Anyone, who is a fan of the film "Babel" knows, that the film is made up of multiple story threads, that take place around the world, which collectively speak about the theme of mankind's need to be able to communicate. I am a big fan of films, that have to do with 'Japanese Youth Culture'. So it is no surprise, that my favorite parts of "Babel" take place in Tokyo. If you take certain chapters from the "Babel" DVD and run them one after another, you can pretty much create your own short film, which can for the most part, survive independently from the rest of the film. The Japanese section is the story of a teenage deaf/mute girl, who is coming to terms with both her own sexuality and the death of her mother. The execution of this part of "Babel" is simply beautiful. Rinko Kikuchi, who plays the deaf girl was nominated for an Academy Award. Why she did not win is beyond me. Everything from the acting to the cinematography to the soundtrack score is a revelation.
Now, I only own the single disc version of "Babel". I don't know if the other editions are any different, but this is how I run the 'Menu Chapter Selection' in order to watch this version of the Japanese thread of the film.
CHAPTER & TITLE 4. Volleyball Game 8. Police Visit 12. Tokyo Night 16. Seduction 20. Silent Shout 23. Father and Daughter
If these chapters are run together, you will see a short film that lasts a little over an hour. It is quite a moving story. I would love to know if anyone else has viewed this section of "Babel" in this manner and if so, what is your reaction to it?
- Japanese deafmute schoolgirl tries to get her dentist to rape her, fails - Flashes her furry crotch at the boys in the J-Pop - Takes ecstasy in a nightclub, potentially hoping to get raped, fails - Has some sort of angsty-teen freakout involving her mother, invites that young homicide detective over and tries to get him to rape her, fails
What I learned: She is the real life personification of the Japanese Hentai schoolgirl. The world around her, however, is not the world of Hentai.
Nothing in Babel was executed well; it was a pretentious mess of heavy-handed and ambiguous moral messages being beaten against the viewer's head like a hammer until there's nothing left but liquid bonemeal. It was a psychological snuff film, with fictional characters being tortured into oblivion for the sake of garnering audience pity, and a repeat of what happened with "Crash".
And it didn't work this time around. That is why the movie didn't win anything.
Also, the movie had nothing to do with "need to communicate"; everyone communicated just fine to me, except for Chieko, who was intentionally a tasteless and offensive caricature of a Japanese Hentai schoolgirl nymphomaniac.
And to pre-empt them if they so come, I am not the "BAH! Typical American needing your car chases and gunfights to be entertained" type of person. I prefer my movies to come with real acting and story, and not be stupid actionflicks or pretentious, arrogant art films. "Babel" is the latter kind.