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Five days remain, and if you are looking for a movie to see at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, I think we have a couple of winners.

Once upon a time in Argentina, a film opened with an Ennio Morricone harmonica solo. Diego Rougier's Sal is both a clever spoof of spaghetti westerns and a nifty indictment of contemporary filmmakers who have nothing to say and a script to prove it.

Fele Martínez stars as Sergio (his cat is named Clint), a talentless screenwriter shopping around what barely passes as a concept for a contemporary spaghetti western. The rejection that greets him would benumb a wiser man. In spite of the indignities he encounters -- one potential investor uses the script as a soft drink coaster -- Sergio blindly perseveres.

A case of mistaken identity leads a rebel desperado to believe Sergio is his arch nemesis returning to settle a score. It's easy to predict what follows: Sergio is kidnapped by a group of modern day bandidos more life-threatening than any deadly vaquero his limited imagination could conjure. (Patricio Contreras lends expert comic relief as his crusty captor.)

Art imitates life and Sergio finally has a story to tell. Sure it's predictable, but as with any good filmmaker, Rougier presents it in a sensible enough manner so you'll want to stick around for the outcome.

Sal screens tonight at 4:30 p.m. at UltraStar Hazard Center.


Have you ever experienced Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy or any of the outrageous El Santo epics? Inept isn't a strong enough word to describe what goes on in these sub-Ed Wood Mexican cheapies. The average WWE match is better scripted and the execution finer-tuned

The Calderón family was known for building grand movie palaces to exhibit the trashy genre films they produced. Perdida, directed by Viviana García Besné, grandniece of film producer José Luis Calderón, offers an insider's look into the filmmaking dynasty.

According to the press notes, "Her journey uncovers a hidden history full of masked wrestlers, human robots, Aztec mummies, and deep family secrets involving Ricardo Montalbán (interviewed here!)."

Perdida screens Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at UltraStar Hazard Center.

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