Anticipating Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's upcoming film "The Revenant"

A listing of Inarritu's Top 5 films

By Pallavi Tripathi

Leonardo DiCaprio, explorer Hugo Glass, in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant
"I think that in order to be a film director, one has to be a warrior who shouldn't be defeated by the daily onslaught of problems. We are all hanging by threads and are the mercy of various elements; if one fails the whole flight could come crashing down, and like a good warrior I'm not going to break down."
          -Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Receiving the Oscar for best director last year, the second Mexican to ever do so, this warrior was in full glory. Birdman, being the great film that it is, wasn't his first to be nominated for the Academy. In fact, all of his feature length movies have been nominated for Oscars in at least one category. His alliance with fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron (first Mexican to win best director Oscar) and Guillermo del Torro has led to the formation of 'Cha cha cha films' productions. This production made Biutiful (Spanish for Beautiful), directed by Alejandro. Not only did it received the Academy's nod and critics’ praises but won Javier Bardem (movie's lead) the best actor award at Cannes.

Alejandro's style is more 'magical naturalism' by which I mean his movies give a maturely sensitive depiction of humans. He captures the flaws with rays of hope in each character. The strings that wake them up and the strings that make them do what they do. For, humans are complicated, multidimensional creatures, and, in his movies, it is depicted with poetic honesty. Honesty that makes the audience accept if not love the characters. His movies talk about injustices but it has no villains. It looks at injustice in a philosophically ripped manner. The manner society brings it—discrimination, human connection beyond borders and in that way he portrays world as a global village and tries to identify what separates us and what unites us. This could be due to him crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a cargo ship at the age of 16 and 18, working his way across Europe and Africa. He has noted that these early travels as a young man have had a great influence on him as a filmmaker.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's first feature length film was Amores Perros, first of his anthologized 'Death trilogy' followed by 21 Grams and Babel. It could be considered as one of the best trilogies of cinema history. Even though Birdman brought him the international accolades winning him several Oscars, his Biutiful is probably his masterpiece, which is a poetically tragic tale of a dying man. He has said in an occasion: “My cinema is an extension of myself. A sort of life-testimony of my vital experience with my few virtues and my numerous limitations.”

A lot is being anticipated of Innaritu's upcoming The Revenant. The most prominent being the Best Actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been famously nominated for the award numerous times never winning. Innaritu thus far has directed eight Academy Award-nominated performances: Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Benicio Del Toro, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Emma Stone and Javier Bardem, none of which has won. Whether this record breaks, it remains to be seen.

Before you prepare yourself for The Revenant, here's a listing of this warrior's movies:-

5). 21 Grams (2003) 

21 Grams, Movie Poster, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

This movie is the second installment of Innaritu’s ‘Death trilogy’ and like the other two it is also an anthology film. The three main characters of the movie are played by Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. Penn plays a critically ill mathematician having a faulty heart, Watts plays a grief-stricken mother who has lost her husband and two children in an accident, and Del Tore plays a born-again Christian ex-convict whose faith is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident that killed Watts’ family. The three main characters each have “past,” “present,” and “future” story threads, which are shown as non-linear fragments that punctuate elements of the overall story, all imminently coming toward each other and becomes whole as the story progresses. What comes strongly as a theme of this movie is a feeling of redemption and loss and gain of faith. Watts’s performance as a grieving mother and wife is heart-breaking and del Toro as a man in redemption is believable although sometimes the movie is hard to catch-up on.

4) Amores Perros (2000)

Amores Perros, Movie Poster, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

It’s English translation ‘Love is a bitch’ was heavily used during the marketing of the film, although it was released as Amores Perros in English too. It won Innaritu his first Academy nomination, being his first feature length film, as it was nominated in the Foreign Films category. The movie links three stories through an accident. It explores deeply the themes of inequality and violence but film’s theme is loyalty, as symbolized by dogs, “man’s best friend”, which plays the central role in the film. The film has three hyperlink stories and dogs are important to the main characters in each of the three stories, and in each story various forms of human loyalty or disloyalty are shown: disloyalty to a brother by trying to seduce the brother’s wife, disloyalty to a wife by keeping a mistress with subsequent disloyalty to the mistress when she is injured and loses her beauty, loss of loyalty to youthful idealism and rediscovered loyalty to a daughter as a hit-man falls from and then attempts to regain grace.

3) Birdman (2014)

Birdman, Movie Poster, starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Innaritu became the part of elite group of directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for the same film. With the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Leo McCarey, Billy Wilder, James L. Brooks, Peter Jackson, and Coen Brothers it is a great group to be in. The beauty of the movie is in its editing, it is one of the most innovative editing in the recent times. Birdman brings a substantial satire on the modern contemporary society, whether it’s our obsession with superheroes or social media which is, as shown in the movie, deeply linked to our question of existence and an insatiable ego. The story follows Riggan Thomson (Keaton), a faded Hollywood actor best known for playing the superhero “Birdman”, who also has a very complicated personal life and his relationship with any human professionally or personally is thorny. He struggles to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Craver. The father-daughter relationship is pictured with brutal honesty and is heart breaking.

2) Babel (2006) 

Babel, Movie Poster, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Babel is the most matured of the ‘Death Trilogy’ and what comes strongly as a theme of the movie is a sense of family and what and how much people from all over the world do to protect it and keep it intact. Since the movie portrays multiple stories taking place in Morocco, Japan, and Mexico/U.S.A, through four stories it establishes one of the things that unites all humans is a sense of family. It sensitively portrays the issue of Mexican refugees in USA and tries to capture the effect geo-politics plays in human relations. Babel captures the flaws and beauty of family all over the world. Mixed with amazing sound editing, direction and brilliant performances of the likes of Cate Blanchett and Rinko kikuchi it is one of the best if not the best movie of 2006. It was whole heartedly received by the Academy as it was nominated in several categories including the Best motion picture, Best direction, Best Screenplay and won for Best Original score for movie. One can see the hard work involved in the process of making these movies as it not only involves characters of various culture and language but gives them a substantial screen space and have valuable roles in the movies. It is Innaritu’s brilliance that makes the movie flow smoothly and make it look effortless.

1) Biutiful  (2010)

Biutiful, Movie Poster, Javier Bardem, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Alejandro Gonzalez’s best work till date is Biutiful as is evident from filmmakers Sean Penn, Werner Herzog and Michael Mann’s outspoken support for the film. While Herzog likened it to a “poem,” Penn compared Bardem’s performance to that of Marlon Brando’s in Last Tango in Paris. Not only was Bardem’s performance the first entirely Spanish-language performance to be nominated for the Academy but it also won him Best Actor Award at Cannes. The film is a poetically tragic journey of a man who is diagnosed with prostate Cancer. Uxbal is a father of two and is separated from his bipolar disorder affected wife, who can barely keep it together. The movie very sensitively portrays his professional life, which involves dealing with illegal (read black people) who deal with drugs, allowing them to find work by dealing with police. It also involves him dealing with chinese wherein human trafficking is probably involved and how it crumbles down just like his life due to cancer. It is brave and bold in its portrayal and performance and is filled with some raw scenes that can make you cringe in your seats! It is an artwork of highest degree that shouldn’t be missed.

About Author - 

Pallavi sees herself as wanderer, wannabe writer and wannabe everything moviebuff! She is a firm believer of magic of movies and remains high on movies constantly.

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!

The Revenant (2015) Trailer (YouTube)

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