Babel – Bear Film Review

Catch up…

It rained all day today, would you believe it? If you live in England, this would most probably be a yes!, even when not considering the region. So instead of being bored, I picked a random film to watch on Netflix. I can’t remember what I typed into the search thingymabob, but lo and behold, it turned out to be this film – Babel. And all I knew about it was that Brad Pitt was gunna be in it (the cover gives these things away you see!). So let’s see what I thought of this puzzle of a film, shall we?

I will try and simplify the storyline for you, the beloved reader (rate and comment please-with-a-cherry-on-top [or not]) as I care for you; and though I may never meet you in this lifetime, I am bonded to you in spirit, through the ether, the universe, the common English language I have hijacked for the abomination of what we shall call my way of communicating on an inter[net]galactic level. Trippin’ on ma ballz, y’all!

We Begin (The Actual Film Review!!)

Where was I…

Okay! Babel revolves around an American family whom have been split apart – the kids are in the care with a Mexican friend of their parents, whilst they themselves are on vacation in the barren looking lands of Morocco (that’s how the scenery looked to me anyway). The story in a nutshell, if I be so bold to mention it this way, is geared towards the male’s point of view. Brad Pitt is a Hollywood movie star, and the only actor in the film I recognise, so it’s a safe bet to say that the story’s overall moral revolves around him. That said, I shall now explain: it’s a film telling you to make it the paramount priority that the welfare and protection of your wife and kids are the most important thing in the own entire world.

Or to water it down even more so: you don’t keep an eye on yer kidz, they will fuckerty-up zee workz, and there liveZ!

Now, if you have seen this film and disagree with my opinion of what it is as a whole trying to encapsulate, then I beg of you to leave a comment explaining why, as I am interested in what you have to say. Hand on heart, I really am. To everyone else: trust me – I’m right. I will elaborate now as to why this fact is so.

Locations

The film takes place in four countries:

  1. Morocco
  2. Japan
  3. America
  4. Mexico

The main location, by far, is Morocco. That’s where the majority of the action takes place. The scenes in Tokyo seemed kinda disjointed from the rest of the movie’s obvious puzzle piece, and it only came apparent as to how those scenes were connected to the bigger picture of this story as the film neared its close. Make no mistake, this film requires patience from the viewer as it isn’t a Michael Bay movie – it has a subtle tension running all the way through it, and though it seems like not much has really happened, if you were to reflect on it afterwards (like I have), you’ll realise how understated and underplayed all the pieces were, and what an excellent job the director did in doing this. The story’s subplot of America travels into Mexico, and back to America, as these scenes involved the two children left in the care of someone, who then passed them onto a Mexican friend to look after, and from there it all goes tits up.

The Smoking Gun

The key scene in the whole entire film, in my humble opinion, was the one where the two Moroccan boys were playing around with the sniper rifle their father had just purchased from a man who came to their home and told them that it can shoot from 3 km away accurately. Of course, they wanted to see if this was true, and the younger of the two boys (he had a far better aim than the other) shot at a bus, down below on the road as they stood high up on the cliff edge. As soon as they both saw the bus come to a slow stop, they ran.

Fast forward in the film, and we discover that it was Brad Pitt’s wife in the film, whom had been shot. They find out pretty quickly that the hospital was 4 hours travel away, and having blood leak through the skin of your shoulder at this time, going that far to get urgent medical treatment seemed counter-productive. Instead, the tour guide told them that there is a doctor in his home village, and that this wasn’t too far away from where they currently were. Brad Pitt tells everyone – we’re going to the village!

To cut a long story short (SPOILER ALERT!!!) – she makes it out alive. But it was a fight all the way for them to even get help. For starters, some of the people on the tour bus were scared for their lives, thinking they might get killed if they stayed there because of what happened earlier. Eventually, they can’t wait any longer for the ambulance to arrive, and the bus leaves without them. And so Brad Pitt’s character rings up the American Embassy, and it takes them a long time to get an Air Ambulance (helicopter) over to their aid in Morocco. The excuse is “Because of Political difficulties”, or something along those lines.

BUT THE MAIN QUESTION REMAINS: WHERE DID THE GUN ORIGINALLY COME FROM????????????????

So I’ve mentioned that the sniper rifle was given to a Moroccan man in his home, after another man walks over to trade it to him for some money (and a goat! Because they’re goat herders, they can afford to use that for currency). And from there, the man’s children got up to mischief and stupidly, almost murder someone. But who owned the gun before all of this?

The answer lies in a photograph. After the American woman was shot, the local police went around the area to try and find the shooter. They first, go to the location of the incident, and find bullets on the ground. From this, they know instantly someone who owns this type of gun. But when they get to him (beat him up a little as well), he tells him he sold it yesterday, and that he couldn’t have shot anyone. At this point, he tells them who now has it, and he also shows the police where he obtained it from. His wife presents a photo of her husband, and a Japanese man. He was his hunter guide whilst in Morocco, but now is back in Tokyo. This Japanese man is the guy who gave him the gun!

Tokyo

In Tokyo, we follow around a schoolgirl who plays in a volleyball team. In the locker room, another girl mocks her for getting their team disqualified with her outbursts towards the referee, by saying she’s so angry all the time because she’s never been “fucked”. This results in her trying to grab guy’s attentions by wearing no underwear flashing her undercarriage at them when sat at the table with her deaf friends outside of school. Oh, did I forget to mention that she’s deaf? I SAID: DID I FORGET– okay sorry, that was simply bad taste…

The reason for her mood swings however have more to do with her personal family life. It comes to light that her mother had recently committed suicide, and so this most likely prompted the descend into promiscuity (though she never gets anywhere with the boys – they get embarrassed by her deaf-muteness), and her dabbling with drugs. The latter, again, is fuelled by showing to her peers, and possibly to herself, that she can get a guy her age to get with her.

Alas this doesn’t happen. Instead, she tries is on with her dentist, who kicks her out immediately. Then, after a drug and booze binge, she get’s the porter to call the police detective to come to her apartment. This was because the detective had previously wanted to talk to her about the circumstances surrounding her mother’s suicide, as the girl was the only one stated to be present to see her death.

The girl communicates with the detective by writing on her notepad, and ripping out the page, handing it over to him. She tells him that her mother threw herself off the balcony ledge, and that is how she ended her life. Leaving the room, the detective is left to ponder over the statements he’d been given, only to then be greeted by the naked presence of the girl, who tries to seduce him. He almost, it would seem, gives into temptation, but thankful comes to his senses and tells her to stop. She bursts into tears, hides her eyes into his shoulder, and luckily he is understanding. What he hasn’t understood is what the girl is really telling him, but without telling him: her dad sexually abuses her. This is why she only makes sexual contact with two adult males in the film, and only exposes her private parts to boys her age, from a safe distance, in the movie. Her father’s abuse has affected her.

Before the detective leaves, he is given one more note by the girl. Actually, this note is more of a letter, and we see this for ourselves when he reads it later, in the bar, alone. He has a look of disbelief on his face, but he doesn’t outright say what I believe is written: that the girl is confessing what really happened – her mother couldn’t take the guilt of knowing what her husband was doing to her daughter, and so was drove to suicide… or perhaps it wasn’t suicide, and the father through her over the ledge?

But before he reads the letter in the bar, the detective passes the girl’s father in the downstairs lobby area. He asks him about the rifle, having seen the same picture that the Moroccan police were shown earlier of a Japanese man (i.e. him) and the villager. It wasn’t stated if the detective had been shown the photograph before seeing it in the  apartment building when talking to the girl, but what we do know is that he has been given enough information for him to question him on his rifle. The brief conversation ended with the father agreeing to come down to the police station for further questioning.

The detective also gives his deepest condolences for the death of his wife, saying that he’d just spoken to his daughter and she’d told him how she’d throw herself off the ledge. The father states that this is untrue, and that his wife had shot herself in the head, and that he’d been to the police station to tell them that several times.

So who do we believe? The daughter or the father? If we believe the daughter, then what is the father trying to hide? That he killed her? If we believe the father, does that mean that the daughter has become mentally disturbed – enough to make false statements about her own mother’s suicide? The answer lies on the detective’s letter. And I believe, given the information the film has given me, that if I were to bet my house on it I reckon the father killed the wife and abused her daughter. Sick, I know, but that’s what the story eludes to, even though the ending is left ambiguous, which I felt was unnecessary, and was a bit of a cop out. (FYI the reality is, I’m not that stupid – I’m being hypothetical when I say I would bet my house on it, let alone remortgage it just to titillate your fantasies. #%£~#Freak! My name isn’t John Cassavetes! I must state this because I can’t tell if you, the reader, are dumb or not. If you are, or perhaps you think you aren’t dumb, please leave a comment… because I love you xxx.)

In Conclusion

I think I’ll leave it there for now. I could talk about this film a lot more as I found it a surprisingly thought-provoking movie. I know I’ve only really talked about one location of the film’s plot in detail, so if you liked this post and would like me to e-x-p-a-n-d this review into another blog post, I will be your humble servant.

If not – fuck you! (P.S. I love you.)

 

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Lost In Translation (Bear Film Review)

Recently, I watched Lost In Translation, a little doozy of a film which isn’t usually the type of thing I would stick on my goggle-box on a Friday evening, but thought ‘What the hey – it’s been on my radar for a while now (radar being Netflix) so why not watch it. ‘It can’t be that bad’, I tempted myself further – it’s got Bill Murray on the logo. ‘Give it a go…’

And so I did.

It opens with a shot of the back of some girl named Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), lying on her side on a hotel bed, her crack on show translucently seen through her bland shapeless lady briefs. I initially found this a mundane, albeit, a mildly titillating opening, but as the film progressed it was clear that this was to set the mood for the duration of my viewing.

The key component to this lonesome, offbeat love story (which I classify as that, even though the ending left the viewer with a ‘did they/didn’t they’ situation) is the amazing atmosphere that permeates throughout. This film connects with the viewer what the two main characters are feeling – loneliness – without uttering to the audience one word of it. The way the girl and the much older guy, a has-been actor scraping ad commercials in Japan, connect on such a profound level really resonated with me: I felt their sorrow, I noticed how both of them must have felt inside when dealing with their bored, listless marriages. This film is the best example in recent years of how you don’t need to let the characters speak or do all that much in order for the audience to get what they’re going through.

Millions of people have been in a foreign country and have experienced how everyone speaks a language they cannot understand, and for that they are literally lost in translation. Because of this disconnect from the city of Tokyo around them, they form an unspoken bond – a translation of their yearning to feel noticed; and in their own lives, they don’t get that: the girl’s husband is a music photographer and is too caught up in that world to take notice of her, and the older guy’s wife only interact with him over the phone to ask him basic things, mentioning the kids, and asking when he’ll be back. The way the older guy’s wife talks to him however is done in such a moody way, a loveless way. No wonder he’s taking jobs half way across the world – he’s stuck in a loveless marriage.

So how do these two people, who would never have spoken to each other under other circumstances come to form a romance/close friendship?

Well, it all began with the girl asking the waitress to pass over a bowl of nuts to the older man at the bar, and from there they hit it off. He found out that she is a rather intelligent person, studying philosophy, and getting paid per bono and later finds out other stuff such as that she listens to an audiobook regarding finding your own soul’s passion in life. Later, he tackles this head on (as she denied, in a way, that this was her tape) and asked her what she wants to do with her life. It’s here we, the viewer, realise she is stuck in the shadow of her lover. She’s only in Tokyo to follow around her husband and his pursuit in his dreams, and it seems to have had an impact on the directionlessness(nessness…) of her own dreams. I mean, she’s tried things such as Photography, and gave writing ago but said she didn’t like what came out when she did, so it’s pretty evident that she’s a lost soul. Bob tells her that she’ll land on her feet, and that she shouldn’t give up on the writing (which I saw as a subtext to the director’s own personal experience, as I believe some of the film was in relation to her past encounter with someone in a foreign city. Don’t quote me on that, unless you want to look potentially stupid, which you’re not – I love you).

Bob on the other hand has become this blasé, almost jaded ghost of his former self. He’s stuck not only in his loveless relationship, but also in his dwindling actor career. He’s embarrassed whenever someone actually notices who he is, and hates the production of the whisky drinking advert he had to do. I found this very funny to watch, and loved how they made him play Roger Moore as opposed to Sean Connery, whom he thought was better. Charlotte brought out of Bob this realisation that perhaps it’s okay to feel upbeat once in a while. (Saying that, I did get a kick out of the despond faces Bill Murray had throughout this film. Priceless.)

She brought out his youthful side as they interacted in bars and a karaoke booth that overlooked the city. This scene (in the booth) was a key scene to the movie for me as it showed that, though both obviously drunk, there was real affection between them, plus that Bob is a real gentleman afterwards when he carried her back to her hotel room and tucked her in bed).

More signs that Bob had fallen in love with Charlotte included him suddenly extending his trip so that he can go do a chat show (which he ended up hating). Yet things take a backslide when he wakes up with the red haired jazz singer from the hotel bar, and Charlotte knocks on the door to hear that he has ‘company’. When they go for lunch later that day, it’s apparent that Charlotte is jealous, and Bob reacts like a sulky kid. Both are hurt by what had happened, and both vehemently regret it.

The film ends with Bob saying goodbye to Charlotte in the hotel lobby, and it all seems a bit anti-climatic. The Japanese greeters are there to distract him with photo poses and their barrage of bye byes, and Charlotte resides herself with going back to the lift, and looking dejectedly up to the sky.

Bob gets in the taxi. It’s all over. But wait – he spots the back of in her the busy city crowd. Her body’s figure so distinct to him as it was to us (the viewer) in the first scene of the movie. Bob gets out of the taxi. Runs up to her and calls out her name. Hugs her. Kisses her…

But we do NOT hear what he whispers into her ear. Damn it! What did he say? And alas the movie is over.

It’s a wonderful display of unspoken bonds in unfamiliar land. A movie that really captures the feelings of loneliness and isolation, even in a place so densely packed as Tokyo, Japan. Like I said as I started off this review: I wasn’t expecting to like this film so much as I did. Sure, it’s a slow burner, but it sure packs an emotional punch by the end.

I blubbed a bit. No shame there.

9/10

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 7 (Review)

When you went to school, do you remember how you would always take along with you your backpack? Well, I did anyway. And when you had your backpack, wouldn’t you of checked what was inside of it before going to school, just to make sure you have everything for the day ahead? Well, it turns out Lester’s brother’s son doesn’t do that. And as a result, a gun slides out of his bag and onto the floor of his classroom. What a doughnut!

Because of this youngster’s lack of academic organisation, the police get involved in the matter. They get a search warrant to turn Lester’s brother’s house upside down, leaving the wife in all sorts of bother. He gets a phone call from his missus to get his sorry ass back outta work, and to come home. He panics – they’ll find my gun locker in the basement, and the illegal one too. And as he arrives, that is just what they are doing. And then the twist: a pair of knickers, a bloody hammer, and a saucy photo of Lester’s wife. His own wife flips out, slaps him in emotional outrage, but he just stands there, looking stunned. How could that of got there? Have I been set up? Answer: yes you have matey.

He must have an inkling whom has done the dirty on him. LESTER!!! It’s got to be – recently, he disowned him to his face, whilst he sat on his hospital bed; and with the quagmire Lester is in, it made sense to a degree to sabotage his unloving bro. I’m not justifying Lester’s actions – I’m just saying he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, and jail ain’t the place for a skinny pretty boy like him. (Saying that, neither is it suitable for his brother. Oh well…)

The Sheriff brings Lester into the police station to ask him a few questions about his brother and his dead wife; primarily: were they having an affair? Lester, sincere as Mother Teresa, tells that this is exactly what happened. He puts on the brave, tormented face of a man exposing a deep family secret, and the Sheriff eat it up like cake on sale at a closing down cake shop. Nom nom nom…


Lester, at the police station, practising for his late night poker next July

He leaves the station, passing by his brother who is locked behind bars. When he hears him yell out his name, Lester smirks to himself, and exits. He’s bad to the bone, I tells ya.


He ain’t heavy – he’s in prison

Now that Lester thinks he’s in the clear, he finally rings for the cleaning service to come and clear the murder mess. FINALLY!! – that shit had been bugging me from the very beginning. I wondered: are they allowed to leave a crime scene like this? Why haven’t the police dealt with it on behalf of Lester, whom they’d all of thought was in a ‘vulnerable’ state of mind? And why ain’t the floor covered in flies and maggots? (I concluded that this is probably ’cause it’s so cold up in that town, that no flies wanna breed in such cold temperatures. Either that, or I’m talking outta my derriere and have totally forgotten that this is indeed a TV show.) And when Lester gets through to them on the phone, they hang up at the mere mention of the word ‘blood’. Hilarious! The police gave him that number and they chickened out. What a joke!

So what about Molly and Lorne – I’ve talked about Lester so much that I’d completely neglected the other two main characters. Well, I guess that’s because Lester’s part of the story here contains the bulk of the story, but nevertheless, I must do a quick shout out to those two. I’ll start with good-golly-miss Molly…

After perforating Molly’s spleen with an unintended bullet, the city officer, Gus Grimly, comes to her hospital bedside with a bundle of flowers. He apologies immensely, and tells her that he’s going to lose his badge because of this blunder. She tells him to stop talking nonsense, and that he’s not going to get fired. He leaves the room, passing by her father, whom seems less than impressed by him (well, I thought so).

Molly, with her IV drip and stand, then goes into the hospital room where Mr Wretch – the deaf guy – is. She tells him that his partner, Mr Numbers is dead. He’s devastated. Molly then hands him a small white board so he can communicate with her. I had to laugh because she’d been speaking to him all that time before then, and then asks him if he can lip read. Of course he can, you utter numpty. Christ Sake!  Anywho, where was I… so Molly mentions the name Lorne Malvo, and Mr Wretch knows exactly what she’s talking about. Molly thinks she’s onto something here, and she’s right to think so.

Because flowers are always enough after shooting someone in the spleen

Molly, with her IV drip, then goes into the hospital room where Mr Wretch – the deaf guy – is. She tells him that his partner, Mr Numbers is dead. He’s devastated. Molly then hands him a small white board so he can communicate with her. I had to laugh because she’d been speaking to him all that time before then, and then asks him if he can lip read. Of course he can, you utter numpty. Christ Sake!  Anywho, where was I… so Molly mentions the name Lorne Malvo, and Mr Wretch knows exactly what he’s talking about. Molly thinks he’s onto something here. And he’s right to think so (for once in his trigger happy life).

Meanwhile, in a place by the name Fargo, Lorne strolls past the police with a fat off gun in his hands, and kills all the people in the building they were watching. We don’t see any of the shooting as the camera stays on the outside of the building, but follows him up floor by floor. At the top floor, a guy comes flying out of the window, and onto the pavement. The police finally realise, and backup is called. And as they’re all waiting outside for the killer to come out, Lorne, from the side, walks away from the scene, and down the street.

That’s about all folks! The only other thing that springs to mind is Lester going to Hess’s window’s house and shafting silly (literally and metaphorically, as he is also lying to her). But I guess, seeing as Hess shafted him all those years in the playground – by that, I mean he bullied him – and Lester is in the clear, it seems like he just doesn’t care anymore. She’s still going to struggle to get her insurance though – Hess didn’t finish paying the premiums on his life insurance, so… nil dollars exactly will be the payout. Lester doesn’t care either way, hence the lying to her. In fact, Lester has become an almost Lorne prodigy character in the making. He may not have killed as many people, but he’s definitely got the warped mindset now. I guess that’s what happens when you expose yourself to too many professional killers – it rubs off on you.


If you’re thinking about what Lester’s looking at, it’s the family portrait he just made fall off the wall with the power of his… enthusiasm