New Film Explores Collision of Cultures in California

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on July 31, 2009

Mexican director Amat Escalante says "Los Bastardos," his stunningly violent new movie about two Mexican illegal immigrants in the uncaring world of California, grew out of his own experiences living there as a child.

"The story comes from this uneasiness I have because of living there for a long time, and from wanting to show how these two cultures could come to collide and to break down in some way," Escalante says in today's edition of the Mexico City newspaper Reforma.

The movie's two central characters become embittered and violent after encountering abuse from Americans, including a contractor who stiffs them after the work is done. They invade a home and hold hostage an American woman who is too benumbed by the meaningless of her suburban life to care.

LA Weekly offers this summation of what happens next: "In long, static wide-screen compositions, they take a gander at how the other half lives: eating the woman's microwave dinners, swimming in her azure pool, and smoking her crack cocaine, before a predictable (albeit startling) blast of violence brings down the curtain on their doomed masquerade."

After winning a half dozen awards at film festivals in Europe and Latin America, "Los Bastardos" was recently released in the United States. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Escalante said that from the very beginning of production he was thinking of how Lou Dobbs would react.

Said Escalante, son of an American mother and Mexican father: "I like very much things that are ambiguous that play around a little bit….I want a movie that this guy (Dobbs) can put and say, 'Look at this. This is what happens.' And also a movie that Mexicans can say, 'Look at this. This is what happens over there also to us, how it's very difficult and we suffer.'"