This delirious 1999 comic fable is a caustic indictment of Mexico's seedy political culture as well as director Luis Estrada's tribute to Touch of Evil, Orson Welles's giddily baroque tale of corruption over the border. During the national election in 1949, a political boss appoints a simpleminded janitor as mayor of San Pedro, where the previous mayor has been murdered by his constituents. Intoxicated by power and bribes, the new mayor repeats his predecessor's pattern of greed and caprice. Estrada references Welles throughout with his low-angle deep-focus shots, grotesque close-ups, and brassy sound track. The actors are uniformly excellent, embracing their arch roles without succumbing to caricature; Damian Alcazar stands out as the mayor, a meek toady transformed into a deranged despot. In Spanish with subtitles. 120 min.
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