High Museum of Art: Films

They Made It To The Big Time by Linda Dubler
September 24, 2009, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

With the Latin American Festival celebrating its 24th anniversary, Eleanor Ringel-Cater introduces you to  some other Latino directors whose Hollywood work you may know, but whose earlier films you may not. And sometimes, vice versa.

Fernando Meirelles

You Know Him From: The Constant Gardener

Rachel Weisz deservedly won the best supporting Oscar for her role as the outspoken (and much younger) wife of meek career diplomat, Ralph Fiennes.

You Gotta See: City of God

Set in the teeming slums of Rio de Janeiro, also known as the favelos, this ferocious film takes us into Hell and barely brings us back. “District 9” looks like a walk in the park compared to these brutal shantytowns, where gangs rule.

Alfonso Cuaron

You Know Him From: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Still the best in the film series, though it could be because the book was the best in J.K. Rowlings series. Or maybe it’s just that Gary Oldman is so darn creepy.

You Gotta See: Y Tu Mama Tambien

Translation: “And Your Mother, Too.” Two boisterous Mexican teens (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) invite an “older” woman (read, 28) on a trip to a beautiful hidden beach. Part “Jules and Jim,” part “American Pie,” the movie offers a unique mix of horny teens, a loony road trip and a perceptive coming-of-age story.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

You Know Him From: Babel

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett go Oscar-hunting (and fall short) in this sprawling collection of slightly intertwined stories taking place all over the world. Think, “Crash” gone global.The whole thing comes off as forced and watching tourists Pitt and Blanchett trying to save a life in a remote city verges on star-power ludicrous.

You Gotta See: Amores Perros

Well, apparently you don’t  (in fact, you shouldn’t if you’re a dog lover).  A horrific car accident connects three different stories, all of which, again, intertwine through quirks of fate and odd coincidence.  Think, “Crash” gone Mexico City.

Amores Perros

Amores Perros

Guillermo Arriaga

You Know Him From: 21 Grams
(also “Babel,” he collaborated with Inarritu on both)

The title refers to the amount of weight the body supposedly loses when you die; the soul could be said to weigh 21 grams. More intertwining stories, another freak accident and the second-best performance Sean Penn has ever given (the first being “Milk”).

You Gotta See: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Technically, he’s the writer, not director. That job went to Inarratu, his former collaborator (same goes for “Babel” and “Amores perres.”) But this is a heckuva movie, starring Tommy Lee Jones on a mission that’s part vengeance, part respect for the dead.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Guillermo del Toro

You Know Him From: Hellboy and Hellboy II

Or maybe you don’t. But as huffin’, puffin’ knock-everything-around superhero movies go, these two are pretty good. A scenery-chewing Ron Perlman plays the Big Red Spawn of Satan, i.e., a demon trying to do good instead of evil.

You Gotta See: Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone

The first is a surrealistic Alice in a not-very-nice Wonderland tale, set against the all too real background of the Spanish Civil War. The second is more a ghost story taking place at an isolated orphanage after the war is over. Both are unforgettable.

Eleanor Ringel Cater

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