“South Of The Border” & “Predators”
 
            “Predators” is that almost-laughable sci-fi melodrama where everybody takes themselves so seriously it just begs for its own caricature.  (But if they did a “Saturday Night Live” parody, would anyone identify the original?)  It’s an interesting career turn for Adrien Brody, of “The Pianist” fame, who’s come a long way from pre-World War II Poland.  This time, instead of running away from Nazis, he’s running away from alien predators, except this time he’s not so delicately defenseless:  he’s buff, tough, and ready:  specially-trained in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts.  Not only that, there’s a whole platoon of draftees with him, who all were kidnapped out of their respective violent elements, and next thing they know they’re free-falling, literally, so they instinctively pull the rip cord, and crash-land in an unfamiliar jungle.  At first, of course, being combat veterans, they are naturally combative with each other, and argue over command and control issues.  But they soon realize they have a common enemy, stronger and faster and relentless, and if they’re going to have any chance of surviving, they have no choice but to cooperate with each other.  Of course, not all these desperados prove themselves worthy of the others’ trust.  And not all survive, either.  But it’s one of those “we’re all in this together, and there’s no way of escaping, so we might as well learn to work together because we’re all stronger that way” kind of premises that is exactly the same point that Oliver Stone is trying to make in his real-life documentary, “South of the Border.”
            Veteran Director and Producer Oliver Stone journeys to several South American countries, as well as Cuba, and interviews the Presidents of the “The New Bolivars”:  like the lionized Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and the unlikely-appearing Evo Morales of Bolivia (the first indigenous President of his country), and the gentle theologian-turned-politician, and former Catholic bishop, Fernando Lugo , of Paraguay, and the First Family of Argentina, the Kirchners (Nestor is the former President and his wife Cristina the current President), and the still-feisty Rafael Carrea of Ecuador, all of whom welcome the opportunity to preach to an American audience directly through the willing Director’s camera (well, with interpreters in the background, though many of these modern Latino leaders are fluent in English, and have even lived in the United States themselves).  These “new revolutionaries” or “neo-liberals’ are all eager for their countries to have their own voice, without necessarily relying on the giant to the North for all their instructions.  They desire to be out from under the thumb of the International Monetary Fund, seen as “controlled” by the U.S. They want the economic embargo of Cuba lifted, because “50 years is long enough.”  They want the U.S. to be able to have military bases on their land only if they can also have military bases on U.S. soil (right).   And, eventually, they would like a common South American currency, similar to the Euro, which would bind them economically as well as culturally.  (Apparently the current difficulties of the European model are overlooked, or have became more evident only after this film was made.)  The weakest part of this serial interviewing is when Stone decides to interject his own commentary, when it’s patently obvious, anyway, what his political perspective is by the way he’s put this “documentary” together.  However, it’s not often that you get to hear a procession of active Presidents, all in short, compatible segments, speak candidly and cordially in personal interview fashion.  Sure, there is much information that’s not presented, and there is no rebuttal to anyone, and the political slant is relentless. There’s no attempt here at objectively presenting all sides.  And the relentless alien predators who are after us all may very well turn out to be difficult-to-destroy social bugaboos like poverty, disease, unemployment, and uneven distribution of resources.  But “South of the Border” is timely, thought-provoking, and close to home.  And maybe it really is time for the U.S. to update its Monroe Doctrine-outlook on our neighbors “South of The Border.”
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas