Film and TV

Today's DVDs: Biutiful and Stanley Kubrick: The Essential Collection

Biutiful stars Javier Bardem, Eduard Fernández and Maricel Álvarez. Alejandro González Iñárritu directs.

The set-up: Javier Bardem's character Uxbal is dying of prostate cancer. His wife is not only sleeping with his brother, she's shoving the kids around, too. There's also lots about a sweatshop, mistreated workers, some dead people and dope dealers. Academy Award winner Bardem took home the best actor trophy at Cannes, and was nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Colin Firth of The King's Speech.

Here's what our critic Melissa Anderson said about the movie: Though its structure may be whittled down in comparison with the earlier works, Biutiful, which Iñárritu wrote with first-timers Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone, is even more morbidly obese than Babel in terms of soggy ideas, elephantine with miserabilist humanism and redemption jibber-jabber.

Here's our take: We agree with Anderson up to a point. Yes, Iñárritu stuffed much too much plot into one movie. And, yes, first-time screenwriters Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone sometimes stray into jibber-jabber territory. But Biutiful is visually brilliant and nothing less than a tour de force for Bardem. You'll enjoy Biutiful if you can let yourself get swept away by its emotion and Bardem's performance. Don't think about it, just feel it.

Our critic called it "relentless, manipulative muck," while Esquire's Chris Jones said it's "a near perfect movie." It deserves a look if only to see who's right.

DVD/Blu-Ray extras: Interviews with the three leading characters, Behind Biutiful: Director's Flip Notes (set-ups and filming by Iñárritu, along with his negotiations with Chinese extras who refused to act dead and an actress that was ordered to be deported), along with a montage of cast and crew.

Biutiful is available at Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray only).

A Clockwork Orange trailer

Also worth noticing: The Stanley Kubrick: Essential Collection is out today and includes Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

The set includes 10 discs and loads of extras: The Art of Stanley Kubrick from Short Films to Strangelove featurette, a split-screen interview with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott for Dr. Strangelove, trailers, commentary by Malcolm McDowell for A Clockwork Orange, and a bonus disc Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures.

All of the individual films, including A Life in Pictures are available on Netflix (streaming, DVD, and Blu-ray).

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Olivia Flores Alvarez