Friday 18 April 2008

From behind a Screen.

I have not been to the movies in ages. I used to love going to the movies, but was quite finnicky about which film to watch. I can't stand action films, and nonsense films...and most American films are nonsense.

I've stopped watching anything American since ages. It's just sensationalist film making that appeals to either your death instinct, adrenaline production through fright, or crude libidinal pulsions...

The acting is "flat" so are the actors and actresses - pretty, botoxed faces with six packs and tight bodies. You hardly see wrinkles, fatigue, fat...or any real struggle.

Very boring for me as a Middle Easterner. American films provide absolutely nothing to identify or relate to, hence their message for me is non existent. I am not even sure, American films, Hollywood style, have a true message to convey. So American films are out for me and they've been out for many years. I can't remember when was the last time I actually watched an American film. (except for the De.Palma "Redacted". But then, I've seen the real version)

But I do love the movies. However, I find it quite irritating that most cinemas offer buckets of popcorn, coke, ice cream and the rest...Here you are trying to get into a good film where the producer has worked his ass off trying to send a message your way, and you hear the munching of popcorn, the paperwrap of ice cream cones, the sucking of straws and the jiggling of ice cubes...very annoying. If I were a film producer, I'd be very insulted...

So going to the cinema is out for me, unless I choose a time of the day where I am sure I am literally alone or with a strict minimum of people in the movie fucking popcorn around.

I don't own a DVD player or a Video player, so I can't watch much at home either.
And watching a DVD on my computer is a no no. Films are made to be experienced, not be watched on a laptop.

OK I may be a little difficult when it comes to films, I do agree.

But this last week, I had the pleasure of watching not one but three films. R is away for a week and she said I can use her DVD while she's away. So I got three pirated copies (the only ones I can afford- sorry WIPO) of the following films.

Caramel- by Nadine Labaki - Lebanese Female Producer
The Yacoubian Building - by the Egyptian Imad Adeeb producer, and based on the novel by the great Alaa Al-Aswany. The book is an ABSOLUTE MUST.
and the third film for this week was Lemon Tree - by Eran Riklis, the Israeli producer and the unbeatable Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass.

Now these are films I can relate to.

Caramel is set in Beirut in a hair dressing saloon where 5 lebanese women work, and this candid film is touching. It deals with the lives of these 5 women in post war Beirut, their hopes, aspirations, disappointments, sexuality, family lives...and love

The Yacoubian Building is a masterpiece and received many awards. It deals with Egypt in the 90's, social classes, sexuality, religion, gender relations, politics... A real tour de force in my opinion and an absolute must see.

Lemon Tree is another remarkable film to watch. Hiam Abbass is a stupendous actress. No botox there, no make up, a real life character, a Palestinian woman, a widow who owns a lemon grove, her only wealth. Next door moves the Israeli minister of Defense...And I will not tell you the rest...A film about land, fences, walls, women, men, Israelis, Palestinians, love and fear...A subtle and delicate film. A must see.

Now these are films I can recognize myself in, relate to, identify with...Not some shitty Terminator, shooting away people-kind of film, or some gangster movie that antes up your cortisol level...or some sentimental, mushy, tear jerking, meaningless, hocus-pocus, romance story, à l'Americaine.

Real stories, with complex characters in their own simplicity, derived from Reality, my Reality as an Arab Woman.

Now that's my kind of movie.