Alfonso Cuaron Reviews

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Solo Con Tu Pareja (English Subtitled)

Review No children. No future. No hope. In the year 2027, eighteen years since the last baby was born, disillusioned Theo (Clive Owen) becomes an unlikely champion of the human race when he is asked by his former lover (Julianne Moore) to escort a young pregnant woman out of the country as quickly as possible. In a thrilling race against time, Theo will risk everything to deliver the miracle the whole world has been waiting for. Co-starring Michael Caine, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is the powerful film Pete Hammond of Maxim calls “magnificent … a unique and totally original vision.”
A Little Princess

Review Presenting a bleak, harrowing, and yet ultimately hopeful vision of humankind's not-too-distant future, Children of Men is a riveting cautionary tale of potential things to come. Set in the crisis-ravaged future of 2027, and based on the atypical 1993 novel by British mystery writer P.D. James, the anxiety-inducing, action-packed story is set in a dystopian England where humanity has become infertile (the last baby was born in 2009), immigration is a crime, refugees (or "fugees") are caged like animals, and the world has been torn apart by nuclear fallout, rampant terrorism, and political rebellion. In this seemingly hopeless landscape of hardscrabble survival, a jaded bureaucrat named Theo (Clive Owen) is drawn into a desperate struggle to deliver Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), the world's only pregnant woman, to a secret group called the Human Project that hopes to discover a cure for global infertility. As they carefully navigate between the battling forces of military police and a pro-immigration insurgency, Theo, Kee, and their secretive allies endure a death-defying ordeal of urban warfare, and director Alfonso Cuaron (with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) capture the action with you-are-there intensity. There's just enough humor to balance the film's darker content (much of it coming from Michael Caine, as Theo's aging hippie cohort), and although Children of Men glosses over many of the specifics about its sociopolitical worst-case scenario (which includes Julianne Moore in a brief but pivotal role), it's still an immensely satisfying, pulse-pounding vision of a future that represents a frightening extrapolation of early 21st-century history. --Jeff Shannon
Great Expectations (1998)

Review On a rowdy road trip, a beautiful "older woman" schools two eager teenage boys in the finer points of passion.
The Man Who Wasn't There

Review Before Alfonso Cuarón helmed the international sensation Y tu mamá también, he made his mark on Mexican cinema with the ribald and lightning-quick contemporary social satire Sólo con tu pareja. Don Juan-ish yuppie Tomás Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho, from Bad Education) spends his nights juggling so many beautiful women that he can’t keep their names straight—until one of his many conquests, a spurned nurse, gives him a taste of his own medicine. Beautifully filmed in widescreen by the inimitable Emmanuel Lubezki (The New World), Cuarón’s wildly successful feature debut (which has never been released in the U.S.) gave voice to a Mexican middle-class that had remained largely unseen onscreen, and surveys contemporary urban sexual mores with style to spare.
Rudo y Cursi

Review A fast-paced romantic comedy, Slo con tu pareja was director Alfonso Cuarn's ticket to a bright and promising future. Inspired by the classic screwball comedies of Ernst Lubitsch, this social satire (the title translates as "Only with Your Partner") was Cuarn's feature debut, but because it was a state-funded film that poked fun at Mexican culture, it was initially withheld from release by the Mexican government, only to become a critical and popular success when it was finally released in Mexico in 1991. (It wasn't released in the U.S. until 2006.) A remarkably polished debut, it offered ample proof that Cuarn was a talent to watch, as proven by the films Cuarn would later direct both in and out of Hollywood, including A Little Princess (1995), Great Expectations (1998), Y tu mam tambin (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and the near-future thriller Children of Men (2006). The talent behind those later films is fully evident here, and from a lively script by his brother Carlos, Cuarn concocts a frothy farce about a reckless playboy named Toms (Daniel Gimnez Cacho, from Almodovar's Bad Education) whose bed-hopping catches up with him when his latest conquest, a sexy nurse, falsely checks the "positive" box on his latest AIDS test to curtail Toms's rampant womanizing.

Now wait a minute... this is a comedy with AIDS humor, from 1991? This was certainly a bold move from the Cuarn brothers, but the humor is handled with graceful style, and as Toms grows affectionately obsessed with a gorgeous neighbor in his Mexico City apartment building, his once-thriving love life grows increasingly (and comedically) complicated. The casting is flawless, the slapstick humor is impeccably timed, and the film is technically blessed by the brilliant cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, who supervised this high-definition digital transfer to DVD, and who followed Cuarn on a mutual path to international acclaim. Thematically enriched by Mozart's Don Giovanni (heard throughout the soundtrack), Slo con tu pareja can now be appreciated as a well-crafted launching pad for one of the most consistently impressive filmmakers of the early 21st century. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
The Criterion Collection supplements for Slo con tu pareja are nearly as enjoyable as the film itself. "Making Slo con tu pareja" is a 30-minute documentary (2006) featuring in-depth interviews with Alfonso and Carlos Cuarn and lead actor Daniel Gimnez Cacho. Also included is Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo, a short written and directed by Alfonso Cuarn when he was a film student in 1983; another short film, Noche de bodas ("Wedding Night"), written and directed for Mexican television by Carlos Cuarn in 2000; and the original theatrical trailer for Slo con tu pareja. In the accompanying 28-page booklet, an essay by scholar Ryan F. Long examines the film from the perspective of Mexican culture and politics, and Carlos Cuarn contributes a detailed character history of Toms that was written so Daniel Gimnez Cacho could thoroughly understand the character he was playing. (Other character profiles are available on the Criterion Collection Web site.) It's a fascinating piece of background history, demonstrating the care and detail that went into the creation of this highly enjoyable comedy. --Jeff Shannon


Cria Cuervos (English Subtitled)

Review Desire gives way to passion in a wildly romantic tale of two people from different worlds, linked by destiny, and fated to touch each other's souls.
I Vitelloni (English Subtitled)

Review No children. No future. No hope. In the year 2027, eighteen years since the last baby was born, disillusioned Theo (Clive Owen) becomes an unlikely champion of the human race when he is asked by his former lover (Julianne Moore) to escort a young pregnant woman out of the country as quickly as possible. In a thrilling race against time, Theo will risk everything to deliver the miracle the whole world has been waiting for. Co-starring Michael Caine, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is the powerful film Pete Hammond of Maxim calls “magnificent … a unique and totally original vision.”
Viridiana

Review Presenting a bleak, harrowing, and yet ultimately hopeful vision of humankind's not-too-distant future, Children of Men is a riveting cautionary tale of potential things to come. Set in the crisis-ravaged future of 2027, and based on the atypical 1993 novel by British mystery writer P.D. James, the anxiety-inducing, action-packed story is set in a dystopian England where humanity has become infertile (the last baby was born in 2009), immigration is a crime, refugees (or "fugees") are caged like animals, and the world has been torn apart by nuclear fallout, rampant terrorism, and political rebellion. In this seemingly hopeless landscape of hardscrabble survival, a jaded bureaucrat named Theo (Clive Owen) is drawn into a desperate struggle to deliver Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), the world's only pregnant woman, to a secret group called the Human Project that hopes to discover a cure for global infertility. As they carefully navigate between the battling forces of military police and a pro-immigration insurgency, Theo, Kee, and their secretive allies endure a death-defying ordeal of urban warfare, and director Alfonso Cuaron (with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) capture the action with you-are-there intensity. There's just enough humor to balance the film's darker content (much of it coming from Michael Caine, as Theo's aging hippie cohort), and although Children of Men glosses over many of the specifics about its sociopolitical worst-case scenario (which includes Julianne Moore in a brief but pivotal role), it's still an immensely satisfying, pulse-pounding vision of a future that represents a frightening extrapolation of early 21st-century history. --Jeff Shannon
The Exterminating Angel

Review On a rowdy road trip, a beautiful "older woman" schools two eager teenage boys in the finer points of passion.
Death By Hanging

Review Before Alfonso Cuarón helmed the international sensation Y tu mamá también, he made his mark on Mexican cinema with the ribald and lightning-quick contemporary social satire Sólo con tu pareja. Don Juan-ish yuppie Tomás Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho, from Bad Education) spends his nights juggling so many beautiful women that he can’t keep their names straight—until one of his many conquests, a spurned nurse, gives him a taste of his own medicine. Beautifully filmed in widescreen by the inimitable Emmanuel Lubezki (The New World), Cuarón’s wildly successful feature debut (which has never been released in the U.S.) gave voice to a Mexican middle-class that had remained largely unseen onscreen, and surveys contemporary urban sexual mores with style to spare.
The Ballad of Narayama

Review A fast-paced romantic comedy, Slo con tu pareja was director Alfonso Cuarn's ticket to a bright and promising future. Inspired by the classic screwball comedies of Ernst Lubitsch, this social satire (the title translates as "Only with Your Partner") was Cuarn's feature debut, but because it was a state-funded film that poked fun at Mexican culture, it was initially withheld from release by the Mexican government, only to become a critical and popular success when it was finally released in Mexico in 1991. (It wasn't released in the U.S. until 2006.) A remarkably polished debut, it offered ample proof that Cuarn was a talent to watch, as proven by the films Cuarn would later direct both in and out of Hollywood, including A Little Princess (1995), Great Expectations (1998), Y tu mam tambin (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and the near-future thriller Children of Men (2006). The talent behind those later films is fully evident here, and from a lively script by his brother Carlos, Cuarn concocts a frothy farce about a reckless playboy named Toms (Daniel Gimnez Cacho, from Almodovar's Bad Education) whose bed-hopping catches up with him when his latest conquest, a sexy nurse, falsely checks the "positive" box on his latest AIDS test to curtail Toms's rampant womanizing.

Now wait a minute... this is a comedy with AIDS humor, from 1991? This was certainly a bold move from the Cuarn brothers, but the humor is handled with graceful style, and as Toms grows affectionately obsessed with a gorgeous neighbor in his Mexico City apartment building, his once-thriving love life grows increasingly (and comedically) complicated. The casting is flawless, the slapstick humor is impeccably timed, and the film is technically blessed by the brilliant cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, who supervised this high-definition digital transfer to DVD, and who followed Cuarn on a mutual path to international acclaim. Thematically enriched by Mozart's Don Giovanni (heard throughout the soundtrack), Slo con tu pareja can now be appreciated as a well-crafted launching pad for one of the most consistently impressive filmmakers of the early 21st century. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
The Criterion Collection supplements for Slo con tu pareja are nearly as enjoyable as the film itself. "Making Slo con tu pareja" is a 30-minute documentary (2006) featuring in-depth interviews with Alfonso and Carlos Cuarn and lead actor Daniel Gimnez Cacho. Also included is Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo, a short written and directed by Alfonso Cuarn when he was a film student in 1983; another short film, Noche de bodas ("Wedding Night"), written and directed for Mexican television by Carlos Cuarn in 2000; and the original theatrical trailer for Slo con tu pareja. In the accompanying 28-page booklet, an essay by scholar Ryan F. Long examines the film from the perspective of Mexican culture and politics, and Carlos Cuarn contributes a detailed character history of Toms that was written so Daniel Gimnez Cacho could thoroughly understand the character he was playing. (Other character profiles are available on the Criterion Collection Web site.) It's a fascinating piece of background history, demonstrating the care and detail that went into the creation of this highly enjoyable comedy. --Jeff Shannon


Children of Men [Blu-ray]

Review Desire gives way to passion in a wildly romantic tale of two people from different worlds, linked by destiny, and fated to touch each other's souls.

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