• James Russo and Madonna in Dangerous Game

One of the more refreshing things about Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala (which concludes its under-promoted run at the Evanston CineArts tomorrow) is how it conveys a love of film history without being mired in film references. Naranjo’s style, based on vibrant color and intricate long takes, never lets you forget that you’re watching a movie—even though his subject matter (the ongoing drug wars around the US-Mexican border) remains frighteningly real. Like Miss Bala herself, cinema occupies a border zone between dream and nightmare, and Naranjo exploits this tension brilliantly. The same can be said of the great New York director Abel Ferrara, whom Naranjo has cited as an influence.