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Maya is a quick-witted young woman who comes over the Mexican border without papers and makes her way to the LA home of her older sister Rosa. Rosa gets Maya a job as a janitor: a non-union janitorial service has the contract, the foul-mouthed supervisor can fire workers on a whim, and the service-workers' union has assigned organizer Sam Shapiro to bring its "justice for janitors" campaign to the building. Sam finds Maya a willing listener, she's also attracted to him. Rosa resists, she has an ailing husband to consider. The workers try for public support; management intimidates workers to divide and conquer. Rosa and Maya as well as workers and management may be set to collide. Written by
Prior to filming, Adrien Brody did undercover research as a union member in Los Angeles. He went to conventions and sat in on strike talks. A couple of the members recognized him, but Brody persuaded them not to blow his cover. See more »
When I attended a screening a week ago sponsored by a local public supported radio station (KPFK) in Los Angeles, I was not certain if this film was a documentary or typical crafted Hollywood-style hyperbole since I listened with half an ear while jogging and listening to an opportunity to attend.
Who would have thought that a simple discussion on a local public supported radio station in Los Angeles (KPFK) a few years ago would compel a screenwriter (Paul Laverty) to visit a union organizing effort in downtown Los Angeles (circa 1999) resulting in a film that was drama, comedy, farce, fear, compassion and a taste of dusted immigrants creeping through Tijuana-to-USA shrubs to gain entry via the abusive "coyotes" human smuggler routes. Most of these immigrants land in day-worker situations and low pay and yet Los Angeles would collapse without them. This film concentrates on the downtown office area -- owned and occupied by the elite of Los Angeles establishment - and where many undocumented workers toil under conditions that are far less than that suggested by international Human Rights standards.
This was a polished non-Hollywood-capability-film but yet intimately Los Angeles. I listened to an interview yesterday on KPFK with Laverty and learned that funding was elsewhere - Europe I recall - not 'Hollywood'. And Laverty is from Scotland. One would never guess that the film was actually on the low-budget scale when compared with Hollywood's pleasure to spend big dollars.
I also learned that the film was made in 30-days (hence the vibrant interaction of all cast members and energetic direction by Loach) and is in release this week with 30 prints in Los Angeles, and 300 nationwide USA. Sounds like some symmetry there and potential Lottery pick permutations.
My only reservation is that the story is highly political in an undercurrent nature and may frighten an extensive audience --- unless the viewers just take the courage to go, watch, and enjoy. The film will do the rest. The viewer will leave with more than the cost of a matinee price ticket.
I also suggest that in an upcoming meeting between Vicente Fox, President of Mexico, and George W. Bush, President of United States, that Vicente snag a copy of the film and show it to George while sipping tea in Texas. And then for dessert, sip more tea and watch "Traffic".
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