Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
7 Boxes: Cart or Die, Dude
wheelbarrow jockeys trolling for delivery work amid Asuncion, Paraguay’s giant
open market have the sort of recklessness we would associate with New York bike
messengers. The work is hard for carters, but it often brings them into uncomfortably
close proximity with the criminal element. All kind of skullduggery is
unleashed when a teen carter picks up an ominous load of “merchandise” in Juan
Carlos Maneglia & Tana Schembori’s 7
opens today in New York.
is a carter, but in his daydreams, he is a TV celebrity waiting to be
discovered. Usually, the hard-charging Nelson out hustles Victor for business,
but not on this morning. With Nelson
running late because of his sick child, Victor is able to scoop up a lucrative
job carting seven mysterious boxes. It
does not matter where. The dodgy kitchen worker just needs them “on street”
until the heat blows over. Eventually, someone will call Victor on the cell
phone they provided to arrange a rendezvous. At that time, he will receive the
other half of a $100 bill. That’s American money, which is riding especially
high in the exchange market.
course, Nelson is rather put out over losing the job. When he protests, he
jumps to the wrong conclusions regarding the contents of the boxes. He assumes
it is cash and enlists his violent carter cronies to waylay Victor. Soon
everyone is after the punky kid. Meanwhile, in a subplot that will eventually
be woven into the main thread, his older sister Tamara searches for the
absentee father of her soon-to-deliver best friend, with the help of their Chinese
restaurant boss’s smitten son.
it comes to dodging and weaving in and out of traffic, 7 Boxes is aces. The chase
scenes are quite inventively staged and duly adrenaline charged. Yet, the film’s
most intriguing relationship is the cautious attraction shared by Tamara and
her admirer. Indeed, it is one of the
few films that take into account the under-examined phenomenon of Asian
immigration to Latin America.
Davalos and Jin Hyuk Johnny Kim are terrific as Tamara and her maybe sort of
suitor. Likewise, Lali Gonzalez brings an admirable energy level as Liz, Victor’s
frienemy-possible love interest. The problem is every character is more
appealing than the shallow and delusional Victor, most definitely including
Victor Sosa’s Nelson, who is impressively ferocious, but also acutely human and
ultimately quite tragic.
Fortunately, the strong sense of place and
general scrappiness largely offset the film’s heavy handed class consciousness
and shallow media criticism. When it is on the move, it works. Recommended for
those who appreciate street level, bottom-of-the-criminal-food-chain exploits, 7 Boxes opens today (2/7) in New York at
the Cinema Village.
Labels: Paraguayan Cinema