by Alex Jackson Asked by a student why he left Cuba despite supporting and believing in his country's socialist principles, Latin-American studies professor Sergio responds that not being able to write what he wanted to write was simply unbearable. Now that he's in the United States, he's free to say whatever he wants--and nobody cares. It's a relatively minor moment in an aggressively polemic film, but it's an extremely important one just the same. Throughout Memories of Overdevelopment, Sergio makes photo collages out of pornography and religious iconography. This is the ultimate art-world cliché, though I think the movie recognizes it as such. It's saying that obscenity and sacrilege have become so commonplace that they no longer have any currency. While in Cuba, Sergio wrote that Americans have Superman and Cubans have Che. He meant that their hero is flesh-and-blood while ours is a cartoon character, but his editor tells him that the analogy could easily be misconstrued (i.e., dangerous). There's virtually nothing "dangerous" Sergio could say in the U.S. and this frustrates him to no end. He takes it to mean that we have no ideals or values worth protecting. Writer-director Miguel Coyula initially appears to be an aggressively shitty filmmaker, indulging in a lot of goofy rotoscoping and cut-out animation, particularly early on in the film. Compounding the amateurish feeling of the entire production, he shoots on cruddy digital video. The film also goes on far too long. It feels repetitive and self-indulgent, to put it mildly. It's one of those movies you can guarantee people will walk out of, even when they've paid fifteen dollars for a ticket. But as Memories of Overdevelopment is an externalization of Sergio's subjective state, where all communication has been rendered empty noise and even anti-consumerism has become a product to be consumed, this shittiness seems entirely justified. A well-made, conventionally attractive film would not capture this mindset nearly as successfully. That isn't to say I don't kind of hate Memories of Overdevelopment. Late in the picture, Sergio bemoans religion, politics, and consumerism as his three greatest enemies. But if you don't have religion, you don't have politics, and you don't have consumerism. You don't really have much of anything; what's the use of disillusionment if it never leads to anything better? All this drifting around is depressing and nihilistic. Sergio's rut is certainly an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.