Alejandro González Iñárritu laments the primacy of style over substance in contemporary cinema.
During a wide-ranging discussion in London about his career so far, the two-time Oscar winner took to the stage and said: "I don't care about quality. I'm very attached when I meet new directors." Many things these days look good but have no soul.
The director also admits that the expectations of the audience have changed, saying that the 21 gram film he made in 2003, "Fathanin", is impossible to make today. "I don't know if we can make this movie today" because it is very interesting for the audience. People need to eat [more than before]."
Bardo, the director's first film since Leonardo DiCaprio's The Revenant in 2015, is a fictional chronicle. His eighth film marks his return to his native Mexico since his first film, Amors Perros.
An existential film, Bardo explores family relationships, cultural identity, and the work of an artist. Reminiscent of Fellini's 8½, Iñárritu uses dark narrative conventions, using the absurd as a vehicle for a compelling central theme in lighthearted support.
After mixed reviews at its Venice premiere (later overshadowed by Telluride), the director returned to the editing room and trimmed it down to 22 minutes. In a previous interview with IndieWire, he explained that watching the films in public offers a new perspective: some scenes were cut, others were interspersed and some were re-edited. He believes that the result is a "tight" film.
"I put everything I had into the Bardo," he said in London. "Now I have nothing to give, I give everything: heart, soul, attention." He continued: "['Bardo'] I didn't want to do it, I had to do it."
Iñárritu said he was "tired" of the trademark multi-narrative approach of the 2010s "Beautiful" and needed to switch gears. "I'm tired of being so structured," he said. "I wanted to see what it was like to make a film about someone. I didn't know if I could do it. It was terrifying to keep the flow of the narrative."
Elsewhere, Iñárritu recalls his "shocking experience" watching the 2015 Oscars for Birdman. "I've never laughed on set before. I laughed so hard I was ruining the show." "I had fun doing (the film), which has never happened to me before," he joked.
Iñárritu spoke warmly of his long friendship with Guillermo del Toro since the creation of Amores Perros. Speaking about how the director was involved in a heated debate over the placement of the triptych, del Toro argued that the second floor should be removed entirely. Following a three-day home visit by the young director's mentor, the pair reviewed Enrique's cut. The latter vision has been preserved, albeit with minor revisions under Del Toro's direction.
"Bardo" was shown as a main gala at the London Film Festival. It will be released in theaters on November 18 and on Netflix on December 16.
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