Who's in It:
Jader Barbalho, Dr. Juarez Avelar, "Magrinho"
The Basics: First of all, stay away from Brazil. It's nuts there, and if you're rich enough to visit the place from another country, then you're also rich enough to get yourself kidnapped by any number of desperate slum dwellers in need of a little ransom cash. And this documentary careens all over the place between kidnappers, their traumatized victims, their fearful future victims and corrupt politicians, as well as plastic surgeons who specialize in kidnap-victim ear replacement surgery, private helicopter and fancy-car bulletproofing enterprises and, finally, frog farmers who launder money so that the rich stay rich enough to afford the fortresses they've built against crime.
What's the Deal? It dumps the talking-head/archive footage format of rubbing your face in horrific poverty and violence in favor of a crazy connect-the-dots style that would just as soon focus on showing you tadpoles being sucked down a drain as on interviewing a member of Sao Paulo's anti-kidnapping police force describing the wide variety of guns he needs. You can wonder if all of this stuff is actually related when it's over, but while you're watching it, first-time director Jason Kohn makes you believe that it really is.
Freakiest Interviewee: Not the professional kidnapper, believe it or not. It's actually the wealthy, sunglasses-wearing anonymous entrepreneur who's so obsessed with security that he's looking forward to the day when he can have a microchip implanted in his skin that will help police trace his location should he ever be snatched. Of course, he still drives around Sao Paulo in a super-expensive armored, bulletproof Porsche, which is kind of like wearing a giant neon sign on your forehead saying, "I AM RICH. PLEASE KIDNAP ME NOW." But that doesn't seem to occur to him.
Warning for Frog-, Surgery-, Kidnapping-Sensitive Viewers: In a wildly metaphoric moment, frogs begin cannibalizing each other. Later those same frogs are taken to a processing plant where they're skinned and gutted. Similarly, human kidnap victims are seen on ransom tapes (one is a child), and some end up having their ears sliced off, then operated on to have rib cartilage removed, a new ear carved from it and attached to the side of their head.
Who Should See It: Errol Morris fans.