Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Biutiful, written last night

I am in a daze tonight, late, just getting home from a solo trip to the movies where I sat in the dark and was enveloped by the movie Biutiful. 

I don't know what to say -- I've seen nearly all of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's movies, and they have been ponderous at worst and  ecstatic at best. I'm going out on a limb right now to say that great art for me always, always always transports me,  and is a reflection, seen through a glass darkly, I think, of the artist's soul - his or her transcendence. Javier Bardem seems to be a vehicle for great art -- it stares out of his huge, sad eyes and settles into the deep laugh lines around them. This movie is dark and intense and disturbing and so beautiful that I sat, stunned, with tears in my eyes when it was finished.

I've been hard put to explain why I thought the recent Social Network was a horrible movie -- one that "entertained" me for the two hours that I sat, subject to its slick and witty seduction, but left me wanting to shower off the filth that it portrayed. A great movie (again, I'll qualify with the words "to me"), no matter the subject matter -- and the moral conflicts and constant despair of Biutiful make the lowlife characters of Social Network look like the cast of Leave it to Beaver -- reveals the vision and soul of the artist and that vision and soul is something recognized that is collective. It is love.

I felt tonight as if I'd escaped my little life for two and a half hours and glimpsed another. I watched Bardem play a single father of two beautiful children, a man dying a slow and hideous death from cancer, married to a messed-up and mentally ill woman and caught, himself, in a dark underworld of corruption and social despair. I watched him commune with the spirits of the dead, fall into the arms of a strange and magical healer and confessor who shared his powers, parent his children with heartbreaking tenderness and strength and make feeble attempts at redemption. And despite the horrific details -- the crazy exploitation of immigrants, the insane web of lies and corruption that govern commerce and making a living  -- he is redeemed. It's all redeemed.


  1. I love him and need to see that movie.

  2. just for a few moments, you took me completely out of my body, no easy feat, and transported me.
    i wish only that i could have sat beside you in that dark movie theater and shared the journey.

  3. This is one of those movies that has sneaked into the theaters (art ones) and it little known till it pops up on the Academy Awards. I have heard of the darkness but the story intrigues me. I hope I get the chance to see it...maybe this weekend....

    Just saw Black Swan and I am glad I finally saw it. With Spring I hope the mood in movies lightens up though...been a lot of dark, down, heavy movies.

  4. You are more courageous than I - I am not going to see this. It's enough to try to get myself to see "The Rabbit Hole" when it comes out on Netflix.

    It's also interesting to me that you didn't like "The Social Network." I thought it had tremendous moral value and was a frighteningly true statement about our times. I also just plain enjoyed the acting - Jesse Eisenberg blew me away. He reminded me of one of David's classmates in the "gifted" program. Did you know that those twins are now complaining about their $65 million dollar settlement?

  5. Ms. Moon -- I think you'll love it. I wish that you could go to the big screen to see it, though -- the cinematography is wonderful.

    Deb - Ditto what I said to Ms. Moon!

    Steph(anie) - Yes, you do.

    rebecca -- Even your comments are lovely.

    Ellen -- I think you'll like it. I didn't enjoy Black Swan -- too much campy horror for me. I did think Natalie Portman was good, though.

    Karen -- I thought Social Network was incredibly misogynistic with nothing redemptive to be said for it. I do admire Jesse Eisenberg, though, and his constant beady stare certainly haunts me! I had heard about those twins -- repulsive.

  6. I have to be careful what I watch. I have trouble separating myself from the true life "stories" they stay with me for months. I will never watch social network ( I knew it would be exactly as you describe ) .... Funny, I feel like that after going on facebook sometimes.

    I've always loved you as a restaurant critic .... And now movies too .... A biutiful piece of writing here E

  7. Sounds good, I'll have to watch for it.

  8. Great art for me always ... is a reflection, seen through a glass darkly, I think, of the artist's soul - his or her transcendence.

    I agree completely. I've just never been able to carve the thought into words the way you just did.

  9. WOW. I'm with Rebecca. You transported me with your descriptions and made me wish I had been there with you.

  10. What a passionate film review. Thank you.

  11. Darn. Netflix doesn't have it yet. Will check my library.



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