I saw a trailer for Babel today, when I saw Borat for a third time. Borat is funny, but Australians are philistines: all three times, I’m the only one who laughed at “well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
How can you not know that, Australia! You laugh at the following joke only because it involves mention of Hitler! To describe myself as “disappointed” doesn’t even cover it.
Anyway: Babel. This movie is a hard sell, but the trailer made an earnest effort of making it appear as if it focuses on the story of Richard and Sarah. The problem with this idea is that it has to pay lip service to the other three stories, and we have to wonder what relation they could possibly have (with the exception of the Moroccan story, of course; there’s little room for misinterpretation there).
It also commits the other duty of trailers in this modern age: explaining the title. (This is something that I wished The Pursuit of Happyness had done, because that title angers me something fierce). I think that the story of the tower of Babel is becoming increasingly obscure to people who … don’t play video games or watch anime.
Still, if I wasn’t me, who just goes into a cinema and says “amaze me” – shaking my fist in disappointment at the directors that fail me – then I don’t think I would want to see Babel.
The promo blitz appears to have started in earnest, though: this was obviously a new print of Borat, designed both to suggest that the little fake Kazakhi who could has staying power and that … people should go and see Babel; on the side of things that does not involve going to a film to learn about films, the Sydney Morning Herald published its review yesterday and the feature article of its Spectrum section today is on the film.
Even Dendy Opera Quays has taken hold. It appears that, in this day and age, Dendy is showing more “mainstream” independent films – the sort that will play on George Street. If you’re playing on George Street, I wouldn’t think that you would have to play at the Quays, but this is apparently not the case (also, Dendy Newtown is showing Borat! For shame! Put back on What the bleep do we know?! at once, blackguards!).
The lounge area downstairs at Opera Quays* now has an interesting montage of promo shots from Babel filling one of its walls. I’d almost go and see the movie there, if I hadn’t already been to George Street (also, George Street has better access to restaurants and what not; my enjoyment of Babel was greatly enhanced by the Korean BBQ that I enjoyed on Liverpool street afterwards**).
I’ve read, through vaguely incomplete sentences on Wikipedia, that Babel has been far from a financial smash. What do you expect of such a hard sell? I loved it, but I’ve warned all of my coworkers who hate subtitles to stay away – three quarters of the film is in “foreign”.
Natural biases against reading will prevent many from seeing Babel, but come on: Brad Pitt! Cate Blanchett! Gael Garcia Bernal! And, for some reason, Koji Yakusho as a saleable figure!
Just go see it, people! If there are any ads on TV promoting it, I’ll keep note. Movies that actually receive advertising where it counts are always going to be the ones that survive … maybe Babel is supposed to be a mixture of media and viral influence.
*I realise that the majority of my audience is a small group of Americans, and therefore my descriptions of places in Sydney are largely irrelevant. Read them and weep.
**Weep, I say!