Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I recorded the Oscars, so that I could watch it last night and fast forward through the interpretive dance, tributes to key grips, Best Song nominees, and Tom Cruise. The most important thing to mention is my relief that the woeful Babel missed out in all the major categories, making the far superior Pan's Labyrinth the most successful Mexican film of the night. It did, however, manage to win one for best original score. I either haven't seen or don't remember the music from the other contenders, but what I can say is that the score in Babel was one of the worst things in a genuinely horrible film. The irritating and incessant strumming of a middle-eastern stringed instrument (the highest selling song off the Babel soundtrack on iTunes!) over long, lingering scenery shots highlighted the self-congratulatory intellectual wankery of the film. There's a song on the soundtrack called "World Citizen (I Won't Be Disappointed/Looped Piano)", for goodness sake. Before everyone forgets about your film, Mr. Iñárritu, can I just emphasise one more time the truly awful word-of-mouth that your film has had from people that I have spoken to. Now piss off.

Anyway, the other thing that I noticed was the adulation with which Al Gore was treated at the ceremony. Seriously, they loved him. Loads of tributes, and an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (which caused Di Caprio to cry. He loves the environment that much.) made it Al's night as much as Scorsese's. And after I had stopped wondering how many pies Gore had eaten recently, I got to thinking how different the world might have been had he been allowed to become president in 2000. My thoughts were all bollocks, so luckily the New Yorker had the same idea, managing to put it in an interesting article.

I always wondered, after that election that Bush basically fixed in the courts in what was effectively a coup, what the reaction of the international community would have been if a country such as, hmm, Iraq, had invaded the USA to remove an unelected leader? Regime change goes both ways...

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Blogger Jenny said...

I suppose whoever will succeed Bush has to royally screw up in order to look worse. At least the next person has that going for them.

PS: While I may not have been a fan of "World Citizen (I Won't Be Disappointed/Looped Piano)", I did like the movie Babel.

1:02 am  
Blogger swishfish said...

I'm not being sarcastic, but what did you like about Babel? I certainly have no problem with pretentious cinema (I think that Magnolia is one of the finest films that I have ever seen), but found Babel to be smug, worthy, long, boring, and pointless. It doesn't need 2.5 hours to say what it was saying, like Syriana with its over-long hammering of "oil is bad". And the Japanese bits of Babel, whilst certainly the most interesting and well-done, seemed to be from a different film and probably should have been.

I know that everyone that I have spoken to that has seen it feels similarly. In fact, at the showing I was at people were actually murmuring in discontent by the end. I know that the critics initially praised it, but even they seem to be turning on it a bit now, so it's interesting to hear why someone actually likes it.

8:40 am  
Blogger Jenny said...

hmm....well, while I did not appreciate the obvious political agenda of the film (commentary on illegal immigrants, commentary on US Muslim relations), I think what I really liked about Babel was how it all came together...the idea that people are connected throughout the world, that one's life and actions in one part of the world can directly influence someone totally in another area in the world. So I think what I liked about the movie was the over-arching idea.

After I saw Babel, I was interested to see the director's other film, Amores Perros, which I ended up not liking very much. I think I just didn't get it at the end; unlike Babel, I don't really feel that there was a connection between the characters and the ending was completely cryptic. So I didn't think it was successful.

What could you possibly like about Magnolia? That ranks up with one of the worst films I've ever seen.

12:36 pm  
Blogger swishfish said...

It's interesting how films can polarise people, isn't it. I thought that the linking of the stories was what really let down Babel: whilst the Morocco and US/Mexico stories slotted together well, the Japan "link" felt very much like an afterthought to make the film more clever or meaningful. Although the Japan bits were the most interesting, I reckon that it would have been a better film (and thankfully shorter)if the Japan bit had been removed entirely. The Japan bits seemed like an idea that he couldn't manage to stretch out into a film of its own.

And Magnolia seems to be one of the most 'Marmite' films ever, with people either loving it or hating it. The haters seem to find it long, boring, pretentious and pointless. The lovers, like me, find it compulsive viewing with some awesome performances from a top-notch cast. Has Tom Cruise ever been better? And if it was rubbish, it would break the William H Macey rule: every film that he is in is at least good.

2:04 pm  
Blogger Jenny said...

I will give you that the Japanese bits did seem wholly other to the film and probably could have used a bit more development (although that would have pushed it into the 3-hour mark, which would have clearly upset you even further!).

I think I actually liked the Japanese stuff in the movie, probably because of the complete mystery of how their story fit in with the other stories. I was guessing until the end to try to figure out how it all fit in. I think that, despite their lack of development, the Japanese stuff sort of helps develop my point that although it seems people and things are so disparate in the world, there are actions each of us take that have a direct result upon someone else's life and, in most cases, we are totally unaware.

9:42 pm  
Blogger Jenny said...

And that Marmite stuff sounds absolutely disgusting. I will make sure to avoid it when I am in Scotland in March.

I agree that William H. Macy is usually in quality stuff, although I note with some amount of suspicion he is most recently in Wild Hogs, which looks like it can't possibly be good.

9:45 pm  
Blogger swishfish said...

Oh, I think the Japan stuff was the best bit, and fleshed out could almost be a film of its own.

Babel is a good film on paper, but when I watched it I just found it boring and gairly annoying. I did get the points it was making, but it seemed contrived.

9:56 pm  

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