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November 25, 2003


Mexican New Wave

Well, it looks like Newsweek beat me to writing an article on Mexico's New Wave, but they do highlight different filmmakers than I would have. Like this piece, mine would have centered on I驕rritu and his second movie 21 Grams which opened last week. This is an awesome movie. (I was about to say "amazing", but I think that Estella from "The Bachelor" has already stripped every bit of meaning from that word for the rest of my life.) Even though it was written in Spanish, then translated, even though it stars Sean Penn (who is admirably restrained in this performance, hopefully halting his worrisome progression towards Al Pacino-ness,) even though its complex, non-linear structure might have put off some reviewers (like Time Out, but they get nervous around weird structures,) it is incredibly powerful and great. Actors like Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, and even Sean Penn are all very good at physically transforming themselves from attractive, hopeful people to haggard empty shells when their characters are going through difficult events. Since this movie is mostly about soul-destroying pain, and the kinds of chance occurances that can make you lose the will to live, they all do a lot of these transformations. I wonder if I驕rritu was inspired by Naomi Watts' dual performance in Mulholland Drive: her character in this movie goes through similarly extreme shifts.

And then Guillermo del Toro. If you saw The Devil's Backbone, hey, even if you saw Blade II, you know what I'm talking about. The Mexicans have it for emotional intensity that still kicks ass, and they don't have to resort to obvious symbolism and stagey Sean Penn monologues to do it.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 2:24 PM | #


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