Also universally applicable is Marcos Loayza's Jesus' Heart, demonstrating for all that Bolivia has a health insurance problem as bad as ours. A middle-aged bureaucrat's heart attack impoverishes him until he hits on the bright idea of masquerading as a namesake with terminal cancer. The dark comedy that follows pits the wily Jesus (Augustin Mendieta, who resembles Jeffrey Tambor on a really bad day) against unctuous insurers in a film both involving and literally balladic (a guitarist strums recurring musical commentary).
Carlos Sorín's Bombom, the Dog also has a humorous take on a globalized economy that has flattened regional ones, whatever the skills and good will of their workers. In this Argentine film, Juan Villegas, whose broad face and perpetual half-smile suggest Danny Aiello out of Eli Wallach, is a 52-year-old, laid-off gas station attendant whose talents as both mechanic and knife carver have been discarded. Chance makes him custodian of a beautiful, willful pure-blood pit bull (they call them dogos on the Pampas), and it looks for a while as if Juan has a new career on the dog show circuit. This warm, leisurely film also features, like My Best Enemy, lovely photography of the vast horizons at the Americas' southern end; it resembles an Alexander Payne film without the sprinkling of irony. Juan and these films all travel a genuinely open road.