Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made quite a splash with his 2000 debut, "Amores Perros," which put Mexican cinema back on the map. With his followup, "21 Grams," the former radio DJ and commercial director proves that was no fluke, fashioning a film that's every bit as intense and structurally innovative as his first. While "21 Grams" may be shot in English with well-known actors, this does not mean that the director's "gone Hollywood." In an interview with The Japan Times, Inarritu -- still using the mellow baritone of a pro DJ -- discussed his approach.

JT: Was the film's scrambled structure there from the start in the script, or was it more linear at first?

AI: At the very beginning, it was like that. But [screenwriter] Guillermo [Arriaga] and I decided to go with the fragmentation. I'd had this idea since we finished "Amores Perros," for more than two years before we started this project. I wanted to try some kind of experimentation, a splash of emotions, kind of like a Jackson Pollock painting. You don't know exactly what's going on, but in the end you can put something together. And I thought it was the best way to tell this story. It would allow us to be fair with three points of view. And as a reconstruction of kind of a dream of Sean Penn as he's dying. That's the beautiful thing about films: Films are like dreams in the way we suddenly construct things, we get the picture of a whole life in just slices of things.