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Posts Tagged ‘babel’

Oscar Predictions

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

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Helen Mirren (as Queen Elizabeth II) in The Queen

Christie Lemire and David Germain, film writers for the Associated Press predict the Oscar winners. See if you agree. Read on:

With the Academy Awards best-picture category a wide-open affair, Associated Press film writers Christy Lemire and David Germain at least have one thing to disagree about.

For best director and the four acting categories, Lemire and Germain are in complete agreement on who’ll win. Here are their picks (Lemire writes their joint opinion for director and actor, Germain for actress and the supporting categories, while they duke it out over best picture):

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: Babel, The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen.

GERMAIN: I would make a lousy academy member, not only because I lack all applicable talents to become an academy member, but also because I would perpetually vote for losers in the best-picture category.

My favourite films among the five nominees almost never win, and this year, my top three – The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine and Letters From Iwo Jima – are the ones I think are least likely to come away with the prize.

The Queen deserves to win because it’s a masterpiece of economical filmmaking. It packs a lifetime of high drama for Elizabeth II into the single toughest week of her 50-year-plus reign, the span when public opinion turned sharply against her over the royal family’s aloofness after Princess Diana’s death.

Little Miss Sunshine merits second place because it’s an extreme version of all our messed-up kin, presenting an endearing portrait of blood ties strained and regained that, like many stories of family bonds, would be tragic if it wasn’t so funny.

Letters From Iwo Jima should come in third because it’s a grand, gut-wrenching examination of fatal devotion to a lost cause, a compassionate rendering of an enemy Hollywood historically has reviled as Japanese troops fight and die defending the Pacific island.

I would rank the mob tale The Departed next and the ensemble drama Babel last, yet I suspect the best-picture winner will be one of the two.

The Departed is hardly Martin Scorsese’s best work, though the first two-thirds come close before the film concludes with a repetitive bloodbath. Still, it’s enormously entertaining, a breathlessly paced crime epic that’s a reminder of Scorsese’s finer films – making it also a reminder that the academy never has honoured him with the best-picture prize.

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Review: Babel

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

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Among the much hyped movies that came out this season, Babel has entered theaters quietly and without fanfare. Don’t let this fool you. This is one of the best movies that you will see in quite some time, and that’s saying a lot. Read on:

The only appropriate metaphor for watching a film by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” While other directors create imaginative, complex, even harrowing situations and then unspool the tension to provide the audience with a reprieve or release, Inarritu escalates the action — both physical and emotional — until the tension is virtually unbearable. In his latest film, Babel, the director intertwines four stories that are overripe with nail-biting potential and then unleashes them on the audience without mercy. And while this may actually rank as the most challenging, difficult, and yes, harrowing film of his still-young career, seldom has the prospect of being terrorized by a filmmaker seemed so positively invigorating.

Much like the timeline of Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Inarritu’s previous films, Babel takes what seems like a split second of action and elongates it to encompass the individual experiences of all involved. While on vacation in Morocco, husband and wife Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are waylaid by an unprompted gunshot wound and forced to acquiesce to local medical standards. The shot, as it turns out, was fired by two young boys who toyed with the new rifle their father gave them to protect their sheep.

In the meantime, the American tourists’ children have themselves been shepherded into Mexico by their nanny Amelia (Adriana Barraza), who finds herself in deep trouble when her nephew runs afoul of the border patrol. And on the other side of the globe, a young deaf girl named Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) reaches out desperately to connect with her peers, but finds that her handicap is social as well as physical.

Each of these individual stories could have formed a full film unto itself, but Inarritu’s mastery of storytelling manages to lay this bag of snakes out straight. While he juxtaposes major leaps forward and back in the actual chronology of events, each shift feels like a natural stair step between one moment and the next — elevating the emotional rather than intellectual intensity of the narrative. Whereas many directors choose to employ shifting time frames and overlapping narratives simply to demonstrate their dexterity as storytellers, Inarritu deliberately uses this structure to heighten the action, creating the simultaneous feeling that either leaving one story or returning to another will exacerbate the characters’ relative plights.

Despite his natural visual panache, Inarritu is remarkably understated in his shot choices; rather than punctuating each new development — such as the introduction of a gun at Amelia’s son’s wedding — he simply observes the moment, and then leaves it to the audience to bring his or her associations and reactions. What’s even more exciting is the discovery (after the film is over, of course) that some of these are just plain wrong. Precisely because audiences have been weaned on filmmaking formulas that insist certain developments occur because of specific visual cues or narrative rhythms, there is a sensation both of relief and terror that our conventional expectations have been subverted and transformed into new ones.

Ultimately, however, the humanity of the characters is what binds us to them. Though Inarritu makes a pointed deconstruction of the difference between language (the technical tool) and communication (the sentiment that conveys the tool’s message), he never fails to make us see what each character is feeling, or is believing, and empathize with it regardless of how dissimilar it is to our perspective. Just as American-white-male Richard’s increasing frustration is palpable from the point of view of being a first-time outsider, Chieko’s inability to connect, and her desperation for intimacy — of any kind — is also strikingly immediate. Much like the biblical tower whose name inspired the film, the disparate languages of the characters serve both as a barrier and conduit for the more important information being communicated: who we are, what we want and ultimately how we can connect and help one another.

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Babel Movie Posters


New Products added: October 2-3 2006

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

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We’ve just added to our catalogue, Medicom Toy “Talking Life-Size Saw Puppet” and Clone Trooper Model kit, and several new movie posters for upcoming movies. Click on the links below for details:

  • Talking Life-Size Saw Propsize Puppet
  • Clone Trooper 12-Inch Figure – Medicom Toy
  • Saw 3 Movie Posters
  • Babel Movie Posters
  • Marie Antoinette Movie Posters

 
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