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PHOTOGRAPHY

BABEL

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 143 minutes, theatrical trailer, previews

STUDIO: Paramount/ Paramount Vantage

RELEASE DATE: 2-20-2007

BABEL could easily been a great movie focusing on the American couple in Morocco, but the other loosely connected stories are just as interesting. BABEL is a strong visual and emotional masterpiece. Brad Pitt gives one of his finest acting performances since his supporting role in THE 12 MONKEYS (he has coasted in many of his films not showing his acting muscles). Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are a married couple who end up in a Moroccon village after she is shot by a bullet from a rifle that two kids are playing target practice with it while watching the goats. Meanwhile, their kids are in the United States being watched a nanny who decides to take them to Mexico for her son's wedding. Also in the mix is a deaf mute teenage girl, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi), who wants to lose her virginity after seeing her mom commit suicide almost a year ago. As a movie with loosely connected plots, BABEL works better as a movie than CRASH. So I won't be surprised if BABEL wins Best Picture at The Oscars this year (but I hope LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA wins).

BABEL is the type of film where one story gets interesting and then you're back to a different story that has the same impact by the time it's ready to switch stories again. Chieko's story is an interesting story fo a sad girl who wants to communicate with people better so badly in a booming city (Tokyo) which is so beautifully photographed. Director Ajeandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film has the same impact as some films of director Atom Egoyan. Inarritu is able to paint such an emotionally involving canvas with BABEL. I did like Brad Pitt's part of the story even though I do agree they could have developed it more and gave him and Cate more to do, but Brad is playing a guy who feels frustrated and helpless as he waits. Any of the four stories could have been their own movie easy. Inarritu is trying to connect the stories, but I think it is better to view each story as their own with only two really part of the same thing (Morocco) and the other two being loosely connected (Chieko's story is very loosely related to the others).

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO: English 5.1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, Spanish

The picture is sharp while the colors are vivid. The transfer shows off the beautiful cinematography.

The film is a mix of English dialogue and other languages (Spanish, Japanese, and one other) with subtitles.

EXTRAS: the theatrical trailer for BABEL and previews for AN INCONVIENT TRUTH, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER, and behind-the-scenes look at some Dreamworks picture starring Halle Berry. I would like to see a more extensive DVD with a few extras like a director's audio commentary and a few featurettes. Paramount could learn a few things from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment who are able to release DVDs with a few extras 3 to 4 months after the theatrical release date. I wonder if the lack of extras will lead to a Special Edition DVD later on if BABEL sells and rents well.

FINAL ANALYSIS: BABEL is one of the best films to come out in 2005. It was right to be nominated for Best Picture.

this review is (c)2-14-2007 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com