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The Sky Is Not Falling: Liberating Independent Film And Video From A Prehistoric Value System // submit a post -- nelson@nelsoncarvajal.com

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

VIDEO ESSAY: Los Ojos de Iñárritu/The Eyes of Iñárritu

Alejandro González Iñárritu made history this past weekend by becoming the first filmmaker to win the DGA Award for Best Director two years in a row, for his work in The Revenant. Last year Iñárritu became only the second Hispanic filmmaker to win the coveted Best Director Oscar for his work in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a year after Alfonso Cuarón became the first ever Hispanic Best Director Academy Award winner (for Gravity). I mention these significant cinephile facts because Iñárritu sometimes gets bombarded by certain hater-film-critics who are quick to harp on the calamity found in most of his films and not celebrate how special and nakedly emotional this filmmaker is. Yes, Iñárritu tells stories of fur-trappers who fight bears in the wilderness or sickly men who accidentally poison a room of immigrant sweatshop workers whilst juggling a plethora of other scandals. But these silver screen narratives have all been Oscar nominees and for the most part, critically celebrated and revered.

The reason--or at least a good reason for this can be found in the delicacy and tenderness Iñárritu lends with filming the eyes of his actors. Whereas filmmakers like Spike Lee and Jonathan Demme trail-blazed such stylistic devices as actors breaking the fourth wall to look directly at the audience, Iñárritu takes his time to build up those infrequent direct gazes at the screen; a big strategy of his is how explicit he is with his cinematic influences. His films Biutiful and The Revenant take certain cues from Andrei Tarkovsky and Terrence Malick, lending a poetic and impressionistic visual prose amidst the overly busy plots--mainly of the former film. His earlier work with Amores Perros and Babel cut back and forth between multiple story lines, much in the spirit of the independent Mexican cinema of that time, but those films too were always grounded in the pathos of the eyes of his characters. Iñárritu definitely sees life as a beautiful chaos--at least in the films he makes--and yet the bravery he emotes comes in still trying to find the tenderness, that special, fleeting, grandeur yearning for human connection and purpose in the midst of tragedy.

And the eyes have it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

VIDEO: Honorable Mentions and the 20 #BestFilmsOf2015

[Scroll to the bottom for the video]

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Jurassic World, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, The Night Before, Tangerine, Amy, The End of the Tour, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Wolfpack, The Visit, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Trainwreck, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Time Out of Mind, Danny Collins, El Club, Inside Out, Phoenix, Crimson Peak, Beasts of No Nation, By The Sea, It Follows, Youth, The Walk, The Hateful Eight, The, Nightmare, Ex Machina, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Creep, The Overnight and While We’re Young.

Best Actor: Tom Hardy, Legend
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Best Supporting Actress: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Sicario
Best Original Screenplay: Damián Szifrón, Wild Tales
Best Adapted Screenplay: Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq
Best Film Editing: Hank Corwin, The Big Short
Best Original Score: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario   
Best Original Song: "Pray 4 My City," Chi-Raq 
Best Production Design: Jack Fisk, The Revenant


20. Creed, Directed by Ryan Coogler
19. Steve Jobs, Directed by Danny Boyle
18. Straight Outta Compton, Directed by F. Gary Gray
17. Love & Mercy, Directed by Bill Pohlad
16. Black Mass, Directed by Scott Cooper
15. Anomalisa, Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
14. The Big Short, Directed by Adam McKay
13. Spotlight, Directed by Tom McCarthy
12. Legend, Directed by Brian Helgeland
11. Manglehorn, Directed by David Gordon Green


10. Brooklyn, Directed by John Crowley
9. Wild Tales, Directed by Damián Szifrón
8. Taxi, Directed by Jafar Panahi
7. The Revenant, Directed Alejandro González Iñárritu
6. Carol, Directed by Todd Haynes
5. 45 Years, Directed by Andrew Haigh
4. Room, Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
3. Chi-Raq, Directed by Spike Lee
2. Mad Max: Fury Road, Directed by George Miller
1. Sicario, Directed by Denis Villeneuve