Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The Chicago Magic U16 Boys won their semi-final game today against Everest, a team out of Cleveland, Ohio. I was born in Cleveland, but my loyalties weren't in question. The boys played very well in awful heat and humidity. They are now enjoying a movie in a dark, air conditioned theatre on the west side of Des Moines. Tonight we will enjoy a team dinner and an early lights out as we will be meeting the Michigan Wolves at 8 AM. Normally I would complain about getting up at 6 AM to arrive at the fields at 6:45 AM, but considering how brutal it was at 10 AM, a few hours earlier to avoid a scorcher would be just fine. The only blip on the radar is the threat of thunderstorms both tonight and early tomorrow.
I am not really a superstitious person, but at this point I feel the less I think and talk about tomorrow the better. It's a lot of pressure for these younger players to take on and I don't want to add to it by my obsessing about the event. So I stayed quiet in the hotel room and watched ""Babel.""
""Babel"" was a bit of a puzzlement to me. My brother is a screenwriter and his genre, for want of a better term, is dark social comedy (with the exception of Jurassic Park III which provided a lifelong income). So he usually pokes fun at films that take themselves too seriously. I haven't talked to him about ""Babel,"" and for all I know he didn't even see it, but I suspect he would have lots fun at the film's expense.
The movie isolates a rather dramatic incident, the accidental shooting of an American tourist in Morocco, and layers the incident with two other side stories of the American's Mexican nanny and the Japanese family from whom the gun came. While I am usually willing to suspend some level of reality for the sake of dramatic license, this movie really challenged my ability to accept this microcosmic look at the world. The Mexican nanny through a bizarre set of circumstances ends up wandering in the California desert with the American's two children. She abandons the children under some bramble to go seek help, stumbles upon a border guard, and despite trying to recover the children, has no idea where she left them. I thought immediately of Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in ""The English Patient."" Except in this film we find out from a rather brusque border guard that the children were recovered, are just fine, and the nanny is to be immediately deported.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, the daughter of a Japanese business man is facing a psychological breakdown. And no wonder. First she is deaf - mute, second she was the first to discover her mother's body after she shot herself, and third, she spends a great deal of the film either nude or flashing someone. The reason she is in the movie is because her father on a hunting trip to Morocco gave his Moroccan guide a rifle, which was then used by some children to shoot the tourist. See what I mean by suspension of belief?
In the end the tourist is fine, the nanny is left on a curb in Mexico, and the Japanese businessman comes home to find his daughter naked on the balcony. I know that there should be some deep meaning to Babel being the land from which all language was dispersed and there is a deaf – mute girl (irony), and even in the most remote of remote villages in Morocco there is a TV with CNN. I am sure there is some commentary we could make on how small the world is with such coincidences occurring in three separate continents all interrelated. But I really do chalk it up to imagination.
In the real world…the one I live, work, and watch movies in…people are pretty normal with normal problems and normal connections. While I could accept that an American tourist might be shot in Morocco by a gun left by a Japanese man and her nanny was from Mexico, I can't accept that they all have some complex, intense lives, with such complex, intense events.
The only real thing I saw in the film, which I think has to be true over most of the world, is that the Moroccan boys who shoot the rifle have soccer posters on the walls of their hut and the TV in the remote village of Morocco was showing a soccer game. It makes perfect sense because we all know that soccer is life!