Babel

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Babel

Postby Pudie on Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:52 pm

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Postby DennisMM on Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:22 pm

Looks interesting, though 21 Grams irritated me so much I turned it off barely 30 minutes in.
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Postby Seppuku on Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:50 pm

Sure Moroccan versions of Short Cuts/Traffic etc. are all well and good, but I clicked on that link thinking that I was gonna be presented with a trailer to a super-new documentary about the history of Altavista's Babel Fish option. Starting with its invention by Douglas Adams (a fish which you swallow and thus immediately turns you into an expert in every language that exists), spanning all the way through to the Internet Boom when an enterprising, di-lingual young man invented a language converter which he sold to the [at the time] world's number 1 search engine, and then the movie goes on to chart its world legacy- how it touched the hearts of millions (and got thousands of lazy-ass stoner Spanish students low marks for fucking up the sentence structure in the conversion).

Or maybe an adaptation of Samuel R Delany's sci-fi classic, Babel 17.

Ah well, this still looks quite good.
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:47 am

"If you want to be understood...listen."

Not a bad tag line. Film looks stunning. Since 2000 or so, Rodrigo Prieto has been on a roll, lensing beautiful flick after beautiful flick (regardless of quality, the films still look good). Diggin' on the dowdy Pitt, Blanchett is always welcome, Gael Garcia Bernal & Kôji Yakusho...in the same film...fuck yeah world cinema!!!

I'm sure it'll be heavyhanded, brutal, honest, melodramatic, faux philosophic...much like Iñárritu's previous films.

Honestly, with this, the Prestige, the Departed, the Fountain, Children of Men, Pan's Labryinth, The Host and a bunch of other stuff I can't be sussed to list, the memories 2k6's anemic summer cockbusters are sure to be erased by a plethora of quality, intelligent releases from amongst the worlds finest bunch of directors.
Last edited by Keepcoolbutcare on Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby AtomicHyperbole on Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:04 am

Scorcese's recent trailer has been thoroughly schooled by this, imho, even if its unevenly balanced towards the Brad Pitt story. You couldn't tell its about several seperate stories, including one in Tokyo, without reading the blurb, sadly. It looks stunningly good.
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Postby Peven on Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:50 am

Keepcoolbutcare wrote:
Honestly, with this, the Prestige, the Departed, the Fountain, Children of Men, Pan's Labryinth, The Host and a bunch of other stuff I can't be sussed to list, the memories 2k6's anemic summer cockbusters are sure to be erased by a plethora of quality, intelligent releases from amongst the worlds finest bunch of directors.



this fall is certainly shaping up nicely, and i also really like the looks of "The Departed" too, which comes out in Oct, and "Apocalypto" which comes out in December.
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Postby Flumm on Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:16 pm

It's not new, but looking around, it seemed a shame not to have one of Mori's most highly praised, and finely wordsmithed reviews taking it's rightfull place in it's Zone abode.

It's not spoiler free per say, but it gives little more than is to be gathered from the trailer, besides which, it's a most compelling read, and from what looks to be a most compelling movie...


[quote="Moriarty, bypassing the babble, onto the masses"][size=92]Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

There are three guys right now who seem to be hitting their artistic stride at the same time, and what I find fascinating is how there seems to be the same sort of creative comraderie among them as there was among the giants of the ‘70s, making me wonder if this is part of the secret. Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu are all gifted filmmakers who have been doing interesting work up till now, but this year, each of them has a film coming out during the last four months of the year that could be said to be defining for who they are and who they want to be. That’s heady stuff, exciting times for artists. And to see it happen to these three guys at once, all three of them deserving it, it’s pretty exhilarating as a film fan.

Inarritu’s film is the first to hit the screen, opening in October and also playing the Toronto Film Festival soon. This may have won Best Director at Cannes, but it didn’t take the Palm D’Or, and if Ken Loach’s WHEN THE WIND SHAKES THE BARLEY is better than this, it’ll be the best film Loach has ever made. BABEL may feature a few movie stars in key roles, but this is anything but a typical Hollywood production. It is the organic next step in the fruitful collaboration between Inarritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga. I thought AMORES PERROS was a promising film, although a little rough around the edges. 21 GRAMS was a film that is really hard to sit through, but not because it’s poorly made. In fact, it’s because it’s so good at what it does that it’s a difficult watch. It just tells a story about pain and emotional shutdown, and as a result, it didn’t work on me in the same way that AMORES PERROS did. It didn’t connect with me the same way.

So walking into BABEL, I expected it to be well-made, but what I wasn’t expecting was the way the film emotionally devastated me. It is a powerful film experience, expertly acted on all fronts, and it makes an important point about the way we are all connected and the way we create the things that keep us apart. It speaks to the most basic things that unite us as human beings sharing a world.

Susan (Cate Blanchett) and Richard (Brad Pitt) are traveling together in Morocco. There’s a lot that goes unspoken between them in the film, and it’s never exactly clear what drove them to be in this spot at this time. They’re running from some problems, some recent pain, and they’re trying to figure out if they still fit together in any way. They remind me of the couple in Paul Simon’s haunting “Hearts & Bones,â€
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Postby thebostonlocksmith on Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:50 pm

Amores Perros is a fantastic film (as mentioned above). If you get a chance to see that film i suggest you do. I think he's just a very real film maker that makes real films with which people can relate. I'm sure that the whole 'rough around the edges' kind of vibe is intentional, that even though the three stories in that film are concentrating on completley different circumstances, it still comes across as very harsh for all three of the main characters, much like this effect was used in 'Le Haine' and to the same end, to make it more real and believable. That's just what i think anyway...
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Wed Nov 15, 2006 5:05 pm

babel
n.
1. A confusion of sounds or voices.
2. A scene of noise and confusion

The New York Times wrote:The novelist and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga recently declared: ''When they say it's an auteur film, I say auteurs film. I have always been against the 'film by' credit on a movie. It's a collaborative process and it deserves several authors.'' He added, ''I think it will be healthy to have a debate about it.'' Although these remarks sound reasonable enough, their measured, calm, relatively uncombative tone may in fact disguise a rather more aggressive agenda.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that Mr. Arriaga, in May, had been forbidden to attend the Cannes Film Festival premiere of the latest movie he had written, ''Babel'' (opening Friday in New York) -- forbidden, that is, by his principal collaborator, the film's director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, with whom he had previously worked on ''Amores Perros'' (2000) and ''21 Grams'' (2003). The director, according to the article, was ''apparently miffed that Arriaga claimed much of the credit for the critical success of '21 Grams.'


On the wind swept, barren Moroccan Anti-Atlas Mountain and steppe range, two boys, goat herders, are given a gun by their father to shoot the jackals that prey upon their livelihood. Boys being boys, they fire the gun as if it were a toy, indiscriminately, at first, then, testing the 3km range the seller promised them, at a tourist bus slowly ambling up the steep Mountain Road. As the gunshot reverberates throughout the Mountains, so similiarly are their reverbations in cause and effect of the narrative…and since this is a Iñárritu & Arriaga film there are bound to be repercussions, for all actions in the potent cinematic stew these two have previously concocted have broad ranging consequences. The upshot to this singular shot is devastating, not only for the boys but also for their father, for the man who sold them the gun, the man who gave the gun (in a gesture of friendship and thanks) to the eventual seller, his deaf daughter, and, heartbreakingly, the Mexican nanny of the bullet stricken American tourist. That all the pieces don’t quite fit, that there are numerous questions left unanswered, that Arriaga’s annoying tendency of relying on fortuitous narrative chicanery is only made more clear by the globe-hopping story can almost, but not quite, be forgiven by the splendid command of film language that Iñárritu brings to the proceedings. The upshot, flailed at by Arriaga, is brought home through the visuals, the montage, and the powerful acting performances that have become De rigueur in the films of Iñárritu.

For all the visual splendor and pyrotechnics that Iñárritu has in ample abundance as a director, he’s always managed to bring out the very best of his actors, and Babel is no exception. Pitt, looking (intentionally, I reckon) older than he ever has, nails the frantic physical antics of a man desperately seeking care for his wife. Blanchett, not given much to do except moan in pain, smoke some hash and piss herself, still looks radiant through all her suffering. Frequent Kiyoshi Kurosawa collaborator Kôji Yakusho dons his typical haunted hangdog look, and Gael García Bernal returns to the director that made him an international star with a scene stealing turn as the freewheeling Santiago. But hijacking the movie are two relative unknowns who each give standout, breakthrough performances. Adriana Barraza, playing the Mexican Nanny of Brad and Kate’s kids, is asked to carry the emotional gut punch of the film on her broad shoulders, and she’s more than up to the task. Caring, thoughtful, sympathetic, desperate and, by the end, bewildered, she absolutely shines. Ditto Rinko Kikuchi (Survive Style 5+!!!) as Kôji’s deaf, aching for physical human contact daughter. Whether showing her hairy crotch off in a display of teenage insouciance, losing her temper at a botched volleyball call, lying to those around her, and finally, baring her naked soul to her father, her performance is radiant and touching.

Sensationally shot by Rodrigo Prieto, for a film that’s ostensibly about language and the lack of communication between denizens of the world, Iñárritu and Prieto in this, as in their previous collaborations, concoct a stunningly beautiful film language. It’s a neat style, one that can cause motion sickness (a charge I’ve heard leveled at Iñárritu more than once) for he basically shoots everything medium shot and in, all the while constantly tracking, panning and cutting. Hell, even the panoramic views he shoots of the mountains have this penned in, trapped feeling to them. But yet, unlike other directors who shoot in this style (damn you Michael Bay!) the montage is easy to follow, spatial relations are maintained. It’s not for everyone, and one could argue the style becomes oppressing at times, that it would do Iñárritu some good to break away from his trademark every once in a while and try something new. Maybe with this, the final film of his “deathâ€
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Postby bamf on Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:33 am

Babel elucidated

Upon relocation to California I quickly looked for work. I interviewed at many financial institutions and all were impressed with my resume; but the one question that always came up if only because my last name inferred a yes answer (Fernandez) was,

"Do you speak Spanish?"

No I do not. It limited greatly the places I could work and probably cut me out of a few extra pesos an hour but I still received many offers. Finally, I settled on a branch in Garden Grove California. Coming from Alaska, I'm going through a little culture shock right now, but not how you might think. Instead of being sent to an area predominantly Spanish speaking, I was sent to a branch where 90% of the customers are of Asian decent. Specifically from Vietnam and Korea. My job has been a challenge and on top of picking up some Spanish, which I'm told I have a very "white" accent by the way. I'm picking up some basic Korean salutations and Vietnamese is coming up next. With this massive language barrier my job has turned into basic hand signals and broad smiles on my part. And I'm dealing with their money. My day-to-day experience at work is a microcosm of what the film Babel seeks to illustrate. And it does so with brilliance.

A married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert face a terrific circumstance when a mans wife is struck by a snipers bullet. They find themselves in utter desolation surrounded by a third world setting in which they have a lone interpreter to decipher what they need. His wife is bleeding, they are cut off from the world, the best doctor is a veterinarian and time is running out. This sparks six different families stories across the world and although they know not of each other, they are all interlinked together.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has really created a visceral experience for the viewer. In the film you are shown how similar we are all to each other. And although you may not know the language that is spoken, it's easy to understand when someone is hurt, aroused or in despair. In fact Babel is full of very intense scenes involving joy and pain. Some scenes hurt to watch. Brad Pitt is very underplayed in this and his performance reminded me of his work in 12 Monkeys. Not the crazy bit, he's just not the sex symbol you are accustomed to. His work is revealing and exposed. His reactions to his situation with his wife (Cate Blanchett was great) illuminate the true nature of love in its finest form.

Loves nature was explored in another way through the Husband and Wife's nanny Amelia. She needs to get to Mexico to see her son married but has no place to put the couple's kids. So she brings them with her across the border escorted by the show stealing Santiago played by The Science Of Sleeps Gael Garcia Bernal exposing the two white children to a world they have never seen. Amelia's decisions as an adult at the end are a great juxtaposition to the choices of the children at the beginning. I'm not sure what the message is from the filmmakers regarding her. She is the commonalty of the arch, an illegal from Mexico who has lived many years in the United States. For her choices she is deported and barred from the country indefinitely. Illegal immigration is given a face in the film and although I sympathized with her situation it gives a very good look at what this country will face in the coming years. Who will be let in? Who will we kick out? What are people coming here to do and who is hiring them to do it? The most important thought you could come away with is that no choice we make towards the illegal immigration in the US is going to be easy nor will it be definitively right for all situations. We have a mess that is compounding its self.

My favorite character in Babel is the lonely Chieko. There is a scene where she, a deaf Japanese woman enters a club called J-Pop in Japan. Following her adventure really grounded the film for me. She was the tie that brought together all the other stories and she never speaks one word. Chieko has a specific mission in the film and by the time she arrives at J-Pop you are sure she will succeed. This dance club scene was stunning, the camera switches between the club atmosphere and Chieko's first person view, as she understands it. The track that plays is a Kool and the Gang song sang in Japanese but if you heard it you know exactly what it was and I'm pretty sure your ass would start to shake. But she cannot hear any of it and in her isolation begins to find her own rhythm among the crowd. It was mesmerizing.

This film has international appeal and that has a great deal to do with Chieko. She is the vessel that brings us all together in such a pure and innocent way. She illustrates how in this world full of ones and zeroes, multi national news conglomerates, coke, Pepsi, analog and digital we are all separated from one another by our own perceptions. And how we perceive ones religion, language, culture and social class are ubiquitous in their nature and are what globally separates us from one another. We are all so similar though. The last scene shows that the glue that binds all our civilizations together is the fact that we are all deaf, naked and alone searching to be understood by someone, anyone. The tagline for the film puts it better then I could. If you want to be understood, listen..
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:49 am

bamf wrote:This dance club scene was stunning, the camera switches between the club atmosphere and Chieko's first person view, as she understands it. The track that plays is a Kool and the Gang song sang in Japanese but if you heard it you know exactly what it was and I'm pretty sure your ass would start to shake. But she cannot hear any of it and in her isolation begins to find her own rhythm among the crowd. It was mesmerizing.


fuck yeah.

and for Brocktune...there's a RIP Slyme track on the soundtrack :wink:!

bamf wrote:the fact that we are all deaf, naked and alone searching to be understood by someone, anyone.


well said.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:47 pm

I had an awesome weekend at the cinema, and this was mainly due to seeing Babel, which is the best 2006 film I've seen so far.

As usual KC (and now bamf) not only beats me to the punch, but he does so with much lucidity in pouring out his thoughts.

Before I turn it into a review of a review, I'll just casually disagree by saying that this is the first Inarritu film that DIDN'T feel forced to me. And besides that, I think Arriaga's scripts have only been getting better, with the exception of the fucking woeful blunt blow to the head that was 21 Grams.

Of course Babel lacks the freshness of Amores Perros since it's the third film Inarritu made in this way, but it is a far subtler affair and an altogether sublime experience.

Finally, it had the most realistic club scene I've ever seen in a film.

10/10 (I dole these out to an average of a couple of films per year, so there is still one spot left for an as-of-yet-unseen 2006 film, if it's out there)
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:58 pm

finally indeed, this thread was pretty barren, especially considering that both Inarritu and Arriaga each merit at least glance from even casual filmgoers.

Pacino86845 wrote:Finally, it had the most realistic club scene I've ever seen in a film.


indubitably. I'm still not enamored with the story, but of all the "mtv" style directors & editors out there, Inarritu is by far my favorite. Months after taking it in, I'm still mulling over several scenes of directorial derring-do.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:07 pm

Keepcoolbutcare wrote:finally indeed, this thread was pretty barren, especially considering that both Inarritu and Arriaga each merit at least glance from even casual filmgoers.

Pacino86845 wrote:Finally, it had the most realistic club scene I've ever seen in a film.


indubitably. I'm still not enamored with the story, but of all the "mtv" style directors & editors out there, Inarritu is by far my favorite. Months after taking it in, I'm still mulling over several scenes of directorial derring-do.


Seconded!

A propos the story, I think what really struck me about it was the communist approach taken to the entire film.

The characters we see the most are not played by the top-billed actors. It's like "So, we have Brad Pitt. Ok, let's make the fucker look really old and show him for only about 15 minutes in total." But hot damn, WHAT a 15 minutes, y'know?
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:41 pm

Pacino86845 wrote:A propos the story, I think what really struck me about it was the communist approach taken to the entire film.


hmmm...hadn't thought about that, but what do you mean, exactly? Not that I disagree, just wondering what you thought made the story telling "communistic".

Pacino86845 wrote:The characters we see the most are not played by the top-billed actors. It's like "So, we have Brad Pitt. Ok, let's make the fucker look really old and show him for only about 15 minutes in total." But hot damn, WHAT a 15 minutes, y'know?


i was impressed that he didn't smirk. But yeah, I loved how he went all dowdy for the role, and while I don't care much for the award season 'cuz the noms and winners rarely go to who I find deserving, I think Pitt deserves at least a nom for best supporting work.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:31 pm

Keepcoolbutcare wrote:
Pacino86845 wrote:A propos the story, I think what really struck me about it was the communist approach taken to the entire film.


hmmm...hadn't thought about that, but what do you mean, exactly? Not that I disagree, just wondering what you thought made the story telling "communistic".


Oh man, it still boggles me to piece the ideas together 'cause things are also pretty circular in the way the different stories are linked, but here goes:

In the most superficial sense, as I've already stated, all the big "stars" play essentially secondary roles, and with the exception of Brad Pitt's character, the roles are also fairly inconsequential.

Secondly, there was not only a deliberate, but a perfectly natural equalizing of the different cultures/story arcs in the film. In terms of plot, the Japanese girl and Amelia's stories are the most irrelevant, but thematically they connect the viewers to the film in a very personal way. Basically what I wondered going into the film was how much of a western/American slant there was going to be in terms of the "clash of cultures" idea. So of course I was pleasantly surprised to see the subject dealt with in such an egalitarian and REAL way (the tourists' reaction in Morocco may seem over the top, but I fear such attitudes are more prevalent than naught).

Brad Pitt's character (why can't I remember any of the names!!??) was a nice balance to the bourgeois tourists around him (including his wife, to a certain extent). A nice comment on paranoia and ignorance in my opinion. We see this slightly in Amelia's story as the same ignorance and paranoia seems to have trickled down to Mike and Debbie.

The tour guide on the tourist bus had nothing to gain from Brad Pitt's character and yet he was most sympathetic to the situation. A poor man living in a remote village in North Africa was closer to Brad Pitt's character than a busload of rather wealthy people from (more or less) the same place.

Yikes, I'm writing all of this so disjointedly...

Also, the comments on authority and law enforcement. Juxtaposing (or was it juxtaposing?) officers in Morocco with those in the States.

Ok, at this point I'm lost so I'll stop.
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:59 pm

lol!

that was excellent, thanks for clarifying...
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Postby magicmonkey on Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:23 pm

Pacino86845 wrote:
this is the first Inarritu film that DIDN'T feel forced to me.

Of course Babel lacks the freshness of Amores Perros since it's the third film Inarritu made in this way, but it is a far subtler affair and an altogether sublime experience.

10/10 (I dole these out to an average of a couple of films per year, so there is still one spot left for an as-of-yet-unseen 2006 film, if it's out there)


Agree 100%. It blew me away, he is giving Michael Mann a real run for his money with this practically flawless epic. Pitt absolutely astounded me.
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Postby tylerfulltilt on Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:10 am

finally got around to seeing this in the theater last night.

wow. fucking amazing.

9/10
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Postby MasterWhedon on Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:55 pm

So, I finally saw this last night. Color me way underwhelmed.

I was a fan of 21 Grams when I first saw it. Thought all of the performances were pretty phenomenal, and each of the individual scenes were very well written and directed. But then, as I sat with the movie, I could never quite figure out why Iñárritu chose to make the story non-linear. For the life of me, I just didn't--and still can't--see why the story needed to be told that way, aside from doing it just to do it. I still think the movie is a collection of really great scenes, but its structure strips it of some luster, IMO.

Babel is, obviously, a little more direct in its cross-cutting, non-linear intentions, and I think that's too its benefit. The story is about interconnectedness, so you tell it in an interconnected manner. Wonderful. What the film does wisely, as opposed to something like Crash--yes, Crash--is it doesn't play the interconnectedness up into a gimmick. There just so happens to be a common thread woven through each story, and you watch these people spin off of it. Or, well, you do so for three out of the four. Chieko's story felt too far removed, too distant from the connective tissue. That story should've been either about her father or about how Chieko was directly affected by the gun. As it is now, the final connection to the gun feels as gimmicky as anything in Crash. (And what's funny about that is Chieko's story was probably my favorite of the four.)

I guess I was waiting to be moved a bit more. There was plenty of touching, beautiful stuff in there, but the movie never rose to that "holy shit!" moment of Naomi Watts' breakdown in 21 Grams. Instead, I was watching a bunch of semi- to pretty interesting scenes that were obviously connected on a thematic level, but nothing about it as a piece made me care all that much. Intellectually, I get it. Emotionally and entertainment-wise-ily, I was looking for something more.

And ultimately, regarding Iñárritu as a filmmaker, I think he is rather talented... but I don't see him doing anything that Fernando Meirelles doesn't do better.

On a personal note, I hate when movies make border agents out to be completely inhuman, inconsiderate assholes. I'm sure plenty of them are, but I've got a close friend who works for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he's easily one of the most noble, most sympathetic men I know. But when I see scenes like the one with Amelia pleading with the heartless clipboard man, it just reinforces the bullshit xenophobia many feel about border guards--and, more generally, Americans. This being a tragedy, it works for the story, but it still rubs me the wrong way.

The best--and most ironic--bit of our screening, was that we watched it on a bootlegged screener my roommate bought on his recent trip to China, so there were Chinese subtitles across the bottom of the screen for all of the dialogue... and they were printed over the Engligh subtitles. So half the time it was translating from Spanish, Chinese or sign language, we STILL couldn't understand what was being said!

All told, 6/10.
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Postby MasterWhedon on Fri Feb 02, 2007 4:52 pm

A co-worker who felt similarly to me about the movie suggested I read David Ansen's review from Newsweek, and I think it sums up my feelings about the movie pretty well.

David Ansen wrote:Oct. 30, 2006 issue - Watching Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Babel," it quickly becomes clear that the movie's guiding principle is Murphy's Law. Whatever can go wrong, will.

As in "Amores Perros" and "21 Grams" —the two previous films in what Inárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are calling a trilogy—three separate tales are woven together in ways that are not always immediately apparent. In Morocco, a goatherder gives a hunting rifle to his sons and, while practicing in the hills, one of the boys fires at a tourist bus winding down the road in the far distance. Inside the bus is an American couple (Brad Pitt, given a few wrinkles and gray hairs, and Cate Blanchett) trying to patch up a shaky marriage. The boy's bullet hits Blanchett in the shoulder, and the badly wounded woman is taken to a nearby village where her husband desperately tries to find help. It's immediately assumed to be an act of terrorism, and international pressures to find the culprit are set in motion. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, a deaf-mute teenager (Rinko Kikushi) grasps for love and attention, flashing her privates to a boy in a restaurant and coming on to a shocked dentist. Back in California, Pitt and Blanchett's two children have been entrusted to the care of their Mexican nanny (Adriana Barraza), who is forced to take them along with her to Tijuana for her son's wedding, with her ne'er-do-well cousin (Gael García Bernal) at the wheel. No good will come of this, you can be sure.

For a while, "Babel" holds you in its portentous grip. Iñárritu is a master of gritty textures, unnerving editing and menacing atmosphere, and the actors, both famous and obscure, are all first-rate. But what seemed like an original, searingly personal vision in "Amores Perros" has deteriorated, two films later, into pretentious, overdetermined shtik. Iñárritu and Arriaga no doubt sincerely believe they're making a serious statement about Humanity—the misunderstandings, cultural blind spots, cruel twists of fate, bad decisions and simple nastiness that escalate into global tragedies—but their fatalism is beginning to look as arbitrary and precooked as any Hollywood formula movie. Instead of selling facile uplift, they're pushing gloom.

I might buy "Babel" if it had any real interest in its characters, but it's too busy moving them around its mechanistic chessboard to explore any nuances or depths. What you see at first glance is what you get. The lonely, alienated Japanese teenager is a touching figure, to be sure (how can you go wrong with a pretty, cruelly rejected deaf girl?), but what's she doing in this story, anyway? Oh, I forgot to mention, her father, a hunter, gave the rifle in question to the Moroccan goatherder. It's a link all right, but meaningless.

To judge from audience reactions at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals, many people find "Babel" deeply moving. A lot of people felt that way about "Crash," which also seemed as if it had been conceived on a diagram board, from the outside in, rather than the inside out. "Babel" reaches its nadir at the Mexican-American border, when a drunken Bernal makes the stupidest choice possible (as you know he will), putting the poor Mexican nanny and her charges in dire peril. I know I was meant to be devastated, but at this point I just wanted to cry foul. If "Babel" were a football game, I'd flag it 15 yards for piling on. Others may want to give it an Oscar. To each his own.
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Postby wonkabar on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:03 pm

It's gonna end up winning best-picture

....you know it to be true
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Postby MasterWhedon on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:08 pm

wonkabar wrote:It's gonna end up winning best-picture

....you know it to be true

I know, I know...







...except that I think Little Miss Sunshine is going to surprise the shit out of everyone and steal it. Just you wait.
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Postby wonkabar on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:11 pm

Remember CRASH
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Postby MasterWhedon on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:12 pm

wonkabar wrote:Remember CRASH

MY NEW CUSTOM RANK!! :D
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Postby tapehead on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:12 pm

MasterWhedon wrote:
wonkabar wrote:It's gonna end up winning best-picture

....you know it to be true

I know, I know...







...except that I think Little Miss Sunshine is going to surprise the shit out of everyone and steal it. Just you wait.





If you weren't so often on the money with awards show picks, I could laugh this off... but you might be right :cry:

Enjoyed your review too, MW. I'm yet to see this, but bound to after enjoying 21 Grams so much, and the different opinons are piquing my interest even further.


and kudos on the retrospectively critical Crash reference.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:15 pm

tapehead wrote:If you weren't so often on the money with awards show picks, I could laugh this off... but you might be right :cry:

Enjoyed your review too, MW. I'm yet to see this, but bound to after enjoying 21 Grams so much, and the different opinons are piquing my interest even further.


What? You haven't PIQUED yet?
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Postby MasterWhedon on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:26 pm

Thanks, tape. I'll be interested to hear what you think once you've seen it. This is one of those where I can totally see--and respect--why people love it, but it just didn't hit me that hard. Maybe it will you.
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Postby wonkabar on Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:35 pm

MasterWhedon wrote:
wonkabar wrote:Remember CRASH

MY NEW CUSTOM RANK!! :D


LOL!
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Postby Pacino86845 on Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:49 pm

I find the comparisons to Crash to be ludicrous. I mean what, is Crash a template of some kind for every movie that has stories running in parallel? They're totally different films, and I find their similarities to be only in the superficial sense. I've seen loads of negative/lukewarm reviews for this film, and they wouldn't bother me so much if half of them didn't compare Babel to Crash.

IMO, Little Miss Sunshine has more in common with Crash than Babel does, so Whedo's probably right in guessing that it'll take the Oscar for Best Picture.
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Postby MasterWhedon on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:08 pm

Pacino86845 wrote:I find the comparisons to Crash to be ludicrous. I mean what, is Crash a template of some kind for every movie that has stories running in parallel? They're totally different films, and I find their similarities to be only in the superficial sense. I've seen loads of negative/lukewarm reviews for this film, and they wouldn't bother me so much if half of them didn't compare Babel to Crash.

You don't think there's at least a basic comparison to be made between one film that uses parallel, interconnected stories and another film that uses parallel, interconnected stories? I mean, I for one wasn't comparing the thematic content of the two, just the device of connecting seemingly unrelated storylines. And no, Crash wasn't the first film to do this, but it's a relatively current, well-known example, and it's one which many folks maligned for its "gimmicky" connections.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:21 pm

Pacino86845 wrote:Whedo's probably right in guessing that it'll take the Oscar for Best Picture.


Message to Scorsese...

Make a film that is about an important present day issue!!!

Moron.
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Postby tylerfulltilt on Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:16 am

I think many people are misinterpreting the Japanese girls storyline as supposing to be the "cause" of the story. when really her story is more of an effect of the two main stories taking place in morroco.

In other words, we aren't seeing her story because her father gave the gun to the morrocan guy, we are seeing her story because those two boys shot Cate Blanchett.

really the main action in the story is the gunshot and everything in the story ripples out from that.

imo the connection between the japanese storyline and the rest of the movie wasn't contrived at all, but quite poignant.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:18 pm

MasterWhedon wrote:
Pacino86845 wrote:I find the comparisons to Crash to be ludicrous. I mean what, is Crash a template of some kind for every movie that has stories running in parallel? They're totally different films, and I find their similarities to be only in the superficial sense. I've seen loads of negative/lukewarm reviews for this film, and they wouldn't bother me so much if half of them didn't compare Babel to Crash.

You don't think there's at least a basic comparison to be made between one film that uses parallel, interconnected stories and another film that uses parallel, interconnected stories?

Right, but as I said the comparison is only a very basic one. And to reiterate just to emphasize my meaning, it wouldn't have bothered me if one or two people who had a "problem" with Babel compared it to Crash, but it really comes across as a trend, the amount of people who have done so.

I mean, what happened between then and now exactly? Is Crash some kind of measuring stick all of a sudden? Don't people who comment on film watch more than five movies a year? The comparison to Crash, in my opinion, is not only lazy, it's also very shortsighted. Inarritu himself was doing this stuff for years, and it was done intentionally for his three films, intentionally forming a trilogy in the choice of cinematic language. Now, anyone can rag on that as much as they like, and it wouldn't be the first time such a reaction would happen. It happened to Wes Anderson with Zissou, his least critically-acclaimed film. People got tired of his style, and accused him of overindulging. It happened to De Palma for Carlito's Way, to Scorsese for Casino, etc etc.

The whole Crash thing comes across to me as a universal feeling of resentment. People are miffed that it got such recognition from the Academy, and they were almost waiting for a movie that even remotely resembled it to let out their frustrations. I'm actually sad that Babel got nominated for the Oscar, 'cause that's just gonna attract a disproportionate amount of venom and ire to what it deserves from those who don't like it.

Now I can start ragging on the other films that were nominated for Best Picture, but we're talking about Babel here aren't we. (the Little Miss Suncrash rant will have to wait)

I for one wasn't comparing the thematic content of the two, just the device of connecting seemingly unrelated storylines. And no, Crash wasn't the first film to do this, but it's a relatively current, well-known example, and it's one which many folks maligned for its "gimmicky" connections.


Right, though I may agree with "many folks" about Crash being gimmicky, I didn't get the same feeling from Babel at all. And to me, what made Crash suck wasn't the parallel storylines, it was the fact that it took the old age concept of racial tension and strung together every cliche and stereotype imaginable in an obviously manipulative way. The problem with Crash is that it didn't let you think for yourself, it did the thinking for you.

And besides, I wasn't going after you with the whole Crash-comparison, Whedo. My problem is that the comparison became a general trend in how people reviewed this film, amongst the critics, that is. They were all waiting to make that "shocking" comparison. Oh, how bold the critics are sometimes, how avant garde. Shortsighted, predictable and boring is more like it. [/rant over, thanks for reading]
Last edited by Pacino86845 on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Doc Holliday on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:22 pm

I liked Crash
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Postby Pacino86845 on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:30 pm

Doc Holliday wrote:I liked Crash


That's ok, it's not a bad thing to like Crash. You don't have join a support group or anything like that!
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Postby magicmonkey on Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:20 pm

Heh
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Postby wonkabar on Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:51 pm

The only similarty for me is that Babel is going be another Best-Picture-winner that many people aren't going to be happy with.

Btw has anybody watched the extended-edition of CRASH? Better, worse?
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Postby MasterWhedon on Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:26 pm

I'm with you, Pacino. Thanks for clarifying.


Crash forver!
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Postby Nordling on Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:34 pm

I like BABEL a lot. However, there's something off about the whole timeline that irritates me. For one thing, the whole bus shooting seems to be a media event and no one thinks to check up on their kids? An investigative reporter would have been on their lawn yesterday.

Also, I thought Adriana Barraza's character was terrific, but... and this is a story issue... if she had any idea what Brad/Cate were going through in Morocco, you'd think she'd find it in her heart to stay home, son getting married or no. I just didn't buy it that she'd do that in a time of serious crisis for the Brad/Cate family.

Now, what to many critics seems to be the most unneccesary plotline, the father and daughter in Japan, I found to be the most compelling. I thought that story ended perfectly, and ended the film perfectly.

It's a good movie. Better than CRASH by fucking lightyears. But at the same time, with other, better films out there in 2006, and other, better films nominated, I'm not rooting for it at the Oscars.
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Postby tapehead on Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:53 pm

Seeing this in the next couple of days - good to hear another perspective, Nordling
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Postby pomeroy on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:43 pm

I went in and saw this with literally NO ideas about it...and was about as annoyed as I've ever been in the theater. *THIS* movie is supposed to be one of the best of the year? Ugh.

Just because a movie's well made, doesn't make it good. I felt like it was nicely done, but didn't have an interesting story to tell at all. What a waste of time.
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Postby tapehead on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:52 pm

Welcome to the Zone, Pomeroy, thanks for bringing your opinion


,er


Introduce yourself, RIGHT ON!
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Postby Conde Alcala on Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:17 am

Babel is uneven, that's why so many people find it to be annoying and pretentious. The film sports some beautiful moments and settings (the mexican wedding, the Tokyo-Ecstasy montage, the final shot and the beginning sequence) and some great performances (Barraza, Kikuchi, the morrocan boys), marred, IMO, by some weakly scripted moments (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's scene together with all the hugging, Kikuchi's scene with that police officer) and some major structural flaws (the lack of a convincing resolution for Barraza's story, the weak connection established between the japanese story and the other two, the blah resolution to the pitt-blanchett story) In the end, I think its worth watching for the good, and as for the bad, well, you can judge for yourselves. And as someone mentioned before, anybody with the most minimum interest in cinematography and photography MUST watch this, because in said fields, Rodrigo Prieto OWNS (along with Emmanuel Lubezki and Guillermo Navarro...notice a trend? they're all MEXICAN :D )
YOUR REVOLUTION IS OVER, MR. LEBOWSKI! CONDOLENCES! THE BUMS LOST! MY ADVICE IS TO DO WHAT YOUR PARENTS DID: GET A JOB, SIR!!! THE BUMS WILL ALWAYS LOOSE! DO YOU HEAR ME, MR. LEBOWSKI?!? THE BUMS WILL ALWAYS *slam*
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Postby Lady Sheridan on Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:44 am

Watched this tonight and really expected to like it...but didn't.

It simply tried too hard. The cinematography is good though.

The storyline I found the most compelling was the Moroccan one, perhaps because it was the most believable to me--a vacation gone horribly bad and a shrill overreaction (and useless hand wringing) from the U.S. Everything else felt tacked on. The story with the nanny is just too over the top--on its own, ok, but the fact that these happen to be the two kids of a couple causing an international incident...please. Real life is insane, but not scripted insane.

I'm also with Nordling when it comes to the nanny. I just couldn't even feel bad for her at the end because she had done something so stupid and selfish. I felt like this storyline tried to blatantly manipulate me politically--oh look, they've employed an illegal AND the U.S. counts her time working as nothing--but...she nearly killed two children. If Brad and Cate's characters had been acting selfishly "Oh, we just feel like staying in Morocco, deal with it, illegal nanny!" I may have been swayed, but...she was recovering from gangrene, for God's sake!

And the Japanese story felt like nothing more than an excuse to show a stereotypical hyper-sexualized Japanese girl. Oh look, she has cute stuffed animals on her backpack, wears a super short plaid skirt with no underwear, and will jump any man who comes along. Thanks for all the crotch shots, Inarritu.

Yes, I get what connects them...I get that it's about small actions and poor communication but it failed to connect with me on any kind of emotional level because it veered off into unbelievability. Taken as separate stories and separate films, I may have enjoyed them better. Well, except the Japanese one. That part just left me cold.
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Postby Ribbons on Sun Apr 22, 2007 12:43 am

Question: was this film supposed to have subtitles?

Cause mine didn't. :?
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Postby magicmonkey on Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:01 am

Ouch! Yeah it does. You must have seen the cunninglinguist version, more babble for your babel.
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Postby Ribbons on Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:01 am

At first I thought that it was part of the style of the film, but the end of Chieko's storyline with the cop confused the hell out of me. B'oh/PWNT...
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Postby doglips on Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:36 am

Finally watched babel last night and thoroughly enjoyed it - if you can call an emotionally harrowing 2 hours enjoyable.

Great juxtaposition of stories and visuals. Inarritu has crafted a movie with real scope, it'll leave a taste in my mouth for a few days, that's for sure. Good performances all round, Chieko standing out from the others.

Like others have said above, it's a fantastically tactile club for Chieko to experience - what a great scene.

Very impressed, 9/10.
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Postby tapehead on Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:06 am

Lady Sheridan wrote:And the Japanese story felt like nothing more than an excuse to show a stereotypical hyper-sexualized Japanese girl. Oh look, she has cute stuffed animals on her backpack, wears a super short plaid skirt with no underwear, and will jump any man who comes along. Thanks for all the crotch shots, Inarritu.

Yes, I get what connects them...I get that it's about small actions and poor communication but it failed to connect with me on any kind of emotional level because it veered off into unbelievability. Taken as separate stories and separate films, I may have enjoyed them better. Well, except the Japanese one. That part just left me cold.


Damn - it's funny because I think it was this section I actually felt the most touching; Those poor Morrocan shepherds and their miracle bullet (Boubker Ait El Caid and Said Tarchini), Blanchett and Pitt's American tourists, and Adriana Barraza's Mexican nanny and her nephew Santiago (Gael García Bernal), all, to an extent, smack of cultural guilt to me.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the movie as a whole, just stating my impressions. I can feel the film maker's less than gentle touch, where, through affect, he's pushing the audience's emotion (In her case, so much of this is communicated brilliantly by Blanchett's face; her eyes).
On the other hand, the Japanese part of the tale takes that rather cliché and exploited notion of the hyper-sexualized Japanese school girl teen, and compounds it with Rinko Kikuchi's honest and provocative portrayal of her disability and her pure, raw and mostly innocent loneliness.
The scene with her in the dentist's chair had me laughing and cringing and feeling for her, just as a lonely, frustrated individual who can't communicate what they want, what they need. Different to the other episodes it took me beyond her cultural identity to something very nearly universal.
And that's before she ever steps out onto the balcony.
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