- Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin' With the Godmother
- ** 1/2
- Directed by Billy Corben
- Plays June 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Billy Corben’s 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys was an almost perversely entertaining look at the Miami drug trade in the 1980s. It used the aesthetics and setting of Miami Viceto explore how cocaine transformed the city, for bad and even a little for good, and made a handful of criminals into multimillionaires. If Cocaine Cowboys was ’80s synth-pop, then Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin’ With the Godmother is ’90s hip-hop, taking one of the original’s main figures, drug “queenpin” Griselda Blanco, and turning her relationship with Oakland, California, crack dealer Charles Anthony Crosby into a movie of its own.
While the original painted a broad picture of drug culture in Miami, Hustlin’ is much more narrow, constructed almost entirely out of lengthy interviews with Crosby, now approaching middle age and allegedly out of the drug game. He was involved with Blanco both financially and romantically while she was in federal prison in California, and seems unrepentant about any activities he engaged in while working for her. Corben, too, is happy to celebrate Crosby and all his excesses; at least most of the subjects of the original film got some sort of comeuppance, but the message of Crosby’s story seems to be that crime does pay.
The use of goofy animated sequences to re-enact certain events, along with the reliance on Crosby’s hammy, florid storytelling almost to the exclusion of other perspectives, contributes to the overall sense of glorifying and trivializing crime. While Cocaine Cowboys was a vivid portrait of a specific time and place, this sequel is just a hagiography for an undeserving thug.