National Geographic made a documentary called “Map of Hell” and got Danny Trejo, aka “Machete”and other nefarious characters in films and on TV, to host and direct it. The results are surprisingly informative and refreshing.
Trejo begins with asking the audience, “What if I died?” He casually admits he’d probably go to hell. “But which hell?” he wonders. Thus begins his tour of historical perspectives on Hell, starting with the ancient Egyptians and ending in the present day.
The tour is pretty thorough for a general audience, too. The doc delves into the ancient Greeks’ view of where we go after we die (if we go anywhere), stops at points in time where the idea of Hell evolves through their cultural development, and continues on through a timeline of changing perspectives on the nature of Hell and who ends up there.
As someone who started out on a very bad life road and later changed his ways, Trejo makes the perfect host because he’s believable. The exploration of Purgatory alone is worth watching the film, perhaps especially for Catholics both active and lapsed. God knows I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in catechism classes in my early years. It was comforting to be reminded that Catholics are the ones who invented the second chance of Purgatory, and of how it works for both the living and the dead.
Danny Trejo, as he says in the doc, is (these days) a nice guy who smiles a lot and does all he can to help others. He’s right; check out his bio (Google is your friend). His willingness to imagine himself dead and headed for some sort of hell is admirable; not every actor would be willing to do that. Highly recommended.
Brilliant example of what a fantasy/horror movie can be when all the right people are in the right jobs on the crew and in the cast. “Malice” started as a webseries, and this film version of the series is spot-on. I’m a stickler on continuity, and if there were any burps in that department in this film, I missed them. Check out “Malice: Metamorphosis” on Hulu if you like this film. Both are amazing productions done on near-zero budgets. Eagle Films also has a YouTube channel. Disclaimer: I am not related to nor in any way employed by anyone working for Eagle Films. Just a fan here! Independent films are often SO much better than Hollyweird studio rehash schlock.
A serious mindfuck of a movie. I love independent film: it gets it right when so much of Hollyweird gets it wrong. “The Corridor” deals, imho, with the unknown. What others experience as mental illness can never be truly understood by those who’ve never experienced it, regardless of the form it takes in any given person. I think the film also deals with friendship, trust, “male bonding,” and otherness, and the myriad ways those things can go wrong. The corridor itself, imo, represents the unknown and unknowable, that which is beyond the reach of human understanding. This film is a deeply engrossing exploration of all these themes, through the prism of the human mind. Light shone through a prism fractures into the colors of the visible spectrum, just as a human brain can become fractured when whatever causes mental illness acts upon it. Brilliant stuff.
The Kogi of Colombia are still trying to get the rest of us to understand how the whole planet is one being.
This doc makes total sense. Eurocentric/Western knowledge is not the only knowledge in this world; the longer we deny this fact, the faster we hurtle toward destruction. Listen.
Vanguard’s 2007 “Exodus” takes the story of Moses and imagines a future in which “undesirables” (criminals, refugees, homeless people, drug users and sellers, etc.) are detained in a concentration camp called Dreamland. Well worth watching, but no easy answers.
This 2008 film, written and directed by Alex Rivera, is set in a future Mexico when water is even scarcer than it is now. Memo and his father have to buy water from a corporate water seller; the river which used to flow by their land has been dammed for many years, before Memo was born. Memo dreams of escaping his father’s pride in land ownership and farming, wanting to connect to the wider world. When he gets his chance, he takes it — losing much that he later realizes he holds dear. He arrives in Tijuana, gets robbed, meets a young woman who sells her memories to a company called Tru-Node, and finally lands a job as a node worker.
Nodes are how a human becomes a tele-presence employee, and guarantees a better-than-living wage for Memo, so he can send money to his family. This job, however, has drawbacks. It can leave a worker blind, drain one’s energy at a faster-than-healthier rate, or even be lethal.
Memo begins to question what he’s doing so far from home. He believes there’s something else he can do besides work too much. When he’s contacted by a man from the US who travels to Tijuana to meet him, and offers to help Memo, an idea germinates in his mind and is brought to fruition. This idea becomes action and offers reconciliation in many forms, to Memo as well as those he knows.
The fact that Memo’s story first entered the world as a film is startling all by itself. Science fiction has had a mixed treatment, at best, from US film producers and directors. Writer/director Rivera brings a fresh perspective to the SFnal ideas of social conscience, connecting with others in an increasingly tech-driven society, and becoming aware of more than what one can swing a snake at, and that’s just for starters.
Gently told, subtle and finely acted (with English subtitles for non-Spanish speaking viewers), “The Sleep Dealers” is another 5 star film that will likely not get much notice. What a shame.
Viva la revolucion.