Babel is horrible.

You know, I don’t want to get too hopeful about it, but I think I might actually be having a good week. Work is going great. I think I’m on track with my book reading. Which, by the way, now includes:

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (highly rec’d)
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (highly rec’d)
  • Take the Cannoli by Sarah VowellYes, this is now the 3rd Vowell book this year. What can I say, she’s good. I would also like to add that I consider it a collective sin of my educators and overseers that no one introduced me to The Moviegoer in my previous 24 years of life. The protagonist has even inspired a short essay of mine, which I may or may not post later depending on my mood.

    Speaking of solitary moviegoing, I had a free ticket so I saw Zodiac on Friday. I don’t feel inspired to say much other than I really liked it and the 2.5 hours flew by.

    I wish 2.5 hours had flown by when I watched Babel, which is just a dismal failure of a film on almost every level. I almost feel offended at how much positive press this movie is getting (even Academy Awards? seriously?). When I rate movies poorly I usually give them 2/5: I lost interest, the script was poor, whatever the reason. To get a 1 Star review from me you have to do something patently offensive to the reviewer. On the basis of “pointless cruelty and endless banality” Babel easily fits that description.

    Unlike most of the user reviewers at Metacritic (who insist on ignorantly referring back to Crash), I think I’m slightly qualified to talk about Babel. Yes, I’m pretentious. But look: I have a very high tolerance for fuckedup-ness (see: Oldboy) and straight-up bizarreness (see: David Lynch). This is the kind of movie I’m supposed to love. So the problem I have is not that I don’t “get it”. It’s not that this is new and uncomfortable territory for me. I’ve seen many, many non-linear films before — films that play with time, with memory, with structure, the whole shebang. It’s not edgy and not original (and seriously people, it wasn’t new with Crash). And to further qualify myself, let’s be clear that I have seen Amores Perros and 21 Grams and generally enjoy most Mexican cinema.

    To be fair, Alejandro González Iñárritu is a good director and I think somewhere in him there’s a masterpiece waiting to be let out — he just hasn’t made it yet, though Amores Perros was close. But Babel is just completely off the deep end. There’s simply no point. The inter-woven narratives serve no purpose and are solely pre-occupied with appearing meaningful. They’re not. For example, the “OhGosh-It’s-A-Deaf/Mute-Japanese-Girl-With-No-Mom” novelty wears out thin when that gimmick is all we get from her. Beyond shallowness, it’s an abusive film that masochistically inflicts pain on the audience for no reason whatsoever. Because Iñárritu doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his characters, neither do I. One or two “moving” scenes does not a movie make.

    And p.s. — In case you’re wondering, of course our lovely white American tourist lives while the incestously horny Morroccan kid gets to die.

  • One thought on “Babel is horrible.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts on Babel–guess I’ll skip it! LOVED The Things They Carried. Man that was a fantastic book. Did I mention the book Beach Music by Pat Conroy before? I’m reading it right now. The title is a little lame, admittedly. But this book is great so far. I’m halfway through and blown away by the descriptions, the dialogue, the history he’s creating which feels so real. It’s very enjoyable though a little long.

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