Movie Project #11: Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

The 50 Movies Project: 2013 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, I have decided to embark in a third round of the 50 Movies Project. The premise is simple — I have put together a list of 50 movies that I feel I absolutely must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. With so many films to see, it’s easy to get off track and forget about some of the essentials. This is my way of making sure I watch those that have been on my “must see” list for too long.

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay: Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón
Country: Mexico
Genre: Drama
Starring: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Running Time: 106 minutes

Reason for inclusion: I can’t remember where I first heard about this film, but it caught my attention years ago. Since then, I have seen it pop up in many “best of” lists, which has made me want to see it even more.

Accolades: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film, One Oscar nomination (Best Original Screenplay), two BAFTA nominations, one Golden Globe nomination

It seems only fitting that I follow up Luis Buñuel’s fantastic erotica, Belle de Jour, a film that showed little in the way of nudity, with Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, a film that revels in its sexual freedom.

Here is a film that takes pieces from many cinematic themes — a coming of age story, a road movie, a tale of best friends, and the seduction of an older woman to a much younger male — and ties them altogether into something very unique. I can’t say I have ever seen a film like it, even though it still feels familiar.

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

Julio (Gael García Bernal, a recognizable face from Amores Perros) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are two teenage boys that are also best friends. They seem inseparable, especially when their girlfriends go away for the summer. Now free to do whatever they like, they party, drink, do drugs and try to get laid whenever possible. At a wedding, they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the Spanish wife of one of Tenoch’s cousins. Both teens are instantly smitten with her and, in jest, they invite her on a road trip to a secluded beach that no one knows about. She finds their gesture flattering — and amusing — but politely declines. Later, when it appears her marriage has hit a rough patch, she decides to take them up on their offer, much to their surprise.

Y tu mamá también [2002]

Julio, Tenoch and Luisa all hit the road together and drive through the Mexican countryside in search of this mysterious beach. This gives everyone involved — us included — to learn something new. For us, this trip provides a glimpse through rural Mexico, showing economic disparity while also beautifully evoking its many different cultures. For the characters, they are all discovering new things about themselves and each other, for better or for worse. It goes without saying that things will not be the same by the time they come back.

Y Tu Mamá También is frank with its subject matter, and full-frontal nudity is a common occurrence. However, there is nothing sleazy about this film, and in fact, it should be commended for not concealing anything. This is a wonderfully told story that feels raw and authentic. Best yet, it is honest, and by the end of the film I felt like I really knew these characters. All three grow up, just not perhaps in the way you might expect.

9/10

Movie Project #5: Amores Perros [2000]

The 50 Movies Project: 2013 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, I have decided to embark in a third round of the 50 Movies Project. The premise is simple — I have put together a list of 50 movies that I feel I absolutely must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. With so many films to see, it’s easy to get off track and forget about some of the essentials. This is my way of making sure I watch those that have been on my “must see” list for too long.

Amores Perros [2000]

Amores Perros [2000]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga
Country: Mexico
Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
Starring: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, Vanessa Bauche, Álvaro Guerrero
Running Time: 154 minutes

Reason for inclusion: This is the only film in the “trilogy of death” that I hadn’t seen, and the constant comparisons to Pulp Fiction had me intrigued.

Accolades: BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Prize of the Critic’s Week at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, included on Empire’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time, ranked #182 on IMDB’s Top 250

This review discusses several plot points and may contain spoilers.

In English, Amores Perros translates to “Love’s a Bitch.” It’s a clever play on words for a film in which love and dogs play an important part in each of its three segments.

As the first entry in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s trilogy of death (later followed by 21 Grams and Babel), Amores Perros is similarly structured as an anthology film. Three completely different stories are intertwined due to a horrific car crash that happens in Mexico City.

The first segment is the hardest to watch, and it is the reason why a “no animals were harmed during the making of this film” warning appears beforehand. It involves dog fighting, and through the illusion of quick cuts, the fights come across as all too real. The viciousness of these moments are enough to make animal lovers squirm (and possibly shut off the film altogether), but numerous precautions were taken to make sure no animals were actually harmed. It’s very effective film-making from Iñárritu in his feature film debut.

Amores Perros [2000]

The main character of this first segment, Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal), becomes involved in dog fighting by total chance. After his dog kills that of a local thug’s in an impromptu “non-sanctioned” fight, Octavio sees this as an opportunity to begin profiting from his pet. His ultimate goal is to make enough money to escape with his sister-in-law, Susana (Vanessa Bauche), who is stuck in an abusive relationship with his brother, Ramiro (Marco Pérez).

The beginning of the film indicates that things aren’t going to go as planned, as it shows Octavio and Jorge in a car chase, culminating with them smashing directly into another car.

The second segment follows the lives of Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) and Valeria (Goya Toledo). Daniel has left his wife and two kids in order to live with Valeria, who is a Spanish supermodel. She is the one driving the other car that Octavio and Jorge crash directly into. As a result, she breaks her leg, and is unable to continue working as a model. On top of this, she also loses her dog, Richie, who has somehow managed to get himself stuck underneath the floorboards of her house. With so many things going wrong at once, the strength of the new relationship of Daniel and Valeria is already put to the test.

Amores Perros [2000]

The third and final segment focuses on one person, a hitman (Emilio Echevarría) nicknamed “El Chivo” (aka “The Goat”). His connection to the crash is the loosest of the group, as he is getting ready to perform an assassination at the exact moment the accident happens. El Chivo’s story is the saddest of the group, as he is a homeless man who just wants to reconnect with his long-lost daughter. His loyal group of dogs seem to be the only thing holding him together.

Three segments. Three completely different stories. On their own, they likely wouldn’t be particularly enthralling, but the way they are interwoven together keeps the film fresh. Little hints and reminders are dropped here and there, showing that these characters are all related in more ways than originally meets the eye. As with 21 Grams and Babel, this is a film that would seemingly warrant multiple viewings to pick up on these clues.

Amores Perros [2000]

Filmed on a modest budget of $2.4 million, Amores Perros has a very personal, authentic feel. The performances are raw and impressive, and the fact that much of the movie was filmed in the poorer areas of Mexico City adds even more to the grittiness. In a crazy bit of trivia, Iñárritu and some of his crew were actually robbed by street gangs during filming.

It’s easy to see why Amores Perros is held in such high regard, and it is a thoroughly entertaining film overall. However, its 2 1/2 hour running time is a bit of a burden by the end, and some sections could have been easily reduced or cut entirely. The middle segment especially could use some trimming, as Valeria and her cries for Richie grew more and more ludicrous with every minute.

Regardless, this is still one hell of a filmmaking debut, and Iñárritu set the stage for a formula that he would go on to perfect with 21 Grams.

8/10