Friday, February 23, 2007

Babel directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

As an Academy Award nominee for best picture, “Babel” was a startling choice. The movie, which was written by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, is composed of three stories held together by a slender thread, and the mood is darkly calamitous; even the few joyous moments are suffused with dread. In the Arriaga-Iñárritu world, if something bad can happen it happens—hardly a typical American movie’s view of life. Earlier, the two men made, in Mexico, the bloody, turbulent “Amores Perros” (2000) and, in the United States, the dolorous “21 Grams” (2003), which starred Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio Del Toro. Now, however, the collaborators have had a falling out (each claiming the greater credit for what appears in the movies). As they seem to be heading in separate directions, these fate-driven films can be seen as a kind of trilogy. All three send characters from separate stories smacking into one another in tragic accidents; all three jump backward and forward in a scrambling of time frames that can leave the viewer experiencing reactions before actions, dénouements before climaxes, disillusion before ecstasy, and many other upsetting reversals and discombobulations.
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