Mel Gibson has done it again. Apocalypto is raking in millions while generating plenty of buzz about that pesky “white man’s vision of the savage” controversy. True to form, Gibson bombards us with gorgeous cinematography, meticulously researched historical and anthropological detail, sincere actors, and enough blood to make any Italian horror movie fanatic cover their eyes(I did over and over). Rudy Youngblood(as the protagonist Jaguar Paw) is gorgeous and heartfelt but all those crunching bones and splattering organs soon blotted out any sense that this was little more than a very violent chase movie.
Meanwhile on the other side of the cinematic world, Catherine Hardwicke, who catapulted to indie glory with the painfully raw Thirteen, brings us a tender The Nativity Story. Led by Oscar-nominated wonder girl Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary, the movie takes us to the world of Christ’s birth, where a small-town family must deal with an oppressive government as well as Mary’s unwed pregnancy. Newcomer Oscar Isaac portrays ultimate nice guy, Joseph. As with Apocalypto, we are treated to beautiful landscapes and richly authentic details, but heart to spare. This movie may not be a box office champ but it has impressed even the most caustic critics.
*The Nativity Story is currently playing at The Cerrito Speakeasy and select Bay Area theaters. Apocalypto is playing everywhere.