8:00 PM, 14th August, 2004
Three lives are brought together by a freak accident - critically ill mathematician Paul (Penn), housewife Christina (Watts), and ex-convict Jack (Del Toro). Guilt, redemption and pain follow the three as they try to pick up their lives in the wake of personal tragedy.
I deliberately haven't told you much of the plot of 21 Grams because one of the best things about the film, for me, was trying to pick up the threads of the story, as it's told in a non-chronological order, with fragments of narrative presented, so that we're constantly readjusting our first impressions of why the characters make the choices they do.
In the acting stakes, Del Toro is the main reason to see the film - Watts and Penn provide perfectly fine performances, but Del Toro has the character with the most to lose, and the hardest journey to travel, and he manages to make us understand why his character would go as frustratingly wrong as he does.
The friends I saw this with disliked it, while I loved it - so obviously, this isn't a film for everyone (although it's in the IMDB top 250, so I'm right and they're wrong). But if you're looking for a film with a bit more depth than usual, this should satisfy.
10:24 PM, 14th August, 2004
Amores Perros ("Love's a Bitch"), the feature debut of Mexican director Alejandro Gonz((aacute))lez I((ntilde))((aacute))rritu, is intense, grimy viewing. Set in Mexico City, the story is told in three interlocking narratives. In the first, a young man begins an affair with his brother's wife and enters his dog into fights to raise money to run away with her. In the second, a crippled supermodel becomes distressed when her dog gets caught underneath the floorboards of her apartment. In the third, a homeless man wanders the streets with his dogs, seeking redemption for his violent life and trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
There are some unsettling moments in Amores Perros. The meeting point of the three stories is a car accident that feels like a hard slap across the face, and the dog fights seem so real that it's sometimes an effort not to look away. The violence in Amores Perros is not there for cheap thrills, but rather to compel your emotional involvement. I((ntilde))((aacute))rritu describes it as a film that digs into your guts, moves your liver and gets under your skin, but can also move your heart. Behind the blood and the bleached colours and the noise is a complicated movie about fate, love, betrayal, class and redemption.