Highway Patrolman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Highway Patrolman 

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The anarchistic and unpredictable English director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, Walker) goes bilingual in this 1992 Mexican picture, spoken in Spanish throughout. In some ways it's his best work to date--a beautifully realized tale about the life of a Mexican highway patrolman who's neither sentimentalized nor treated like a villain: he takes bribes, but has a sense of ethics. Wonderfully played by Mexican star Roberto Sosa, he's a more believable cop than any Hollywood counterparts that come to mind. Starting off as a sadsack comedy with black overtones, the film gravitates into grim neorealism, but Cox also displays a flair for surrealist filigree (worthy of Bunuel in spots) and straight-ahead action, and does some marvelous things with actors and the Mexican landscape. In some respects, this is a return to the funky, witty pleasures of Repo Man, but the virtuoso long-take camera style--there are only 187 cuts in the entire movie--and emotional depth show a more mature Cox. (I hope the other Mexican feature he made around the same time--a masterful, baroque black-and-white adaptation of Jorge Luis Borges's "Death and the Compass" done for the BBC, with a camera style suggesting Touch of Evil--will eventually be imported as well.) Music Box, Friday through Thursday, March 18 through 24.

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