Tijuana in the not-so-distant future sets the scene for "Sleep Dealer," a sort of "Blade Runner" meets all the Mexican chunks of "Babel." The borders have been closed and water supplies are next to nonexistent, but migrants continue to flock here by the millions. Maquiladoras have become houses of virtual labor where workers plug themselves into a global network that connects to their nervous systems. They work in the U.S. -- constructing skyscrapers, cleaning houses, washing dishes, waiting tables, wiping babies' asses -- without having to leave Mexico. A Republican's dream.
Alex Riviera's debut film won the Alfred P. Sloan prize at Sundance for its focus on science and technology. Sure, you would've liked to imagine the near future a la the first half hour of "Back to the Future Part II, " with flying cars and hoverboards. But this seems more akin to realism in terms of how the world will actually play out. Today, mandatory passport checks for citizens returning to the U.S. Tomorrow, mandatory retinal scans to exit.
Local nerd's note: Filming took place in 2008, so La Estrella's star is still red (thank God). And a couple in a bar slow dances to Nortec's "Norteña del Sur," a song that will have long since been an oldie. Weird.