Thursday, February 22, 2007

How To "Cut And Run" Without "Abandoning Your Mates"

This post was originally published on 'The Road To Surfdom' blog

By Darryl Mason

As expected, the wild and unhinged rantings of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Brendan Nelson and Peter Costello regarding the Kevin Rudd plan for pulling Australian troops out of Iraq, is about to bite them back in the worst way.

Tony Blair is but a few hours away from announcing the withdrawal timetable of UK troops from Iraq, with around 1500 to be pulled out within weeks, another few thousand by Christmas and all but a few ‘trainers’ out by the end of 2008.

From the UK Guardian :

The prime minister is expected to say that Britain intends to gradually reduce the number of troops in southern Iraq over the next 22 months as Iraqi forces take on more responsibility for the security of Basra and the surrounding areas.

Ministers have taken on board the message coming from military chiefs over many months - namely that the presence of British troops on the streets of Basra is increasingly unnecessary, even provocative. The reduction of just 1,000 by early summer cited by officials yesterday is significantly less than anticipated in reports that British troops in southern Iraq, presently totalling 7,200, would be cut by half by May.

A more cautious reduction may reflect concern expressed by the Iraqi and US governments about British intentions. The US has privately admonished Britain claiming it is interested only in Basra. British ministers and officials say the situation in the Shia-dominated south cannot be compared to Baghdad, which is plagued by Sunni-Shia sectarian violence.

Under the plan due to be outlined by Mr Blair, British troops will gradually move into a single base on the outskirts of Basra. They will continue to take part in operations but in a role supporting Iraqi security forces rather than leading them, according to defence officials.

The Brits have suffered more than 130 fatalities in Iraq so far, with more than 600 seriously wounded.

The White House claims the British pullout is a sign of “success” :

“We view this as a success,” (White House spokesman) Mr Johndroe said, suggesting the British move was a sign of increasing stabilisation in Iraq.

“The President is grateful for the support of the British forces in the past and into the future. While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we’re pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis.

“The United States shares the same goal of turning responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces and reducing the number of American troops in Iraq.”

John Howard’s first comment on this news, that Blair was “cutting and running” and ‘abandoning his mates’, was met with a fear-grinnning “I’ll talk to you guys later”.

Yeah, once he sorts out how the hell he’s going to spin his way clear now he and his muck-pack have pre-tagged the British as a bunch of cowards and terrorists appeasers.

Not surpisingly, the British want to focus on training the Iraqi Army up to take care of their own security, and you can expect Tony Blair to announce that such training will take place in Jordan, or Aman, or another neighbour of Iraq.

Of course, this is very much like the plan for Australian troops proposed by Kevin Rudd, and another plan now being considered by the American Democrats.

Despite the bile-drenched spewings of the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, Rudd has made it abundantly clear that he intends to leave Australian troops in place to guard Australian diplomats and visiting corporate executives for as long as necessary, but to shift ‘trainers’ to a neighbouring country to continuing training Iraqi Army units.

Howard recently, and repeatedly, claimed this was as good as abandoning your mates when they need you most, and Downer, Nelson and Costello took the PM’s rhetorical football and ran for the try line, spouting gibberish all the way through the past week.

Downer in particular disgraced himself, and insulted millions of Australians, when he claimed in Parliament that voting for Labor would mean handing victory to the terrorists because an Australian troop withdrawal would follow, and troop withdrawal means “victory” for Al Qaeda and “terrorists” in Iraq, and around the world.

The man is a pathetic moron who continually embarrasses Australia internationally and insults our allies and members of the Australian, British and American military. And he does this repeatedly.

What’s worse, Downer actually appears to believe the garbage he spews, even though he has access to intelligence that tells him exactly how the “terrorists” view their progress in the Iraq War.

The “terrorists” in Iraq look at their tally of downed helicopters and literally thousands of blown apart Humvees and a stream of American casualties that is now so intense, military hospitals back home can’t cope with the flow, and the “terrorists” know they have already achieved a victory beyond what they could ever have anticipated.

All across the Middle East, and the Arab and Muslim world, media discusses the post-US defeat environmnet in Iraq, and what happens next in the Middle East. They are not discussing or debating a coming US defeat in Iraq, they talk continually of the one they believe has already happened.

Downer is not interested in salvaging what he can from the Iraq fiasco and helping to repair the damage done to this souvereign nation by the invasion and occupation. He still buys the Bush line that one day they can declare victory and say nah-nah-nah to all those who ever claimed otherwise.

If it was just political weaponry from Downer, it would barely be excuseable. But it’s not. Downer thinks the Iraq War can still be won in a way where Victory bells will chime out and grateful Iraqis will fawn at his feet. But even worse than these deluded fantasies, Downer also believes that Australians who don’t vote for the coalition this year want “terrorists” to win in Iraq.

It’s beyond pathetic. And way beyond a joke. Downer treats the most serious issues of our age like they’re just more games for him to play, just more opportunities for him to try and show how clever he thinks he is. He cares not a fig for the damage he does, or the pain he causes good and decent people, with his mindless propaganda.

Downer should apologise to all Australians, to the American generals he insulted last night on Lateline, he should apologise to the British troops who want to go home, he should apologise to Tony Blair, who still leads a country that remains a key ally of Australia, and most of all Downer should apologise to the Iraqis who have suffered the most of all from his dreams of transforming the Middle East via the big stick of war.

Downer will no doubt back-track and try and downplay the filth he has uttered in the past two weeks, but it’s too late. The historical record of what he has said, and how it applies to troop withdrawals by the Brits, the Americans, or Australians, is locked in.

He deserves nothing less than to be held in total contempt, and disgrace.

There’s more on this British troop withdrawal over at ‘The Fourth World War’ blog, with a round up of Iraq-related news, but the key details known so far of the UK withdrawal plans are above.

Blair is expected to make his (according to Downer) “Cut & Run” speech in the UK Parliament tonight, Australian time.

UPDATE : John Howard claimed today that he has "known for a while" about the UK's plans to announce their withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

If so, how does he explain these words, straight from his own mouth, on February 14 :
"If governments start nominating dates by which forces are going to be withdrawn, what they are doing is inviting our enemies, inviting the terrorists in Iraq, to persist with the destabilisation and the mayhem and the bloodshed."

But today, Howard now says this :

"A reduction has been in the wind and the reason I understand Mr Blair will give is that conditions have stabilised in Basra. I don't think it follows that there should be a reduction in our 550. I mean you have got to maintain a critical mass..."

There are plenty of people in Australia now wondering if the prime minister has "lost it". And not just "lost it" in the frame of his once formidable political powers. They're now talking "lost it" in terms of his mind, his sanity.

UPDATE : The UK prime minister has formally announced the withdrawal of more than 1600 British soldiers from Iraq, to take place over the coming months :

Mr Blair told MPs in the House of Commons that Britain's 7,100-strong deployment in the south of the country would be reduced to around 5,500.

Further withdrawals could cut the force to less than 5,000 by late summer, but British troops will remain in Iraq to support local authorities into 2008 "for as long as we are wanted and have a job to do", Mr Blair said.

Mr Blair said that the pull-out of troops had been made possible by the successful conclusion of Operation Sinbad, which has seen UK and Iraqi forces going through Basra district by district removing insurgent hotspots and supporting reconstruction.

This meant that Iraqi authorities were now able to take over responsibility for security, he said.

UPDATE : Almost to the hour that Tony Blair made his official announcement on withdrawing troops from Iraq, John Howard made public the news that he intends to nearly double the number of Australian military personnel in Afghanistan to almost 1000 :

Cabinet's national security committee has approved initial planning for the deployment - which includes sending a special forces task group back to Oruzgan province and additional air support - with a Defence team to report back soon on its scope.

The result could be the deployment of up to 450 extra personnel and new capabilities, possibly including Black Hawk helicopters and an air defence radar team.

The security cabinet is expected to sign off on the new commitment next month, pending the results of a reconnaissance mission to Afghanistan.

The plan to commit a new force of up to 250 ground troops - composed of elite SAS and commandos - comes as NATO-led coalition forces face an uphill battle to stabilise Afghanistan and as security in Oruzgan province remains precarious.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The David Hicks Hex And Mocking Phillip Ruddock

This is a piece I wrote for the Road To Surfdom blog on February 20, 2006, following a nationally televised debate/forum about the five year long detention of Australian terror suspect David Hicks In Guantanamo Bay.

By Darryl Mason - 'The Orstrahyun'

It's not often you get to see a roomful of Australians laughing at the Attorney General, twice, in the space of an hour. And it wasn't a pretty sight.

No doubt Phillip Ruddock was expecting a particularly uncomfortable afternoon when he went along to the taping of SBS's Insight forum show debating the American detention of terrorism suspect, and Australian citizen, David Hicks.

You can only imagine Ruddock never expected it to go as bad as it did. How bad?

Absolutely terrible.

Ruddock was given numerous chances to make his case for why the Howard government had not done more, earlier, to pressure the Bush administration into getting the David Hicks military trial underway, or to get him released. But there was nothing new from Ruddock. His talking points were dashed by lawyerly waffle and blame-gaming.

Blame Hick's defence, blame the other Gitmo inmates who appealed against the earlier, discredited, Supreme Court rejected military trial set-up, and yes, even blame the Americans as well.

Ruddock wasn't out to save the credibility of the American military trial system now in place. He wasn't out to save the credibility of the prime minister, or Alexander Downer, or President Bush. Ruddock was there, with his Amnesty International pin in place, to try and rescue the last fading threads of his own credibility. And he failed.

The loudest laugh from the audience, a laugh full of contempt and disbelief, came when Ruddock said the Australian government had never been happy with the time it had taken for Hicks to firstly be charged and then for the military trial rules to be finalised and accepted by the highest court in the United States.

They laughed because they know the Howard government only changed its tune on Hicks once it became clear that his five year long detention, without trial, was the sort of "fair go" issue that could hammer Howard hard at the 2007 federal election. They changed their tune when the polls showing almost 70% of Australians were not happy with Howard on the issue of David Hicks told them they had no choice.

But even worse for Ruddock, his waffly, defensive rhetoric seemed even more cold and empty than usual because David Hick's dad and his shattered step-mother were sitting only a few seats away. The distress on her face alone made Ruddock's words seem all but meaningless.

Ruddock looked close to tears himself, on a number of occasions, even though the case against what has happened to David Hicks was argued reasonably, and calmly, by Terry Hicks, former Guantanamo Bay detainees, audience members and Hick's defence lawyer Major Mori.

It was hardly a gang assault of abuse and shouting aimed at Ruddock, but he still came close to cracking.

He was there to represent the government and his department but he also found himself, as usual, defending the actions of the Bush administration, something he was clearly not happy having to do. But there lies the rub. Ruddock had choice but to try and back up the stance of Bush Co. when it comes to detainees like Hicks. They're our closest ally, after all. And this is supposed to a war against terrorists, suspected and/or confirmed.

Most in the audience didn't look particularly angry, just sad, disappointed, worn out by the apparent pettiness of the evidence against Hicks that was raised by his military prosecutor.

Is that it? Is that all they've got on this guy?

As terrible as it is that a young Australian went to fight for an outfit as odious as the Taliban, the charges still not formally laid against Hicks, and the case made by the prosecutor (who couldn't have asked for a more open forum to say whatever he wanted), still don't add up to enough to make most Australians think Hicks deserves to be held like a rat in a steel box for half a decade. Let alone be tortured and mind-fucked.

There was something historical, instead of hysterical, about the calm, measured tone of the Insight debate. In essence, it encapsulated some of the most important legal and moral issues thrown up by the War On Terror. How many violations of human rights and decency will we accept to win a war of such vague definitions?

Do we ignore the injustice piled on those who we are told are our enemy? Do we accept genital electrocutions and months of sensory deprivation and threats of rape and murder because those we are told are our enemy do even worse?

Or do we seek to impose the laws that contain and maintain our societies against those who may wish to destroy us?

Do we have to become like those we wage war against to ulitmately 'win'? And if we have to accept detention without trial and torture and detainees being beaten to death as necessary parts of thsi war, then what exactly will we have won?

We didn't imitate, nor accept, the behaviour of our enemy during World War 2 or Vietnam, so why must we become like our enemy this time?

In the end, the military prosecutor and Ruddock could do little to counter the chief arguments raised against the five year imprisonment of David Hicks, and those which have been primary in forcing the Howard government to act, if only by the sheer force of public opinion.

Why has this all taken so long?

Why have Taliban leaders been released from Guantanamo Bay years before David Hicks has even been charged? What the hell has been going on over there?

Neither Ruddock nor the American military prosecutor could counter these questions because the answer was so straightforward and they both knew that answer so well.

Howard, like UK prime minister Tony Blair, was offered by Bush the opportunity to take back Hicks, years ago. No charges, no trial, no lengthy detention. Howard has already admitted as much. But the prime minister had insisted the trial must go ahead and that the evidence against Hicks be heard and judged in a military court.

And it's becoming increasingly clea that Phillip Ruddock has pressured Howard for months, if not years, to take up the Bush administration offer to send Hicks back home, but Howard refused, because he would not back down, he could not be seen to have flip-flopped, to have gone back on his word on such a war-vital issue.

But it was Ruddock who had to face the disgust and disbelief of Australians, and Hicks' parents last night, while Howard got to harp on about how he had been the phone to Bush, ramping up the pressure for the David Hicks trial to go ahead, quick smart, lest his beloved Australians be further disappointed.

The case made for the charges now leveled against Hicks - attempted murder, aiding terrorism - was weak, and there were many promises from the US military prosecutor about evidence and witnesses that would be unveiled in an "open court" and how Hicks defenders will be changing their minds when they learn just what he was really doing in Afghanistan all those years ago, after September 11.

He went back to pick up his passport so he could come home, Terry Hicks stated, and the prosecutor said nothing to counter this simple claim.

The mention of an "open court" by the prosecutor was particularly interesting. It was made to sound like the trial of David Hicks might even be televised. Though this seems doubtful.

But even the prosecutor was forced to all but admit that some, if not the majority, of the eyewitness testimony would be hearsay, perhaps even two or three witnesses removed. Ruddock sounded as enthusiastic about the credibility of such hearsay evidence as he did about evidence collected by torture. Not at all.

As Major Mori pointed out, the real evidence, the meaty stuff, if it even exists, is unlikely to even be seen by the jury, let alone heard in court if the trial goes ahead, because it falls in the realm of "classified."

By the end of the Insight debate, something of a stalemate was in place. Would the military prosecutor accept a plea bargain? Would Major Mori get David Hicks to plead out guilty, on the promise of a fast trip back home? Will the charges even be accepted by the judge now looking them over? Will Hicks even be formally charged?

It is clear that Howard and the rest of his government want the David Hicks nightmare to just disappear, well before the federal election. But it's also increasingly clear that this simply isn't going to happen.

The best Howard can now hope for is that the US judge who will decide whether or not the prosecutor's charges should be formally laid against Hicks will instead throw the whole thing out, and this could happen as soon as next week. Hicks could then come home, be deemed a security risk by the federal police, placed on a control order, be banned from talking to the media and disappear back into the suburbs of Adelaide, months before the federal election campaigning officially begins.

But for this to work to Howard's advantage will require Australians to become bored by the Hicks fiasco, and that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon, despite the near ceaseless daily media coverage.

The nightmare for David Hicks may end soon, but the nightmare of what happened to David Hicks has only really just begun for John Howard.

As Posted To 'The Road To Surfdom'

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why Are Movies From The Great Young Directors Of Today So Few And Far Between?

Directors In the 70s Burned Up The Screens, Today's Star Directors Make Cameo Appearances

An excellent story from the New York Times looks at why so many of the great young directors of the 1990s are so unproductive.

Some of them, like Kimberly Peirce of Boys Don't Cry (1999) fame, are moving at a Kubrickian glacial pace. She's got a new movie out this year, Stop-Loss, but that's almost eight years between films.

Darren Aronofsky
turned out Pi (1998) and Requiem For A Dream (2000), and then six years drifted by until he directed The Fountain.

David Fincher
has moved a little faster since his groundbreaking serial killer smash Seven (1995), with Fight Club (2000) and Panic Room (2002), but still it will be five years between movies when Zodiac is released later this year.

David O. Russell
sated hungry adult humour audiences with Flirting With Disaster (1996), and then delivered brilliantly with Three Kings (1999), but apart from I Heart Huckabees (2004), and a documentary, he hasn't turned out another new movie and is unlikely to in the next two years.

Spike Jonze directed Being John Malkovich in 1999, and then Adaptation in 2002. Then a whole bunch of videos and did some writing for Jackass (it has writers?)

Quinten Tarantino
directed Reservoir Dogs in 1992, then Pulp Fiction in 1994, and Jackie Brown in 1997, but seven years slid by before he turned out Kill Bill in 2004. He's got a new movie Grindhouse coming soon, but five movies in some 16 years is hardly prolific.

Tarantino has more excuses than most of the director-slackers of his generation. He's wasted time writing and directing episodes of CSI and ER, acting, producing, hosting film festivals, but those gigs only chew up a few weeks or a month at most per go. What has he been doing?

Australia's star director crowd of the 1990s have been no less slack than their American counterparts.

Baz Lurhman directed Strictly Ballroom in 1992. He directed Romeo & Juliet in 1996, then turned out Moulin Rouge in 2001. He's about to start directing a new movie called Australia, but we won't see that until mid-2008, if not later. Fifteen years or so since his first big hit, but only four movies.

Stephen Elliot directed Frauds in 1993, then Priscilla : Queen Of The Desert in 1994. He turned his eyes to Welcome To Woop Woop in 1997, but since Eye Of The Beholder in 1999, nothing.

Alex Proyas looked set to have an awesome career after crafting the still-brilliant goth-epic The Crow in 1994. He's since directed Dark City (1998), Garage Days (2002) and I Robot (2004), but again, that's only four movies in more than 13 years. And there's no new movie due this year.

Some might hold up Stanley Kubrick as an example of a great director who turned out new movies sometimes with a decade long hiatus in-between. But in his 30s Kubrick turned out five total classics, including Dr Strangelove, 2001 and A Clockwork Orange.

And the star directors of today may also like to claim that great movies take time, and that higher production costs mean it's even harder now to get new projects greenlighted. Pah.

With HD video and thousands of great actors and crew members standing around idle and 100 million people waiting on YouTube, why are they pottering around making music video clips, TV ads, docos for DVD re-releases and doing rewrites of other peoples' screenplays?

And why do they have to make movies that cost $100 million? Kenny cost barely $500,000, and Wolf Creek only a bit over twice that, yet both of these movies were as good, if not far better, than most of the mega-budget flops turned out by Hollywood in the 2000s. They also generated millions for their investors and producers.

By the way, it's freakishly disturbing how often the name 'Sting' comes up when you go looking to see what some of the above directors have been devoting their time to, instead of making new movies.


As the New York Times story points out, compare these bare cupboards of those supposed to be amongst the most talented directors of their generation to the heaving, crammed wardrobes of key directors in the 1970s.

Francis Ford Coppola
directed and produced The Godfather 1 & 2 and The Conversation, and wrote the brilliant Patton screenplay, all within three years (between 1971 and 1974).

He then turned out the monstrously huge epic Apocalypse Now (which he mostly funded himself), started a film studio, produced at least three box office hits and directed the highly experimental movie-on-video One From The Heart by the end of 1981.

In the next three years alone, Coppola made four more movies, including the morosely wonderful Rumble Fish and the teen gang classic The Outsiders.

Or take a look at what Martin Scorsese got up to from 1973 to 1985 : Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, New York New York, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, After Hours.

Or dive into the filmographies of directors like Hal Ashby. He directed The Last Detail, Shampoo, Being There, Coming Home and Harold & Maude in less than eight years. All classics, and all still extremely good movies to watch today.

Between MASH in 1970 and Popeye in 1980, Robert Altman directed 13 movies, including Three Women, The Long Goodbye and McCabe & Mrs Miller. Even when Altman was in hitting 80 years old and dying, he still turned out two new movies.

In the 1970s, directors directed movies. One after another. No fucking around, or more importantly, no waiting around.

Some of the 1970s crop were good, some were okay, but many were brilliant. The point is when directors like Coppola or Ashby or Altman or Scorsese were hot, they burned up the screen. Again and again.

And they built fan followings that were forgiving of the mis-steps and the experiments that didn't quite come off. These were directors who built careers on the back of high productivity.

But the directors that won us over in the 1990s with their first and second movies make cameo appearances as directors in the 2000s.

And they can't blame the studios.

Why wouldn't major studios want reasonably budgeted new movies from Fincher and Proyas and Lurhman every year? They do. But the directors aren't delivering.

It's that simple. They are not delivering.

From the New York Times :

The current lack of productivity among promising filmmakers in their 30s and 40s has become a cause for quiet consternation among producers and agents, not to mention film lovers. It is felt in the paucity of movies creating excitement around the Oscars, and in the desperate trolling for new talent at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I say it to these guys all the time, and some of them are my friends: ‘I feel like I want to see more movies from you,’ ” said Lorenzo di Bonaventura, a producer who was in charge of production in the ’90s at Warner Brothers, where he championed both “Three Kings” and "The Matrix".

“Why not more David Russell? Why not more Darren Aronofsky?” As filmgoers we’re being deprived. We as a business have to reach out to these filmmakers and beg them to make more.”

But it is possible that the self-indulgent American culture that shaped these filmmakers and made them so successful in the 1990s has left them ill equipped to take on the weightier questions facing society in the new millennium.

“It’s part of the larger culture,” said Laura Ziskin...“There’s not a lot of encouragement to go deep on anything. In the ’70s people had the feeling they could change things through art, through creativity.”

Says leading Hollywood agent Jeremy Barber :

“We have an indulgent system....The industry celebrates them prematurely, and we don’t enter into a dialectical relationship with them.”

Director Cameron Crowe believes there is a lack of 'creative ferment' in Hollywood today, unlike the 1970s when it flooded the veins of the film industry like cocaine filled the sinuses.

In short, there are no great challenges left for the directors today, they are not clashing and banging and scraping up against each other, trying to outdo each other. Or even impress each other.

But if that is true enough, then all hope is not lost.

We just have to look elsewhere. To Mexico, for example.

Three of the best movies of the past twelve months came from Mexican directors.

Babel by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro.

Children Of Men by Alfonso Cuaron.

All three have picked up writing nominations in the coming Academy Awards. All three have made decent-to-huge profits for their producers and investors, and all three will go down as utter classics of the 2000s.

And while Bryan Singer (director of the The Usual Suspects) was remaking the 1970s version of Superman, these guys were diving into hardcore adult-minded subject matter.

From alienation to the breakdown of society, to giving in to total evil, to police states and environmental Armageddon.

To say that such subjects are too heavy for modern audiences is a flat out lie. Adult film audiences are literally hanging out in cinema foyers waiting for quality movies, with big stars, that will challenge them, and awaken them.

The key to why these three Mexican directors have succeeded so brilliantly is very simple.

They share amongst themselves a creative friction, and set for each other infuriating, yet enormously inspiring challenges of the kind that seem to be totally lacking in Hollywood, and in the so-called mainstream of Australian cinema :

“These films are like triplets, they are sisters,” Mr. Cuarón said in a telephone interview from Mexico. (In the middle of the conversation his cellphone rang, with Mr. Iñárritu on the line. “I am trashing you as we speak,” Mr. Cuarón told him in Spanish.)

“We are very good friends,” he continued. “We are big fans of one another, we respect each other so much. If Alejandro says, ‘That stinks,’ I know he is not trying to hurt me, he’s trying to help me.”

When Mr. González Iñárritu ran out of steam in the editing room, Mr. del Toro trimmed several minutes from his film; Mr. González Iñárritu returned the favor on “Pan’s Labyrinth.” After months of research in London, Mr. Cuarón showed an early draft of the screenplay for “Children of Men” to Mr. González Iñárritu.

“He said: ‘Man, this is a piece of junk. You can’t shoot this thing. Where are your characters?’ ” Mr. Cuarón recalled. He spent a sleepless night, then went back to the drawing board.

This mutual prodding has been going on for years, Mr. del Toro said. “We have a relationship that is not guarded, and that is invaluable in an industry where most people expect complacency...”

In other words, they're not afraid of harsh criticism, even from their best friends. They are not in commercial competition with each other, they are trying to blow each other's minds.

They don't fear criticism. They welcome it. They soak it up and learn from it.

As they should.

And if you've seen Babel, Pan's Labyrinth or Children Of Men, then you would know their careers and their movies are all the better for it.

And so, too, clearly. is their friendship.