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MacGuffin

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The Three Amigos
« on: September 07, 2006, 11:48:01 PM »
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Three amigos change face of Mexican film
Source: Hollywood Reporter

Three highly praised films from Mexico's top directors -- Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron -- are opening in the fall. Inarritu's "Babel," from Paramount Vantage, and del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," which will be distributed domestically by Picturehouse, were both entered in competition at May's Festival de Cannes and will play at festivals in Toronto and New York. Cuaron's "Children of Men," which was completed several months after the other two films, debuted last weekend at the Venice Film Festival.

"I'm so proud of our trilogy," Cuaron says. "These three films are by close friends of the same generation. They show who we are. Thematically, they share the same ideology concerning the lack of communication between people."

Far from competitors, the three men, all born in the early '60s, are close friends who lend each other the kind of support that recalls the '70s era when filmmaker pals Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma candidly critiqued one another's films. "We are extremely happy," del Toro says. "At the same time we realize that it's some sort of consequence of the last decade. We have been more and more together as time goes by."

It took three minutes for Cuaron and del Toro to become "absolute lifelong friends" when they first met 20 years ago in the waiting room for the Mexican TV series "Hora Marcada," del Toro recalls. Cuaron wrote and directed many episodes, and del Toro wrote and supplied makeup effects. (One episode in which del Toro played a monster "has a lot to do with the themes of 'Pan's Labyrinth,' " he says.) As they worked their way up through the television and film industries, they always read each other's scripts and lent each other support in the editing room. Del Toro helped Cuaron with FX on Cuaron's film, "Love in the Time of Hysteria" and fought with him fiercely on Cuaron's edit for "Y Tu Mama Tambien."

Later on, the two directors also got to know Inarritu. When Inarritu was editing "Amores Perros," del Toro flew from Texas to Mexico City and slept on Inarritu's editing room couch for four days while he helped Inarritu trim and restructure the film. "I was taking out minutes and air between the sequences," del Toro says. "I also suggested the inter-titles using the names of the characters. He was very happy."

The world has not always been welcoming to Mexican films. When "Amores" was submitted to Cannes, Inarritu says, "at that time there was a guy who selected films in Latin America, but none ever went into the competition. So my film went into Critics Week and won best film, and got a lot of attention. Life is wisdom. Playing the underdog made possible what happened in Cannes for me, when my career changed completely."

The three directors, who all speak fluent English, have made their way to Hollywood while staying in touch with the Mexican film industry. Things have improved for Latin American cinema, Inarritu says, with two Mexican films in this year's Cannes competition: "That has changed so much since 2000. Not only me, but Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Reygadas, Guillermo del Toro, have all changed the perception of Latin American film. What's happening, funnily enough, is not the consequence of something political-cultural happening in my country. These are individual miracles happening at the same time, three individuals changing things."

After hitting big six years ago with "Amores," Inarritu has managed to retain control over his movies. Both the $20 million "28 Grams" and $25 million "Babel" featured stars and were backed by studios, but they were set up as indie features and released by the studios' specialty divisions. "Babel" was a huge success at Cannes, where del Toro rooted for his friend to win a Palme d'Or: At fest's end, Inarritu picked up the coveted directing prize.

For his part, del Toro has struggled with studios for control over his genre movies, from Dimension on "Mimic" and New Line Cinema on "Blade 2" to Sony and Revolution Studios on "Hellboy." When he was preparing to do "Mimic," Del Toro recalls, "Alfonso warned me not to be as open creatively. You have to be guarded. I am normally very gregarious. It did cost me dearly." Cuaron has produced several of del Toro's films: "The Devil's Backbone," "Cronicus" and the well-reviewed Spanish-language fairy tale fantasy "Labyrinth," in which del Toro moves into artier terrain.

Before Cannes, Inarritu also helped del Toro by excising 10 minutes from that film in a single day. "It was crucial," del Toro says. "We didn't have time. We returned to high school dynamics. We ordered pizza and stayed up until 6 a.m. We needed to ship the print the next day for Cannes. That's the beauty of the friendship of the three of us. It keeps us young."

Based in London, Cuaron is probably the most entrenched in the movie establishment, having directed such studio movies as "The Little Princess" and the blockbuster "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." That gave him the clout to get his long-gestating passion project, "Children of Men," off the ground at Universal Pictures. Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine, the dystopian sci-fi film is set in the year 2027, when the youngest human is 18 years old because the race has lost the ability to reproduce.

At Comic-Con International in San Diego in July, del Toro helped his buddy Cuaron by conducting an interview about "Children" in front of the massive Hall H crowd. Del Toro marveled over Cuaron's lengthy single digital takes, especially one masterful 10-minute action sequence complete with gunfire, exploding squibs and FX. "It took five days to shoot," Cuaron admitted. "At the end of the fourth day I thought it was the end of my career. Magically, at the last moment it all worked."

The filmmakers also have joined together politically to support their colleague Reygadas, whose 2005 film "Battle in Heaven" was attacked in Mexico. They also joined forces to support "Duck Season," which Cuaron presented in America, while Inarritu executive produced the 2005 documentary "Toro Negro."

As these three amigos are proving, there is strength in numbers.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

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The Three Amigos
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 07:31:13 PM »
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A bond beyond borders
This rare fraternity has revolutionized Mexican cinema and become a force in Hollywood.
Source: Los Angeles Times



ABOUT six years ago, while wrapping up "Amores Perros," the movie that would stamp him as the new "It Boy" of global cinema, Alejandro González Iñárritu got an early-morning phone call from a man he'd never met in his life. Like Iñárritu, the caller was a headstrong, iconoclastic young Mexican filmmaker, better known at the time for his prodigal potential than his actual achievements.

"Your movie is a masterpiece, but it's too long," Guillermo del Toro said point-blank.
 
"Well," Iñárritu replied, "it's impossible to take out anything." But Del Toro persisted in the long-distance wrestling match, until Iñárritu told him that if he really felt so strongly he should come down to Mexico City and point out exactly where the film needed pruning.

Del Toro was a man on a mission. He'd been sent a tape of "Amores Perros" by a mutual friend, another up-and-coming Mexican auteur, Alfonso Cuarón, who also thought the movie was an overlong chef-d'oeuvre. Though Del Toro was "very broke" at the time — he'd recently paid a hefty ransom to rescue his father from a kidnapping — he caught one of the first available flights to Mexico from Austin, Texas, where he was living then.

"Next day, or two days after, I opened the door and I see a fat man with blue eyes, with the face of a kid, with very intelligent eyes," Iñárritu, 43, recalls. "And in the next three days he ate all the food in my refrigerator but he made me laugh like nobody, he made my life so happy. And he helped me, really toughly, to get those seven, eight minutes out of it."

For the record, Del Toro insists it was 20 minutes, and he swears that every time Iñárritu tells the story the tally gets shorter. "Alejandro, come on!" he says, laughing as he relates the anecdote. "Next time you're going to say we took out four minutes!"

The rest, in any case, is history, or a rough draft of it. "Amores Perros," a haunting, metaphysical triptych of stories about jittery modern-day Mexico City, earned Iñárritu overnight comparisons with the likes of Luis Buñuel and was nominated for the 2000 best foreign-language film Oscar.

Del Toro's career also took flight in the following years with the release of two fastidiously crafted horror-fantasies, "The Devil's Backbone" (El Espinazo del Diablo), in 2001, and "Hellboy" (2004), establishing him as a thinking-man's cult director on par with John Carpenter or the early Sam Raimi.

Cuarón's professional stock went blue-chip as well. A year after "Amores Perros," he scored an international hit of his own with "Y Tu Mamá También," a revisionist road movie of free-floating sexual politics, set in contemporary Mexico.

In the years since those breakout films, Cuarón and Iñárritu have steadily ascended the industry ladder toward bigger movies, bigger budgets, bigger stars. Cuarón found a way to cross-stitch his own idiosyncratic sensibility into the pre-fabricated world of the "Harry Potter" franchise when he directed the third film in the series. His latest release, the $72-million future-shock fable "Children of Men," is stocked with box office-friendly names in Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine.

Iñárritu's second Hollywood feature, "21 Grams" (2003), starred Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro, and his soon-to-be-released "Babel" casts Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett as a couple whose cozy Western life suddenly implodes while vacationing in rural Morocco.

Although Del Toro hasn't yet attained that level of Hollywood insider-dom, he's moving there fast. His new fantasy-thriller "Pan's Labyrinth" (El Laberinto del Fauno) will close the New York Film Festival. He also has negotiated a deal with Fox to develop a TV series.

Sometimes nothing breaks up a relationship faster than mutual success. Amiable rivalries curdle into resentments. Former comrades turn their backs on old alliances as they vie for the trophy heads of the 21st century — three-picture deals, seven-figure beachfront mansions.

But perhaps as remarkable as any development from that encounter six years ago in Mexico City was the convergence of one the most creatively fruitful friendships in Hollywood, a place not widely known as an idyll of brotherly love. Partly as a result of that bond, over the last half-dozen years the directors have spearheaded a Mexican cinematic renaissance occurring on both sides of the frontera.

One for all, and all for one

CALL them "Gordo" (Del Toro), "Flaco" (Cuarón) and "El Negro" (Iñárritu). At least, that's what they sometimes call each other, which sounds a lot less cloying than, say, "The Three Amigos." Not that anyone could miss the depth of their professional camaraderie. It has become routine for the three men to send each other their screenplays, and to proffer advice on films in progress, all the way up until final printing.

Then they deliver their verdicts — diplomacy and mincing euphemisms be damned. Occasionally, they work together as full-blown collaborators. "We share, we complain, we fight, we suggest. And then you support," says Iñárritu.

Really, "friendship" seems too prosaic a term to capture the unique amalgam of concentric worldviews, simpatico humor and bare-knuckled honesty that defines this trio. Partly, it's a Mexican thing: All three were born and raised in middle-class families south of the border and broke into Hollywood in an era when Mexican directors were scarce on studio back lots. "I think we are very close because we felt lonely and we felt that we needed support," says Iñárritu.

Over time, their connection has deepened despite their pronounced dissimilarities in temperament and artistic M.O.

"Alejandro is a man with a plan," says Del Toro, at 41 the baby of the group. "He's the guy that is absolutely intellectually organized, and I am voracious, and Alfonso has like the light, like this incredible passion, you know? Alejandro is definitely a bipedal mammal. Alfonso and I still like to hang out on the branches and throw food at each other. Compared to Alejandro, we're much more down and dirty."

With the trio at its center, a growing colony of expat Mexicans is working and living in Hollywood, including the Oscar-nominated cinematographers Emmanuel Lubezki (a three-time nominee, most recently for 2005's "The New World") and Rodrigo Prieto ("Brokeback Mountain"), who've partnered with Cuarón and Iñárritu, respectively, on several films, including their latest ones. "It's not a community in the sense that we are a force," says Cuarón. "None of that interests me. What interests me is that we are friends and that we support one another."

The three-way fellowship dates to the mid-1980s, when Cuarón and Del Toro first crossed career paths. Back then, Cuarón was already a hotshot young assistant director at work on a network TV show called "A Hora Marcada," a kind of Mexican version of "The Twilight Zone." Del Toro, meanwhile, was directing short films and doing special-effects makeup, hoping for the chance to write and direct features someday. But he'd already heard plenty from colleagues about Cuarón.

"They were always talking about this brilliant kid called Alfonso," Del Toro recalls. "And you know, when you're 20 and you hear about a brilliant guy, you hate him! You're too young, you're too silly."

After admiring Cuarón's work from afar for some time, Del Toro happened to notice that an episode of "Hora Marcada" bore a striking resemblance to a Stephen King story. Del Toro confronted Cuarón about it in the television studio.

"I said to him, 'You stole that story from Stephen King!' That's like my opening line to the guy, right? And he says, 'Yeah, you're right!' And I go, 'I like this guy!' "

Cuarón, 44, confirms that the pair instantly recognized each other as kindred spirits. "Guillermo and I were trying to go through the different steps in the long ladder of filmmaking," he says during a Hollywood stopover from his London editing studio. "He had heard a lot about me, and I had heard a lot about him. And from that time there was an immediate connection."

Before long, Del Toro was writing and directing some episodes for "Hora Marcada" and also doing FX makeup. He even stepped in once to play a sewer-dwelling ogre who befriends a little girl, a precursor to the story line of "Pan's Labyrinth."

Iñárritu entered the picture somewhat later. In the mid-1990s, Mexico's gargantuan Televisa network had unexpectedly bailed out on a TV series for which he had directed the pilot. He decided to visit Cuarón in Los Angeles, just to meet him and show him his work, which had consisted mainly of commercials.

"He was very nice with me, and I gave him my reel, commercials and my show," Iñárritu remembers. "And one day after he called me, and left me a message in my cell[phone], telling me beautiful things, really generous things."

Cuarón then invited Iñárritu to visit him on the set as he filmed "Great Expectations." Ever since, says Iñárritu, Cuarón has been giving him insights and the benefit of his own trials and errors as a filmmaker. "So I always tell him he doesn't know this, but he's my master," Iñárritu says.

Rather than a mutual admiration society, however, this equilateral triangle resembles a fraternity where the intellectual hazing never lets up. If the three filmmakers are each other's biggest fans, they agree, they're also each other's most merciless critics.

"Oh, yes, we're brutal," Del Toro agrees. "Our deal is, when we don't like something we have to say it."

Who but Cuarón, for instance, could've persuaded Del Toro to cut 20 minutes of dead air from his first feature, "Cronos," which won the 1993 Cannes Film Festival critics' prize? Or to follow his instincts in casting the Spanish comic actor Sergi López against type as a ruthless Fascist officer in "Pan's Labyrinth?"

Who but Del Toro, returning the favor, could've come up with the dramatic clincher to Cuarón's "Y Tu Mamá También": an amorous kiss between the two male leads?

Who except Iñarritu could've spent two solid hours driving down the 405 Freeway, then sitting in a parking lot off Wilshire Boulevard, berating Del Toro for squandering his talent (in Iñárritu's view) on the Wesley Snipes vampire gore-a-thon "Blade II"?

No hard feelings, eh hombre? Well … mostly not.

"He didn't talk to me for like six months, I think," says Iñárritu. The candor, he adds, makes the compliments meaningful. "I think that's why we appreciate each other."

The three directors also have actively backed the work of talented younger Mexican colleagues such as Carlos Reygadas ("Japon") and Fernando Eimbcke ("Duck Season"). Last year, when Reygadas' "Battle in Heaven" was being shellacked in some quarters for its explicit opening sex scene, Del Toro, Cuarón and Iñárritu defended the movie's artistic quality. Del Toro served on the Guadalajara Film Festival jury that awarded "Duck Season" its first prize.

With scattered exceptions, this wasn't the way business historically transpired in Mexico's film industry, whose mid-century, government-sponsored "Golden Age" was followed by an epoch of fratricidal squabbling over a shrinking financial pie. "Eighty percent of our colleagues in Mexico that came before us would love to have seen all new generations of directors be left to die in a ditch," says Del Toro.

Fortunately, he says, his generation had the benefit of a handful of older Mexican producers and directors, including Arturo Ripstein, José Luís García Agraz and Fernando Camara, who guided and inspired while hewing to their own maverick tendencies. "They admired Bresson, they admired Antonioni, Fellini, but they also admired Spielberg, or they admired Walter Hill, or they admired Don Siegel," says Del Toro.

This eclectic approach spurred the young filmmakers' awareness of how to mix and match different cinematic styles, and how a genre film can transcend its conventions and become a subterranean passageway into a more personal vision.

"That's what I love about what Alfonso does, what Alejandro does, or what I do," says Del Toro. "What we have in common is that all of us use, in terms of surface, we use very different molds, genres, paradigms. But they are somewhat subverted or changed by will."

Variations on a theme

THIS fall, the three directors are bringing to theaters a high-profile trio of films that immerse audiences in worlds where alienation and displacement are the new normal, themes that have grown in part from their personal experiences as expatriate Mexicans living abroad.

Despite their films' vast differences in plot, setting and character, the directors believe they've inadvertently created a kind of "trilogy" that presents an alternately harrowing and hopeful picture of our present human condition.

"The theme of the three films is exactly the same," Cuarón says, "how ideologies get in between people, in communication between people."

Perhaps the biggest career milestone is "Pan's Labyrinth," which Del Toro, as is his custom, wrote, directed and produced. Opening Dec. 29, it's a darkly sumptuous fable about a young girl who uses her imaginative powers to combat the terrors of the Spanish Civil War. This is the third movie the director has set during the fascist era, that grim World War II curtain-raiser, a period he believes is "very pertinent to today."

"To me, it speaks highly about how moral choices are oversimplified when group mentality kicks [in]. When the choices are pre-made for you, then you have no problem in acting anything, any sort of brutality, because that's the way things are," he says. "The fable of the movie is about choice. It's a quintessential theme in fairy tales…. And fascism represented, as a concept, the avoidance of choice."

"Pan's Labyrinth" should cement Del Toro's reputation as a skilled magical-realist storyteller, while extricating him from the horror-genre ghetto where some have confined his work. Cuarón, who executive produced "The Devil's Backbone," is producing the new film with Del Toro.

Cuarón's "Children of Men," opening Christmas Day, is an artistic gamble of a different sort. Its uncompromisingly grim vision — leavened with touches of black-comic humor — posits a future in which sterile Britons, struck by a global infertility plague, plot suicide with a government-issued drug, and Third World immigrants are brutally herded into holding pens (shades of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, according to Cuarón). "In a way," says Cuarón, "the infertility in the future is nothing but a metaphor for the failing sense of hope in the present."

That leaves Iñárritu's "Babel," a powerful melodrama of interlocking stories, written by Iñárritu's frequent collaborator Guillermo Arriaga. Set in Morocco, Japan and along the U.S.-Mexican border, "Babel" traffics in weighty themes (immigration, cultural chauvinism, the shrinking global village) that orbit around a Moroccan peasant family, a Mexican nanny and her impulsive nephew (Gael García Bernal), a Japanese father and his deaf-mute daughter, and the couple played by Pitt and Blanchett. It opens Oct. 27.

All three movies touch on the plight of refugees and accidental tourists, the displaced and the dispossessed, traipsing through moral terra incognita with no road maps to guide them. That thematic overlap is no coincidence.

All three directors seem to have taken to heart James Joyce's famous prescription for making art: silence, exile and cunning (well, at least the last two). Both Iñárritu and Del Toro have lived in Los Angeles for several years, while Cuarón now makes his home in Italy.

No one ever is a prophet in his native land, it's been said. But for the three directors, staying a calculated arm's length from Mexico has brought clarity and perspective. Cuarón says that living in London for a spell helped him fathom the byzantine British class system underlying "Harry Potter" and "Children of Men."

Iñárritu says he couldn't have made "Babel" if he and his family hadn't relocated to the United States five years ago. Though the transition was "very tough" at first, he believes it has helped him stretch the boundaries of his artistic comfort zone.

Yet while they aim for the universal and the timeless, the directors have maintained a strong sense of what it means to be Mexican. Cuarón's upcoming projects include a movie set in part during Mexico's violent political turbulence of the late 1960s. Iñárritu is planning a film that will touch on the legacy of a Dominican priest who pitted himself against the Spaniards' brutal methods of New World colonization. And Del Toro continues to make films in Spanish when he thinks it's artistically necessary.

"Growing up as young filmmakers, we felt there should be no borders that define who we are, but there should be roots that define who we are," says Del Toro. "The difference is that borders confine you, roots nurture you."

Of like mind

THESE days, the men rarely see each other face to face. Cuarón and his Italian wife recently relocated to a hill town in Tuscany. Del Toro lives in Westlake with his wife, two daughters and his collection of 6,000 books, 8,000 comics and 6,000 DVDs. Iñárritu shuttles between his Santa Monica home and Culver City offices. Given their hectic work schedules and L.A.'s onerous commutes, they might as well be in separate states.

E-mailing is out too, Del Toro says, "because Alfonso is completely computer illiterate."

But, in another sign of apparent mind-melding, their new films all manifest some characteristically Mexican attitudes about the iffy nature of governments and institutions and the gnarly irony of fate.

For Del Toro, that consciousness was reinforced by the 1997 kidnapping of his father, a Guadalajara car dealer, and his family's 72-day ordeal, until a ransom payment secured his release. Soon after, Del Toro moved his family from Guadalajara to Texas, then eventually to Los Angeles.

"As a Mexican, you always have a sense of the anarchy and the deeper endemic corruption of the system," he says. "You have a sense of vulnerability and a sense of fragility that it's impossible probably for a First World person to imagine."

As Mexicans, the men also are acutely aware of how impersonal forces can conspire to crush individual lives. All have strong opinions about the current furor surrounding the mass migration of Mexicans to the United States, a theme that particularly bears on the plot of "Babel." Iñárritu says that being required to renew his U.S. work visa every six months in Tijuana gives him an appreciation of what he calls "the ritual of humiliation" experienced by the Mexican nanny in "Babel," and thousands of his fellow countrymen.

"I think the real border lines are within us," he says. "That's the worst and that's the most difficult to take down."

One other global phenomenon sent shockwaves through all three movies: the Sept. 11 attacks and their violent aftermath.

Cuarón says he and co-screenwriter Timothy Sexton began working on "Children of Men" in the wake of the calamity. Rather than following the "what-if" formula of dime-store science fiction, Cuarón insisted on a "what-next" scenario in which everything in the movie's time frame of 2027 would reference the social context of 2005, from the advertisements glimpsed on the London streets to the political meltdown that drives the plot.

The movie's most alarming aspect may be that the dystopian future it depicts — while exacerbated by global warming, flu pandemics, nuclear wars and other man-made mayhems — is shown to have occurred not within an Orwellian dictatorship, but a democratic society in which the people voluntarily surrendered their freedoms and sealed their fate. Cuarón believes that recent events worldwide have shown that it takes more than democratic choice to uphold human liberty and dignity.

"Democracy right now I think in a way is losing its luster," he says. "Democratic decision doesn't mean good decision."

As for Del Toro, his normal jollity fades when he starts talking about the darker implications of his work. Humanity, he thinks, has created a "bone-eating machine" that is grinding us all down, that "makes us less spiritually … makes us less morally."

"When you create a void so big that it can never be filled, when the ethics and the morals have collapsed to the point of becoming a black hole, it'll eventually suck the entire universe," he says. "And we are at that moment right now, a black hole. And it is sucking the light out of the universe."

But where there is anxiety and uncertainty in these films — and in these lives — there is also the possibility of renewal and rebirth. All three men's careers are blossoming, albeit in foreign soil. All three are husbands and fathers of young children.

Can it be (yet another) coincidence that their new movies all cast children in heroic roles, and hinge on the question of whether they will be sacrificed or saved?

When he started making "Babel," Iñárritu says, he saw it as a film about "in-communication, about how different we are." But after spending a year traveling and living on location with his family and crew in Morocco, Japan and Tijuana, he now believes the movie illustrates not "how different we are, but how close we are as human beings." In "Babel's" closing credits, he dedicates the movie to his son and daughter, "the brightest lights in the darkest night."

"My vision of life was more cynicism, or more pessimistic," he says. "Now, I'm more hopeful."

Children, like foreign encounters and uncommon friendships, will do that you sometimes.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Pubrick

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The Three Amigos
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2006, 10:02:49 AM »
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does anyone else feel closer to them after reading that? this bit was especially beautiful..

"Growing up as young filmmakers, we felt there should be no borders that define who we are, but there should be roots that define who we are," says Del Toro. "The difference is that borders confine you, roots nurture you."

i'm just in a mood for stories of brotherly camaraderie. i love the idea of these guys being oldmates.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

modage

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The Three Amigos
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2006, 12:12:53 PM »
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great hourlong video interview with Guillermo, Alfonso & Alejandro on Charlie Rose here...

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/31095
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2007, 10:07:46 PM »
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Thanks for the post, Mac. And to whichever admins made the call, this is the best possible addition to the Director's Chair. Well done!!

MacGuffin

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2007, 04:10:57 PM »
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Oscars: 'Long time coming' for Latinos
Source: Hollywood Reporter

With Spain's Penelope Cruz and Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, Adriana Barraza and Guillermo Arriaga all nabbing key Academy Award nominations, Oscar habla espanol Tuesday morning. Salma Hayek, who read off the nominations with Academy president, Sid Ganis, was clearly thrilled.

"It has been a long time coming, especially since millions of people speak Spanish as their main language in this country," said Cruz, who was singled out for her role in Pedro Almodovar's Spanish-language "Volver." "It's great that it's finally being reflected in movies."

In fact, the Mexican helming troika of Gonzalez Inarritu, del Toro and Cuaron garnered a combined 16 nominations for their films "Babel," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Children of Men," respectively

Gonzalez Inarritu's director nom and Cruz's best actress mention also represent Oscar firsts: The "Babel" filmmaker became the premier Mexican director nominated for the craft's highest honor, while the "Volver" star is the first actress recognized for a Spanish-speaking role.

For "Babel's" Adriana Barraza, the film's high profile and Academy recognition provide an opportunity for audiences to view a storyline rarely portrayed onscreen. "With my character, a migrant worker, audiences get to see the feelings, the needs, the real reasons why they are here in the United States," she said. "People like my character, they are contributing to this society, and it's important for people to see that."

While the globe-spanning, multi-language "Babel" earned seven nominations, del Toro's Spanish-language "Pan's Labyrinth" was right behind with six mentions.

"I think what it means is the there is finally a very very strong all-inclusive presence of Spanish-language culture in the mainstream," said the director, who nabbed his first Oscar nomination for his "Labyrinth" screenplay. "And by this I mean it's not an isolated case of an actor or a star, but I'm talking about technicians, artists, cinematogprahers, art directors, makeup artists."

"Labyrinth" art director Eugenio Caballero, who hails from Mexico, was one of several below-the-line Latinos to land an Oscar nomination.

"All of these awards and nominations are very good for Hispanic directors; it's very good for Mexico especially," he said. "There have been many nominations in technical categories that are not just Academy Awards, but in other ceremonies. It's important for a whole generation of filmmakers in Mexico, and I'm really happy for everyone."

"I think the cinema is more globalized nowadays," said Barraza, a veteran of Mexican cinema. "The talent has always been there, but with globalization it gives the opportunity for that talent to be seen, whereas before it more limited to regional audiences.

And though Gonzalez Inarritu is honored to be his country's first nominated director, he warns against defining people with labels.

"The film 'Babel' is not about I am Mexican, and you are American," he said. "The point is we are human, and we are born naked before someone puts stupid passports on us and raises a flag.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Pubrick

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2007, 06:12:31 AM »
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Quote from: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu
"The film 'Babel' is not about I am Mexican, and you are American. The point is we are human, and we are born naked before someone puts stupid passports on us and raises a flag."
damn you iñarritu, i thought you had forgotten how to kick my ass.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

MacGuffin

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2007, 08:59:47 PM »
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Film-makers without borders
Just because I'm a Mexican film-maker doesn't mean that my movies only represent Mexico. The world is my cinematic oyster.
By Alfonso Cuaron; Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - film

This year's Oscars are being seen as a high point for Mexican cinema. My latest film, Children of Men, has three nominations, which is obviously great. But Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel has seven and Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (which I helped produce) has six. That's just amazing.

Fortunately the three of us are good friends. We developed our films at the same time and we have always loved to collaborate, to stick our forks in each other's salad. So I feel as close to Alejandro and Guillermo's films as I do to my own. The three of us don't compete, we complement. We're family. You wish your brother would win a big award, just as your brother wishes the same for you.

So if nothing else the Oscars are an amazing excuse for a celebration, the perfect opportunity to hang out with my friends. What I resent, however, is the notion that the Oscars are somehow bestowing legitimacy on Mexican cinema. We don't need this legitimacy. Babel is a great film right now. Pan's Labyrinth is already great. Plus we all know that great films are always being snubbed at the Oscars. That doesn't make them any less great.

It is also dangerous to view us as somehow "representing Mexican cinema". Of course Alejandro, Guillermo and I are rooted in Mexico. But we are also a part of everything else as well. Children of Men is set in London, Pan's Labyrinth in Spain, while Alejandro shot Babel in a variety of languages and in locations ranging from Japan to California to Morocco. On the one hand these can be viewed as Mexican pictures; on the other, they are films that defy the usual nationalistic criteria.

Some years ago I left Hollywood to make a small Mexican film called Y tu mamá también. It was my way of reorienting my compass, of reconnecting to what I had always loved about cinema. And this was entirely the right thing to do. One way or another, it's important for film-makers to go back to their roots.

Having said that, my hope for the future is for people to start cutting loose from those geographic roots, to begin moving towards a state of freedom, of rootlessness. I feel this is what someone like Alejandro has already done. By shooting in Morocco and Japan, you could say that he was leaving his roots and finding his identity.

I have a huge appreciation of backgrounds. What I have a problem with is borders. The language of cinema is cinema itself: it doesn't matter whether it is filmed in Spanish or English or French or Japanese. The same goes for the people who make it. Yes, I'm a film-maker from Mexico. But I also belong to the world.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2007, 09:15:46 PM »
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Word to that, AlfonSOOOOO!!!!

Pubrick

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2007, 05:59:52 AM »
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Quote from: Alfonso Cuaron
What I have a problem with is borders.

must be why they're always jumping over them.
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MacGuffin

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2007, 12:55:46 AM »
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Top Mexican directors team up
Del Toro, Cuaron, Inarritu shop for five-picture deal
Source: Variety
 
The Three Amigos are looking to convert their recent clout into a five-picture deal for them and two Mexican compadres.

Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu -- the Mexican directing triumvirate who made a splash on last season's awards circuit -- have banded together with Cuaron's younger brother, tyro helmer Carlos, and "Passengers" director Rodrigo Garcia to shop the slate at Universal and other studios. Each helmer would direct one project; the combined budget totals $100 million.

Participants cautioned Monday that the deal, first reported in the Los Angeles Times, is far from sealed. Inarritu's rep said discussions "are in the third inning of a nine-inning game."

The three better known helmers are repped by three separate tenpercenteries -- Gonzalez Inarritu by CAA, Cuaron by William Morris and del Toro by Endeavor. All three agencies are participating in the negotiations.

Universal would seem to have the inside track given its relationship with the trio. The studio released Cuaron's "Children of Men" last year and will release del Toro's "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" next year; its Focus Features arm distribbed Inarritu's "21 Grams." During the kudos season, del Toro enthused about working with U production prexy Donna Langley.

Deal's focus on international rights underscores the growing importance of overseas box office to studios. Last year, it jumped 9% to $8.6 billion for the majors. Several studios, Sony among them, are beefing up their international productions to meet growing demand.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2007, 12:18:46 PM »
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Universal pacts with Mexican trio
Cuaron, del Toro, Inarritu to make five pics
Source: Variety
 
CANNES -- Universal Pictures and its specialty arm Focus Features have struck a deal to finance and sell a package of five movies to be made by the new independent production banner that's a partnership among the three Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu.

Moniker for the new venture is cha cha cha.

The five projects, some in Spanish and some in English, will include directorial efforts from each of the three partners, as well as movies from writer-directors Carlos Cuaron and Rodrigo Garcia. Creative control of the projects will remain with the filmmakers.

Universal will fully finance and co-own the five movies with the slate, which funded its own development of the projects. The combined budget of the slate is around $100 million.

Focus will handle international sales, with North American rights to be sold separately by the company, "as appropriate" for each individual film.

Focus Intl. has started pre-sales in Cannes on the first of these, Carlos Cuaron's "Rudo y Cursi," starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. Pic is in pre-production. The other four projects have already been identified, but have yet to be announced.

In a joint statement, Alfonso Cuaron, del Toro and Inarritu said, "We are proud to be not only part of the world cinema community, but also students of it. Universal and Focus are affording us a safe haven to keep doing the work we love as well as nurture other filmmakers."

Universal chairman Marc Shmuger, co-chairman David Linde and Focus CEO James Schamus said, "These extraordinarily gifted friends and colleagues have made some of the most essential films in recent years. Everyone at Universal is honored to be helping bring these productions to a global audience."

Films made by the three partners, including their most recent works "Children of Men," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Babel," have received 24 Oscar nominations and grossed over $1 billion worldwide (although the lion's share of that figure is accounted for by Cuaron's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban").
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2008, 12:17:05 AM »
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Garcia lines up 'Mother' trio
Cuaron, del Toro, Inarritu to produce ensemble drama
Source: Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK -- Rodrigo Garcia is ready to tango with his three amigos for the ensemble drama "Mother and Child."

Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will produce the writer-director's next feature for their Focus Features International-funded outfit cha cha cha.

The $4.5 million project, produced with Mockingbird Pictures president Julie Lynn, follows the intersecting lives of a 50-year-old woman, the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago and a black woman looking to adopt a baby.

Set to begin a Los Angeles shoot in late December or January, the film continues Garcia's examination of female characters found in his dramas "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her" and "Nine Lives."

"Alejandro read a nearly finished draft and challenged me to finish it," said Garcia, who has been working on the script for more than seven years. "It all takes place in the present, but it was difficult to write because it explores 30 years in the lives of these three women." Casting for the leads is under way.

Garcia credits his cha cha cha friends -- one of whom, Inarritu, executive produced "Lives" -- for getting the film off the ground at a time when "hard-nosed realistic dramas" are having a tough time getting financed. "If it wasn't for those three guys, I'm sure I'd still be shopping it around with extremely little luck," he said.

Garcia is about to make his big-studio debut at Sony with this month's supernatural thriller "Passengers," starring Anne Hathaway, produced by Lynn with Mandate Pictures and Persistent Entertainment. Cha cha cha's first film out of the gate will be Carlos Cuaron's soccer drama "Rudo y Cursi," starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: The Three Amigos
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2009, 02:47:04 AM »
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The Three Amigos of Cha Cha Cha
By LARRY ROHTER; New York Times

CHA CHA CHA FILMS is the name of the new production company started by Mexico’s three most successful and acclaimed directors: Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. But don’t go looking for an office or a telephone number here, or anywhere else for that matter, because you won’t find one.

That’s not just because of a dislike for bureaucracy and unnecessary overhead. After scoring a series of box office hits and Oscar nominations and awards in recent years with movies like “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (Mr. Cuarón), “Babel” (Mr. González Iñárritu) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Mr. del Toro) the three directors now have their pick of big-budget, studio-supported projects to take them all over the world.

But that means the Three Amigos, as Hollywood has taken to calling them, don’t spend as much time with one another as they would like. So an official business relationship, with lots of phone calls and e-mail messages flying back and forth across the planet, seemed the best way to continue the conversation about cinema they have been having since they were starting out and first met here two decades ago.

“We don’t have a mission statement,” said Mr. del Toro, 44, who also has directed “Hellboy” and “The Devil’s Backbone” and is now at work on “The Hobbit” in New Zealand. “Right now we can do anything, make a movie in French or in Spanish, together or apart, producing or not producing, helping with the writing and ping-ponging ideas. It’s more like a virtual company than a big development company.”

The first film being released under the Cha Cha Cha banner is “Rudo y Cursi,” or “Tough and Corny,” which the three partners produced but did not direct. Set to open in the United States on May 8, it is a bittersweet comedy about two brothers of humble origin who become big league Mexican soccer stars almost overnight. Spoiled by their success, they see their careers collapse just as rapidly.

The brothers Tato and Beto Verdusco are played by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, probably best known to American audiences for their breakout roles in “Y Tu Mamá También.” That film, nominated for an Academy Award in 2002 for best original screenplay, was directed by Mr. Cuarón, 47, who wrote it with his brother Carlos, 42. Carlos Cuarón makes his feature-length debut as a director in “Rudo y Cursi” in what can only be called a family setting.

“Rudo y Cursi” is set in the world of sports and examines issues like corruption and celebrity, but “this is really a film about brotherhood,” Carlos Cuarón said in an interview here. That seems an appropriate assessment not just because of the plot and Alfonso Cuarón’s involvement as a co-producer, but also because Mr. del Toro and Mr. González Iñárritu, 45, are “like a pair of older brothers to me,” Carlos said.

That means they are willing to offer tough love to help their younger sibling get his directing career off on the right foot. “I don’t think you can find producers who are more demanding than these three, and in a very positive way,” Mr. Luna said. “They gave Carlos a structure and a mechanism that allowed his talent to flourish, but they questioned him a lot too. What do you want to say? Are you sure you want to say this? Is this the best way to say this?”

As Carlos Cuarón recalls it, Mr. del Toro was the one who originally encouraged him to become a director. One night more than a decade ago, when the two men were having dinner together here, Mr. del Toro noticed that Mr. Cuarón was feeling “sad and depressed,” and asked why.

“I told him, that I was writing all these screenplays that weren’t getting produced, and that it was like giving birth to dead babies,” Mr. Cuarón explained. “Being the wise man he is, he answered ‘Don’t be stupid, direct them yourself, damn it,’ and that’s how all this began.”

The presence of Mr. García Bernal and Mr. Luna also adds to the familial vibe. Though they are close friends, this is the first time they have acted together in a film since “Y Tu Mamá También.” In “Rudo y Cursi” they are cast against type, with Mr. García Bernal as the sentimental brother and Mr. Luna as the loutish one, because, as Carlos Cuarón put it, “I didn’t want to make ‘Y Tu Mamá También II.’ ”

For all the talk about the Three Amigos, their personalities, backgrounds and tastes are quite different. Mr. del Toro, for example, is a self-described nerd, renowned for his warmth and good humor, reflected in the cuddly nickname el Osito, or the Little Bear, who had to work his way up to director, starting as a makeup and special effects artist.

Mr. González Iñárritu, on the other hand, has always been regarded here as something of a golden boy. Nicknamed el Negro, he has matinee idol good looks and was a successful director, of commercials and of television programs at Mexico’s leading network, before Mr. del Toro and the Cuaróns, whose careers he helped at crucial moments.

Their work styles and the types of films they have tended to make are different too. “With Guillermo the shots are almost mathematical — everything is planned,” Alfonso Cuarón said in an interview at the Sundance Film Festival in January. “But Alejandro never knows what he is going to shoot until he is there in the place. He is like a field reporter. He has to see to know what he wants to do.”

Mr. García Bernal has a distinctive vantage point, having worked with both of the Cuarón brothers and Mr. González Iñárritu. He described Alfonso Cuarón’s style as “more intimate” and character driven, endorsed the prevailing notion of Mr. González Iñárritu as an auteur fond of complicated, interlocking stories and said Mr. del Toro’s strongest suit was genre films, especially fantasy.

What unites the three, Mr. García Bernal continued, is their hunger to work and their encyclopedic knowledge of film and other forms of pop culture. “They speak a common language, with a lot of shared references that come from the fact that they grew up here in Mexico at the same time,” he said. “Cha Cha Cha is really the formalization of their friendship, but in a work setting.”

As a business venture Cha Cha Cha was clearly conceived as a way for the three to combine and multiply their clout and bargaining power. The company’s deal calls for its coming films to be distributed through Universal Pictures, which released Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” and, through its boutique division Focus Features, Mr. González Iñárritu’s “21 Grams.” The studio is to handle distribution and marketing, and in return for shouldering the bulk of the financial risk themselves the Three Amigos get what they prize most: creative independence.

“We all had movies out at the same time in 2006,” Mr. Cuarón said. “Alejandro had ‘Babel,’ Guillermo had ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and I had ‘Children of Men.’ There was a synchronicity to that, a lot of layers, and I think it deepened our interest in working together.” Combined these films received 16 Academy Award nominations and won 4 Oscars.

For Latin America cinema the Cha Cha Cha experiment also represents a new way of engaging and relating to Hollywood. Directors of earlier generations, like Glauber Rocha and Ruy Guerra, to cite two examples from Brazil, often defined their identities quite vocally in opposition to Hollywood and took pride in operating outside a studio system that might not have been all that interested in them either.

But the Cha Cha Cha directors and their contemporaries, who include Brazilians like Walter Salles and Fernando Meirelles, move easily in and out of Hollywood, using the studio system when it seems to suit a particular project but going elsewhere for financing and marketing when it does not.

“These guys are Mexican through and through and embrace their heritage and everything that comes with that,” David Linde, a chairman of Universal Pictures, said of the Three Amigos. “But they have a global perspective, much as I hate that phrase. It fascinates them to tell stories in Mexico, Spain, the U.K. and the United States because what drives them, quite simply, is an interest in what it means to be human.”

That flexibility doesn’t always sit well with Latin American critics, intellectuals and even some filmmakers working in the local system, which often relies on government rather than private funds. Here, for example, Cha Cha Cha’s founders, while often praised as examples of how Mexicans can succeed on the world stage, have also found themselves accused of selling out to Hollywood and Europe and toning down or even sacrificing what is specifically and distinctly Mexican in their work.

“That’s an infantile argument, a really simplistic concept that is often used to defend limits and mediocrity,” Mr. González Iñárritu said. “Yes, I am a Mexican, and I have a past and a culture. But what matters is the film itself, not where it was financed or cast. Cinema is universal, beyond flags and borders and passports.”

Cha Cha Cha’s second production will be Mr. González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful,” a drama starring Javier Bardem that Mr. González Iñárritu is now editing in Spain but did not want to discuss. After that three more films are due Universal, and then the Three Amigos will pause to assess whether they wish to continue as a team.

“This is a friendship, not a marriage, and when there is the first symptom that business is going to make it a problem, we will walk away,” Mr. del Toro said. “There is nothing, no big company that ties us together, other than our friendship.”
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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