Alejandro González Iñárritu: A Role Model for the Hispanic Community

Iñárritu

Feature Image Credit: Emmanuel Lubezki/Fox Searchlight Pictures (Source: The New York Times)
Headshot Image Credit and Source: IMD

For those who don’t know, Alejandro González Iñárritu is a director that won Academy Awards for his work on Birdman (2014) and The Reverent (2015). Both films staring A-list actors and nominated for best film of the year. I won’t be discussing about his cinematographic style but rather his accomplishment as a native Mexican director finding success in the United States, which is a very difficult barrier to overcome, and his philosophy. I consider these factors, along with his excellent directing style, to be reasons behind why I consider Iñárritu to be one of my role models.

Iñárritu has co-written and directed various other successful films before the two I perviously mention. He is responsible for films like, Amores Perros (2002), Babel (2006), and Biutiful (2010), which was a film previously nominated for an Oscar under the Foreign Film category. All of these film covering emotional or controversial topics that opens the viewers eyes to new concepts in film. I don’t want to spoil the plot of these films, but I highly recommend these films although I would advise not watching these films with children and to prepare emotionally for some dark moments.

Today, Iñárritu continues his pattern of emotional films with his 2014 work, Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. I have yet to see this film but I know it stars Michael Keaton as a washed up actor that formally portrait a superhero. Emma Stone, who I believe is his drug addicted daughter; Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. I suggest watching the trailer below to gain a better understanding of the film.

Video Credit: FoxSearchlight

At the Academy Awards, Iñárritu gave an amazing speech when this film won Best Picture. It was at this moment that Iñárritu successfully overcame the barrier that Mexican directors struggle to overcome. The moment his film beat other amazing  made films, including, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel (my pick), The Imitation Game (phenomenal film), Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. All are films, I’ve seen. At this moment in time, I was crossing my figures for The Grand Budapest Hotel without realizing that history was being made. Alejandro González Iñárritu was the first Mexican director and screenwriter to be in the long list of Academy Award winning directors.

A prominent reason why I consider him to be a role model, is dedication to the community of Mexican living in the United States. Below is a clip from the moment his film won Best Picture. There is a moment where Sean Penn makes a controversial comment that viewers deemed to be “racist,” but I see it as humorous because a film made entirely by a Mexican crew, just won the highest honor of the night.

Video Credit: The Oscars

At the end of this video, he states that he hopes for a better Mexican government, in respect to the lack of representation and the use of corruption. Iñárritu also gives word to the Mexican immigrants living in the United States in hope that this community will be treated with respect instead of the hostility brought on by politics. I strongly admire Iñárritu humble action of remembering this voice-less community. My parents migrated to the United States from Mexico and were immigrants for 20 years before finally receiving the proper documentation. Conservatives always suggest immigrants to “get in line” instead of migrating illegally to the United States, without realizing that the line moves extremely slow. My parents applied for documentation as soon as they reach the United States but had to wait 20 years for results. Immigrants are hardworking individuals that migrate to the States for a better opportunity and escape crime or poverty. It is important to remember that all our ancestors were immigrants once and no immigrant sacrifices their life to cause destruction abroad.

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Wes Anderson: Quirky Hipster

Featured Image Source: Pinterest

wes anderson.jpeg

Image Source: IMDb

How much do I love Wes Anderson, let’s put it this way; I am getting a tattoo this summer on my wrist that reads: Directed by Wes Anderson. 

Wes Anderson is responsible for masterpieces, such as Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). With my top three personal favorites being,

  1. The Royal Tenenabaums- love the dialogue (humor and the use swear words) and characters
  2. Moonrise Kingdom– love the aesthetics and the romance
  3. Grand Budapest Hotel– absolutely love Monsieur Gustave H!

Wes Anderson is the first director that made me passionate about cinema. The ending of Moonrise Kingdom makes me cry every time I see his dedication to his girlfriend Juman Malouf. Like the various directors that I mention throughout this blog, Wes Anderson has unique elements to his films that I can immediately notice.

Anderson tends to use the same line of actors, a warm color palette, cinematic references to the French New wave and older Hollywood films, the use of antique wardrobe and set, and my favorite quality of them all; quirky dialogue and eccentric characters. However, I will only mention a few elements that I seen as a pattern in all his films.

Camera shots:

  • High shots
  • Wide (landscape) angle shots
  • Tracking shots
  • Zooms

Cinematic Influences and References:

Anderson has taken cinematic influences from many different places, but most prominently the cinema of the French New Wave, films directed by Francois Truffaut, or by Indian-British filmmaker, Waris Hussein and his 1971 film Melody, as that one especially has a lot of influence on his early works. But it is not limited to European cinema, Anderson also makes references to American films, such as The Graduate (1967), The French Connection (1971), Citizen Kane (1941), and even the animated film series Peanuts. Anderson does not limited to one style of cinema. It is the combination of many styles that form his own.

Themes:

Father and Son relationships and Romance.

Protagonist: 

With few exceptions, they are mainly male charismatic characters. It’s their charisma and confidence that allows them to overcome their faults, which in turn attracts a group of people to follow and support their antics. Something I notice is Anderson struggle to write interesting roles for female characters. With few exception, the female characters are only their to save the men from themselves, or as a prize or motivation for the male characters.

Composure of Shots:

Unlike other film directors, Anderson’s composes his shots flat and symmetrical whenever possible. He gives the impression that his films are like a storybook and shots this way makes the characters feel more drawn and captured, while also allowing shot to shot scene to be easily followed. Most directors want their audience to forget that they are watching a movie, but that is not the case with Wes Anderson. This method effectively present serious scenarios with laughs.

Actors that are constantly used in Wes Anderson films: 

  • Bill Murray
  • Jason Schwartzman
  • Edward Norton
  • Tilda Swinton
  • William Dafoe
  • The Owen Brothers

Wes Anderson is one of the few directors today, that still make great, low-budget films. He knows exactly the film he wants to make and knows the proper method of executing it. He ultimately makes hilarious, aesthetically pleasing films.

Martin Scorsese: New York and Power

Feature Image Source: Hollywood Reporter

One my favorite directors of all time, Martin Scorsese demonstrates unique elements to all his films, such as; hiring Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert De Niro, if DiCaprio is not available, use Italian stereotypes, a script directly from a book, glorifying crime, wealth, food (my favorite element), freeze frames, voice-overs, and an absurd amount of swear words. For this post, I will only mention a few items that make each Scorsese film, a Rolling Stone filled classic.

Scorsese pictures are not simply films, each is a visual work of art. I am not referring to a student art house piece. I’m talking about something artistic enough to be intelligent, but also mainstream. The first element of a Scorsese film is the cast. Scorsese always uses the same two actors: Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert De Niro.

Scorsese films starting DiCaprio

  • Gangs of New York (2002)
  • The Aviator (2004)
  • The Departed (2006)
  • Shutter Island (2010)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)  
  • The Audition (2015)

Scorsese films staring De Niro

  • Mean Streets (1973)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • New York, New York (1977)
  • Raging Bull (1980)
  • The King of Comedy (1982)
  • Goodfellas (1900) (My absolute favorite Scorsese film.)
  • Cape Fear (1991)
  • Casino (1995)
  • The Audition (2015) 

Both actors can look and act like anyone. Scorsese almost always uses actor Joe Pesci as supporting actor or, in other words, an “Italian regular.”

pesci.jpg

Image Source: acmi

Scorsese films also typically use a female, blonde leading character, which are interchangeable, so I won’t name them individually. But what I adore most about a Scorsese film is his parents. Scorsese always tries to incorporate his parents whenever he can. I especially love his mother’s role in Goodfellas (1990), because she reminds me so much of my mom.

 Image Credit and Source: USA Today and NY Daily News

When it comes to the script, the ambiguous term “original content” is an gets thrown around a lot these days. The plot of a lot of Scorsese films derives directly from the pages from various narratives.

Screenplay based from books

(Scorsese film = Book)

  • The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) =  The Wolf of Wall Street: How Money Destroyed A Wall Street Superman by Jordan Belfort
  • Goodfellas (1990) = Wise Guy by Nicholas Pileggi
  • Casino (1995) = Casino by Nicholas Pileggi
  • The Aviator (2004)Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham

Two major components in every Martin Scorsese film (which he is notorious known for) is the glorification of crime and the use of controversial Italian stereotypes.

Lastly, some Scorsese stereotypes that can be found in every film: characters that posse hot tempers, renown culinary skills, kisses “Godfather” style, and religious. Implements domestic violence, drug use, people being shot at point blank range, and the constant use of the F word. All reasons I love Martin Scorsese films and make him one of my favorite directors of all time.

Nancy Meyers: Chic Set Design

Behind every woman is an beautiful, elegant, modern set design.

Photo Credit: Peggy Sirota

Nancy Meyers unique modern style reflects my aspiration for the appearance of my future home. The first Nancy Meyer film I saw was unintentionally, The Parent Trap. The fact that it was shot in London and it exhibited the style I seek from London. The set design featured furniture from my favorite home décor stores, such as Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. The film that blew me away, and allowed me to discover the woman behind this genius was Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Something’s Gotta Give, 2003. Photo: Columbia Pictures

 The Hampton home featured in the film gave me a sense of comfort, it was so beautiful design and every detail is carefully crafted. I could immediately point out the items I’ve seen in the home furniture stores. Her warm and French theme sets gives the audience a better understanding of the mood of the film. After viewing this film, all I could think about was going driving to this home in the Hamptons, coupling a cup of tea and snuggling in Diane Keaton character’s sofa. The majority of her films, include the same style theme but it is able to fit each film individually. The Holiday (2006), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), It’s Complicated (2009), and The Intern (2015)

By the time I’ve heard about her 5th film, The Intern (2015), staring in theaters, I ignored the absurd lack of plot and focused on the set design, which featured a glamorous townhouse that looked like it could be owned by Sarah Jessica Parker.

townhouse

The Intern, Jules’ house, Brooklyn NY. Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Whenever I am stressed, I love to imagine myself in this kitchen. This kitchen serves me as a goal for the future and as visual therapy.