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TIFF Interview: Inarritu Expected Biutiful, Starring Bardem, to "Provoke Extreme Reactions"

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 17, 2010 at 3:59AM

Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's long-awaited follow-up to Babel (which scored seven Oscar nominations in 2007 including best picture), came into Toronto with a stateside distrib (Lionsgate's Roadside Attractions), and played well here. Javier Bardem's performance as a down-and-out psychic in Barcelona, Spain, which shared the best actor prize in Cannes, is definitely on the Oscar radar.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's long-awaited follow-up to Babel (which scored seven Oscar nominations in 2007 including best picture), came into Toronto with a stateside distrib (Lionsgate's Roadside Attractions), and played well here. Javier Bardem's performance as a down-and-out psychic in Barcelona, Spain, which shared the best actor prize in Cannes, is definitely on the Oscar radar.

A sophisticated, intuitive and passionate director, Inarritu says that making a more simple movie (without longtime collaborator Guillermo Arriaga) turned out to be a challenge. "One city, one single character, one point-of-view, in my own language: I thought it would be easier," the director says in our flip cam interview below. "You're naked, there's no way to hide."

We also discussed why Biutiful has inspired such divergent reaction overseas and in America, and why folks today are scared of raw emotion, which is, fair to say, Inarritu's stock in trade. While I consider Biutiful to be a must-see, some critics resist this out-and-out tragedy. The director set out to "create catharsis" in people, he says, and expected the film to "provoke extreme reactions." Audiences should "go with the flow, see it, take it."

Part One:

Part Two:

Trailer:

This article is related to: Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Independents, Video, Toronto, Javier Bardem, Lionsgate/Roadside, Interviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.