's man, Fernando Duque, as portrayed in Narcos

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