November 8, 2006
It is arguably true that the hottest actor, the most accomplished screenwriter and the most ambitious director in contemporary cinema are from Mexico. The trio of actor Gael Garcia Bernal, writer Guillermo Arriaga and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu first came together for 2000’s masterful “Amores Perros.” Arriaga and Inarritu then teamed for 2003’s “21 Grams.” Bernal sat that one out, and instead expanded his reputation with appearances in “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “The Motorcycle Diaries” and “Bad Education,” all outstanding achievements. (Bernal is currently featured in the worthwhile “The Science of Sleep.”) “Babel,” which reunites the three, stays within the customary structure of multiple, loosely connected narratives, and explores the usual themes of violence, human attractions and extreme situations. But unlike “Amores Perros” and “21 Grams,” “Babel” takes on a bigger chunk of the world. The intertwined plots are set in points from Tunisia to Japan to Mexico, the dialogue is in six languages, and themes of cultural biases and assumptions are added to the pot. “Babel,” which also features Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, earned Inarritu best director honors at the Cannes Film Festival.
Two young singer- songwriters from Massachusetts, Ben Taylor and Sonya Kitchell, have pooled resources in trying to expand their reputations. The two, whose six-week tour lands in Aspen this week, share the bill, share a band and perform on each other’s songs. The catch is that neither seems to be joining forces of necessity. Taylor is the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, and made a mild splash of his own with the 2005 album “Another Run Around the Sun.” Where that recording was much in line with the folk-rock made by his parents, the 29-year-old has stepped tentatively outside that box with the new EP “Deeper Than Gravity,” which features covers of Macy Gray’s “I Try” and Portishead’s “Glory Box.” Kitchell is just 17, but her star is rising – even without the benefit of famous parents. This spring, Kitchell released her second album, “Words Came to Me,” an effort that recalled the low-key sophistication of Joni Mitchell. Her appearance at Belly Up, backed by her accomplished band, showed that “Words Came to Me” was no miracle manufactured from studio technology. The two play a cabaret-style show at Belly Up Thursday, Nov. 16. Opening is David Saw, a British-born singer-songwriter whose acoustic style could easily round out a trio with Taylor and Kitchell.