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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


After three projects joined at the hip, scripter Guiilermo Arriago & helmer Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu went their separate (slightly embittered) ways. The films had been both admired & detracted for their elaborately interlaced storylines that casually (or should that read causally?) ricocheted off each other. And while it’s quite a trick to keep so many storylines going at once, it’s even harder to make do with one. Now, working on his own, Iñárritu tries just that, aiming for a bit more depth as he follows the rapid decline of Javier Bardem’s all-around merchandise hustler. But Iñárritu overcompensates, stuffing his sole leading character with the baggage of twenty, as if incident equalled drama, narrative simple arithmetic. He was smart to get Javier Bardem, few actors other than Cate Blanchette ‘take’ light so dramatically. But what a load the guy hauls! Separated from a bi-polar wife; saddled with two troubled pre-teens; keeping rein on a crew of irresponsible Senegalese illegal immigrant hustlers; plus a warehouse of Chinese illegals; even a score of dead immigrants! And there's protection pay-outs to impotent cops; a brother who runs a sex club & fools around with your crazy ex; a father Bardem never met, but gets to rebury . . . oh, and a touch of terminal cancer leaving you a month or so to live. Iñárritu handles much of this stylishly, though the fussy color palette grows tiresome, especially at a self-indulgent two & a half hours. By then, the seams are showing and sympathy is lagging. Still, it’s nice to know that when you get to heaven your hair looks great, you get to smoke and there’s Ravel on the soundtrack.

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