Jane and I watched Babel tonight. I can understand criticisms of the movie that it may be too overwrought, but overall I thought it was outstanding. The entire Japanese subplot is very well done, I think; Rinko Kikuchi is outstanding as Chieko. The look she gets on her face when the boy offers her ecstasy is perfect; she’s clearly uncomfortable and at a cross-roads. The subsequent rave scene is pretty well-done, too, though I’ve never actually been to a rave.
I had a chance to go to a rave once, when I was coaching debate at Macalester College. One of the debaters called me up at like 11:30 PM on a Friday night and asked me to drive him and a friend to Duluth (!) that night (!!). My initial response was “Whaaaa?” He told me again, and I could hear the desperation in his voice. He needed to get to this rave. Or, more precisely, he needed to demonstrate to his friend that he could get said friend to this rave. I politely declined the offer and henceforth this college student for whom I had part-time responsibility said that if only I would get him and his friend to this rave, his friend would buy drugs for me once we got to the rave. Had it been a different debater, and had I not already been high, I might have taken him up on the offer. But I didn’t, and now everything I know about raves comes from Babel and Lost In Translation, which is why I am firmly convinced nobody raves like the Japanese.
Movies have also taught me that if I’m ever in a crisis, and my kids are with me, or anybody’s kids for that matter, there are almost no situations in which you can leave the kids alone. Remember the scene in Jurassic Park, when the cowardly lawyer leaves the kids in the van? The girl gasps, “He left us! He left us!” The boy screams, “He was on retainer!” But the message is clear when the T-Rex foot comes down hard on that outhouse: Don’t leave the kids. Amelia, of course, leaves the kids in the desert in Babel. No way. No matter what, you only leave those kids if you are certain it’s the only way to save your lives.
Overall, Jane and I thought Babel was better than the Departed. And about a dozen times better than Crash.