Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nicotina (Mexico, 2003)

(Trailer) That this film gets so many mixed to negative responses by US American reviewers could possibly have more to do with the nation’s general population’s distaste for their immediate Spanish-speaking neighbors that are slowly re-conquering the hallowed shores of the U.S. than for the actual quality of the film itself. For, more than anything else, Nicotina is an excellent, fast-paced and comic Mexican crime flick that, while being far from deep and meaningful, is blackly humorous and wonderfully entertaining.
The dominoes begin to fall somewhere in Mexico City when two cruising hoods, Tomson (Jesús Ochoa) and his younger partner Nene (Lucas Crespi),
set up a deal with a Russian mobster (Norman Sotolongo) to exchange a computer disk of access numbers to Swiss bank accounts for a small fortune of diamonds. Computer hacker Lolo (Diego Luna) has no problems downloading the access numbers, but he is continually distracted by his sexy neighbor Andrea (Marta Belaustegui) whose apartment he has rigged with hidden microphones and webcams. The altercation that ensues when Andrea suddenly realizes that he is spying on her causes a spiral of events that pulls in a choleric pharmacist (Daniel Giménez Cacho), his suffering wife Clara (Carmen Madrid), an unassuming barber (Rafael Inclán) and his hard-as-nails wife (Rosa María Bianchi) as well as a few other tertiary faces. The wake left behind is one long path of blood, bullets and death...
In his second directorial project, Argentinean-born director Hugo Rodríguez — who usually sits in the producer’s seat — has created a highly stylized crime flick that proudly wears the influences of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie on its sleeves when it comes to the witty dialogue, insightful characterization, excessive violence and flashy editing. (To wander momentarily in thoughts: Once we spoke of Eisenstein-editing, then we spoke of editing like Russ Meyers, then of MTV-editing, and now of Guy-Ritchie-editing...)
Nihilistic to the extreme, on its simplest level, Nicotina posits that you might as well smoke because you never know — and can't control — how or when you are going to die. Told in real-time, Nicotina leaves the viewer no time to breath as it chugs ahead at full speed, knocking everything down along the way. For all the damage and death and speed, however, Rodríguez and his editor Alberto de Toro (who definitely had to have had a controlling hand here) never lose control of their film. Nicotina keeps the viewer entertained, interested and laughing, and even manages to surprise on more than one occasion. It is a film that can be watched both with and without a joint in hand. Rent it now.

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