MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

A bit more on Biutiful

It’s hard.

Hard story. Hard story to do with originality. Hard truths. And often, hard to watch.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has probably done the best work of his career here. He’s finally abandoned the triptych. So even though Bardem’s character is still engaged in multiple stories, the film feels whole. It’s the beginning, middle, and end of the story of this piece of this man’s life. And in just weeks of time on screen, there is a
real arc… and it doesn’t feel forced.

There is still plenty of pain and, yes, urine in the film. But unlike previous efforts, it never feels like a stunt or an intentional test of the audience’s tolerance. It feels almost like a documentary about one man – a unique man, allowing for metaphor – and what he might do when faced with singular circumstances after a life of turmoil.

As a new father, the movie is often brutal, even at its kindest. Futility is a big theme. And the children in the film, including the big one inside Bardem, are endangered repeatedly. But the film allows no easy judgements. There is no black or white. Just a life of gray.

Personally, just the grime of the walls, floors, everything was hard to watch. And I’m not a neat freak. But the idea of living in that dirty way, and of not really having a choice, was painful. Some days are better that others in that world, but at best, there will always be a grim coat of muck lingering on the surface. Horrifying. And real.

So… not for everyone. And unlike something like Winter’s Bone, which can be pretty grim, there is no real hope here, only relief when it’s not as painful as it could be. I mean, all picture long, just waiting for someone to fall from a window or be smothered by a pillow or whatever possible simple horrors are always hanging around, right around the corner. And some do happen…

But there is no denying the beauty, the craftsmanship (a visual theme that is defined late in the movie shows up very early on in very subtle ways… watch the mirrors), and the great passionate storytelling that permeates every scene.

As for awards… well… Bardem is an Oscar-winner and that matters. He deserved at least two other statues before he won and he wasn’t nominated for either. Both shared with Biutiful being “difficult.” He should be a lock. The movie, a greater challenge for the film’s distributor. But we’ll see.

In the meanwhile, consider buckling up and seeing this one in a theater… where you can’t hide when it hurts. And it will hurt. You don’t have to love the pain, but you certainly have to respect it.

Be Sociable, Share!

4 Responses to “A bit more on Biutiful”

  1. The mirrors. I totally thought I was seeing things.

  2. anghus says:

    this new format blows.

  3. IOv3 says:

    I agree. It’s totally nonsensical. It’s cluttered just to be… cluttered. I literally have no idea who convinced David and his crew that his lean and mean website needed to be gussied up like man whore on a Friday night, but those people were idiots. Seriously, if you want to kill this blog then kill it. It makes no sense for you to not update box office all weekend long and to not even put up a BYOB!

    If it’s to hard for you, let the admin update this thing for you, but this is just two weeks of epic fail for this place, and that’s just not good at all.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon