At the Guardian’s Film Blog, director Alfonso CuarÃ³n writes that he doesn’t feel the success of his film and the films of IÃ±Ã¡rritu and Del Toro should be chalked up as a triumph for Mexican cinema because they’re not really Mexican:
What I resent, however, is the notion that the Oscars are somehow bestowing legitimacy on Mexican cinema. We don’t need this legitimacy… It is also dangerous to view us as somehow "representing Mexican cinema". Of course Alejandro, Guillermo and I are rooted in Mexico. But we are also a part of everything else as well. Children of Men is set in London, Pan’s Labyrinth in Spain, while Alejandro shot Babel in a variety of languages and in locations ranging from Japan to California to Morocco. On the one hand these can be viewed as Mexican pictures; on the other, they are films that defy the usual nationalistic criteria.
Completely fair, though the Mexican cinema label was more convenient journalistic shorthand than trend analysis, at least from what we saw. What we find more exciting is the way CuarÃ³n and Del Toro have made uncompromisingly arty genre films â€” that is something we’d like to see as a trend.
At the Globe and Mail, Edward Wilkinson Latham talks to "The Lives of Others" director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck about the animus for the film, a national rise of ostalgie, "a cultish nostalgia for life behind the Iron Curtain in the former German Democratic Republic":
The more popular I saw ostalgie becoming, the more I felt it imperative to get my film made. I could ask a teenager on the street in Germany what the former GDR stood for or what it was it like to live there and they would describe it as ‘cool’ or a ‘slightly quaint place,’ unaware of the brutal control or even that it was one of few Communist systems that openly called itself a dictatorship of the proletariat.
At the Observer, Mark Kermode wonders at the portrait of England painted by these year’s Oscar nominees: "[I]s the portrait of Britain painted by this year’s strong turnout a genuine snapshot of UK film-making talent or a picture postcard of cabbages and queens?" Clearly, he’s thinking cabbage/queen.
And at the New York Times, La Manohla claims tragedy fatigue when it comes to American-produced films about tough times in Africa:
Most American films about Africa mean well, at least those without Bruce Willis, and even openly commercial studio fare like â€œBlood Diamondâ€ wears its bleeding, thudding heart on its sleeve. But what, exactly, are we meant to do with all their images, I wonder? Like â€œThe Constant Gardenerâ€ and â€œCatch a Fire,â€ two other thrillers set in Africa, â€œBlood Diamondâ€ was designed to make money, not instigate change. Watching Leonardo DiCaprio share the screen with genuine handless black Africans or Ralph Fiennesâ€™s gardener learn a lesson in postcolonial realpolitik while I munch my popcorn doesnâ€™t rouse me to action; it stirs horror, pity, sometimes repulsion, sentiments that linger uneasily until the action starts up again to sweep away that empathy with another explosion, gunfight or rousing chase.
+ Film-makers without borders (Guardian)
+ Ostalgie: Do you miss the Stasi, too? (Globe and Mail)
+ Oscar tunnel vision prefers a regal view of Britain (Observer)
+ Africa, at the Cineplex (NY Times)