The Old Thieves: The Legends of Artegio

A close-up look at some "gentlemen" criminals from the '60s and '70s.

With:
With: Efrain Alcaraz Montes de Oca (El Carrizos), Raymundo Moreno (El Burrero), Ruben Chacon Fernandez (Chacon), Arcadio Ocampo (Xochi), Jorge Calva Marquez (Fantomas), Mauro Morales, Marco Villarreal.

Given the drug-war crime wave that’s lately swept Mexico, “The Old Thieves,” a close-up look at some “gentlemen” criminals from the ’60s and ’70s, can’t help but take on a certain nostalgic quality. Everardo Gonzalez’s docu, which has snared some fest prizes and nabbed Ariel noms last year for picture and director in its native land, illuminates a period when robbers operated by a code that included avoidance of violence and taking only from the wealthy. Nonstop talking heads will limit this absorbing piece largely to Spanish-language territories, chiefly on the tube.

Dominant figure here is Efrain Alcaraz Montes de Oca, who became an instant legend when he robbed the home of then-president Luis Echeverria Alvarez in the early ’70s. Interviewed, like four other old crims, in prison, “El Carrizos” emphasizes the “honor” and “ethics” of his m.o., while also detailing the unsavory interconnectedness of robbers and law enforcement at the time. Seemingly all destined to die behind bars, the subjects, who started their careers as teen petty criminals, speak with disarming frankness about their good old days. Archival footage of Mexico City a half-century ago is fantastic.

The Old Thieves: The Legends of Artegio

Mexico

Production: An Artegios presentation in co-production with Instituto Mexicano de Cinetografia, Imcine, Arte 7, Filmoteca de la Unam. (International sales: Imcine, Mexico City.) Produced by Issa Guerra, Everardo Gonzalez, Roberto Garza Angulo, Alejandro Molina. Directed by Everardo Gonzalez.

Crew: Camera (color), Martin Boege, Gonzalez, Gerardo Montiel Klint; editor, Juan Manuel Figueroa; music, Rodrigo Garibay, Matias Barberis. Reviewed at Hola Mexico Film Festival, Los Angeles, June 10, 2009. (Also in Guadalajara, Havana, Morelia, Locarno, Miami film festivals.) Original title: Ladrones viejos: las leyendas del Artegio. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Efrain Alcaraz Montes de Oca (El Carrizos), Raymundo Moreno (El Burrero), Ruben Chacon Fernandez (Chacon), Arcadio Ocampo (Xochi), Jorge Calva Marquez (Fantomas), Mauro Morales, Marco Villarreal.

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