Alfonso Cuarón's Happily Interminable Birthday

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From left: Mariachis, Guillermo del Toro, and Alfonso Cuarón Photo: Dave Allocca/startraksphoto.com

Last night's screening of Alfonso Cuarón's apocalyptic infertility thriller Children of Men was shaping up to be just another ho-hum night of free food and booze at the MoMA. Then in walked the Mexican-film-director power trio of Cuarón (Y Tú Mamá También), Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), and Alejandro Iñárritu (Babel), followed minutes later by a fanfare of trumpets from what might be the city's best-sounding mariachi band. It seems it was a shocked Cuarón's 45th birthday. He accepted a cake from one of his Universal Pictures producers and then stood there for a good five minutes while Del Toro and Iñárritu sang along to the exceedingly long Mexican birthday song, Las Mañanitas, which translates to "little morning songs." Cuarón shook his head as they finished. "It's kind of embarrassing when you're holding the cake and you're under the spot and you know that it's a damn long song. You never know how many verses they'll sing. If you sing the whole thing, it could be days. There's, like, 30 verses. I don't even know what they're all about. Something to do with birds and flowers, the sun rising around your day, different metaphors around the same thing." Del Toro, the most enthusiastic cantante of the bunch, laughed. "It's a really long song, but I think the longest it ever goes is twenty minutes."

Jada Yuan