"Like 'Death Race 2000' without the quiet dignity"
One of the most infuriating films that I have seen in a while, the new documentary “Dust to Glory” suggests what “The Cannonball Run” might have been like without the warmth, humanity or careful narrative structure.Filmmaker Dana Brown, who previously trained his cameras on surfers in “Step Into Liquid,” follows the drivers of the Tecate Baja 1000, a 32-hour 1000-mile off-road race through the deserts of Baja California, Mexico, as they slam through the desert and attempt to convince us that participating in such an event is really a demonstration of man’s never-ending quest to push themselves to unimaginable lengths in order to demonstrate the tenacity of the human spirit. It doesn’t quite work out that way; the participants, by and large, come off as spoiled, arrogant middle-aged jackasses who giddily discover that they are allowed to bet on themselves, interrupt an inspirational speech for a Red Bull plug and whose adoring words about the simple, wonderful natives who come out to watch the race are undercut by the numerous scenes in which we see them plowing their vehicles into those very same crowds. (One person is killed–luckily, he was only run over by another spectator.)
This wouldn’t be so bad if Brown had bothered to take an even slightly critical eye at the proceedings. Instead, his point-of-view appears to be as stunted as those of his subjects. He gives a little time to one team that (giggle) consists of (tee-hee) girls, but devotes far more time to the lightly-clad bimbos on the sidelines. He delivers a fawning narration that is an almost absurdist example of brown-nosing (“What they lack in speed, they make up for in passion”) and tries to suggest that these people are gods among men because some of them are helping to build a library “at the location of turn 4,” though I wouldn’t recommend hanging around the periodicals section during next year’s race.There might be a good movie somewhere in the subject of the Baja 1000 race, but this boring, sloppily made and vaguely insulting mess is far from being that film.