Filmmaking, like any creative pursuit, can bring together people with similar goals. This is the foundation of any community. Even within these communities, individuals can bond over their shared past experiences. These bonds are how groups like the “Three Amigos” form. Rising to prominence in Hollywood at the turn of the millennium, the Three Amigos consists of three successful filmmakers from Mexico: Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón. These three directors have dominated the Academy Awards in the last decade, winning five Best Director Oscars in six years. I’ve already discussed the works of Guillermo del Toro in a previous post so this week’s two films will highlight the movies created by the other two Amigos: Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours
Alejandro González Iñárritu hasn’t been directing as long as del Toro and Cuarón have, but his short list of films have already earned plenty of accolades. His breakout film, Amores perros (2000) was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, a feat he would repeat a decade later with Biutiful (2010). Regarding his directing talent, he was first nominated for the Best Director Oscar with Babel (2006), a film also nominated for Best Picture as well. He would go on to win the Best Director Oscar twice, being only the third director to do so in back-to-back years. While The Revenant (2016) earned him his second Best Director statuette, it did not win Best Picture that year. However, the year prior, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) earned Iñárritu three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
The Broadway play, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” is the passion project of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a washed-up actor who used to be known for his superhero persona, Birdman. To get his play off the ground, he has enlisted the help of his best friend, Jake (Zach Galifianakis) as the producer, his girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough) as co-star, and his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) as his assistant. Using his actual superpowers to take out one of the cast members, Riggan must then accept that the replacement, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), is part of the reason the play is getting any attention from theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan). While the previews are disastrous, Riggan achieves a sense of peace before performing the opening night, shooting himself in the head on-stage in an action the critic describes as “super-realism.”
Children of Men
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours
Of the Three Amigos, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro are perhaps the most similar. Cuarón started his career in the mid-1980s as an assistant director before making his jump to the director’s seat with Sólo con tu pareja (1991). He would go on to direct A Little Princess (1995), and a modern adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations (1998) before Y Tu Mamá También (2001) earned him a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination. Much like del Toro directed Blade II (2002) to help advance his career, Cuarón directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), thus giving his style exposure to fans of the Harry Potter franchise. His next Oscar nominations would come in the form of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing for Children of Men (2006), but his first wins would be for Best Director and Best Film Editing for Gravity (2013). His latest work, Roma (2018), returns to his Mexican roots.
In 2009, the last baby was born. Almost two decades later, the lack of new children has pushed the world to the edge of destruction. To maintain some semblance of stability, the United Kingdom has evolved into a military state. Since the UK is one of the few functioning societies left, many refugees are seeking asylum. One such refugee is Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), a young woman who must have someone accompany her for her transit. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is offered a significant amount of money to accompany Kee, who he learns is pregnant with the first child to be born in nearly 18 years. This situation puts Theo and Kee amid a war for this newborn, some of whom want to study it to cure the world’s infertility and some of whom want it as a political statement. In either case, Theo and Kee are able to escape, in part due to the awe of seeing a newborn baby after so long without one.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Mexican movie maestros
Bacon #: 2 (Quantum of Solace (Alfonso Cuarón) / David Harbour -> Black Mass / Kevin Bacon)