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David Poland

By David Poland

Brutalizing Babel

Andy Klein of LA City Beat kinda knocks the crap out of “Alejandro Guilermo.” as he calls the director/writer duo responsible for Babel.
The attack is a rather harsh for my tastes. I think there is genius there, but it is precocious and a bit of restraint would go a long way. But still…
Andy’s way of going at them was too funny and razorsharp not to note. Here is Andy’s opener.
Welcome to the Make Your Own Alejandro Gonz

16 Responses to “Brutalizing Babel”

  1. James Leer says:

    Basically, the first several points here are true, but what does that matter to the quality of the film? People are really ripping into this film for being the last in a triptych, aren’t they? Too bad.

  2. It’s not like Klein doesn’t have a point. But, still, I am looking forward to Babel, considering it’s (apparently) better than 21 Grams and Amores Perros.

  3. Nicol D says:

    21 Grams incidentally was the last overwhelmingly, well reviewed film that I went out to see based on the strength of reviews. What I got was a pretentious, facile piece of tripe better suited to a 20 minute student film.

  4. juligen says:

    Well, i will see Babel, thats for sure!!

  5. Ju-osh says:

    Here’s another secret recipe…for almost every Hollywood script:
    1. Introduce characters, conflict.
    2. Build conflict, tension.
    3. Resolve conflict, delfate tension.
    Woo-hoo! Now I’m a smug film reviewer/struggling screenwriter, too!

  6. Wrecktum says:

    Nicol is right to say that 21 Grams was pretentious, but it had some extraordinary performances in it, which was worth the price of admission alone.

  7. elizlaw86 says:

    The writer/director team on this film have taken this style of storytelling to new heights. I saw it in Chicago where it received a standing ovation. Controversy didn’t hurt Crash, which didn’t hold a candle to Babel.

  8. Me says:

    Normally I love pretention (see my love of Crash), but I thought 21 Grams was way over the top. So I’m taking all this Babel love with a grain of salt.

  9. palmtree says:

    “6. Cast increasingly bankable stars, who will take a big pay cut for chance to act up a storm.”
    This is a point that eats itself. Are they bankable because they showed their acting chops in the Innaritu movie? I think Gael Garcia Bernal has a career now because of Amores Perros and same for Rinko Kikuchi in Babel. Doesn’t Innaritu show that he can take virtual unknowns and give them a shot as well as work with veteran big names? Or is just that every actor outside of Mel Gibson is “increasingly bankable”?
    “4. Unmoor the entire thing from any standard chronology, whipping back and forth in brief segments, even as the film as a whole moves generally forward in time.”
    From what I remember, Amores Perros didn’t work that way. It was three stories told separately, each one being chronological in and of itself. Am I wrong?

  10. palmtree says:

    “8. Shoot, cut, score, and release.”
    Wow, those things deserve one numeral…obviously because they are so easy to do.
    10. Ignore stupid lists that demonstrate willful ignorance of the creative process.

  11. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Babel is far and away the best of the Innaritu trilogy…I thought Amores Perros didn’t totally work, and agree that 21 Grams had wonderful acting but went overboard at times…can’t wait to hear what everyone else thinks, when’s the damn thing come out?

  12. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Andy Klein’s article was pretty funny…I get what’s eating at him about Innaritu’s films…but BABEL still left me in tears repeatedly, particularly the Japanese scenes, which are heartbreakingly beautiful…

  13. palmtree says:

    “when’s the damn thing come out?”

  14. …in seven cinemas.

  15. adaml says:

    “”8. Shoot, cut, score, and release.”
    Wow, those things deserve one numeral…obviously because they are so easy to do.
    10. Ignore stupid lists that demonstrate willful ignorance of the creative process.”
    For God sake, get a life.
    He didn’t like it, and found a fairly original and funny way of reviewing it. He wasn’t literally giving you a bullet point list of how to go about shooting a movie. Is that what you thought he was trying to do? Bless.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    On another awards tangent…
    is ‘gray Brad Pitt’ the equivalent this year of ‘fat Clooney’ from last year?

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Julian Schnabel: Years ago, I was down there with my cousin’s wife Corky. She was wild — she wore makeup on her legs, and she had a streak in her hair like Yvonne De Carlo in “The Munsters.” She liked to paint. I had overalls on with just a T-shirt and looked like whatever. We were trying to buy a bunch of supplies with my cousin Jesse’s credit card. They looked at the credit card, and then they looked at us and thought maybe we stole the card, so they called Jesse up. He was a doctor who became the head of trauma at St. Vincent’s. They said, “There’s somebody here with this credit card and we want to know if it belongs to you.”

He said, “Well, does the woman have dyed blonde hair and fake eyelashes and look like she stepped out of the backstage of some kind of silent movie, and is she with some guy who has wild hair and is kind of dressed like a bum?”

“Yeah, that’s them.”

“Yeah, that’s my cousin and my wife. It’s okay, they can charge it on my card.”
~ Julian Schnabel Remembers NYC’s Now-Shuttered Pearl Paint

MB Cool. I was really interested in the aerial photography from Enter the Void and how one could understand that conceptually as a POV, while in fact it’s more of an objective view of the city where the story takes place. So it’s an objective and subjective camera at the same time. I know that you’re interested in Kubrick. We’ve talked about that in the past because it’s something that you and I have in common—

GN You’re obsessed with Kubrick, too.

MB Does he still occupy your mind or was he more of an early influence?

GN He was more of an early influence. Kubrick has been my idol my whole life, my own “god.” I was six or seven years old when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I never felt such cinematic ecstasy. Maybe that’s what brought me to direct movies, to try to compete with that “wizard of Oz” behind the film. So then, years later, I tried to do something in that direction, like many other directors tried to do their own, you know, homage or remake or parody or whatever of 2001. I don’t know if you ever had that movie in mind for your own projects. But in my case, I don’t think about 2001 anymore now. That film was my first “trip” ever. And then I tried my best to reproduce on screen what some drug trips are like. But it’s very hard. For sure, moving images are a better medium than words, but it’s still very far from the real experience. I read that Kubrick said about Lynch’s Eraserhead, that he wished he had made that movie because it was the film he had seen that came closest to the language of nightmares.

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