What REALLY goes on in a job interview? Find out in the new revision of "Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed" (Warner Books) by Tony Medley, updated for the world of the Internet . Over 500,000 copies in print and the only book on the job interview written by an experienced interviewer, one who has conducted thousands of interviews. This is the truth, not the ivory tower speculations of those who write but have no actual experience. "One of the top five books every job seeker should read," says Hotjobs.com.

Babel (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Some films have “A” story lines and “B” story lines. This one has so many that I was wondering if there would be enough letters in the alphabet to identify each. Not only are there many story lines, but there are four separate locations, Morocco, Japan, the United States, and Mexico, home of the team of director Alejandro González Ińárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga. As if that’s not enough, there are multiple languages used, Japanese Sign Language, French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Berber, and Arabic.

It starts out in Morocco where two goatherd Moroccan boys, Yussef (Boubker Ait El Caid) and Ahmed (Said Tarchani), irresponsibly test out a new, high-powered rifle by taking a shot at tourist bus. The one wild shot hits Susan (Cate Blanchett). Her husband, Richard (Brad Pitt), has the bus take her to a village where she is in serious shape.

Meanwhile, their small son, Mike (Nathan Gamble), and daughter, Debbie (Elle Fanning, Dakota's sister) in San Diego are being cared for by Susan and Richard’s illegal immigrant nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza). Amelia wants to return to Mexico to attend her son’s wedding. Since she can’t find anyone to care for the children, she takes them along, leading to disastrous consequences.

In Japan, wealthy Japanese widower, Yasujiro (Koji Yakusho) has problems with his teenaged sexually inexperienced but curious deaf-mute daughter, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi). Yasujiro is involved in all this because it was his rifle that the Moroccan children used to shoot Susan.

The labyrinthine storytelling jumps back and forth among all the locations and characters. Not told chronologically, it also jumps time frames. This is a long movie, 2 hours 23 minutes running time, and takes concentration and patience. But, even though it starts slowly, it methodically builds tension as it proceeds at its own pace.

The film covers the gamut from the wealthy to the achingly poor. It makes a not-so-subtle commentary about the Congressional Republicans’ cravenly callous illegal immigration policy that wants to secure the borders without offering a guest worker program (a plan that was a primary factor in costing them the 2006 Congressional election). However, to be fair, it was the Democrats, led by the demagogue Cesar Chavez, that killed just such a plan in California in the 1950s.

The acting is uniformly superb, even heart-throb Brad Pitt as the distraught husband desperately trying to save his seriously injured wife out in the middle of nowhere. Adding a dose of realism to the film, Richard has to fight with the passengers on the bus who are losing patience with staying in the remote village while Susan fights for her life.

Even so, the person who shines above all her A-List companions is Kuchiko who plays the seriously handicapped, beautiful daughter, with a desire for sexual experience that seems to be denied her because of her handicap, with a heart-aching sensitivity. She is helped along in her performance by Ińárritu who has crafted a drug scene that makes the viewers feel that they are on the same trip as Chieko. He even puts the audience in her shoes, cutting back and forth between the loud, boisterous party as it is, and then as Chieko sees it without hearing.

While this might not be for everyone, certainly not for the lazy, it is a brilliant piece of movie-making. It grabs you and doesn’t let go, requiring the audience to pay attention and think. I didn’t see this in a media screening, but in a regular showing with real people in the audience, who seemed so enthralled you could have heard a pin drop throughout the entire running time.

November 11, 2006