I saw the 2 and 1/2 hour Mexican nominee for the Foreign Language Oscar, Biutiful, yesterday at the theater. Aside from it being far too long, it was alright. I liked some of the director's previous work, mainly 21 Grams, and this kept the gloomy attitude I was expecting from the guy.
I could never recommend a movie this long and slowly paced. But if depressing, brooding family-dramas are your thing, this is a great entry into that genre.
Javier Bardem (the crazy villain from No Country for Old Men) was really darn good in this character study of a guy who I couldn't tell what he did for a living. Drug dealer? Smuggler? Sweat shop profiteer? Owner of a construction company? Ghost whisperer? All of the above? After two and a half hours of watching this guy, I still don't know how specifically he got his money, but they seemed to touch on all of those things, and they moved the story along. I suppose it was more a character study of a father and a husband, than of a, uh, whatever he was.
But again, it just drags out, which is expected from a film this long. They seemed to drag (savor?) every single scene, which to me made it come across as slightly pretentious. It was what it was. 6.5 out of 10.
I've only seen two films nominated for Foreign Language Oscar this year, this and Dogtooth (from Greece). I imagine Biutiful is a front-runner to win it (though I liked Dogtooth 100x better than this, it was one of my favorite movies from last year, but it's too awesomely insane to win). I suppose it's hard to predict what's going to win in this category, because for the most part, common folk tend not to see (or even hear of) all of the foreign films. So it's usually not a shock for a completely unknown film (to American audiences) to pick up the award.
[also I would just again like to say that the pacing in this trailer is not reflective of the actual pacing of the film...]