My table has finally arrived! In one piece, even! I’m really glad to have it because I’m tired of eating on the porch (yes, woe is me.) That’s all I’ve got.
Okay, so I have seriously done nothing but watch movies recently. How do the unemployed do it? Filling all of this time is really, really hard and probably more “work” than having a job! I guess I’m going to have to get the knitting bag out again. That’s neither here nor there so on to the review…
I’m not really sure where to begin with Babel because there is so much to cover. But a film set on three continents will kinda make it difficult for even the best reviewer to pin down. There are three stories happening with this movie: one in Morocco with American tourists, Richard and Susan (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett,) one in the U.S. and Mexico with a Mexican nanny, Amelia (Adrianna Barrazza) and the couple’s two kids, and one in Japan with Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi.) Alejandro González Iñárritu has a name with enough accents to tackle such a complex, international film and delivers relatively well.
The lives of Richard, Susan and Amelia are all very clearly intertwined from the beginning. Susan is shot while on holiday with Richard in Morocco and Amelia is in charge of the children stateside while all of this goes down. Fair enough. However, things get more complicated when we throw in Chieko, a deaf-mute Japanese school girl with a self-destructive streak. Why is she in this plot at all, you’ll ask? I mean, I’m okay with watching Rinko Kikuchi flitting about on screen and being a nympho, but it is a little confusing. It takes Iñárritu until 3/4 of the way through his work to get to an explanation, but it fits in very, very nicely (and you can figure it out with a detail revealed in Morocco at 1/2 way through, if you are paying attention.
Since I watch movies for the imagery before all else, I really enjoyed Babel‘s look. Things were very detailed and great attention was paid to the sets and consistency between shots. Additionally, the visual language made it immediately evident where we were in all scenes. Best of all, when Amelia’s nephew, Santiago (Gael García Bernal…yes, again. No, I didn’t know. He’s pretty, but I swear I didn’t pick it because he’s in it!) breaks through the U.S. border and leaves her in the desert, the existing connection between Morocco and the U.S. reaches a beautiful new level with only a change of scenery. Bravo, Iñárritu!
The part where I say negative things: okay, the twists that tie everyone together are really not all that astounding. In fact, they kinda feel fudged. I think that perhaps someone just wanted a reason to shoot on location in Tokyo. But that’s okay, because it was well worth it, since the scenes there were my favourites by far. Cate Blanchett was not on screen anywhere near enough and I really wanted to know more about her character. A lot of the dialogue between Susan and Richard could have used some explaining. And, by the end of 2 and a half hours, I was feeling as jet-lagged as if I had traveled from location to location in reality.
Definitely worth watching, especially if you don’t mind feeling a little bleak about the world when your movie viewing has ceased. Not really something you should watch if you want to be amazed by a really clever web of events (it’s no The Constant Gardener) but it definitely deserves points for being so ambitious. And for landing Cate Blanchett, because she’s a goddess.
I would rate it 3 stars. Maybe three and a half, but it was really too long (and I don’t know if Dusty made half stars or not for sure. I think he did. Help?)
Michel Gondry is an artist of fantastic talent, both as a director and a writer. The Science of Sleep, the story of Stéphane Miroux’s (Gael García Bernal) losing battle with reality, does an absolutely superb job of making you feel as though you’ve not slept in weeks. As the film progresses, the characters and situations get harder and harder to make sense of, ultimately leading to a complete breakdown between Stéphane and Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg.) What’s most interesting, at least to me, was the way in which Gondry explores Stéphane’s mental state. The more worn down and tired he gets, the less effectively he is able to deal with his father’s recent death and his frustration with Stéphanie. I won’t really go into detail because I don’t want to destroy all of the surprises…
Visually, The Science of Sleep could be a continuation of Björk’s “Human Behaviour” video. (Remember, the one where she is eaten by a giant teddy bear?) The plot is interspersed with trippy dream sequences that look completely hand made. It’s beautiful, textured and rich but also conveys the artistic styles of the characters. And it makes the film seem more like an art installation than major motion picture. It had this cool, white-lit look that conveyed a gallery to me, for some reason. Coupled with the dreary, white stone walls of Paris, the movie felt like it was a trip into a European art museum…which is probably what being inside Michel Gondry’s brain is like.
Anyway, there were a few shortcoming with the plot. I’m assuming that Gondry chose to spend more time on the amazing dream sequences than he did on the writing because there were gaping holes and things were sometimes hard to follow. This is beyond what would have been necessary to get across the disjointed atmosphere of Stéphane’s world. I really, again, can’t explain specifically, but there were a few times where you just have to assume that you knew what the characters were talking about because it really was not at all clearly exposed beforehand. Oh, and some of the sentences are in at least three languages, so have fun with that! However, I would still watch it over again and it very well may end up back in my Netflix queue in the very near future.
3 stars for being beautiful and thoughtful! Minus 1 for being a tad hard to follow!
Update: Added a link to Björk/Gondry’s video. Sorry, it’s YouTube – her QuickTime gallery has only a crappy low res version.
So today was interesting. Well, the start of it, anyway. I was awakened after a marathon of sleeping to the sound of erratic knocking on my door. “Oh, it’s probably a kid from the babysitter’s place down the hall,” I thought. Until the sound came again and my front door opened. *must thank Nate for locking that last night*
“Plumber’s here!” calls the voice in the entry.
Still in bed, I shout back, “Uh, why?”
“We had a visual inspection of your bathroom and the sink and shower are leaking,” says the plumber.
*i’m not leaving bed for this* “Well, the shower is working fine. Did I know you were coming?”
“Pauline Kane said to come by this morning…said she’d be letting you know that we were coming,” he answers.
“My brother is currently IN the shower and I have to get ready for work. Can you come back in like an hour?”
“Nope…my day’s booked after this. Can I just come in and fix it?”
*still in bed at this point* “No, call the landlord to sort it out, please.”
He was probably pissed off but 6:45?! I didn’t know plumbing work even happened that early. It’s not like a pipe burst or I live in an oil rig. So freaking weird.
So, does someone want to come visit my new place soon? Perhaps swing by Bellefonte to pick up my dining table since it’s not going to arrive before I move (as of today’s delayed tracking info?) I think it sounds like a fun adventure.
…Nick gave us a new blog post. There was much celebration and feasting. (Really, it was a pretty kick ass time.)
Similarly, Hoover’s was all kinds of enjoyable. It may have taken Lindsie and I forever to actually get there (her moreso than myself), but it was well worth the journey. Dusty has a stupendously embarassing video of me playing Wii boxing. I’ve not seen it yet, but I have a feeling it’s going to be linked soon. And I’m paying the price for said video with an entire body of sore muscles. Freaking Nintendo…disguising exercise as gaming! WarioWare with Lindsie was guaranteed hilarity and just being with everyone was great fun. We were obnoxious and loud everywhere we went, just as it should have been. I’m really excited to have everyone down when winter goes away so we can have a weekend at the beach. And probably lots of drinks since that’s what we do. Hoover, you are packing the Wii for maximum entertainment…Dusty, you bring the whiskey. I’ll have blankets, I swear…
Tonight is Of Montreal! Yay-ness. Dusty is confident that the snow is going to relent before our intended departure time and I’m hoping this is correct. Amanda and Brent are traveling along tonight, too, which is very exciting. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well.
…but it’s finally been cemented for me tonight. My parents are not always looking out for me. They don’t always want to help. Frankly, they are much more interested in making sure they are enjoying their success than helping to ensure mine. Does this sound selfish on my part? Absolutely. Does it change the fact that I think they should help someone that they brought into the world under their choice? No. The specifics don’t matter. What does is that I’m officially writing off any idea that they are going to be there for me to rely upon. The notion that if I fuck things up, I’m not going to end up in a box is completely out the window. Because, I think if it came right down to it, I may end up with this:
“Mom, I’m on the street. Can you come pick me up? I need to come home.”
“I’m sorry, Nick. We are just so busy this week with Hannah’s lessons and we just took Bailey to the vet and we just don’t have any way to help you. Can’t you call one of your coworkers?”
This may not be completely fair, of course. They are coming to help me move in two weeks. They have helped me move more often than not (there were only three times when I moved completely on my own.) My dad gave me $2000 to put towards my first semester of tuition, $2000 towards the purchase of my Golf and helped me cosign on loans. My mom has been chipping in $180/mo or so for my half-grand of school loans and covered the interest payments during the time that I was in school. But when I compare it to what my friends have been given…namely tuition, cars, interest free loans on huge amounts…I can’t help but feel like I’m drawing the short end of the stick here.
Yes, I did secure a fantastic job and I will be starting it soon. Yes, things could be far, far worse. I’m aware of this. But that doesn’t change my circumstances nor my feelings because of them. I’m tired of feeling like I’m being ungrateful and out of line every single time I ask for help. And feeling like a failure for asking for far less than any of my direct peers could. I want to be able to do it on my own, but sometimes you just need help. If you can’t rely on your family at this sort of time, who are you supposed to turn to, exactly?
As I type this, there is a middle-aged gentleman lighting a glass pipe dead center in the middle of my alleyway. He keeps looking around to make sure no one can see him. You know, in the middle of a road.
Well, I can see you, sir.
And you’ll be one of my last memories of Bellefonte. Just you, in your puffy, disgusting sports team jacket, exhaling huge clouds of pot smoke. Thank you.
So I got bored while I was at Lindsie’s for my grad school tours (she’s not a bad hostess…she was just at work while I was in her apartment) and decided to make Sonya a mix CD. I figured it was appropriate because we spend so much of our time asking when the world is just going to end and leave us alone. I liked it so much, though, that I thought I’d share with everyone!
The entire album is available here for your listening enjoyment, but only for a limited time, Hoover. (~50 MB, mp3)
Download cover art as a PDF if you’d like to burn a copy.
Did you see Lost in Translation? Did you like it? If you did, consider yourself a shoe-in for Marie Antoinette because it’s the exact same ambiance just transported back 200 years and moved half a planet West. This makes it sound like the film was boring. And I won’t lie, there were times when it was. But in the way that Coppola’s other film was boring: the boredom of reality. What you see in Marie Antoinette is not a retelling of a dramatic moment in time or a period piece about romance or tragedy. You see random days in the life of a girl made queen, of an outsider in a strange culture.
What’s more than the ambiance of feeling is that of vision. Holy hell. This film is a visual overload: mirrors and silk and flowers and velvet and fondant and….. Many reviewers mentioned how you would be absolutely dizzied by the endless layering of beauty. They were not exaggerating. It was like a pastel Moulin Rouge in broad daylight. My new HDTV is arriving tonight and I’m absolutely watching for a second time just to see what the set can do. It’s that kind of experience.
And the soundtrack! Aphex Twin and Siouxie and the Banshees in one place? Yes, sir…you are right. Little anachronisms like this made for a quirky vibe that lent itself to life at Versailles under Louis XVI.
What I like most about Sofia Coppola’s films is the way they are so repeatable. She does not force you to follow one emotional path through from start to end but instead lets you create whatever feelings you want by filling your mind with nuanced glances and deafening silences. Marie Antoinette reminded me of visiting a gallery full of sublime art…so good that you will visit again and again just to uncover what else you can possibly draw from what’s on display.
In short, unless you are looking for a film that does the storytelling for you, you’ll love it. 4 stars!