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Biutiful, The Illusionist

I actually saw these yesterday, but I came straight home to nap before running off to a midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show-ing so I didnt get a chance to do the write ups. And now Im most of the way thru ExpDelTop100 #78 so this is gonna be on the short side.

The lack of interesting film fare at the usual major release theaters promted me to watch a couple of this year's Academy Award nominees that were low on my priority list. At this point, I've now seen all of the majors except one supporting actress (Jackie Weaver for Animal Kingdom), one screen play (Another Year), and a couple of costumes I think.

This one's actually up for two Oscars: foreign film (Mexico) and best actor (Javier Bardem). Foreign film is always a crap shoot because of the special screening thing for voting, so I usually dont make an effort there. But I do try to see all the major acting nominees if at all possible.

I can definitely see how he earned the nod, although Im not sure if the flick would have gotten the notice it did Bardem not been cast. It almost certainly wouldnt have scored another actor the nomination, given that a lot of the last minute push that snuck him in (arguably stealing the spot from Ryan Gosling) was Julia Roberts' screening party of the film.

Moving on to talk about the actual film now.

Bardem was fantastic. The rest of the film didnt impress me. For starters, it was a whopping 2 and a half hours. That's a long time to sit thru a foreign film. It actually took some effort for me to get used to dealing with the subtitles. THe problem is that I do understand Spanish pretty well, but there was usually a word here and there I'd hafta check the subtitles for. That meant that I was thinking in two languages at the same time, and it was a good half hour or so until I could resolve the two. Im also used to watching movies at home with the subtitles on (instead of having to toggle volume) so that confused my brain even more.

Besides that, it felt like the film went in a few too many directions without any real cohesion between them. I think it could have done without the whole psychic storyline. That just didnt fit. But despite all that was going on, it seemed like a lot of important details and relationships weren't explained well enough early on. Then it felt like nothing was really happening. Just kinda tough to sit through.

One more positive I will give it, it was a very emotional film. There was a scene towards the end that really choked me up, and had me preemptively reaching for the tissues. The emotion conveyed on screen throughout was so strong, again proving Bardem worthy of the nomination. However, its not exactly something I'd feel the need to watch again.

Biutiful - \m/ \m/

The Illusionist

After a quick "intermission" that involved a trip to the Garment District to spend a Groupon on a messenger bag, and a hot dog and ice cream at the conession stand, I came right back for The Illusionist. This is the third nominee for Animated Feature (shared with Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon). Short summation: Srsly? This is what beat out Tangled?

The film was only 90 minutes, but it felt waaaaay longer than the day's previous film. It was silent (dialogue-wise)for the most part, and the majority of the minimal dialogue was gibberish. The AFI project proved that I dont do well with silent films. So that there was already a major point against it.

The animation itself was good, I'll give it that. With all the computer animation clogging the theaters, hand drawn animation makes my heart go giddy. I liked some of the little touches, like the awkward hands behind the back stance that the magician often took. I didnt find the visual humor too funny (a common theme for me) but there were those in the audience who seemed to appreicate it.

I also just couldnt suspend disbelief enough to get into the storyline. Couple reasons for that. When it comes to magic (as in magicians, not genies or other such beings), the fun for me is in figuring out the puzzle of how its done. Animated movies cheat there. Then, I just couldnt understand how the magician let the little girl follow him across the country without so much as putting up a fight against it. From there it just got borderline pedofile creepy. On top of that, I liked the little girl at first, until she started making the poor magician buy her more and more shit. She'd ditch him as he'd work these odd jobs just to keep her happy. WTF?! Not what I'd expect in an (arguably) kiddie film.

I hate giving low ratings to critically acclaimed films, but as far as personal opinion, I feel I'm being generous. That half point is for the animation.

The Illusionist - \m/ \n
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