Tracking Shots
'Cocaine Cowboys'
October 24th, 2006
Cocaine Cowboys
Directed by Billy Corben
Magnolia Pictures

Recounting the true events that inspired Miami Vice and De Palma's Scarface, Billy Corben's documentary one-ups the recent big-screen Vice by actually getting the TV show's composer, Jan Hammer, to do his soundtrack -- see, Michael Mann, that shouldn't have been so hard! Corben's so intent on getting the whole story that he devotes perhaps a bit too much time to the early traffickers, who ferried bricks of cocaine from Colombia on small private planes. But about halfway through the movie, the focus shifts to a convicted killer named Rivi, who began as a small-time car thief and eventually found himself in the employ of "Godmother" Griselda Blanco, a fascinating and temperamental character whose mercurial moods jacked up the violence levels in Miami during the '80s. Much of the archival footage is from old TV news, and the transfer to the big screen does the image quality no favors, but the story is fascinating, if a little overlong, and makes you want to see a high-profile, big-name Griselda Blanco movie happen, like, tomorrow.

-- Luke Y. Thompson, The Village VOICE