This week welcomes a bevy of new specialty releases, including two-time Oscar winning director Barbara Kopple and co-director Cecilia Peck‘s Dixie Chicks doc “Shut Up & Sing,” which screened at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival. The film examines the popular American band, including the aftermath of lead singer Natalie Maines‘ anti-Bush quote ‘heard around the world.’ The film will join fellow Toronto title, “Death of a President” by Gabriel Range and others in theaters this weekend. The film has sparked controversial debate over its depiction of a fictitious assassination of George W. Bush. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s “Babel” will also be opening in limited release. The film, which earned Inarritu this year’s Best Director prize at the Festival de Cannes in May, is a drama/thriller taking place primarly in three countries: Morocco, Mexico and Japan.
Two of the film’s stars, Gael Garcia Bernal and Rinko Kikuchi took part in a Q & A in New York Wednesday night at a special screening of the film, hosted by the Screen Actors Guild. In the film, which features a group of interwoven stories, Bernal appears as the Mexican nephew of a woman who cares for two American children across the border in San Diego. The chidren’s parents, played by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, encounter trouble while on vacation in a remote Moroccan desert and an investigation of the incident eventually connects them (however loosely) to a young deaf mute in Tokyo, played by newcomer Rinko Kikuchi.
Bernal got his start in the movies with Innaritu, working with the Mexican director in the acclaimed “Amores Perros” in 2000 and said he leapt at the chance to work with him again in this new film. “It was pretty easy for me [to do it]. If Alejandro told me to jump off a cliff naked I think I’d do it,” the native Mexican actor said Wednesday night, smiling.
For Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, working with Innaritu marks a big step in her career as well. “At 15, I got scouted and they wanted me to be a pop star,” she said through an interpreter, “But I thought ‘this isn’t what I want to do,’ so I kept changing agents until it got right.” The young actress didn’t even see the complete script for “Babel” until after shooting, instead focusing on her own storyline in the screenplay.
Playing a young deaf woman in an American movie directed by a native Spanish speaker underscored the vital role that language and communication plays in the film and lead to a unique work process between Innaritu and the young Japanese actress. “During the audition process, Alejandro was already directing me,” she admiitted, “So by the time shooting started, he insisted I communicated with him by sign language.”
Next up, both actors indicated Wednesday that they plan to make comedies.
THE LIST FOR THIS WEEK:
“Babel” (October 27), directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Distributor: Paramount Classics. Official website
“Conversations With God” (October 27), directed by Stephen Simon. Distributor: IDP.Official website
“Shut Up & Sing” (October 27), directed by Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck. Distributor: The Weinstein Company.Official website
“Cocaine Cowboys” (October 27), directed by Billy Corben. Distributor: Magnolia Pictures.Official website
“Climates” (October 27), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Distributor: Zeitgeist Films.Official website
“Absolute Wilson” (October 27), directed by Katharina Otto-Bernstein. Distributor: New Yorker Films.Official website
“20 Centimeters” (October 27), directed by Ramon Salazar. Distributor: TLA Releasing.Official website
“Death of a President” (October 27), directed by Gabriel Range. Distributor: Newmarket Films.Official website
“The Bridge” (October 27), directed by Eric Steel. Distributor: First Stripe Productions.Official website
“Catch A Fire” (October 27), directed by Philip Noyce. Distributor: Focus Features. Official website
“Exit: The Right To Die” (October 25), directed by Fernand Melgar.
Distributor: First Run/Icarus Films. Official website