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2008-08-17 19:19

Title: Sangre de Mi Sangre (Blood of My Blood), or Padre Nuestro

Overall rating: A (strong accept; will champion film)

Reviewer’s confidence: Y (I am knowledgeable in the area, though not an expert.)

General review:

By weaving together four deep instances of detachment, this well-organized film demonstrates how to derive immigrants from persons mechanically and vice versa. These derivations are intuitively obvious and should not bear any tedious demonstration. Yet, perhaps because they are so painfully obvious, they are often neglected—I often neglect them—when interacting with an immigrant. This neglect injures life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as we eat immigrant food, wear immigrant clothes, inhabit immigrant tenements, take immigrant transport, learn immigrant business, have immigrant fun. For example, just the other day I had the urge to run down some jaywalking immigrants as they crossed Canal Street in front of my bike. Or was it in Times Square?

This cinematic pearl thus serves as a rational reconstruction of motion, a timely and entertaining reminder that immigrants are people and people are immigrants. It points the way to a wide variety of practical applications, such as snapshotting the dialects of the Spanish diaspora, establishing my love for New York, and advocating open immigration alongside free trade. I recommend that y’all go see it (in New York this week and Los Angeles next week). Especially if you know how many passports Jason Bourne has. Less if you feel cheated at the end of “The Perfect Human”.

Comments for other reviewers:

Several reviews criticize this movie, on two fronts. On one hand, the story is too clear. The plot is too plotted, the morals too moralistic, and the characters too characteristic: “As a character Pedro never develops beyond a credulous, good-hearted cipher.” On the other hand, the story is too obscure: “As you watch the movie, questions accumulate… Little about the connection between Pedro and Magda makes sense.”

These fronts answer each other. (Pondering the questions develops the characters.) This movie is not simplistic and complicated but simple yet complex. Drawing “characters directly out of Hispanic-cliche central casting” reduces distraction, like studying continuation-passing style (named the canonical program transformation by Olivier Danvy). If “Sangre de Mi Sangre”, taking advantage of a conventional narrative structure as this review tries to, manages to pull tropes out of the ashes of an I-94 form in Williamsburg, then so much the better for a mechanical derivation and its inverse: as those viewers fixated on “impoverished Mexican illegal immigrants” show, it is all too easy to forget that we are all in the image of immigration. A moving target, so to speak.

Questions for the authors:

Why does this trailer credit neither the actress Paola Mendoza nor the actor Eugenio Derbez?

Do you have a shoe fetish?