I just saw Children of Men and it easily one of my top movies of 2006. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Clive Owen is always good. Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the best young actors around — he was outstanding in Serenity. And Alfonso Cuaron is amazingly talented. His directing was the standout in the Harry Potter series. (I have yet to see Pan’s Labyrinth; but I’m not sure how this film lost the Cinematography Oscar. And giving the editing Oscar to Departed was a crime).
It’s kind of interesting, the wave of Mexican and Mexican-American directors who are coming to dominate the film scene these days. Cuaron, Inarritu and del Toro have more talent and imagination that most of Hollywood put together. Throw in the genius down the street from me, Robert Rodriguez, and you’ve got a movement. Roger Ebert, in his review of The Cell (a movie that was interesting and imaginative, if nothing else) commented:
Tarsem is an Indian, like M. Night Shyamalan of “The Sixth Sense,” and comes from a culture where ancient imagery and modern technology live side by side. In the 1970s, Pauline Kael wrote that the most interesting directors were Altman, Scorsese and Coppola because they were Catholics whose imaginations were enriched by the church of pre-Vatican II, while most other Americans were growing up on Eisenhower’s bland platitudes. Now our whole culture has been tamed by marketing and branding, and mass entertainment has been dumbed down. Is it possible that the next infusion of creativity will come from cultures like India, still rich in imagination, not yet locked into malls?
I think Ebert was on to something. White America seems very bogged down in the bland. But it’s not just India that’s throwing new life into cinema.
So what’s next, once America has infested Mexico and India with its bland of blah? The Middle East, probably.