Up close with “Babel” and “Biutiful” Director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

November 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Biutiful”, Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

November 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Javier Bardem commands the screen from start to finish in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s, “Biutiful”. Unlike “Babel” (the director’s previous film) “Biutiful” revolves around a single character—Uxbal, a man as complicated and compelling as “Biutiful” itself. The film is by all means a tragedy, and Bardem plays the part with the heavy melancholy it necessitates. A dark cloud hovers over the entire film as Uxbal fights disease, politics and family. Destiny has him on a downward spiral as he grapples with being a good father in a harsh world, but the film soars in the rare, “Biutiful” moments that appear unexpectedly, making the rest of the film all the more heartbreaking.  These moments are the instances of joy in Uxbal’s life. One connects with the protagonist in this way; if Uxbal is happy, we are happy. His children are the light in his life, and when they’re on screen the scene is sure to be compelling.

What makes “Biutiful” so moving is that it’s a work of realism. Far from being a melodrama, the film feels like an important slice in the life of a complicated man, one that even if on his way down, is incredibly hard not to watch. Bardem succeeds in being the tragic antihero González Iñárritu created. A tragedy moves an audience because the hero is flawed and at the mercy of something greater than himself. It’s hard not to sound obscure when describing “Biutuful,” as its structure mimics that of a classic tragedy. Fate plays a huge role in the life of Uxbal, and though realistic in terms of the relationships with the characters and its setting—the crime underbelly of Barcelona—the film doesn’t shy away from the metaphysical.

World Premiere: “Darkness on the Edge of Town”

November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

A nice complement to Thom Zimny’s documentary, “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town”, comes the World Premiere of “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, a concert film performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in December, 2009, at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, NJ.  Bruce and the band performed the entire 1978 album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”,  just for themselves with no audience.

MAX WEINBERG: “This was my first time seeing the film.  I hadn’t seen the film yet. I think Thom really captured how hard it is do that.  I was fascinated by Bruce’s eyes. I’ve never seen that view of him from the front like that.”

THOM ZIMNY: “I wanted to capture the interplay. Bruce and I talked about what we wanted to achieve.  I held on to a feeling, and Bruce had the idea of bringing the camera in closer to make the audience feel like they were part of the “E Street Band”.  I studied the album and tried to focus on individual parts.  I have an amazing cinematographer, William Rexer, and we really looked at each individual song.”

Q: “When is every album going to be filmed like a concert?”

MAX WEINBERG: “There will be many more opportunities to do this.  There is such vitality with the “E Street Band”.  Thom captured the grit of what it is like to play. He captured the concentration and the difficulty to get the right moment.  He did that so well.  That is what the “E Street Band” is all about, capturing THAT moment.  I would love to see the film again.  It was amazing to watch the contribution.  You internalize it, the songs become part of your life blood. When we rehearsed “Candy’s Room”, it was called “The Fast Song”, if you remember Barry White records, I think that’s what I was thinking. It’s really a privilege to play that music. Each night we play, it is like the first time we’ve played. That is the beauty of the E. Street Band.  When you are playing, that’s not the mix you hear when you are in that moment. We have to make each song sound like it is the first time we’ve ever played it.  The group is sensitive to what everyone one else does. Drum and bass players always talk about locking in, and we just naturally ‘lock in’.  Even when we are rehearsing in Bruce’s living room, it’s as if we are playing Giants Stadium. My 36 years has been an unbelievable privilege.”

THOM ZIMNY: “It was a great Saturday afternoon. There was this calm. There would be this amazing “Candy’s Room”, and when I first got the footage, there was this communication between Bruce who would turn to Max, and Max, who was behind Bruce.  There was this constant interplay, and camera shots that would try to capture this interplay between singer and drums, and bass and drums.”

Q: Will there be any more new material?

MAX WEINBERG: “If Bruce has anything to do with it, there will be many more albums.  We would rehearse from 2-7 pm everyday at Bruce’s house. I don’t know when he ate or slept because he always had new material for us to work on.  I had a tape recorder, and I would tape the rehearsals in order to remember the new material. ”

There is a box set that comes out next week, and for any Bruce Springsteen fans, you will need to take the week off, because there is so much material in there, that you will need to take the entire week off.

I would like to go back on tour.  As many may know, I have free time now.  I am working on 31 night performances and  just did “The Stand Up for Heroes” event last night at the Beacon Theater.  We had 12 horns behind us, and played, “Prove It All Night” and “Kitty’s Back”.  I would like to go back on tour on the sooner side of ‘sooner than later’. When Bruce calls, I’ll be ready.  We played “The Stone Pony” six weeks ago, and then the “Stand Up For Heroes” event last night. We still do it the old fashioned way.”

THOM ZIMNY: “I would like to thank Bruce for allowing me a lot of freedom and his ability to trust me and give me what a filmmaker needs, and that is time, time to explore and edit.   A portion of the proceeds of the film will go to ‘The Danny Federici Melanoma Fund”.

MAX WEINBERG: “I think Danny would be very happy to know that the music lives on. Danny really put that boardwalk sound into the music.”

Article by Sharon Abella

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