Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sundance 2009: Mex Masters

No Sundance screening had more clout behind its introduction than Carlos Cuarón's Rudo y Cursi. Usually a film's producers aren't invited up for introductions, but when they also happen to be two of the three directors responsible for resurrecting Mexican cinema, how could festival organizers resist?

Directors Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) came to celebrate the first film of their new production company, formed with Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel). Carlos, who co-wrote his brother Alfonso's Y Tu Mama Tambien, reunited that film's stars, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, in a story of two brothers who break out of their small-town existence to pursue professional soccer careers.

Intentionally leaving out much of the on-field action, Cuaron concentrates on personal comedy and drama as the characters discover that the reality of their careers doesn't match the fantasy. Idolized love, gambling problems and jealousy plague their lives and relationships, steadily building to a brilliant conclusion. When, in the climax, the camera finally turns to an actual sporting event, we know painfully well what the result means to the characters. In the moments leading up to it, the tension was as strong as any sports movie I've seen—it made me sick to my stomach. Talk about a gut reaction. (Jeremy Mathews)


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