Posts tagged with “Guillermo del Toro”
BIUTIFUL (2010/In Theaters) This very moving film is the fourth from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his first screenplay created without his writing partner Guillermo Arriaga. The two famously created Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006). This time the story centers around one character—Uxbal, played to perfection by Javier Bardem—who is a devoted single dad to his young daughter Ana and her brother Mateo and who scrapes by each day in the poor sections of Barcelona. Uxbal learns early in the film that he is dying of liver cancer and has only months to live, at best. We join him for his final days on earth as he desperately tries to prepare and to make sure his children will be OK. The style of the film, and the camera work, will feel familiar to anyone who has seen Inarritu’s earlier films. It has a close, gritty feel—we are absolutely brought into the day to day lives of the characters. Uxbal is fundamentally a good guy, but he is beset on all sides. He makes his small living in part by communicating with the recently deceased on behalf of their loved ones and moreso by helping dark-skinned Senegalese men sell fake handbags to Barcelona tourists. The bags are made by illegal immigrants from China who are working in a Barcelona-based sweatshop. Read more »
CRONOS (1993/CRITERION EDITION DVD) So after years languishing in the Saved section of my Netflix queue, Cronos finally arrived in my mailbox. The delay seems to have been caused by the development of the brand spanking new Criterion Edition, the lovely special features of which I didn’t really spend much time on. But I’m sure they’re super nice! For an older movie made on what I’m assuming was a limited budget, this edition looks very clean and clear, so bravo Criterion! Now, to the movie itself. Well. Much like my experiences with Guillermo del Toro’s catalogue so far, the movie itself is frustratingly uneven. (I’d place myself somewhere in between the IMDb commenters “This movie is a treasure!” and “OMG THIS MOVIE SUCKED.”) The story is unique and darkly creepy (see also, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Devil’s Backbone), and the first half or so had me completely engaged. But by the end, illogical plot developments and some seriously silly-looking make-up effects had distracted to me to the point of not caring about or believing in the story and characters (see also, Hellboy II: The Golden Army). To be fair, this was del Toro’s first full-length movie. IMDb tells me that he started writing the script 10 years before the movie came out, and I’m sure he didn’t have a Hellboy-sized budget to work with, so we can forgive him some of the plot cliches and rubber-face-mask effects. There are hints throughout the movie at his potential genius, including a scene involving a needle and thread in the facial area that reminded me of the unforgettable scene in Pan’s Labyrinth when the General sews up his own slashed cheek. At his very best, like in that scene, del Toro shows us things that are completely new in their brutality, creativity, and heart. And I guess that’s what I keep waiting to see more of from him. One more note: Ron Perlman, who we know better covered in red paint as Hellboy himself, is cast here as a thug trying to retrieve the Cronos device from our protagonist, Jesus (the Spanish name, not the deity). His performance is…um…not so great, but it did provide me with some unintentional (maybe not?) comic relief.
We stole this idea from Slate because we think it’s fun. Sue us. (Please don’t sue us.) Without any advance reordering to save face, we present to you the first five entries in Sarah’s Netflix queue, along with some brief commentary. Judge if you must. We’re not afraid of you.
1. Cronos (1993). This is the first feature-length directorial effort from Guillermo del Toro. I’ll let Netflix’s plot summary do my, um, summarizing: “After an ancient device attaches itself to his body, aging antiques dealer Jesus (Federico Luppi) struggles to cope with an insatiable thirst for human blood, a menacing brute (Ron Perlman) dead set on retrieving the mechanism and the gradual realization that he cannot die.” Is that exciting, or what? That’s pretty exciting. I’ve had this in the “Saved” section of my queue since Pan’s Labyrinth was in theaters, and it’s finally available on DVD. Not sure what the wait was, but I’ll certainly report back on the results.
2. Vengeance (2009). A French-Hong Kong collaboration directed by Hong Kong legend Johnnie To, I know very little about this one other than that it’s a revenge thriller involving the mafia and hit men that takes place in Hong Kong but with a heavily French cast. The star is Johnny Hallyday, who again I know nothing about, but look at how awesomely grizzly he is! All very intriguing, yes? Yes. Read more »