11 thoughts on “babel

  1. yeah, this is nothing to write home about (is this a current idiom?), but you’ve got to wonder at the lust with which pop culture portray american hatefulness these days. the cops are hateful, immigration is hateful, even desperate brad pitt, with his bulliness and sense of entitlement, is hateful. in contrast, even the abusive and murderous moroccan police seem human. like inarritu and arriaga, i live here, and it’s all true! is america the only country in the world in which people with power and guns turn automatically, almost inescapably, into intolerable monsters? the only other popular depiction of this blank, unfeeling monsterishness is nazi germany.

  2. i hate to say more about this film–which is just so slight, though slick–but one of the things that really bugged me about is exactly the degree to which that white family has to be punished: the wife’s shot in the neck, her neck is sewed up by a country vet with a dirty needle, their fellow tourists abandon them, their kids get lost in the desert and almost die. all this because she doesn’t drink the water with ice in it. but goddammit, that’s the smart thing to do! what a horrible metaphor for cultural communication.

  3. i didn’t see it that way. i never made the connection with the ice and all that. it seems to me that the white couple/family are simply ensnared (aren’t we all?) in the dynamics of imperialism, and pay the price for it along with those who are at the losing end. in this sense, they stand in, rather facilely, for the US. it’s a crude identification, granted, and they are made to suffer a lot, but hey, so are the other characters! the shame is that inarritu and arriaga should have chosen not to make them (and the tourists) a little less horrible. does brad pitt have to shout so damn much at everyone? and how about the poor nanny? maaaaan. and no one on the bus really gives a shit that poor cate blanchett is dying????

    also, if they are wealthy losangelinos, couldn’t they do better than joining an organized tour?

    lastly, the japanese section doesn’t seem integrated with the rest at all. i am surprised this got nominated for so many oscars.

  4. And who travels to Morocco with a bunch of pasty Brits on a bus to work out marriage problems? The Japanese section isn’t integrated though it would make a lovely short film (minus the contrived “I gave my rifle to the nice man in the village” conceit). Things to like: the nightclub sequence in Tokyo, the wedding in Mexico, the way time is fractured, the fact that the histrionics will never match the abhorrent 21 Grams . . .

  5. yes.

    i liked 21 grams. maybe i should see it again, since everyone on this blog hates it. just because i don’t like what y’all like, doesn’t mean i don’t hate what y’all hate! it’s easier to hate than to love, or is it the other way round?

  6. gio, i actually preferred 21 grams. and amores perroes is just magnificent. both those films have a more lived in, less contrived feel to me.

  7. I’ll echo Arnab, insofar as my distaste for grams was exaggerated by my love of Perros. I hate to have AP even further tarnished by this newest film, given what you all say….

  8. then i’ll see amores perros again, along with 21 grams. perros left me a little bit disgusted the first time around, for obvious reasons. but i have a stronger stomach now, thanks to my having seen all the gory and unsavory films that make you all go gaga.

  9. I’m not sure what I think of the film’s politics, or its message (assuming it has a message), but I certainly enjoyed it, just as a piece of film-making, more than anyone else here. The lack of talkiness, in fact the deep quiet of so many scenes, the way the soundtrack contributes to the sense of place as the “action” moves from one locale to another. It communicated the messiness and complexity of interconnectedness and interdependence very well. Not as good as perhaps it wanted to be, but hardly crap either.

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