guns and water tanks don't kill people, sociopathic moroccan boys and disarmingly handsome magicians kill people

today i went to two movies and no wheels were stolen off of my bike. i didn’t plan on going to two movies but sometimes going to two movies happens and guess what, that is what i am going to tell you about tonight.

first i saw the prestige. i wanted to see this movie because a) i was sort of into the illusionist and i thought “maybe period magic movies are the new big thing.” and b) christian bale is on my (admittedly long) list of future husbands and/or sperm donors for when i get to be about 30 and am living alone and decide i need to have a baby. of course, i’ll probably be alone BECAUSE of that list, but oh well, i’m talking about a movie here.

so, the prestige. here’s another magician movie but this one isn’t (like the illusionist) about a battle between unjust royalty and an honest magician of the people for the really true kind of true love. no, the prestige is about a battle between two rival magicians who used to be friends until an unfortunate water tank accident. the prestige is less satisfying than the earlier movie partly because it doesn’t have the same kind of fairy-tale absoluteness as the illusionist. instead both guys are sort of good, sort of bad and girls just seem to be a vehicle they use to underhandedly attack each other. even though they both like to SAY they love their spouses and/or girlfriends and/or daughters, you get the feeling that what they really love is revenge. and i think that’s okay. it’s an interesting thing to make a movie about two guys obsessed with destroying each other and i like this movie. i don’t love it and i have some serious issues with the ending, but it was interesting and looked beautiful and christian bale is hot.

the other movie i saw was babel. this is what i took away from babel: crazy weird shit happens that may or may not be connected and sometimes little boys make the mistake of shooting at buses and sometimes deaf japanese girls just need to get naked but if you are white, everything is probably going to be okay, even if your nanny leaves you out in the desert for two days.

look, i like non-sequitors. i like africa. i like gael garcia bernal. but i am sick of movies that look and sound like they should have some larger meaning but actually don’t or if they are do, it is so obscured by the director’s desire to seem “deep” that only conspiracy theory newsletter writers can figure out what that meaning is supposed to be. we have bad poetry for that and if you hate yourself that much, you can read bad poetry at a book store FOR FREE anytime.

what i’m saying is that babel was a massive disappointment. the actors are all great actors (who is cooler than cate blanchett, really?) and the director is, you know, apparently a great director (though i didn’t think 21 grams was all it was cracked up to be) and the music is by gustavo santaolalla who did the music for brokeback mountain. but here’s where it fails: it has no idea what it is trying to say. it thinks about foreign politics, it thinks about language, it thinks about immigration, it thinks about suicide, it thinks about volleyball, it thinks about parenting, it thinks about goats, but it doesn’t ever make a decision about how it feels about any of these things. so watching babel is sort of like watching an autistic kid free associate. entertaining maybe, but not the great statement it thinks it is.

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