Blog Directory CineVerse: July 2020

Old blue eyes strikes gold―in glorious black and white

Friday, July 31, 2020

It's interesting to wonder what The Man With the Golden Arm would have been like if Marlon Brando, the other actor considered for the role of Frankie Machine (which ultimately went to Frank Sinatra), got the part, considering how this movie feels like a distant relative to the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Both films feature claustrophobic urban environments where women are pressured by domineering or flawed men, and both movies feel like stage play adaptations, even though Golden Arm was sourced from a controversial novel and never saw the light of Broadway. We gave this film the CineVerse treatment last Wednesday and arrived at the following conclusions (to hear our group discussion of this picture, click here).

What was interesting, unexpected, surprising, or rewarding about this picture?

  • This was a groundbreaking film on several fronts. Research suggests it was the first major motion picture to seriously tackle the topic of narcotic addiction (The Lost Weekend first addressed alcoholism 10 years earlier). Also, it helped diminish the power of Hollywood censorship by weakening the Production Code Administration and taking on the Catholic Legion of Decency. Director Otto Preminger and the film’s distributor, United Artists, took a chance on adapting this controversial novel for the screen and releasing it theatrically before receiving a PCA seal of approval. Note that the Hays Office and PCA prohibited even a mention of drug use in movies at this time. The PCA and MPAA banned the film, but no theaters that booked it stopped its exhibition. Lots of people paid for tickets, thanks in large part to the publicity generated from all this controversy. These collective factors helped weaken the censorship powers in the movie industry.
  • Frank Sinatra appears well cast, earning an Academy Award nomination for this role. The film was also nominated for best art direction/set decoration, and best music.
    • Sinatra is convincing as a man suffering through cold turkey hell and constantly besieged by marital, career, and societal pressures.
  • The opening titles, by Saul Bass, proved innovative; Bass later designed many memorable stylized film titles for Hitchcock, Preminger again, and Martin Scorsese.
  • The ending feels very Hollywood tacked-on; the original novel concludes with Frankie killing a man and committing suicide, his wife going insane, and Molly becoming a prostitute.
    • Also, it defies belief that this drug addict with few career prospects or cash would be so coveted by two highly attractive women, one of whom maintains a charade of being crippled for years and the other who risks personal safety and humiliation to befriend Frankie.

Themes explored in this film

  • Loss and redemption. Frankie was redeemed earlier when he was released, clean and sober, from a prison hospital. By the end of the film, he kicks the habit again and ditches his old life of card dealing for two-bit hustlers.
  • The consequences of addiction. Not only is Frankie hooked on heroin, but he easily falls into old habits, too, like going back to his old job dealing cards for shady characters. He finds it hard to shake his past and his proclivities for risky behavior.
  • Taking a chance on love. Molly, the matchstick girl with a heart of gold, has been burned time and again by wounded strays like Frankie and her new lowlife boyfriend. But even after skipping town to get away from it all, she returns and, with the prospect of little reward, allows Frankie to sober up in her apartment. Her faith in him pays off by the film’s conclusion, as we see the two, now both free from past entanglements, able to assumedly live a romantic life together.
  • We are a product of our environment. Frankie returns to familiar territory once released from rehabilitation, only to be infected again by the crooked characters and malignant milieu of the Chicago neighborhood he calls home.

Other films that The Man With the Golden Arm conjures up

  • The Lost Weekend
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • Clean and Sober
  • Rush
  • Trainspotting
  • 28 Days

Other films by Otto Preminger

  • Laura
  • Anatomy of a Murder
  • Carmen Jones
  • Advise & Consent
  • Bunny Lake is Missing
  • Fallen Angel
  • Angel Face


From Springsteen to Payne, "Nebraska" is a state of mind

Sunday, July 26, 2020

By several measures, Alexander Payne's Nebraska is a throwback film: It's shot in melancholy black-and-white; it's a meandering road film that focuses more on characters than plot or narrative payoff; and it's not afraid to spotlight the existential plight of people middle-aged and older. CineVerse explored Nebraska last Wednesday. Here are our takeaways (to listen to our group discussion of this movie, click here):

Films and other works that come to mind after watching Nebraska

  • I Never Sang for My Father
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Harry and Tonto
  • Fargo
  • Nobody’s Fool
  • The Straight Story
  • About Schmidt
  • The Thing About My Folks
  • Don Quixote: Woody and David represent a kind of modern windmill chaser and his sidekick
  • Various American artists, including folksinger Woody Guthrie (possibly our lead character is named after him), writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (the fictional town of Hawthorne could cheer his name), and Bruce Springsteen, whose album Nebraska, also features black-and-white imagery (on the cover) and simple, reflective, and melancholy music

What did you find interesting, distinctive, unexpected, or surprising about Nebraska?

  • It’s refreshing to see a late-career turn by an aged actor known from another era – in this case, Bruce Dern, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance and won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Rarely are seniors given the top spotlight in a major motion picture these days.
  • The choice to shoot in black and white is spot on. Draining the film of color adds a tinge of melancholy, regret, and loss to the story and heightens the realism. Considering that this is filmed in and around America’s heartland, which particularly suffered during and after the Great Recession, monochrome is ideal here.
  • You could make a case that director Alexander Payne is being condescending to or critical of simplistic Midwesterners and hicks. But there’s an obvious subjective focus on, love for, and reverence toward Woody and his son, whom we follow around on their road trip. And we grow to care about and root for these characters, even if some of the rural personalities around them aren't shown in such a favorable light.
  • The movie eschews overt sentimentality because the past these older characters have left behind doesn’t seem worthy of wistfulness. We aren’t given any “come-to-Jesus” moments, no grand reuniting events, mushy reconciliations, healing hugs, or speechifying from characters, either. This film makes broad statements through small gestures and minimal words.
    • Film critic James Berardinelli wrote: “(Payne is) making a statement about the stagnation of those ‘old-time’ values and the misapprehension that just because something about a bygone epoch that it’s necessarily ‘better.’”
    • New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote: “The chilling implication of this film is not that the old values of hard work, family and community have fallen away, but that they were never really there to begin with. Yet somehow the feeling that lingers after the last shot is the opposite of despair.”

What themes can be mined from Nebraska?

  • The dying or death of the American dream. We see how Woody believes he’s the beneficiary of a large jackpot, almost as if it’s an end-of-life reward for all his suffering, regrets, and hard work. But we quickly learn that this prize is a sham – much as the dream of prosperity and success for many Americans proves to be a fallacy.
    • Supporting this theme are the desolate and ramshackle landscape images the filmmakers provide and the aged and/or down-on-their-luck characters we meet, many of whom are out of work or bereft of motivation or meaningful endeavors due to long-standing poor economic conditions.
  • Reckoning with mortality. This picture reminds us that we are all fated to age and pass away, most of us into relative obscurity except for the degree to which our descendants remember us. At middle age, and again near life’s end, it’s natural to take stock of your wins, losses, regrets, missed opportunities, and legacy.
  • Hereditary existentialism. Taking a road trip with his father, David confronts the truth about his father’s complicated life and the secrets that were withheld from him as a child. We also sense that David is worried about following in his father’s footsteps of futility and frustration and seeks to avoid making many of the same mistakes. But we can be encouraged by the assumption that David is possibly living a better life than his father did. Consider how we hear that Woody would have been whipped if he stepped into his parents’ room, and we know that Woody suffered during and after his service in the Korean War; by contrast, David didn’t have to fight in any war or endure the same hardscrabble upbringing. The takeaway? Each succeeding generation hopefully improves upon the last. This is a movie about what we can learn from our parents and older generations, both good and bad, and using that knowledge to hopefully lead a better life. We, like David, need to put ourselves in our parents’ shoes and appreciate who they are and what they want – warts and all.
  • The corrupting influence of money. Even simple, down-home folk – far removed from the vices of the big city – can reveal their avaricious true colors once the hint of profit and monetary opportunity is sniffed.

Other films by Alexander Payne

  • Citizen Ruth
  • Election
  • About Schmidt
  • Sideways
  • The Descendents


The greatest yarn in journalism since Livingstone discovered Stanley

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Stripped free of sentimentality, untethered from the temporal constraints of normally paced life, and existing in its own bubble of bygone journalistic profligacy, His Girl Friday is more than a screwball comedy with one of the strongest pedigrees from Hollywood's golden era. It's also a gift that keeps on giving with its caustic wit, zippy one-liners, and rat-a-tat repartee. Our CineVerse pack parsed through this picture carefully; here's what we discovered:

Why is this movie worth celebrating all these years later? Why does it still matter, and how has it stood the test of time?

  • It still matters because it’s one of the finest and most representational of screwball comedies—that subgenre in which romances and love stories are satirized and a comedic battle of the sexes is depicted, often using witty banter, physical humor, a funny plot centered on courtship and marriage or remarriage.
  • His Girl Friday is worth celebrating for its ultra-fast pacing in the humor and repartee, direction, editing, and dialogue delivery.
  • In fact, it could be the fastest-spoken film ever made. The director, Howard Hawks, was actually trying to break the record at the time for the speediest dialogue ever filmed.
  • This is also one of the very best remakes of all time; its first iteration was The Front Page, released in 1931 and based on the 1928 stage play. A Hollywood remake rarely bests the original, but this picture is the exception to that rule.
  • This is also, arguably, the finest version of this story adapted to the big screen. The Front Page story has been made into a movie at least four times: in 1931, in 1940, in 1974, and, loosely, as Switching Channels in 1988.
  • What’s more, His Girl Friday features, debatably, the finest performances in the careers of both Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Their comedic timing, cadence, physical gesticulations, and sheer ability to deliver lines at a practically impossible pace create truly unforgettable characters that exemplify the very best that screwball comedy can offer.

In what ways do you think this film was influential on cinema and popular culture or set trends?

  • This movie is famous for its innovative use of rapid and overlapping dialogue. Often, the actors are speaking at a frenetic pace, and two or more characters sometimes talk simultaneously. This forces the viewer to try to keep up with what is said and helps to cram in a lot of jokes and content in a short amount of time, making the film more rewarding on repeat viewings.
    • In an interview, Hawks explained why he opted for speedy and concurrent dialogue: “I had noticed that when people talk, they talk over one another, especially people who talk fast or who are arguing or describing something. So we wrote the dialog in a way that made the beginnings and ends of sentences unnecessary; they were there for overlapping."
    • Reportedly, the average word per minute pace in this picture is 240, compared to the typical speed of approximately 140 words per minute in a normal conversation. I found in my research that His Girl Friday has nine scenes containing a minimum of four words each second and two or more scenes paced at over five words per second. Consider that the final screenplay tallied 191 pages; usually, each page equates to 60 to 90 seconds of screen time. Yet this movie’s run time is merely 92 minutes.
    • Instead of the common practice at the time of relying on a single boom mike, the filmmakers chose to employ several microphones; technical limitations of the day forced the sound technician to turn microphones on and off as needed on cue to capture the sound, with certain scenes calling for switching up to 35 microphones on and off as needed.
    • Additionally, Hawks allowed his actors to use ad-libbing and improvisation to generate more realistic discourse.
  • This would have been a groundbreaking portrayal of a smart, autonomous, resourceful, strong-willed female lead—a woman character who was treated as a professional equal by her male counterpart, a rarity for a Hollywood film up to this time.
    • This picture deserves credit, as well, for exploring and bending gender politics. Danny Peary, author of Guide for the Film Fanatic, wrote that the movie “is not so much about the traditional battle of the sexes as it is about sexual differentiation. Hawks repeatedly shows that when characters put their guards down, they take on characteristics of the opposite sex and stop paying attention to others' genders. When no one's looking, the tough-talking male reporters become as gossipy as a women's bridge group.”
  • His Girl Friday also marked an evolutionary milestone for the screwball comedy. According to Lauren Rabinovitz, author of The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers: “His Girl Friday was the first screwball comedy to depart from the money-marriage-ego conflicts of Holiday [1938], My Man Godfrey [1936], and The Philadelphia Story [1940], inserting into the same comic structure and pattern of action a conflict between career and marriage."
  • His Girl Friday helped solidify the newspaper story subgenre, as well. It’s been cited by many as one of the most important and beloved films ever made about journalism, and one that, upon its release, supposedly inspired many to pursue a career in the press. Ponder the many films about the newspaper biz that immediately followed in His Girl Friday’s wake, including Foreign Correspondent, The Philadelphia Story, Citizen Kane, Meet John Doe, and Penny Serenade.
  • It’s also an early example of a meta-movie: one that slyly comments on the motion picture biz by providing amusing references to Archie Leach (Grant’s real name) and Ralph Bellamy, who plays Bruce and who portrayed a similar third wheel suitor in The Awful Truth three years earlier.

How and why is Hildy Johnson an important female character, especially compared to typical female characters in Hollywood films of this time?

  • Hildy is a sharp tack with agency to spare. She can hold her own with the ultra-clever uber-conniver Walter. Witness how the boys in the newsroom treat her with more respect and admiration than virtually everyone else they encounter, including other females like Mollie Malloy or Mrs. Baldwin and most male characters, too.
  • At this time, women in films, and real life, were expected to get married at a young age, have children, tend house, cook the meals and put career aspirations on hold in deference to patriarchal pressures. Hildy proves that a determined and skilled female can defy those expectations and live a fulfilling and exciting life—even in a profession dominated by men.

What’s the moral of the story here? What themes or messages are explored in His Girl Friday?

  • Stay true to yourself and your talents. We see how, by the denouement, Hildy is relieved that she has reunited with Walter, will continue as an in-demand journalist, and has avoided the temptation to settle down and live a life of likely spousal subservience in the ’burbs with someone who is not her intellectual and emotional equal.
  • The importance of adapting to a chaotic and rapidly changing world. Viewers observe how Hildy rolls with the changes thrown at her—how she impressively multitasks and quickly pivots to situations as they abruptly shift. There’s a value to thinking quickly on your feet, talking faster than the other person, and doing what it takes to “get the story,” as this intrepid female reporter does.
  • Opposites don’t attract after all. Hildy and Bruce are kind and courteous to each other, at least in the beginning. But they just aren’t cut from the same cloth, and they aren’t destined to make each other happy. Walter and Hildy, by contrast, seem made for and deserving of each other.

What elements from this movie have aged well, and what elements are showing some wrinkles?

  • The headstrong, intelligent, and thick-skinned character of Hildy is refreshing to see in a film from 1940, preventing the movie from standing as a dated relic of antiquated gender politics.
  • The material here isn’t dumbed down for the audience; you still have to pay close attention to the dialogue and character interplays to understand and appreciate His Girl Friday.
  • Some things can make a modern viewer wince, including the murder of a black police officer and use of the word “pickaninny” (referring to a small black child).
  • There are some anachronisms to parse, including the concept of “production for use” and some topical and political references that 1940 audiences may have picked up on.

How are we supposed to think and feel about Walter and Hildy, considering their amorality, yellow journalism tactics, and unlawful behavior?

  • The bygone context helps. We see a sort of disclaimer at the start of the film that this story occurred years ago and tries to briefly explain that this is how the journalism profession used to operate.
  • Moreover, I believe we can abide their behavior thanks to Hawks’ unique style. Hawks is known for often focusing on skilled professionals within an insular environment—experts who are driven by a love of their work and a code of professionalism and camaraderie without being encumbered by sentimentality. We are meant to believe that Hildy and Walter are the best at what they do, even if what they do is create sensationalistic journalism without ethics. There’s something to be admired in that kind of talent.
  • Also, despite the cramped milieu of basically three or four main sets, Hawks—known for being a director of action pictures—keeps things kinetic and moving by having speedily-spoken words and sudden dramatic and comedic twists function as the action elements in what would otherwise be essentially the prosaic filming of a stage play. In other words, the medium-tight compositions, masterful editing, and intense focus on verbiage help distract us from any moral dilemmas we may feel. This is ultimately an action movie, only it uses words and abrupt plot twists instead of car chases, combat, or explosions to keep us riveted.

What is this film’s greatest gift to viewers?

  • Besides the impeccable casting—including the brilliance of using Ralph Bellamy as yet another comical love interest who loses the girl to Cary Grant and the use of so many great character actors, from Porter Hall and Gene Lockhart to Roscoe Karns, Billy Gilbert and Abner Biberman—this movie’s greatest gift is its snappy discourse—the astounding verbal gymnastics aced by the actors and the characters they portray. Many films impress with their masterful visuals and compositions; His Girl Friday stands out instead for its words and their breakneck tempo and rhythm. It’s probably less funny than it is fascinating for its wordplay and the dynamism of its two leads. 


His girl Molly spills screwball secrets on Cineversary

Monday, July 20, 2020

In Cineversary podcast episode #25, host Erik Martin journeys back to the newsroom, circa 1940, with feminist film critic extraordinaire Molly Haskell, author of the groundbreaking cinema text "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies," to celebrate the 80th anniversary of quite possibly the best screwball comedy ever made, "His Girl Friday," directed by Howard Hawks. Erik and Molly examine why this film is worth honoring all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.

Molly Haskell
To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Google Play Music, PodBean, RadioPublic, and Overcast.

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One man's detour is another man's femme fatale fork in the road

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

What's the greatest B-movie ever made? It could be Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Some nominate Night of the Living Dead. But the answer for many is Detour, a picture made by a poverty row studio in 1945 that got the Criterion Collection treatment and has earned a rightful place of deep admiration from film critics, scholars, and fans over the decades. Our CineVerse group put this movie under the magnifying glass last week and offered answers to the following questions: 

What classic characteristics of film noir are at work in Detour?

  • A femme fatale leading men into danger.
  • A dark, pessimistic, and fatalistic world view that espouses doomed destinies for one or more main characters.
  • A first-person voiceover narration.
  • Hardboiled dialogue that employs the wisecracking vernacular of the sinners who inhabit the urban jungle.
  • High-contrast, low-key lighting that creates deep blacks and dark shadows, especially darkness that obscures the faces, bodies, and surrounding environments of the lead characters.

What was surprising, unexpected, or curious about Detour to you?

  • The film looks cheap—it’s only 69 minutes long and the production values are bargain basement—yet its visually and narratively arresting because it’s a well-written yarn with bona fide noir esthetics and adroit stylistic choices.
  • We’ve never heard of these actors—especially Tom Neal and Ann Savage—and yet they seem well cast and deliver impressive performances. Neal is perfect at evoking sympathy and relatability with his sad-sack countenance and down-on-his-luck physical passivity, while Savage looks and acts like the bride of Satan.
  • Savage’s Vera is arguably the most corrosive and utterly evil femme fatale ever etched on celluloid. She embodies no redeemable, sympathetic, or sentimental qualities and is consistent and unrelenting in her wickedness. The trashy hairstyle, dark eyes, and acerbic tongue make for a truly enduring performance.
  • Al is one of the most passive and weak-minded noir leads every created. Roger Ebert wrote: “The difference between a crime film and a noir film is that the bad guys in crime movies know they're bad and want to be, while a noir hero thinks he's a good guy who has been ambushed by life. Al Roberts complains to us: ‘Whichever way you turn, fate sticks out a foot to trip you.’ Most noir heroes are defeated through their weaknesses. Few have been weaker than Roberts. He narrates the movie by speaking directly to the audience, mostly in a self-pitying whine. He's pleading his case, complaining that life hasn't given him a fair break.” Ebert also wrote: “Of course, Al could simply escape from her. Sure, she has the key to the room, but any woman who kills a bottle of booze in a night can be dodged fairly easily. Al stays because he wants to stay. He wallows in mistreatment.”

Is there more than one way to interpret this story?

  • It can be taken literally, in which we easily accept what Al is telling us and believe that he’s the unluckiest soul ever to grace the pages of pulp fiction, a relatively innocent victim of one terrible circumstance after another.
  • Other film critics and scholars posit that Al is not a reliable narrator: that he’s conjured up, for him, a psychologically acceptable rationalization for everything that has occurred. In essence, he’s “talked” himself and us into believing that he’s not responsible for the deaths and crimes that have occurred so as to rid himself of the associated guilt and concoct a plausible alibi—at least to himself. But it’s entirely possible that he did intentionally kill and steal from Haskell and murder Vera. This interpretation makes the movie that much more fascinating and worthy of a rewatch to look for holes in Al’s story, including:
    • the likely disparity between the real down-on-her-luck Sue and the elusive golden-throated goddess he describes her as and that we see in his flashback;
    • the implausibility of Al being an innocent bystander to Haskell’s death and then, against all odds, later picking up the very girl who fought with and knew Haskell.
    • the last scene, which may be imaginary or real. All the flashbacks we watch occur in the diner. But at the end, Al leaves the diner and we see him picked up by a police officer as he says, “Yes. Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all.” This could be happening in real time, or it could be a flashback of regret that Al has after he’s been incarcerated. Or it may not have happened at all, existing as an imaginary reminder to Al, and us, that he’s a doomed man and it’s only a matter of time until he’s caught.

Other films directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

  • People on Sunday
  • The Black Cat starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff


It's a dog-eat-dog world out there

Friday, July 3, 2020

Amores Perros can be a challenging watch, especially for dog lovers and those averse to graphic violence in their chosen motion pictures. But those who stick it out are rewarded in their realization that this richly layered film boasts many truths and insightful observations about the human experience and the precarious nature of relationships--or lack thereof. Our CineVerse group's post-viewing discussion covered several fascinating topics, including the following:

What did you find interesting, unexpected, or memorable about this film?

  • While all the acting performances are top-notch, the dogs are arguably the best actors if we are to believe that none were hurt during the making of the movie.
  • The filmmakers employ unique approaches for each of the three segments. In story #1, we’re shown more close-ups; story #2 relies more on medium-shots; and story #3 more commonly uses long shots and densely layered compositions from a farther distance. The film stock and color tones are different for each segment, as well.

Themes woven into Amores Perros

  • Fidelity and disloyalty, as demonstrated by many characters, including Octavio, Susana and Ramiro, and Daniel and Valeria. Because dogs are synonymous with loyalty and obedience, they are also fitting characters within the film.
  • Man’s best friend is representational of his owner.
    • Consider how Cofi is introduced as a companion pet but devolves into a violent killer, similar to Octavio and Ramiro. Ponder how Ritchie is pampered and coddled like Valeria, but ends up lost and injured, much like its owner, who isn’t in control of her life just as she lacks control of her pet. And think about how Cofi is eventually taken in by El Chivo; but as with his new owner, he kills those around him, causing the homeless man to reevaluate his life and the negativity he is responsible for, which leads him to change.
    • Due to the chaotic and unstable lives of their masters, every dog we see ends up suffering, becoming more violent, or becoming the victim of violence by the tale’s conclusion.
  • The haphazard impact of fate upon different walks of life. The car crash, shared by all three main characters, is a violent random occurrence that appears less preordained than indiscriminate, random, and unpredictable.
    • We also observe three different social classes in this picture: the upper class (Valeria and Daniel); the lower-middle class (Octavio, Susana, and Ramiro), and the poor lower class (El Chivo).
    • Blogger Natalie Stendall wrote: “The transient connections between lives – the unexpected, fleeting crossovers – suggest a bigger, metaphysical presence in the universe. In the moments leading up to the second and third times we see the car crash, we anticipate it, we can feel it is about to happen. But we’re always shocked when it does. The context is different each time and so are the angles it’s captured from, more details are revealed. This peculiar blend of anticipation and surprise draws our attention to the interconnected nature of life.”
  • The interconnectedness of human beings and how we all experience both joy and suffering and share common emotions, including love, hate, lust, fear, longing, and loneliness.
  • Unrequited love, and the challenge of finding and sharing love in a cruel and complex world. Recall how Octavio doesn’t end up with Susana; Valeria loves Ritchie more than Daniel, but Ritchie abandons her and Daniel may be cheating on her as he did with his wife; and El Chivo wants to be a part of his estranged daughter’s life but knows he probably can’t.
  • Redemption. This is possibly achieved by El Chivo but not the other characters—whom we see in melancholy, somber moods of defeat at the ends of their stories.
  • “We are also what we have lost.” These words are displayed at the conclusion of the film and suggest that suffering, estrangement, separation, betrayal, and unreciprocated love are all part of the human experience and factor into the persons we become.

Many of the stories and characters share commonalities. Can you name any?

  • All three stories conclude with the main character alone and presumably left unloved by someone they adore.
  • Story #1 and 3 depict brothers who try to harm or murder each other.
  • Each of the three stories and main characters is involved in a violent car crash, the point at which all three tales and personalities intersect.
  • All three segments feature dogs, especially canines that end up suffering or dying.
  • Each segment depicts a father who doesn’t fulfill his responsibility to his children or abandons them.

Other movies that Amores Perros brings to mind

  • Hyperlink films that contain different storylines and characters who eventually converge and cross paths, including Pulp Fiction, Crash, Grand Canyon, and Short Cuts
  • Non-linear narratives that employ time shifts and which may revisit scenes told from another perspective, including Pulp Fiction, Mulholland Drive, Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Godfather Part II, Once Upon a Time in America, and Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Films by surrealist director Luis Bunuel, including Tristana and Los Olivados
  • Dekalog by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Other notable works by Alejandro González Iñárritu

  • 21 Grams
  • Babel
  • Birdman
  • The Revenant


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