Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 2006)

Babel is getting huge buzz this awards season, so since Inarritu's Amores Perros is one of my favorite films, I thought I would check it out, as it's been in a theater in town for almost two months. It's certainly no Amores Perros, and it was actually quite a disappointment, but there are glimmers of that Inarritu greatness that definitely make this worth seeing. Again, Inarritu deals with multiple stories of human tragedy that vaguely overlap; the first, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in crisis in Morocco; the second, the couple's nanny takes her charges to Mexico illegally for her daughter's wedding and crisis ensues; the Moroccan children who accidentally shot Blanchett; and a deaf-mute Japanese girl deals with the death of her mother by trying to give her body to any guy whose around, that doesn't really end up in crisis. The shooting of Blanchett ties all the characters together very loosely.

Mainly, all the stories are just really stressful. I spent most of the movie with my muscles clenched, as I was convinced at one point that everyone I cared about would die. Watching a movie that's not really that emotionally engaging, but still really stressful is not a fun time in the theater. I can't say that I had a good time watching Babel, but I suppose that I am glad I did it. There are quite a few very good performances: Gael Garcia Bernal is stellar as always, in a role that was too small for his talent (it's really his year, be on the lookout for all my favorite Bernal performances on my top ten list after the first of the year), Brad Pitt has really never been better as a husband under fire, and Rinko Kikuchi gives a great breakout performance (what a brave performance, sexually explicit yet not exploitative). Most of the other actors are left to just sweat and scream/cry, especially Cate Blanchett, who does almost nothing but pout and sweat all two plus hours of the film.

The movie is stressful and not that satisfying at the end, but I recommend seeing it, if only to support Inarritu. He's a director of immense talent, but like Jenna, I'm hoping that he moves on to more diverse subjects - no more intertwining stories, please! This is real award season bait, but isn't his best work. The direction is just wonderful and epic, though, which is probably the best thing about the whole film.


RIYL: Amores Perros

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