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February 20, 2007

DVD of the Week – Babel (2006)


I’m sure most people have heard the buzz about Babel, how it is about language and communication. We know that we have an ensemble cast consisting of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and then mostly people we have never heard of. The themes in this movie are very strong, and though I enjoyed the story involving Pitt and Blanchett, it was probably the weakest story in the film.

I think what impressed me most about the movie is that these are people who don’t typically get films made about them, at least not mainstream Hollywood films. Sure, Pitt and Blanchett seem familiar as an American couple watching their relationship deteriorate in Morocco (which reminded me, for some reasons, of the brilliant Hemingway short story, “Hills Like White Elephants.”)

But what about the two young Moroccan boys who undergo a coming of age when their father buys a rifle? Or the deaf Japanese schoolgirl who wants to be an object of desire? Or the Mexican nanny who is torn between the children left in her care and attending her son’s wedding in Mexico? These are not the stories we would normally expect. I think Alejandro González Iñárritu used Pitt and Blanchett to draw people into the theaters. After all, what kind of box office draw are actors like Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi (both of whom ended up nominated for Academy Awards)?

And hey, this probably goes without saying, but this is an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture and the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Picture. Though the critics may have had a mixed reaction to this film, this is definitely a film with avid supporters.

The DVD doesn’t appear to have any special features, so, again, this might be a rental rather than a purchase. I’m sure there are at least subtitles, which are very necessary considering that less than half the movie is in English. The movie is also simultaneously being released on Blu-Ray and HD for those of you with fancy theater systems. Still, I would wait before buying this particular version.

Other new releases this week: Crossover, Flushed Away, For Your Consideration, Keeping Mum, Man of the Year, The Prestige, Shut Up and Sing