17 February 2007

gael, brad pitt, cate blanchett-- all in a movie by guillermo gonzález iñárritu. . . there was no way i was not going to like this movie. gael garcía bernal is my favorite actor of all time. cate blanchett is quickly becoming one of my fave contemporary actresses. and gonzález iñárritu is the director of one of my favorite movies ever, amores perros. so it was no surprise to me how much i enjoyed babel. but what did surprise me is that what made me this movie awesome was just as much the supporting performances as it was gonzález iñárritu's script and directing and the leading performances by blanchett and pitt.

babel, like gonzález iñárritu's other movies is difficult to summarize, since he favors the tryptich sort of storyline. in babel there are four stories that overlap. the film opens with a moroccan family who buys a gun for hunting. two young boys in the family, horsing around with the weapon, accidentally shoot a tour bus, wounding a u.s.-american tourist played by cate blanchett. meanwhile, in one parallel storyline, a mexican-american nanny takes two children she is caring for south of the border to her son's wedding (with predicatably tragic results). and in a second parallel storyline, a deaf japanese schoolgirl is having a really terrible day, struggling to communicate with various boys that she meets and reaching out to them mostly through sexual overtures.

at first, babel seems a confusing barage of plot points, apparently disconnected from one another. however, if you have seen gonzález iñárritu's other films, you know that this ostensible disconnect will be erased in the end. as babel progresses, the viewer begins to see how each of these characters' lives is connected with the others, people who (largely) they have never met. in amores perros what connected all of the characters was a dog; in babel what finally connects them is the gun that is exchanged in the opening scene.

as anyone can probably deem from its title, babel is a film about problems with communication. however, unlike the mythic tower of babel, what breaks down communication here is everything BUT language barriers. the u.s. tourists in morocco have little difficulty communicating with the arabic-speaking people they come in contact with on their "vacation" but they cannot get through to their fellow english-speaking tourists at all. the mexican-american family can't talk to the border patrol agents they meet on their return to the states, even though they speak perfect english. and the deaf japanese girl communicates freely with people she meets throughout her day, though she is never able to express her true feelings to anyone. the final motto, in a few words, is that communication is much more than words.

of course, the script is amazing. it couldn't not be. and blanchett, pitt, and gael are all great (although gael's role is inexplicably small and abrupt). but what really amazed me in this film was not any of this, but rather the fantastic supporting performances by oscar-nominated adriana barraza and rinko kikuchi. kikuchi, as the deaf japanese girl, gives this fantastically haunted, bizzarely sexual v. asexual performance that leaves you in the end with your jaw on the floor. i haven't been that mystified by a character since scarlett johannsen in lost in translation. but, for my money, the single best on screen performance of 2006 (period) was barraza as the tortured mexican-american nanny. she will give you nightmares. john and i debated about what scene we liked most from babel, but they were both centered around barraza. she has a small role in amores perros as well, and i was glad to see her get some more screentime this time around. she is fantastically talented.

all i have to say is that people talk about jennifer hudson as this year's a star is born moment, but i see her quickly disappearing. adriana barraza is the real newborn star of 2006. as latin american cinema appears to really be in the middle of a tremendous surge in popularity worldwide, i hope i see a lot more of her. and, even though it won't happen, if there is any justice we'll see her on the oscar podium next sunday as well.
I saw a movie the other day called The Man Who Cried. Rarely is there a film featuring both Gypsies and Johnny Depp, and never one with him as a Gypsy... so I could not pass up recording it....even if it did star Christina Ricci. Anyways, Blanchett was in it as well as the Russian immigrant searching for love and money. It's a strange film, and frankly, I think it was a case of the writer or director knew they wanted to make a film about something [in this case a russian jew looking for her long lost father] and in the meantime overlooked the WAY more interesting stories of the supporting chracters like Blanchett and Depp.

This movie did feature one of the most awesome on screen killings I have ever seen! I didn't see it comming and it was just fantastic...not gory...just very awesome both in context and the way the shot was filmed. Not to mention Johnny Depp cries. He has got to be the best male crier of all time.
huh. i have never heard of this movie. i can't believe there is a movie starring cate blanchett AND johnny depp that i haven't seen. BLASPHEMY! i will have to put it on my mental netflix queue (that is, seeing as how i don't subscribe to netflix, a mental list of films i will have to go to blockbuster to procure).
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home
Luke and John talk about movies

January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / August 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / January 2010 / March 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / July 2011 / November 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / February 2013 / March 2014 / February 2015 /

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]