‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 174

#132 / 365 – ‘Amores Perros’ – 154 mins
IMDb Challenge #80 / 250 – Ranked #165 – Via DVD Collection

Three interconnected stories about the different strata of life in Mexico City all resolve with a fatal car accident. Octavio is trying to raise enough money to run away with his sister-in-law, and decides to enter his dog Cofi into the world of dogfighting. After a dogfight goes bad, Octavio flees in his car, running a red light and causing the accident. Daniel and Valeria’s new-found bliss is prematurely ended when she loses her leg in the accident. El Chivo is a homeless man who cares for stray dogs and is there to witness the collision.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu seems to have a thing for intertwining stories (’21 Grams’,’Babel’) albeit this was his debut feature for the subject. The problem is that I found only one of these three stories in Amores Perros was actually any good. First up is Octavio’s tale which provides far more interesting basis because there are more complicated and complex elements at work within its characters as they must deal with difficult situations in interesting ways. It also provides the darkest and hardest story to watch due to its violence, and its dogfighting scenes are sure to shock.

Stories two and three are a bit too straightforward , simple and less engaging. Daniel and Valeria’s affair didn’t have enough twists and turns and became repetitive to sustain any length. Likewise El Chivo’s “I’m a living ghost” story to his family, whilst a bit more involving also follows the same repetitive route.

When comparing films similar of this nature, Amores Perros is not impressive as ‘Magnolia’ which does a much finer job at crafting its series of inter-related stories which are consistently engaging and compelling. Although for its many flaws in its middle to final segments, Amores Perros is still recommended viewing and with its title translating to “Loves a Bitch” don’t go expecting a cheerful movie.

#133 / 365 – ‘The Graduate’ – 106 mins
IMDb Challenge #81 / 250 – Ranked #163 – Via DVD Collection

After successfully completing college, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns home to California. He gets a hero’s welcome from his parents but Ben isn’t quite sure what to do with the rest of his life. He is soon seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s partner, who methodically pursues the inexperienced young man. Soon, they are meeting regularly in hotel rooms. Warned by her to stay away from her daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross), his father goads him into taking her out on a date. He finds he quite likes Elaine but when she learns he’s been having an affair with her own mother, she’ll have nothing to do with him. He’s smitten however and pursues her.

In many ways the casting was a stroke of good fortune for Dustin Hoffman, given that Robert Redford, Warren Beatty and Charles Grodin were first and respective choices for the role of twenty-one year old Benjamin, before director Mike Nichols (‘Closer’) settled on Hoffman, who at that time was an unknown 29-year-old off-Broadway character actor.

Benjamin’s evolution throughout the film, from fumbling virgin in the humorous “Mrs Robinson, you are trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” scene, to self-possessed leading man is cleverly conceived. But it’s the final shot of Benjamin and Elaine on the bus after they have jolted away from her wedding, that remains the most memorable because of the wave of emotions on their faces – from their initial joy which gives way to doubt and insecurity about what they have done and what the future holds, all in one single shot.

Featuring timeless songs from Simon And Garfunkel, ‘The Sounds of Silence’ which perfectly set the films mood – The Graduate is a bittersweet comedy that remains in a class of its own.

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