Posts Tagged ‘Javier Bardem’

This week’s releases include: the tale of upwardly mobile young man; a stunning but draining picture; an action-adventure that takes you from hell and back; a sci-fi series based on a master’s work; and the most recent happenings in Bon Temps. (more…)

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Javier Bardem in BiutifulThere are certain films we watch repeatedly, whether it’s because it makes us laugh, warms our hearts, gets our adrenaline pumping or is simply a masterwork. Then there are films you only feel the need to watch once – not because it’s bad or boring, but because the original experience was so strong viewing it again would lack the initial’s impact. After watching Biutiful, you may not feel the need to do it again because it’s very emotionally draining, but it definitely warrants at least one screening. (more…)


Woody Allen has made a career of exploring relationships in film. Here, he once again delves into the world of adultery, overwhelming (and underwhelming) passion, and the threesome.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends but their views on love are in complete opposition. Vicky is engaged to a man who is stable and trusting; Cristina engages in whirlwind relationships looking for something she has yet to find. Shortly after the pair’s arrival for a summer in Spain, Cristina catches the eye of a handsome Spanish artist (Javier Bardem). Within hours, the three are on his plane with the predisposition he will sleep with one or both of them before the weekend is over. What follows is several torrid love affairs, both from afar and up-close.

This is not one of Allen’s best works but as is the norm, he gets wonderful actors to turn in magnificent performances. As so much of an Allen picture is based in dialogue, the cast must be very capable speakers. And this time it’s not only the cast leading the story with their words, but also a narrator. The voice is entirely expository; it takes the story from one scene to the next, revealing inner emotions and thoughts along the way. The experience is much like watching a stage play without the stage.

Bardem’s rapport with Penelope Cruz, who portrays his ex-wife, is incredibly authentic. The extreme passions they express for one another are fiery. And although very little of what we see is physical, it dwarfs the connection Juan Antonio has with Cristina. Johansson is credible but her performance is not award- worthy despite the nominations. Likewise, Hall’s fear, anxiety and desire are very believable.

The Spanish architecture, coast and countryside are their own characters, often stealing the audience’s attention. If you find yourself not loving Vicky or Cristina, you will surely fall in love with Barcelona.

As is also the usual with an Allen release, there are no DVD bonus features to review.

Two of the Coen brothers’ more ambitious films about murder are being re-released together: No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There.

In No Country, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) opens a can of murderous worms when he stumbles upon a botched drug deal and finds a briefcase containing $2 million. The Mexican owners of the money bring in killer-without-a-conscience Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) to recover the cash. In the meantime, soon-to-be-retired Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to track down Llewelyn and breach his stubbornness to prevent any more bloodshed.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is a dark and twisted film noir that takes place in a 1949 California town. Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) is a barber that wants to join the dry cleaning business but to gain the means to escape his dull life he turns to blackmail and revenge. The other players in Ed’s charade are his wife (Frances McDormand), brother-in- law (Michael Badalucco), his wife’s boss (James Gandolfini), a young pianist (Scarlett Johansson) and a big city lawyer (Tony Shalhoub).

No Country for Old Men is brilliant. The unusual wig adorned by Bardem is truly memorable and adds to the uniqueness of a haunting character. Brolin’s quiet determination and Jones’ weary professionalism is outstanding. The story is intriguing and the Coens give it their own special brand of style. The conclusion is entirely unexpected and unpredictable, which is initially troublesome but very smart.

The Man Who Wasn’t There looks stunning in stark black and white contrasts. The lighting and cinematography are excellent, creating a film reminiscent of classic noir pictures. Some scenes are so perfectly set, they distract from the narrative for a moment, but it enhances the film overall. Thornton’s performance as silent protagonist and unreserved narrator is also noteworthy. The only complaint is by the end it feels somewhat lengthy.

No Country‘s special features include a “making of” documentary; ”Working with the Coens,” which sings the brothers’ praises; and “Diary of a Sheriff,” which follows Jones’ character. The other DVD also has a “making of” documentary; an excessively long although informative interview with cinematographer Roger Deakins; and an amusing feature commentary by Thornton and the Coen brothers.

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera (Alliance)

It took 22 years to transfer the Oprah-endorsed and much-loved literary romance to the big screen; however, even at 138 minutes, their still seems to be holes in the story.

Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem) fell in love with Fermina Urbino (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) the moment he laid eyes on her in 1879. But when the pair is kept apart, he vows to wait as long as necessary to be with her. Florentino clings to this love for 51 years, nine months and four days until circumstances once again give the couple the opportunity to live out their romance.

The plot jumps several years at a time with no indication of how much time has passed. The characters age through the use of makeup and prosthetics, but the South American heat is not kind to this classic movie effect which makes it look sloppy at times.

Although the story is charming, the translation moves too quickly through their lives causing the narrative to appear incomplete. The deleted scenes/alternate opening fill in some of the gaps but is still unable to redeem the picture. On the other hand, the recreation of turn of the century Columbia is beautiful and “The Making of” feature sheds light on the reception they received in the precarious country.

The SickhouseThe Sickhouse (Alliance)

Halfway through watching this movie, I gave up asking my couch-mate ”What’s going on?”

The gist is fairly simple: An archeologist’s (Gina Philips) excavation of a 17th century plague hospital is about to be shut down so she sneaks in the night before to try and gather evidence proving the existence of the Cult of the Black Priest. They are legendary plague doctors said to have done horrific things. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers take refuge in the old building after one is injured in an accident. But when midnight strikes, the hospital becomes no place for the sick or well.

However, as the movie progresses, the audience is never given enough information to assemble the pieces themselves; instead, they are left in constant confusion, unsure of how one event connects to another. The veil is only lifted when the archeologist explains an item she has uncovered in a hidden room. Then the overall picture becomes clearer but individual onscreen events still make little sense.

The atmosphere is generally creepy and particular scenes are disturbing but anyone knows good horror movies have more than just ambiance. The filmmakers developed a lucrative idea but the director’s attempts at stylization results in overkill and perplexity. Furthermore, there are no extra features to provide any clarification.

“The fight is over. So tonight, welcome to the makeup sex,” quipped host Jon Stewart at the glamorous post-strike event.

Although, with the number of montages aired throughout the broadcast, it was easy to see organizers were still using part of a strike game plan to fill in for the lack of preparation time.

Last night’s 80th annual Academy Awards brought some early surprises with Tilda Swinton winning Best Supporting Actress for her role as a ruthless lawyer in Michael Clayton, beating out favourites Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) and Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There).

Then Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose) edged out Julie Christie (Away from Her) and Canadian sweetheart Ellen Page (Juno) for Best Leading Actress for her portrayal of chanteuse Edith Piaf. Overjoyed, she exclaimed, “Thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city!”

Non-traditional women and girls everywhere can applaud Diablo Cody for her stand-out leopard print dress that in no way attempted to conceal her large shoulder tattoo. There was no hiding the former exotic dancer when she took the stage to accept the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for her witty teen pregnancy comedy, Juno. However, the gifted eccentric was at a loss for words, thanking her fellow writers, her family (including Jason Reitman) and star Ellen Page before bursting into tears.

In the end, No Country for Old Men was the big winner of the night taking home four awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Joel and Ether Coen), Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Coen brothers).

Bardem gave one of the more memorable speeches thanking the Coens “for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and put one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head,” and then addressing his mother in Spanish, bringing her to tears. Ethan Coen would be presented with the award for simplest acceptance of the night just saying “thank you.”

The most unusual reference to the Oscar statue in an acceptance speech came from Best Leading Actor Daniel Day-Lewis who said, “My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town.” He was honoured for his portrayal of a determined oilman in There Will Be Blood.

Canada had 13 nominations in a dozen categories this year, including what looked to be two great chances for Best Animated Short Film: I Met the Walrus, a tale of a John Lennon meeting directed by Toronto’s Josh Raskin, and the NFB’s Madame Tutli-Putli by Montreal’s Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. But alas, no gold-plated hardware is flying north of the border this year. Peter and the Wolf took the Animated Short category.

Unfortunately, it was no surprise that this year’s ceremony took a dive in the ratings compared to last year’s telecast. Preliminary Nielson ratings estimated an average 32 million viewers tuned in to the most important event in Hollywood. That is a 20% drop from last year’s broadcast and only a third of the viewership of this year’s Super Bowl.

For a full list of winners, visit the official Academy Awards winners list by clicking here.