No film embodied the brash, unfettered spirit of the current movie scene more than Y Tu Mamà También, Alfonso Cuarón’s seductive, ribald and ultimately heartbreaking road movie. Encompassing the freewheeling élan of the French New Wave, the personal and sociopolitical fervor of the 1960’s and 70’s and the independent aftershocks that followed, Cuarón’s ebullient hit felt its power last year in the arthouse, the multiplex and the living room.
It’s too early to predict whether it will go on to symbolize a golden age of filmmaking. What is certain is that Cuarón is not alone. The new millennium has seen similarly spirited works ignite cultural moments in their own right, from the sci-fi freakout of Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, which resuscitated the moribund midnight movie, to the meta high-jinks of Spike Jonze’s Adaptation. From other corners of the world emerged Zacharias Kunuk’s Inuit epic, The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat), shot on digital video in the Arctic tundra, and Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark, a ravishing journey through the ages that unravels in one single swoon-inducing 87-minute take through the Hermitage Museum. This year, the Brazilian crime saga City of God, surveying three decades of urban warfare in Rio’s most squalid slums, injected a stylish ultraviolent swagger to moviegoing not seen since Pulp Fiction. Even a studio hit like Chicago builds on what Dancer in the Dark and Moulin Rouge had previously insisted: that the movie musical has not gone the way of the western.
Distinct personalities are emerging, too, as evidenced by the filmmakers profiled on these pages. These trailblazers don’t simply embody the spirit that exploded in the wake of También — they are also energized by a vital new fluidity coursing through the film world that permits them to transcend studio dominion, target audiences and geographical borders. Not quite indie, and not above working with major studios, this new wave directs personal films as well as commercial hits. Take Cuarón, who was nominated, along with his brother, for an Oscar for best original screenplay. Who else could go from the randy sexual variations of Y Tu Mamà También to hormonal lust in the halls of Hogwarts? The Mexican maverick has taken over the Harry Potter franchise in one of the slyest directorial coups in years. And you know it’s in capable hands. An oeuvre including both Y Tu Mamà También and the wondrous 1995 children’s film A Little Princess suggests a new kind of breathless indeed.
Cinephiles love an enfant terrible, but with Pedro Almodóvar settling into tasteful middle age, it’s the French upstart Ozon, 35, who has been passed the torch of cinematic unruliness. As John Waters has said, it takes someone with impeccable taste to recognize bad taste. Perhaps this is why the tawdry make-out scene between Catherine Deneuve and Fanny Ardant in Ozon’s musical murder mystery 8 Women was such a go-for-baroque hoot. “I wanted France’s best actresses, and I got them,” Ozon says. “But you have to be careful about what you wish for — the first day of the shoot, I thought I was going to have to cut myself into eight, because each actress had a different way of working.” Ozon has just directed Charlotte Rampling in a thriller, Swimming Pool, his first English-language feature. Photographed in Paris in the building where he will be shooting a new film, Ozon wears a Paul Smith Jeans cotton shirt, $95, and denim jeans, $140. At Paul Smith, 108 Fifth Avenue. Barneys New York.
A boyish semiotics graduate from Brown and a trailblazer during indie cinema’s hungrier years, Haynes now holds court at awards dinners alongside his Oscar-nominated leading lady, Julianne Moore. In his revisionist melodrama Far From Heaven, a deft imitation of Imitation of Life, Haynes, 42, searched for authenticity in the artificial and in the process exposed all that heaven forbids. And Moore, as a 1950s housewife whose perfect life comes unraveled, delivered her most wrenching performance yet. “The thing about Julianne is that she’s not interested in characters that redeem her as a likable or attractive actor,” Haynes says of Moore. “She’s interested in difficult, elusive and inarticulate people whose crises are often left unresolved.” Seated with Moore and chatting with the director Anthony Minghella at the National Board of Review dinner at Tavern on the Green, Hayes wears a Prada blue pinstripe suit, $1,845, white cotton dress shirt, $255, and tie. At Prada stores. Grooming: Nikki Paton at independentny.com for Kiehl’s. Tailoring: Brenda Barr.
Budding directors who dream of Oscar should pay attention to the careers of Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall and Stephen Daldry, Hollywood’s gilded triumvirate of theater professionals who sealed the fourth wall and watched as Oscar nominations poured in. With the help of the screenwriter David Hare, Daldry, 42, transformed Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Hours (a multilayered meditation on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, spanning three lives and three eras), into a film of surprising grace and control. Two more great American novels await the English director’s golden touch: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, with a script by Hare. Shown in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he filmed some of The Hours — which garnered several Oscar nods, including for best director and picture — Daldry wears a Helmut Lang black wool suit, $1,370, and gray cotton poplin shirt, $210. For information, go to helmutlang.com. Hair: Vaughn Acord for Bumble and bumble. Tailoring by Curtis Garrett.
In the digital-video feature Personal Velocity, the writer-director Miller, 40, located quiet moments of contemplation for three diverse women seeking solace from the men in their lives. “It was a low-budget shoot, and yet I felt very luxurious with the stock,” she says. “You felt more inclined to be experimental: tiny little zoom-ins, details like rain on a window or an extreme close-up of an eye. There’s a kind of attitude with digital video because the tape is so inexpensive.” The daughter of Arthur Miller, she spends much of her time in Ireland, where she is at work developing her next feature, Rose and the Snake. Miller, who is married to Daniel Day-Lewis, stretches out at the Mercer Hotel in SoHo in a Dolce & Gabbana dark brown two-piece suit, $1,418, and white cotton tuxedo shirt, $555. At Dolce & Gabbana boutiques. Robert Talbott pocket square. Sergio Rossi shoes. Hair: Vaughn Acord for Bumble and bumble. Makeup: Elie Maalouf for Arthousemanagement.com. Tailoring: Brenda Barr.
While most kids learned the finer points of free throws from Dad, Nick Cassavetes, 43, got a crash course in independent filmmaking from the movement’s founding father — his own father, John Cassavetes, who died in 1989. Nick has worked as an actor and recently as a producer, but it was as the director of the gritty 1997 indie film She’s So Lovely, fleshed out in script form from Dad’s shorthand, that he forged his own reputation. Next up is the period drama The Notebook, starring his mother, Gena Rowlands, and Ryan Gosling. Based on the Nicholas Sparks best-seller, it’s a far cry from the raw realism typically associated with the Cassavetes name, though no less personal. “It’s a story about love, which is the through line for all my films,” he says. Cassavetes is shown in Charleston, S.C., on the set of The Notebook, in a Giorgio Armani Classico brown and tan wool sport coat, $1,925, and Giorgio Armani tan cotton blend shirt, $695. At selected Giorgio Armani boutiques.
The death knell has sounded so often for the movie musical that Chicago arrived with little fanfare before announcing itself almost overnight as a potent Oscar contender as best picture. The director-choreographer Marshall, 42, who is up for an Oscar as best director, understood the darker depths of Kander and Ebb’s music and Bob Fosse’s original staging, having worked on the Broadway revival of Cabaret. With the screenwriter Bill Condon’s help, he restaged the musical numbers inside Roxie Hart’s head, putting a new spin on that age-old compulsion for celebrity and fame. “Sometimes I think people forget the rules along the way; they think they can just open their mouth and sing,” he says. “The songs have got to come from the story; they have to feel organic to the piece.” He is shown at a VH1 interview in a Tom Ford for Gucci black pinstripe wool and cashmere suit, $1,890, and gray cotton shirt, $230. Suit at Barneys New York. Shirt at Bergdorf Goodman Men. Gucci belt. Hugo Boss shoes. Grooming: Vaughn Acord for Bumble and bumble. Tailoring: Keke Cheng.
The New York Times Men’s Fashion of the Times Portfolio Spring 2003
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