Dir. Sam Mendes
(2012, PG-13, 143 minutes)
I’m far from a James Bond aficionado. Skyfall is only the fourth film in the franchise I’ve seen, following two Pierce Brosnan entries (The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day) and Daniel Craig‘s first, Casino Royale, so I approach it less as part of a long-running tradition and more as a spy thriller on its own terms. By that standard it’s very good: kinetic but not overly choppy, driven by a simple, straight-ahead story and interesting characters.
Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu
(2010, R, 147 min)
★ ★ ½
Biutiful is two-and-a-half hours of tragedy porn. It tells the story of Uxbal (Javier Bardem), a father of two young children who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. If that’s not sad enough, the film also provides an ex-wife with bipolar disorder. Not crying yet? You will be after you witness the plight of Chinese and African immigrants living in Barcelona, including a man soon to be deported and forced to abandon his wife and infant child. Your heart will further be wrenched by a back-story about Uxbal’s own father, who fled Franco’s regime in 1966 only to die of pneumonia in Mexico two months later. None of these are significant spoilers; wait ’til you see the stuff I’ve left out.