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Feature: Hollywood’s Three Amigos

James Moules tells us why this trio of Mexican filmmakers should have your full attention


It’s a somewhat rare occurrence that such a small group of artists can generate such vast ripples across their medium, but this is exactly what these three Mexican filmmakers—branded with the rather misleading name of ‘The Three Amigos of Cinema’—have achieved. Their combined artistry is arguably up on the same level as the ‘New Hollywood’ movement in the 70s that saw the birth of such talents as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola take to the world stage.

“But why is this name misleading?” I hear you ask. Well, if a majority of cinephiles are to be believed, I don’t think that Hollywood would consider any challenger of the status quo to be their amigo. In our days of mega-franchises, higher-stakes sequels and gritty reboots, it’s not all that often that mainstream attention comes to original and creative filmmakers (unless your name is Christopher Nolan, but even then the description of ‘original’ is somewhat doubtful).

Enter the three directors in question—Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. These three Mexicans have brought us some of the most daring, original and beautiful movies to grace the silver screen in recent years. Each one of them has at least one masterpiece under their respective belts already, and collectively they have five Oscars to boast of (and I doubt that’ll be all they ever get). If you’ve been able to ignore them up until now, it’s going to be hard to do so in the near future.

Alejandro Iñárritu is probably the member of the trio in the centre of the spotlight at the moment, having just won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for his meta-comedy Birdman. Although this writer is one of the film’s few detractors, Iñárritu more than deserved some recognition for his work up until this point. Boasting a filmography consisting of Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel and Biutiful, Iñárritu has given us some great pieces of work that are a the perfect fresh alternative in cinema for anyone exhausted with superheroes and giant fighting robots.

Alfonso Cuarón became the first Latino person to win Best Director last year for his space masterpiece (yes, it is—hate on me all you like) Gravity. Famous in the business for his gorgeous visual style—especially the unbelievably long tracking shots—Alfonso is one of cinema’s true geniuses. He’s the man to thank for what is, hands nailed to the floor, the best of the Harry Potter movies (that being The Prisoner of Azkaban, of course), the energetic sexual odyssey Y Tu Mama Tambien, and the haunting dystopian thriller Children of Men, the latter of which is one of this writer’s personal favourite films. He’ll be influencing young directors for generations to come—I guarantee you that. Gravity is probably the closest thing cinema has yet come to producing a true virtual reality picture that the audience actually experiences rather than merely watches.

And finally, we have Señor del Toro, who has arguably made some of the most giddily entertaining films produced in recent years. After tackling Blade II and Hellboy, del Toro also provided us with one of 21st century cinema’s most moving and thought-provoking masterpieces—Pan’s Labyrinth. This WWII-fantasy drama is a potent allegory for the monstrosity that humanity is capable of achieving if they can merely attain obedience from others. Del Toro has since given us a second Hellboy movie (make a third one already, damn it!) and the wickedly dumb-fun sci-fi flick Pacific Rim. This guy sure loves his monsters.

To put it exceptionally bluntly, just look at that talent up there! These three Mexicans have thrown down the proverbial gauntlet in front of Hollywood, daring all filmmakers out there to think about what their medium is capable of doing. This year, both del Toro and Iñárritu have films being released (Crimson Peak and The Revenant respectively). I say they can’t come soon enough—I’m sure anyone who’s at all familiar with these guys will agree with me on that. If you haven’t seen anything from our Three Amigos, now’s the time to catch up. As they often say, you don’t know what you’re missing.