A group of Mexican folk musicians take the stage, guitars in hand and tuba at the back. Based on the gaudy outfits they’re dressed in — a mix of mariachi style with Vegas-era Elvis — you might think you know how they’re going to sound. Then you notice one of the musicians is holding a bazooka, and you tune into the lyrics to the chirpy, polka-like ditty they’re singing: “Cross my path and I’ll cut your head off. We are bloodthirsty, crazy and we like to kill!”
Welcome to the world of narcocorridos (“drug ballads”) in “Narco Cultura,” an alternately fascinating and terrifying documentary by noted New York-based Israeli photojournalist Shaul Schwarz about the northern-Mexican style of pop music celebrating the drug cartels and their vicious vida loca.