At first, The Great Beauty (top) plays like an enjoyably exuberant satire of modern Rome. Yet slowly, grandeur starts shining through the decadence. [Director] Sorrentino offers the most ravishing footage of Rome I’ve ever seen — he seems to have free run of every park and palazzo — and the city’s glory puts into perspective the shallowness within it. Scenes that start off satirical, like the one with the nun, wind up containing a vision of transcendence. By film’s end, the road of excess has led Jep to a vision of life’s great beauty and perhaps his own spiritual resurrection.
Narco Cultura juxtaposes the culture of drug trafficking with the efforts of a CSI cop solving murder crimes in Juárez, Mexico:
Sure, narcocorrido culture turns drug violence into a show, but there’s also something merely theatrical about what the cops in Juárez are doing, too. Soto is an honorable man, but he and other local police don’t really investigate 97 percent of the murders — to even talk about them would get them killed. Small wonder that so many powerless young Mexicans and Mexican-Americans don’t trust the system, but get seduced by narco culture’s vision of wealth and power and impunity. Heck, even when they’re killed, drug lords get to dwell in self-aggrandizing tombs protected by bullet-proof glass.