You know you're having a bad day when the wealthy steel tycoon you kidnap is actually your father posing as a wealthy steel tycoon, only you don't realize it because your associate put a bag over his head, so when you cut off your victim's finger to frighten his relatives, you're actually removing a chunk of your own father's anatomy.
Such is the wacky world of "Matando Cabos," the film that kicks off the Fresno Art Museum's inaugural Latino Film Festival. "Matando Cabos" (8 p.m. today, rated R for pervasive violence and language, some strong sexuality and drug use, 103 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles, grade: B) is a brutal farce from director Alejandro Lozano. This twisted romp, which tangles the goofiness of a Steve Carell comedy with the hip violence of a "Pulp Fiction," might not win many points for elevated acting or sophisticated insight into the human condition.
The film is a cheerful pastiche of styles from gritty urban street drama to silly mockumentary complete with "interviews" with tangential characters. At one point, Lozano launches into an extended fantasy sequence involving one of the movie's veteran toughs (Joaquin Cosio), who has a past life as a Mexican wrestling star.
Cosio's character has been enlisted to fight against Botcha (Raúl Méndez), the kidnapper who's nabbed his own father by mistake. "Matando Cabos" doesn't exactly qualify as a commentary on social stratification, but it does pit the monied classes (depicted as cruel, vacuous and depraved) against the free-spirited streetwise set.
Though the film is amusing enough, it's also a bit mechanical -- almost as if Lozano backs himself into a corner and isn't sure how to find a satisfying resolution.
Other films in the festival:
"El Padrecito" ("The Little Father"), noon Saturday. Mario Moreno portrays a new priest who has been sent to a town to gain experience in ministry, but to his surprise,he does not receive such a great welcome. Rated PG.
"Los Campeones Justicieros" ("The Champions of Justice"), 2:30 p.m. Saturday. A team of five wrestlers must battle a mad scientist bent on ruling the world. Rated PG-13.
"Familia Rodante" ("Rolling Family"), 4:30 p.m. Saturday. A wedding invitation inspires a grandmother to assemble her family and em- bark on a road trip. Not rated.
"Sexo, Pudor y Lágrimas" ("Sex, Modesty and Tears"), 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Two couples go through a rough patch in their lives. Rated R. "Crónicas" ("Chronicles"), 9 p.m. Saturday. The star of a sensationalistic Miami news show travels to Ecuador to cover the story of a serial killer.
Short film series by local filmmakers, noon Sunday. Antonio Garcia's "You Owe Me One," Roque Rodriguez's "An Inch or a Mile," Carlos Gaviria's "Milagro en la Red."
"Japón," ("Japan"), 2 p.m. Sunday. A painter from the big city goes to a remote canyon to commit suicide. Not rated.
"Nicotina" ("Nicotina"), 5 p.m. Sunday. A computer geek attempts to ruin the romantic tryst of his neighbor. Rated R. "La Virgen de los Sicarios" ("Our Lady of the Assassins"), 7 p.m. Sunday. A middle-aged Colombian writer becomes involved sexually and romantically with teenage Medellin boys. Rated R.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6373. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com/donald.