Remember when David Mills’ (RIP) ‘Kingpin’ promised great things, as the ‘Corner’ and ‘Homicide’ man turned his hand to a mini-series about a drug cartel? Remember what a crushing let down it was, squashed by non-HBO residence? That’s because the real thing is more remarkable than any fiction. Theme parks, pet hippos, discotheques inside prisons, ostentatiousness redefined and wars declared on countries of residence? Yayo money can, as ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ (directed by Billy Corben who made previous ESPN ’30 for 30′ highlight ‘The U’) attested, make people do crazy things. Cartels had a hand in Columbia’s football leagues and national side, with major money changing hands. A documentary about the Andrés Escobar’s 1994 slaying ran on Channel 4 during their ‘Gangsters’ season a few years back, but there was still more to the story. The History Channel’s ‘Killing Pablo’ had me fascinated all over again. As did the Vice article and VBS feature with those downright creepy images of Pablo’s family get-togethers.
Taken from Viceland’s ‘Memories of Medellin’ feature—Pablo’s ‘Three Musketeers’
But the ESPN 30 for 30 presentation, ‘The Two Escobars’ is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Depressing, gruesome, and shorn of any Corben docu-sheen, it dispels a few myths yet adds to the tragedy of Andrés’s death. Directed by the brothers Zimbalist, Jeff and Michael, it screened earlier last week, and if you’ve watched the film-makers’ ‘Favela Rising’ you know you’re in for a treat. My fellow documentary-heads, especially those with a penchant for the macabre, will go crazy for it. It’s comprehensive but gripping and necessarily grim without being alienating. Plus there’s some suits to make Chopper City envy, big-haired flamboyant football (that scorpion kick save on an offside ball makes an appearance) and one of the best portrayals of a country shattered by corruption on a scale that’s difficult to convey with cameras alone. Best documentary on 2010? Pretty much, and ’30 for 30’s unleashed plenty of sporting competition. The upcoming Tim Richmond one could prove interesting too.
I detest having to use the term soccer over football, but add a “narco” prefix and I’m a little happier to throw it around.
Reading about Joaquín Guzmán when he made ‘Forbes’ last winter, and with the recent Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke drama, it’s clear there’s a few more stories to be told in documentary format over the next few months. Drug lords make good TV.
The best bit? What seems to be an official ESPN account just upped ‘The Two Escobars’ in its entirety on YouTube. Enjoy. It’ll linger in your mind long after viewing.