The Five commandments of Babel

screened Saturday, January 20, 2007 on DVD IMDb Why me Lord?  Oh right, Oscars!I - Thou shalt not treat thine characters as pawns shuttled around in a grand narrative about universal suffering. It was pretentious back in 1915 when it was called Intolerance (TSPDT # 46),and it still is today, only now it's no longer innovative.

II - Thou shalt not have thine characters acting abrasively stupid all the time. The kids shooting the bus as mindless target practice, stupid but set up rather believably. Illegal Mexican nanny taking her two white charges south of the border for her son's wedding? Really foolish. By the time we get to Brad Pitt ranting and raving in the desert surrounded by grouper-mouthed Moroccan villagers, it's clear that Inarritu rigged these scenarios for maximum histronics and all feels contrived.

How to say 'Me love you longtime' in sign language?III - Thou shalt not pass bogus and nonconsequential coincidences off on viewer as rationalizations to connect unrelated stories. The Japanese story is the most interesting (i.e. least cliched) story of the three, but it has virtually no relationship to the other stories, not even as a point of parallel comparison. (As a somewhat related aside, I couldn't help noticing an odd cut -- from Rinko Kikuch flashing her pubes at some teenage boys to a shot of hairy goats climbing a hill in Morocco. ?????) Maybe there was no way Inarritu could have gotten the Japanese part made without appending it to the Pitt-Blanchett project, but all it does is show the superficiality behind Inarritu's outsized ambition to make a movie that spans three continents.

Little Miss Sunshine this is notIV - Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously and instead look for moments of disarming humor. Take a page from your buddy Alfonso Cuaron -- one might call Children of Men pretentious but it was a heck of a lot of fun.

V - Thou shalt not waste Cate Blanchett (well I guess having oneself pee in a breadpan while oozing blood in her shoulder is a challenge to which all actors aspire)

Would love to be able to push this to ten... suggestions welcome!