Sunday, March 04, 2007


Last night SK and I watched Babel. I hadn't really wanted to watch it because I had a vague notion of all the things that happen in it and I thought it would probably just make me anxious to watch. But SK'd rented it and wanted to watch it and I'd heard it was really good, so I said ok.

It did make me anxious, but it was a really phenomenal movie and I recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. As much as I love Cate Blanchett, who plays an American tourist in Morrocco, I was pleased to learn that the movie doesn't focus completely on her and Brad Pitt, although the drama that happens to them is the fulcrum around which the whole rest of the movie pivots.

More screen time goes to the actors in Mexico, Morrocco and Japan than to Cate and Brad Pitt by far. The story is global but only incidentally political. Unlike Syriana, which was a political movie that was only incidentally personal, Babel immerses us in the personal lives of dynamic, fleshed-out, interesting characters who are all caught up in various parts of the global, political machinery.

I thought it was a really incredible movie, though I wish I could watch it again now that I know the different outcomes and wouldn't have to be so anxious. I kept expecting characters to behave in the typical, brutal, Hollywood way and I think I would enjoy the movie more the second time around, knowing what I know now.

For those of you who have seen it already: is it just me, or did anyone else catch the homage to Hemingway's 'Hill's Like White Elephants?' I could be totally wrong, but the scene when Brad and Cate are sitting in the dusty outdoor station drinking coke and sniping at each other seemed to be taken directly from this frequently anthologized short story. In the story, two American travelers are sitting in a hot, dusty Spanish train station bickering and talking very elliptically about whether the woman will have an abortion. It's a great story, if you've never read it, and really illustrates Hemingway's power to leave the meat of a story in the subtext.

Anyway, I immediately noticed the similarities in the two scenes, but a long shot of white hills in the distance confirmed it for me. If the filmmakers didn't intend that reference, then I'll be amazed. Has anyone else seen this movie? Did you like it?


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