Alejandro González Iñárritu’s much-hyped and painfully candid Netflix movie Bard he arrived in Venice, only to be quickly criticized.
It can be quite a sight when critics smell blood in the water, especially if the one bleeding is one of those artists who love to hate. And so it seems to be the case of Alejandro González Iñárritu, the highly dressed director of bird man Y the rebornwho came to Venice with the much-hyped and painfully candid Netflix-financed film Bard (or a false chronicle of a handful of truths), just to take some of a beating.
Iñárritu makes himself a particularly rich target for critics because he makes films with grand intentions, where greatness sometimes seems to announce itself long before the film begins. For some, that sense of greatness is undeserved. And I get it. The Iñárritu Wars play out regularly in my head: I loved loves dogs Y bird manbut i hated 21 grams Y Babel. I liked beautifulbut the reborn It seemed to me like a movie shot by a genius and edited by someone who was told too many times that he was a genius. (I still maintain that there is a good movie out there somewhere.)
Bard is a semi-autobiographical, surreal fantasy drama about Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who left home years ago and has forged a career in California. He is about to receive a prestigious award from an American journalism association, but he feels guilty. He blames accusations that he “kisses gringos’ asses.” He blames the criticism that his work is self-centered, self-indulgent. He blames for his bourgeois lifestyle, his lack of contact with the common people. He blames for the fact that he is never there for his family. The Silverio crises also play into news reports that the US government is laying the groundwork for Amazon to buy the Mexican state of Baja California. Has it been in any way complicit in setting the stage for such a capitalist calamity?
Many critics are not buying all this introspection. “[T]What is most easily identified Bard as Iñárritu’s film it is the virtuosic way in which he embraces greatness as a genre instead of earning it as a reward. Here is another magnum opus that is eager to smother you with the same air of importance that Iñárritu has sewn into his previous work,” writes David Ehrlich on Indiewire. “Iñárritu has concocted a personal epic of the most exhaustingly arrogant kind, spread over three hours of screen time during which flashes of genuine and surprising brilliance occasionally manage to break through the macho’s exhaustingly mad visionary fug.” Robby writes. Collin at the Telegraph. “Bard it’s a movie high on its own supply but low on any sense of intrigue or real insight. For the filmmaker, it’s breathing his own narcissism. The audience? They are breathing its exhaust fumes,” writes Marshall Shaffer on Slashfilm. Those are the criticisms; the buzz on the ground has in some cases been even more brutal.
However, not everyone hated the 174-minute film. Carlos Aguilar in The Wrap declared Bard a masterpiece, and clearly moved by its labyrinthine self-interrogation and the way it explores Iñárritu’s thorny relationship with Mexico. “In Silverio’s complicated bond with his homeland, one can witness Iñárritu’s desire to acknowledge his own distance from her, geographically and emotionally,” writes Aguilar. “From afar, as many immigrants can attest, our yearning to belong often manifests itself in patriotic sentiments. No one is more proud to be Mexican than a Mexican outside of Mexico, by choice or necessity.” In fact, it will be interesting to see how Bard it is received as it is seen by more people, and in particular how it will be received in Mexico and among Mexican Americans.
what’s so interesting Bard is that, at least on the surface of the film, Iñárritu seems to have already taken many of the aforementioned criticisms seriously. The film is full of self-loathing, but it’s a kind of artistic self-loathing, with extended scenes of Silverio’s shadow bouncing across the desert, Silverio slipping into surreal visions of Mexican history and scenes from his own life. Honestly, on paper, it sounds like the kind of thing I’d love. I have a soft spot for narratives of immigration and assimilation and the strange connection between alienation and worship of the homeland. But I must admit I really didn’t care Bard. It has some of the same problems as the reborn, in the sense that Iñárritu can’t seem to let any ideas pass, and whatever interesting or exciting vision he presents to us has to be amplified, repeated, and shown from multiple angles, in case we somehow missed his brilliance the first time around. . But it is more than that. Without a central story, the film does not breathe or move. Iñárritu has a gift for cinematography, for bold and striking images, but he is not an experimental filmmaker. He doesn’t have that kind of ability, that willingness to throw ideas at the wall, see what sticks, and most importantly, move on.
In fact, I was surprised at how cold Bard I let. The film opens with a strange birthing scene, in which the baby says that the world is too fucked up and asks to be inserted back into his mother. It’s a bitter and funny little gag, but as the movie progresses we realize that this story was how Silverio and his wife came to terms with the death of a newborn. That is a devastating idea. So why doesn’t it work? I think it may be because the movie, although full of people, has almost no characters. Everyone, including Silverio’s wife and his two other children, seem to be there to reflect. to the. Silverio himself is a character, of course, but within the crazy labyrinth of his self-love (of which his self-loathing is just an extension), nothing feels real or concrete. Not even his son lost him.
Many have noticed that Bard self-consciously evokes Federico Fellini’s equally surreal and semi-autobiographical masterpiece 8 ½. It also recalls the classic Ingmar Bergman trip down memory lane, Wild strawberries. One could go through the great names of film history and find any number of Capital-A authors who wrote lengthy and supposedly indulgent tone poems about their lives: Theo Angelopoulos, Terrence Malick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alfonso Cuaron, etc. But the two movies he kept thinking about were the much-maligned, coke-fueled, career-ending acid-western of his. the last movie (a film that I personally love), and that of Iñárritu himself bird man, which is also an absurd episodic film driven by doubt, but which is much more convincing, perhaps in part because it is further removed from the director’s own reality. (bird man also has, like, characters, and a story.)
the scene in Bard which more specifically reminds one of bird man it is one in which a journalist friend attacks Silverio telling him that he could not control his ego, that everything turned into an objective correlate of his own life. (“You used historical figures to talk about yourself!”) Many critics saw a similar scene in bird man like a declaration of war by Iñárritu, but it’s probably my favorite sequence from that film, because it so accurately dissects the character of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thompson and his entire theatrical project; crystallizes his self-doubt. In bird manIt could be said that these criticisms are refuted by the final achievement of the protagonist, so that the scene becomes the need to overcome one’s doubts in order to achieve something significant. But BardThe critic of doesn’t get such a moving comeuppance. One suspects that Iñárritu, despite all the self-flagellation he is doing in this film, still thinks that people who dare to criticize him are assholes. For some of those critics, the feeling appears to be mutual.