It sucks to be poor. Psycho. Drunk. Slutty. The parent of unwanted children. Everything else bad.
Diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) — a divorced father raising two children — is determined to atone for his life as a black marketeer that unfolds in the slums of Barcelona, Spain.
This was one of those foreign films that came out during the Oscar season that sparked my interest but I never got to see. Thank the lord once again for Netflix!
This is the fourth film from writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is an extremely talented film-maker. The movie is called “Biutiful” but everything in it is very ugly and were living in those claustrophobic slums in Barcelona with people trying so hard to find beauty in their lives and I really did feel every element here in this character study that really does just take you into it’s story and doesn’t let you go. I think this film also gets really depressing, especially by the end, but something I at least appreciated about this film is it’s very artfully done, and almost never gets too preachy.
Some however, will actually start to be grossed out by a lot of the stuff that they see here. Eating ice cream with your dirty hands, the whole city’s having a bad hair day, and pissing blood all seem realistic because it’s the under-belly of Barcelona but it’s almost more disgusting than a film like Slumdog Millionaire. I didn’t mind this as much as I would have thought, but there are moments here that this film will make you gag at what you see. Also, there is a lot of preachy moments here that seemed like an investigated news report on the effects on globalization and illegal immigrants in foreign countries. Some of this worked, some of it didn’t but the fact is that the story held me in for as long as it did.
Javier Bardem actually got nominated for an Oscar for this, which happened completley out-of-nowhere, and I’m really glad that he actually did. Bardem, as usual, is such a terrific actor and I haven’t really seen him in his actual native tongue but he’s powerful, charismatic, and he shows goodheartedness as Uxbal although he has a problem letting people into his world. Just with a look in his eyes, Bardem is able to convey any type of emotion his character is feeling and every scene Bardem gets to show off his true dramatic depth, he does and it was just about perfect to say the least. Another great performance comes from Maricel Álvarez as Uxbal’s bi-polar wife. She’s great because she just has the right blend of bohemian fun and over-the-edge dangerous that glues you into her character as well, even though you can never tell what she’s going to do next.
Consensus: Biutiful is a disgusting film that gets preachy at times and will leave many people sick after watching it, but the story is engrossing and you feel for this character, mainly because Bardem is just so amazing here that it’s hard not to stand behind this guy. See it once, and say you have, but never feel the need to actually watch it again.
Well, now I’m never going rock-climbing.
From director Danny Boyle comes this harrowing tale of real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco), who literally cuts himself loose from danger — and lives to tell about it when sliding rock pins his forearm under a boulder during a climb in Utah. To stay alive, Ralston resorts to his basest survival instincts.
Back in the day, I remember when this was first getting talked about, and did this ever having me look everywhere I could for this dude they call, Aron Ralston. And from what I read, this guy was basically a bad-ass, that lived by his own ways, and I gotta say, that is pretty cool, but I guess now he kind of regrets that.
The main element of this film is that it literally is about this guy who was stuck in a cave for 5 days, and the film itself is about 94 minutes. Do I hear sleepy time? No, I do not, because Danny Boyle saves this film. He uses his notable trademarks of frenetic camera-work, and beautiful colors, to keep the film going, and I have to say he makes this film very enjoyable. He moves around with that camera all over the place, as many times as he wishes, and keeps us watching. The soundtrack, although it’s much like Slumdog Millionaire’s, still keeps this film moving, especially in a lot of the quicker parts, that really want to keep you excited, and for the most part it works. Basically without him this film, would have practically been a bomb. However, despite this I still felt there were way too many moments where it gets too cinematically contrived. I think Boyle tried to get a little bit too cute and artsy, and try to overcome the real obstacle of this being just a guy in a whole.
The story here is what really keeps this film going. I liked how the story first starts off showing us this daredevil, that lives by his own rules, and practically thinks he is God-like. But gets put into a situation that is either life or death, and tries anyway possible to get out of it, and get back to the ones he loves. In all honesty, I don’t know how I would do in that situation. If it came to practically chopping my own arm off, or dying there, I really don’t know what I would do. Well, first of all, I wouldn’t get in that situation in the first place, and secondly, I probably would just puss out and die. Yes everybody, I may look big and strong, but in reality I’m just a big teddy bear. I hate my life. The story is compelling, and as you watch this guy go through whatever is going through his mind, you start to get a huge glimpse inside the head of what a person would do, and think about, in that situation. I wasn’t crying by the end of this movie by how emotionally attached I was, but I did feel a connection to this character, in the things that were going through his head.
Now, what you have to ask yourself is: are you ready to watch a lot of James Franco’s face. For me, that answer was yes. He is perfectly cast in this role, because he brings a lot of energy to this guy. In the beginning, you kind of see him as this cocky, can-do-no-wrong guy, but by the end you see him as this fun-loving, thoughtful guy that knows what he has done wrong in his life, and it all feels genuine. You really do end up loving this guy by the end of the film, and it’s all thanks to Franco who’s humor keeps us laughing in the rather slow parts, and keeps us emotionally connected, in the more dramatic parts. Oscar Nod? I think so.
Also, must I not forget the amputation scene. Going in, I thought I could handle it, thinking I’m a pretty macho guy, it won’t bother me. However, I was dead wrong. The scene itself is shot, acted, and done perfectly. It feels, and looks so real, and the whole time I was watching, I couldn’t help but move around in my seat, and hold my hands while this was going on. The film definitely leads up to the this scene and it’s perfectly done. Now whenever I clinch my right arm, I just get goosebumps, all thanks to you Mr. Boyle. First you got me with the zombies, and now you get me with the guy in the cave! Your the best!
Consensus: 127 Hours may not seem compelling at first, but Boyle keeps us watching with his amazing direction, that is anchored by an amazing performance from the always reliant James Franco. Just make sure to bring your own hands, as you will be using them to cover your eyes.
Brazil is such a fucked up place to be!
Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) is frightened he’ll end up like the countless others around him — troubled, violent or dead. But his saving grace is his photographer’s eye, through which the stories of several people who live in his forsaken Cidade de Deus unfold. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund direct this sobering look at life inside a Rio de Janeiro housing project, reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of an otherwise magical city.
Before I start this review I just want to say one thing, and that is that this film none other than simply a masterpiece. I never thought I was going to be as astonished with this film as I was, and I’m so glad I’ve seen this.
Director Fernando Meirelles does a great job at constructing this film. Its spans over three decades, and features so many twists and turns with many different characters that you barely even know. He goes back and forth between decades without you even realizing he has, and your not confused one bit by all these characters and their reason for being in the film.It has this look of Pulp Fiction, and Memento as it shows an event happening but from different view points so that we fully understand what and why it happened.
The film is utterly disturbing. There are plenty of scenes that just contain random and innocent people being killed, women being killed, and the most disturbing children being killed. It’s all so very very disturbing but in a way it doesn’t feel exploited. I started to get used to the killing and I felt like I was there with them as this was happening. The violence is relentless and mostly done in a casual way so it doesn’t quite surprise anyone. The gritty look mixed with a lot of the drug abuse, and violence doesn’t feel fake at all, it effects you and makes you understand what these people go through on a day to day basis.
The cinematography is something that will really get you watching as well. The way the camera moves along with the action and the scenes it gets you in a sense of energy, and I’m kind of sure that some of the techniques used here were somehow used in Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m just saying. Also, the writing here is top-notch and it all feels like actual real dialouge and spoken by true and real people.
The best part of this movie is the characters that inhabit it. From the beginning we understand who these people are just based on by the actions and their morality choosing. Enough screen-time is given to enough of these characters for us to fully relate to them and understand who they are as a whole person, instead of just these savage gangsters. The acting here is really something to watch. They have ll these little kids from about 6 and 7, to about young men of like 18,19, and 20, but every one act as if they were all natural-born thespians. The best performance here and probably the most sinister is Douglas Silva who plays the main bad guy Li’l Ze and does an amazing job at being one of the biggest villains in any film that i have seen in a long time.
Consensus: City Of God is a masterpiece. It has wonderful and inspired direction, with a gritty and violent look that is disturbing but doesn’t feel exploited in any way, and great characters that are backed by increcible performances. This is one of the greatest films I have seen in a long time, and anyone that likes good movies should give this one a try, cause you will not be dissapointed.
BTW: Here is just one of the most Iconic Images in cinema history that will soon be hanging somewhere in my room very shortly.