Monthly Archives: June 2011

2 Films by Inarritu

I saw them all in chronological order:

1.  Amores Perros

2. 21 Grams

3.  Babel

4.  Biutiful

Biutiful starring Javier Bardem is a wonderful film.  I’m also amazed when I watch a “slow-moving” film and find myself just as engrossed if not more so, than I normally find myself in something that moves along at a much faster pace (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford comes to mind).

I simply could not stop watching Biutiful. Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal a single father who lives in modern day Barcelona.  Uxbal is a black marketer who is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.  As time runs out he makes an effort to “put things right” in his life and come to grips with his impending death.  It is a great meditation on life, death, family (the scenes with Uxbal’s dead father are so amazing), and the after life.

Inarritu presents Barcelona as practically a fourth world city.  Many of the Spanish citizens as well as many African and Chinese immigrants struggle to provide for themselves and their families in whatever way they can.  The story is great and Bardem’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen.

After watching Biutiful I decided to re-watch 21 Grams because it is available on Netflix Instant Watch.  It is a great film as well.  I did not like it as much as Biutiful but it is a lovely film with great performances by Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro.  It has more of the classic Inarritu plot/scene jumping around, moving back and forth, and then ending up tying all together than Biutiful.  I want to say Biutiful was a little more on the “classic” side in regard to plotting.

I hope you will watch them both, but I especially hope you take the time to see Biutiful.  It is not the feel good hit of the summer.  It is sad and soul wrenching, but immensely hopeful and spiritually powerful.


New on Netflix Instant Watch: I Saw The Devil

I think maybe the Koreans are making the best movies in the world these days.  Or how about, they are making some of my favorite movies these days (OldBoy, Crying Fist, Welcome to Dongmakgol, JSA, Tae Guk Gi, Memories of Murder, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Silmido).  

Kim Ji-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, The Bad, and The Weird) has made of my favorite revenge/serial killer/moral tale/thrillers in I Saw The Devil.  

Choi-Min Shik (Oh Dae Su in OldBoy) plays Kyung-chul a sadistic sexual predator/murderer who messes with the wrong guy’s (Soo-hyun played by Lee Byung-Hun, The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, A Bittersweet Life )fiance.

Along the way Soo-hyun brutalizes Kyung-chul.  He catches him, tortures him, releases him, catches him again, tortures him, brings him back from the dead at least once to torture him again.  You also get to meet Kyung-chul’s old college buddy…a canibalistic murderer who likes to eat raw human flesh.

Of course, things don’t go as planned for Special Agent Soo-hyun and he learns the age old lesson that so many other characters if movie and film have learned about revenge.  Nevertheless, the way Kim Ji-Woon “tells” this story is very engaging, unique, and visually superb.  It’s not even close to the best Korean movie I’ve seen, but it’s a very good movie and worth watching and better than just about any recent American thriller I’ve seen.

It’s available (subtitled) on Netflix Instant Watch.  I recommend it!

Here’s the trailer:


3 New Must See Movies on Netflix Instant Watch

1. Silence of the Lambs:  I’ve seen it close to twenty times and it just keeps getting better.  As someone who has been writing fiction for a year now, I think I am much more able to appreciate what an amazing story this actually is.  The characters are well-developed and intriguing.  Of course Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter is probably the greatest villain of all time.


2.  Strictly Ballroom:  A good 15 years before Dancing with the Stars some Australian filmmakers made this incredibly charming movie/spoof about ballroom dancing competitions in Australia.  Again, an amazingly well-crafted story.  It’s funny and surprisingly poignant and inspirational.  The dancing is phenomenal.  If you don’t like this movie you are not my friend.


3.  The Grifters: John Cusack plays a con-artist who just about lost his life when a scam fell through.  His mother, played by Anjelica Huston, is also a con-artist and is now trying to convince her son to leave “the life”.  You won’t believe the orgy of back-stabbing, deceit, and intrigue this film offers up.  The darkness of this story will not surprise those familiar with the writings of Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me, The Getaway, Pop. 1280).

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