Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Score one for the the Bishops

I hate to admit that the US Catholic Bishops ever get anything right about sex, but ... in this case ... they might actually be quite a few steps ahead of the popular culture.

Most of The Big Important movies haven't even opened in Honolulu yet, but Babel played for a bit & it blew me away. Most of the actors were quite good, but Rinko Kikuchi's portrayal of a deaf-mute teen in ultra-modern Tokyo was painful and devastating - and provided the emotional heart to an already powerful film.

In the words of the Bishops ... There's Tokyo widower father Yasujiro's (Koji Yakusho) deaf-mute teenage daughter, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi), who achingly longs for love. She misses her mother terribly, and fails to see that her businessman father wants to connect with her. Chieko acts out her desperate loneliness with sophomoric pranks (exposing herself to some teenage boys who recoiled from her when they realized her handicap), and, most poignantly, offers herself sexually to an empathetic detective who comes looking for her father.

Right. That's the movie I saw - one about an achingly lonely girl desperate for contact.

Less celibate reviewers than the Bishops, amazingly, were blinded by the sex and saw less:

The Onion AV Club only saw surly Tokyo deaf-mute teen Rinko Kikuchi and her desperate attempt to lose her virginity. To the Boston Globe Chieko was only acting out her hormonal rage. The Village Voice thought Chieko's story was an intriguingly extraneous plot thread, while The San Francisco Chronicle reduced her to a deaf, volleyball-playing Japanese teenager (who) is confused by her burgeoning sexual impulses.

I knew the movie wouldn't be for everyone - it has more emotional than structural coherence. Either you submit to it or fall asleep [as my date for the night did]. But what amazes me is how sex is such an alien landscape for so many reviewers, and that they have such a complete inability to see below the surface of things.

That, and that the Bishops could.

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