Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN
DIR: Alfonso Cuaron
SCRIPT: Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Cuaron
Literally translating to “And Your Mother Too”, Y Tu Mama Tambien is a coming-of-age film set in Mexico about two young men and an older woman searching for an invented beach called “la Boca del Cielo”, or “Heaven’s Mouth”. Two teenagers, Tenoch and Julio, entice Luisa to accompany them on a journey that challenges their friendship. It is in la Boca del Cielo where the boys become men, as the raw and rural landscape of Mexico seduce the trio in ways the city couldn’t. We ride along on this bittersweet road trip with these characters and become nostalgic ourselves, as the film leaves plenty of room to ponder. The film is beautifully photographed by frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki, and Cuaron’s trademark long take is a perfect way into the socio-political subtext within the film. The frame gracefully wanders around the scene – the camera movement is robustly choreographed like that of a dance routine. Using these devices, Cuaron maturely depicts immaturity in a way that is neither exploitative nor sugar-coated. It’s an important film in the back-catalogue of Cuaron, who went on to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men and Gravity. Y Tu Mama Tambien is masterful in its vibrant portrayal of the cusp of adolescence and adulthood.
DIR: Bart Layton
SCRIPT: Bart Layton
“This is not based on a true story,” the movie opens. Then the “not based on” disappears, leaving “This is a true story”. American Animals is about four friends who plot a heist to inject excitement into their otherwise mundane lives – it is based on the events that took place in 2004, in Lexington, Kentucky. Their target? $12 million worth of rare books housed at the University of Transylvania library, only guarded by one old librarian. Contrary to the great tradition of glitzy and glamourous caper movies, American Animals juggles into the mix a more somber coming-of-age element. What starts off as a harmless attempt in making their lives ‘special’ quickly twists into something nastier; all spawning out of the shared feeling of wanting more than mediocrity. Writer-Director Bart Layton uses interview footage of the real people involved in the heist throughout the film, which is a device he has used before. Layton’s directorial debut, The Imposter, similarly interweaved re-enactments with documentary footage; the reverse has been done in American Animals, where the narrative is mostly told through actors with interjections from the real criminals. A hugely enjoyable true-crime film, perfect for fans of Making a Murderer and American Vandal.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY
DIR: Peter Weir
SCRIPT: Tom Schulman
Arguably one of the greatest high school dramas, Dead Poets Society tells the story of how English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) inspires his students to live their lives to the fullest. Carpe diem, or ‘seize the day’, a phrase volcanically popularised by the film, perfectly encapsulates Keating’s philosophy and the film’s central theme. Bolstered by resounding performances and an impeccable screenplay, Dead Poets Society remains infinitely relatable up to this day. High school, the time when limitless hopes for the future intersects with the impending realisation of adulthood. How many have wanted to lead extraordinary lives, and how many have given in to reality? John Keating is the mentor we all hope we had, a mentor who encourages us to do the things we want before time runs out. And at the end of the day, it does not really matter whether we had a John Keating in our lives; Dead Poets Society implores us to be the John Keating of other people, to be the captain to those who are lost, simultaneously enriching our own lives. Carpe diem, everybody, carpe diem.