Amores Perros
Starring:

 

  • Emilio Echevarria
  • Gael Garcia
  • Goya Toleda
  • Vanessa Bauche
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Directed by the Mexican Quinten Tarantino "And seriously. I was listening to this Beatles album last week and they thought I should be paroled."

 

Who Let the Dogs Out?

     I can’t presume that the Mexico City Chamber of Commerce is going to be thrilled with Amores Perros, one of the nominees for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars last year. The film portrays the world’s largest city as a place where the poor are equated with rats, the middle class are scrappy mercenaries, and the rich deserve their violent fates. This might sound somewhat unpleasant, but the frantic pace and the melodramatic tone of the film make for a deep and provocative character study.

      Ground zero is a car wreck in the rush hour of downtown. It’s a pretty ugly scene, and it gets uglier every time the audience witnesses. And we get to see it from each of the three main characters. There is El Chivo (Echevarria), a homeless guy with a shady past and a whole lot of stray dogs that follow him around. And then there’s Valeria (Toleda), a supermodel with a crisis and a really prissy dog (who also has a crisis.). Finally, we get to Octavio (Garcia), a guy who has the hots for his brother’s girlfriend and has a very angry dog. The film cuts back and forth between all of these stories in the Tarantino mode, showing us details that we did not see earlier and motivations that would have been unlikely.

      But in the case of this film, as opposed to the endless amounts of Pulp Fiction-esque films of the past seven years, the narrative focus is more interested in the nuances of the characters. It’s really not fair to go into the nitty gritty of these people and their thought process, except I really need to brag on the way the flick uses the title animals in order to accentuate relationships. Octavio, the guy who digs his future sister-in-law, takes his brother’s dog to the fights in order to raise money for an escape from the family household. Valeria’s dog becomes a victim quite in the same way her owner has, and El Chivo’ s swarm of dogs represent the baggage of his past mistakes. It’s kind of like Best in Show, except a lot more sad and just a tad bit more desperate.

       And all of that makes it sound pretty depressing as well, so let me digress once again by saying that the film takes a lot of fun and energy in telling its stories without losing the edge. Indeed, some of the best moments in the film play like the soap operas where Selma Hayek received her start. Every character has a love lost or a love to strive for. Love IS a bitch, the filmmaker’s tell us, but it is also a force that can drive people beyond things like dreams and plans. "Plans are what we tell God so He can have a good laugh," one character says at a pivotal moment. Now, isn’t that an absurdly tragic line. And Amores Perros is one of those few films that can exist in both worlds. A world where the tragic and the absurd are blurred.

* FOOTNOTE: This is an awkwardly timed review. For anyone reading this outside of the fly over states, Amores Perros is probably long gone. And for everyone else, who is about 99 percent of our readership, this film is only playing in select, cultural astute college towns in the area like Lawrence, KS or Columbia, MO. If any of these said readers get the chance, please for the love of everything holy, go check this film out. It will give you a chance to check out a quality flick and maybe these film distributors will figure out that there are at least a few of us out here who are willing to spend five bucks to read stuff at the bottom of a screen. Unless you’re Jon Stewart, and wouldn’t spend five bucks to read anything except People’s Celebrity Wedding Edition

The Pitch:
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2 Best in Show's
+
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2 Robert Rodriguez's
Equals
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4 for Amores Perros