Movie Reviews

Film Review: “South of the Border”

(Cinema Libre. 1 hour, 42 minutes. No rating. Directed by Oliver Stone.)

You can be forgiven if you overlooked this documentary in the movie listings. (It’s playing only at the AMC Studio 30.) 20 or so years ago, Stone was our rabblerouser filmmaker, supplanted these days by Michael Moore (who appears in a TV clip early in this work). I like the premise of the movie: Stone takes a kind of friendly-American road trip across five South American countries, in order to interview seven elected presidents. The subjects are Hugo Chavez (Venezuela); Evo Morales (Bolivia); Lula da Silva (Brazil); Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-president Nestor Kirchner; Fernando Lugo (Paraguay); Rafael Correa (Ecuador); and Raul Castro (Cuba).

Well, these aren’t so much interviews as friendly chats, and therein lies some of the problem. Stone’s a bit hampered by the fact that he doesn’t speak any Spanish (or Portuguese), so all his comments go through an interpreter. Still, I was expecting a few hardball questions, or at least challenges to some of the statements given by the leaders. The film is interesting in that it gives a clearer picture of who some of these people are, and what they’re trying to accomplish in their individual countries, than the American media usually portrays. Chavez, who gets the bulk of Stone’s time (or at least screen time), comes across as much more sympathetic than you’d expect. Not sure what purpose Stone had in visiting with Raul Castro, whose country is still a dictatorship, not a democracy. Still, South of the Border, while it could have been more hard-hitting, is worth a look.

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