'Hustlin' With the Godmother'


Notorious Colombian cocaine queenpin Griselda Blanco, arguably the most intriguing figure in Billy Corben's lively 2006 documentary "Cocaine Cowboys," receives further face time in the sequel, "Hustlin' With the Godmother."

While not quite as satisfying as its zippy predecessor, which portrayed the real-life events that informed "Miami Vice" and "Scarface," the follow-up still delivers the fascinating goods in its new guise as an oddball love story. It recently screened at CineVegas and is being released via Magnolia Pictures.

Given that the woman also known as Black Widow was behind bars and never interviewed by the filmmakers, entree is provided by the man doing the hustlin' — one Charles Cosby.

A small-time Oakland, Calif., drug dealer, Cosby, who is black, sent a fan letter to the incarcerated, matronly Blanco. In short order, the two became lovers and business partners while she was still serving time.

In its shift from '80s Miami to '90s Oakland, "Cocaine Cowboys II" has scrapped the previous Latin vibe in favor of a hip-hop flavor, along with clever dramatic re-creations told through graphic comic-style animations.

But while Corben still manages to mine plenty of stranger-than-fiction truths, including Blanco's near-successful plot to kidnap John F. Kennedy Jr., the film drags itself into a bit of a corner by relying almost entirely on Cosby's drawn-out first-person account.

Although he probably knew Blanco better than most — at least, most who are still alive — the tellingly unrepentant hustler ultimately proves no match for the Godmother when it comes to the criminally charismatic. (partialdiff)