Shaul Schwarz's Narco Cultura is a smart and shattering examination of the ties between Mexican drug cartels and the narcocorrido musicians who lionize them in song. The film opens in Juarez, an industrial border town that in recent years has become the front line of the Mexican drug war, with the annual murder rate reaching into the several thousands. Schwarz unflinchingly depicts a world where life itself has become a worthless commodity, while a terrified police force struggles to process an ever-growing mountain of corpses. Out of this unspeakable carnage, Schwarz produces some of the most unsettling and eerily beautiful images in any film this year, yet resists the urge to get preachy or heavy-handed. Narco Cultura adroitly cuts between a defeated forensic investigator in Juarez and a blustery narcocorrido musician from Southern California who produces popular ballads glorifying Mexican cartel violence.