Monday, November 27, 2006

Yesterday, Today, and....

This morning

Last night, I managed to set my alarm clock for 6pm instead of 6am. Fortunately, I have a slightly functioning internal alarm system and I woke up at 6:44, wondering how much time I had left to doze before the alarm went off (11 hours and 16 minutes, apparently). So my morning was one of franticness, but I am extremely proud to say that I was showered, dressed, presentable (makeup but no blow-dry; I went for the ponytail look), fed (full breakfast and vitamins; breakfast is my non-negotiable), and out the door by 7:20. Yep, I did it. The girl who took over an hour and a half to get ready for high school took 36 minutes to get ready. Of course, I didn’t make my bed this morning. But I never, ever made my bed in high school.


I saw Babel yesterday. I’m still not sure what I think of it. I think it was good. Sometimes I go to movies because I really want to see them, and sometimes I go because I think it’s going to be critically important among the mass of that year’s releases. So I certainly didn’t go to be entertained.

It was long. Literally, yes, it was over two and a half hours, but it happened to feel even longer. And there was something a little off about the pacing of the storytelling at times.

For those of you who know very little of the story (as I did), it’s a multi-narrative piece that explores the confusion of language and culture within three very different stories and geographical areas. There’s the American tourist couple facing death in rural Morocco, the Mexican immigrant nanny (illegal, naturally) trying to make it to her son’s Mexican wedding with her American charges in tow, and the deaf-mute Japanese teenager desperate for sex/love in Tokyo. I don’t really feel like telling you too much about either of these stories as I’m not sure how much would be giving too much away.

The Moroccan story was by far the most captivating. It could have been an entire film in itself. Dad, if you’re reading this, you should probably see the film just for the Morocco scenes. I don’t think much has changed since you were there. Not typically a Brad Pitt fan, I can confidently admit that the man is brilliant in the film. Award-worthy. He is finally in a role that reflects his age (he’s 20 years older than me. I appreciate being reminded of that), and gives him the opportunity to be passionate and rugged and rough around the edges and imperfect and human. And Cate Blanchett is one of the greatest actresses on the planet, so the two of them together were pretty phenomenal. Almost as powerful were the performances of two young Moroccan boys, caught up in an international news story thanks to boyhood curiosity and mischief.

Mexico was also interesting, mostly because you know that the little blond children being scuttled across the border are the offspring of Brad and Cate. I’m usually not a fan of American child actors (the British are far more eloquent and endearing), but these kids won me over. It’s also a story slightly closer to home (literally and figuratively), as I live in a multicultural city and witness the interactions between cultures every day.

Japan was my issue. It felt very redundant. The pacing was a little ADD at times (to capture the essence of the ecstasy/rave scene, I guess), and yet it never really said anything. I was getting frustrated, wanting to shake the girl and break it to her that hearing and speech will not cure her of boylessness. I have always been able to hear and speak and yet boys at raves don’t make out with me either. And the absence of underwear will, I’m afraid, get her some attention one day, but not the kind worth getting. I also didn’t really care that her mom was dead. And then I didn’t like myself for not caring.

I realize that the Japanese story wanted to expose the lost within their own people and culture. The problem was, that against the other two stories, especially the one with Cate Blanchett clinging to her life, I didn’t really care if anyone ever thought the deaf girl was seduction-worthy.

If you have the money and the time, check out two-thirds of the film. Kidding. I give you permission to see it all.

1 comment:

michael lewis said...

Now let me tell you about Babel!!


I'm a debit card kind of guy. My housemate (of the same name) is a cash kind of guy. He always stands in line to pay cash and I always skip the line by using the cash-free kiosk.

I buy my ticket and text him in the line to say I'm getting a seat because we're in the old dumpy theatre.

Galaxy in Lethbridge was recently renovated, while adding 4 stadium theatres, but they never did anything with the 6 "old" screens, so they're flat seating and tiny screens. It's best to sit in the very back.

I'm waiting for him, and finally he comes in just as the announcement is being made that the start time will be delayed due to something wrong with the projector or the film.

Between the time that I bought my ticket and my housemate got to the front of the queue to buy his ticket, they stopped selling the tickets because they were aware of the delay. He reasoned with the ticket tear person to let him in to talk with me. I told him to just sit down. So, he didn't pay. Are we bad?

Then, due to the delay, everyone in the theatre got a free movie coupon. So, my housemate got two free movies that weekend.

Anyway, there was an old couple in the same row as us, who insisted on screaming at each other, likely because they're old and can't hear anything. So the announcer person had to stand in front of them and shout in their faces.

But worse than that, remember the "deaf" scenes, where there is no audio and the camera does a point-of-view of the Japanese girl? Well, the old loud couple would start yelling at each wondering if the other could hear and if not, then who was going to tell the manager that they want their money back (again) for the film having no sound (again). Some days, I hope I die young.

I applaud Cate. I actually thought her character was kind of a bitch. And Cate convinced me that she was a good at acting like one.

And yes, finally, Brad looks like George Clooney's age, which he is. It was quite freakish to see Brad with a beard and grey hair and wrinkles around his eyes (was that just make-up? or the side-effects of his "marriage" to Angelina?).

If I was living illegally in another country, I certainly wouldn't leave!! I almost felt sympathetic for the Auntie, but really? Come on! She was quite stupid! And her stupid nephew?!?

The kids, AWESOME! So well acted, so well conceived. Kids are kids, and families are families, and childhood isn't really all that much different from culture to cultre.

Two things that didn't happen which I thought and wished did happen:

#1 - Snake bite in the dessert! I wanted one of the blond kids to be bit by a poisonous snake and die; merely to add to the heartache of the dumb nanny.

#2 - I wanted the Japanese girl to get what she was looking for (some type of forceful sexual encounter, perhaps a tryst that morphs into a rape), or that she would have jumped naked off the balcony and land right in front of the cop.

Answer to questions not provided:

What did the Japanese note say?

What happened to the blond kids?

What happened to the Moroccan family?

Though Babel did not exactly disappoint, let's just say I'm looking forward to The Good Shepherd.