For some reason, the bar for good film making has been set considerably low in recent years. I try to refrain from being so pessimistic on this blog, but when movie houses rip you off at $10.00 a pop for a shit film, i tend to get a little bent out of shape – especially since the last good film i have seen in a theatre was American Beauty, in 1999.
So, having said that, do NOT see the new film Babel.It stinks, It is perhaps the worst film i have ever seen. Somewhere along the line, film artist and film makers thought that it was a good idea to forego quality for gimmicks, and pretencion. A personal masquerade posing as brilliant and intelligent filmaking when in reality it is sloppy, lazy, flacid work should be more apparent to filmgoers, but it so often they are duped. Less isn’t always more, and in this case, more is needed. The only reason something so flawed could do so well is because the majority of the American public perceives the aforementioned as cutting edge and creative and original. That’s because the majority of the American public is stupid. That’s why they like shows like Flavor of Love, and The Real World. Most people are entertained by the most mundane, stupid, idiotic, and obvious shit. So whenever something is just out of the audience’s grasp, or whenever a plot seems convoluted it is often mistaken as intelligent and sophisticated. Most people would rather watch VH1 and the E Channel, and Celebreality than critique a film. (Who cares what Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson are doing, or Paris Hilton and Brittany??!!! People like Ryan Seacrest are considered journalist! Tell that to Dan Rather. Tom Brokaw is rolling over in this grave. Seagway…sorry.)
Anyway, to get back to my point, (and that is to NOT see Babel) about Babel…it is a poor attempt to make an understated statement about the nature of communication (or lack of) in a complicated and fiber-optically connected world. The premise sounds promising, and could have potentially been a great film or story, but the filmmakers fail miserably to do the most important thing a storyteller should do: tell a STORY.
This neglected aspect is at the crux of what so many storytellers, including Alejandro González Iñárritu fail to achieve these days. They think that if they blindside us with spectacle and long seemingly introspective panning shots of characters doing the most mundane of things, that somehow it reveals something about the character or at least to illicit your empathy for the them. Somehow this is artsy or “real.” The reality is that when the characters are thrown together into a loosely plotted, poorly connected, and underdeveloped montage of meaningless shots and garbage, it ceases to maintain your interest. The reality is it’s boring. I didn’t care about the characters. The storyteller didn’t write in the drama or the anything to make me want to care or know more. I just wanted it to be over.
It’s like looking at photography, which i enjoy by the way. It was a PRETTY film… It really just comes down to knowing the difference between presenting a sentiment or moment in time, and telling a STORY. It’s hard to scrutinize a photo for two and a half hours. Personally, 21 Grams was far richer and touching. The STORY was there, and i genuinely cared about the characters. I got swept away in it. The story was also told in a an unconventional way instead to the straightforward linear mode. I think the desire to do the same with this movie was apparent, but fell way short. In fact, without the title and the biblical reference it makes to communication i would have had no idea what the dierector was trying to achieve. F+
P.S. i don’t want to disparage the actor’s performances in any way…i thought they were masterfully executed…