Cocalero

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Cocalero
Directed by Alejandro Landes
Opens November 9, Cinema Village
In the midst of this consultant-polished election season, Alejandro Landes's inside look at Evo Morales's successful 2005 run for the Bolivian presidency is both refreshing and just plain fun. Morales, the country's first indigenous president, sports a bowl cut and a boyish, Bill Clinton–ish charm, and his campaign staff is an entertainingly motley crew. Inside grubby headquarters, they tease each other and their boss while crunching numbers on '80s-era calculators. On the road, they swim in jungle rivers and meet with coca farmers, who make up the base of his Movimiento al Socialismo. In one-on-one interviews with Landes, these farmers mount an eloquent defense of the coca leaf, their holiest plant, and prove themselves surprisingly savvy about the economics of international drug trade. Chillingly, at the end of every rally, a shout rises up: "Long live the coca leaf! Death to the Yanquis!" Landes doesn't shy away from the dark side of socialism—union leaders cheerfully acknowledge torturing wrongdoers by tying them to a tree full of poisonous ants—but he makes a convincing case for coca, and his handheld camera has a way of honing in on the most piercing and hilarious moments on the trail.
 
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