Biutiful – Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Amores perros), on the surface Biutiful is a typical long and depressing festival film. But if you spend time with it you’ll see that it’s a true cinematic experience underneath, and is quite mesmerizing to watch thanks to star Javier Bardem. Bardem plays Uxbal, a middle man in an illegal underground operation where he connects his employer with immigrants willing to sell pirated movies and fake handbags on the streets of Barcelona. He’s also very sick and raising two children alone while his drug addict wife works as a prostitute. To make the story even more layered, Uxbal can also speak to the dead and gets paid to connect people with their loved ones before their souls move on for good. Go see why Biutiful was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, and why Bardem was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. **** out of 5 stars. Opening in Toronto and Ottawa.
MODRA – There’s a reason MODRA was one of our Top 10 Canadian Films of 2010 and was also one of TIFF’s Top 10 Films of 2010. The story follows a teenager from Toronto (played by Hallie Switzer) on a vacation to Slovakia to visit her family. The hook? She invites a boy from school (played by Alexander Gammal) who she hardly knows to accompany her. The two end up becoming close friends during their short trip and help each other find their true selves. Directed by Ingrid Veninger, it’s a beautiful coming of age film with sincere performances, and masterful writing and directing. **** out of 5 stars. Opening at The Royal in Toronto and Vancity Theatre in Vancouver.
Also opening this week is the 3-D Justin Bieber concert film Never Say Never, the indie comedy Cedar Rapids, the animated family adventure Gnomeo & Juliet, the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go With It, and Channing Tatum’s historical action flick The Eagle.