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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Biutiful [Blu-ray]

 

(Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Focus Features International

Video: Roadside Attractions

 

Disc:

Region: A (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:28:08.004

Disc Size: 32,500,010,507 bytes

Feature Size: 24,317,208,576 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: May 31st, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85 + 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2124 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2124 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Behind Biutiful: Director's Flip Notes (21:43)

Biutiful Crew (4:02)

• Interview with Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez and Eduard Fernández (8:18 - SD)

• Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

• Bookmarkable

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Academy Award® nominee Javier Bardem is Uxbal, a man on the wrong side of the law who struggles to provide for his children on the dangerous streets of Barcelona. As fate encircles him, Uxbal learns to accept the realities of life, whether bright, bad — or biutiful — in this unforgettable Academy Award®-nominated film from director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel).

***

Biutiful is a love story between a father and his children. This is the journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles... to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona. His livelihood is earned out of bounds, his sacrifices for his children know no bounds. Like life itself, this is a circular tale that ends where it begins. As fate encircles him and thresholds are crossed, a dim, redemptive road brightens, illuminating the inheritances bestowed from father to child, and the paternal guiding hand that navigates life's corridors, whether bright, bad - or biutiful.

 

 

The Film:

Iñárritu is a filmmaker who favors the dark side. His Oscar-nominated "Babel" in 2006 was a confluence of interconnected, border-crossing pain, while the detritus of dog fights and human carnage encircled a love story in "Amores Perros," his 2000 breakthrough. The Mexican-born director is also drawn to the racial and ethnic complexities that color modern times, issues that find a voice in all of his movies. "Biutiful" is the distillation of that vision into one man's journey, so there's a lot of weight for Bardem to carry and more pain that some moviegoers will want to bear.

The filmmaker, who wrote the screenplay with Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone, has made Uxbal's world a polyglot of Spanish, Chinese and Senegalese cultures that teem in a gritty corner of Barcelona. There is his mess of an ex-wife, Marambra (an exceptional Maricel Álvarez), passionate and funny but at the mercy of devastating bipolar mood swings, and his older brother and business partner Tito (Eduard Fernández), who finds new ways to use and betray him almost daily. They will all factor into the decisions he will make about the future of his children, Mateo (Guillermo Estrella) and Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib), with the two young actors giving them a wisdom and a worry beyond their years.

Excerpt from Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times located HERE

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Biutiful” takes place in grimy and crowded parts of Barcelona that are a world away from that city’s tourist attractions. Mr. Bardem plays Uxbal, a midlevel underworld figure whose main business is dealing with the black-market labor of illegal immigrants. He checks in on Chinese sweatshop workers and African vendors of counterfeit watches and bags, collecting and dispensing money and running interference with police officers and factory owners.

As if that were not stressful enough, Uxbal is also juggling two young children, a mentally unstable former wife (Maricel Álvarez) and a terminal illness. Every day he is faced with choices that test both his resolve and his decency, as he tries to be stoical, tough and compassionate — a good father, a canny hustler and a patient lover in situations that make every role nearly impossible.

Excerpt from A.O.Scott at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, in regards to the fluctuating aspect ratio - between 1.85-2.4.0:1 - there is a discussion with the DoP Rodrigo Prieto HERE at the American Society of Cinematographers. Ex. "We made the aspect-ratio transition a few scenes later on a crane shot at the beach, using an angle of the ocean to open the edges of the screen to 2:40. I shot most of the movie with Panavision Ultra Speed [Z Series] MKIIs, and for most of the anamorphic work I used Panavision’s G-Series lenses. Whenever there was a source of light in frame, like a window, the MKIIs would cause a slight flare, and they gave the image a hard edge and contrasty feel that we liked. For certain moments, we enhanced the flare of bright sources with a Tiffen Smoque Filter on the camera."

 

Biutiful appears consistently thick and rich on Blu-ray from Roadside Attractions.  Blue is dominant and the image has vibrancy. Most of the film (we now know 95%) is shot handheld so there is some have with the movement but detail is still present in the less kinetic scenes.This is dual-layered but as the film is lengthy - the bitrate is modest. Lighting seems more natural lending itself to a more verité feel. The 1080P image is not glossy and has some grain via the 35mm negative format. There is still some noise too - as there are a lot of darker scenes but it is never intrusive. This Blu-ray looks as though it is faithful to the theatrical - exceptionally clean but with a grittiness that belies the production roots and intent. No complaints whatsoever.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The original Spanish track is rendering in a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2124 kbps. There is some modest aggression and instances of separation but nothing is deft. There is an original soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla notable for his compositions in Into the Wild and Brokeback Mountain. It sounds crisp via the uncompressed track. Like the video this seems as though it is a good representation of the original film. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

There are some supplements. Behind Biutiful: Director's Flip Notes runs more than 20-minutes and consists of behind the scenes filming during production. It ism hence, less polished and, like the film - more verité. There is a brief 4-minutes with the Biutiful Crew introducing themselves and having fun. Lastly are three separate interviews (optional 'Play All' fashion) with Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez and Eduard Fernández. Some good info is here - in Spanish with English subtitles - but it lasts less than 10-minutes. Lastly, there is a theatrical trailer and the Blu-ray disc has a bookmark feature.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is a touching and powerfully dark film. Biutiful is, at times, like an acting clinic - you almost feel like a voyeur in these people's lives. There are themes of coping and survival impacting heavily on the viewer. This is very close to a masterpiece.  The Blu-ray revels in its authentic, seething-ly grim, appearance. I had an exhausting presentation that will stay with me for a long while. We can strongly recommend this releases! 

Gary Tooze

May 26th, 2011

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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