Film review: Waltz with Bashir

December 29, 2008

On 27 December 2008 over 200 Palestinians were killed and 800 injured as Israel rained missiles on the highly populated Gaza strip. The aerial slaughter is the latest horror in Israel’s 60 year occupation of Palestine.

 The sheer scale of Palestinian suffering relayed in the media has a numbing effect.

 Art can sometimes speak more forcefully than a million news stories. Waltz with Bashir does that. This new Israeli movie tells one part of Israel’s bloody history and is getting glowing reviews around the world.waltz

 Director Ari Folman is an award winning Israeli documentary maker. When a friend comes to him with a disturbing reoccurring dream about the 1982 war in Lebanon Ari confronts his own complete amnesia. He knows he was there, but has no memory of his time as a 19 year old conscript.

 When Israel was founded 110,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation formed base camps in the south of Lebanon and carried on a guerrilla war against Israel from across the border. Israel’s invasion in 1982 was a bliztkrieg lasting 10 weeks in which 18,000 Lebanese were killed and nearly 700 Israeli soldiers. The PLO was forced to withdraw to Tunisia, while Israel occupied the south of Lebanon until 1985. During the invasion Bashir Gemayel - the new pro-Israel President of Lebanon - was assassinated. His supporters, Lebanese Christian Phalangists, carried out a massacre in two Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. The Phalangists were let into the camps by Israeli forces, and were assisted by them lighting flares through the night. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Palestinians were killed.

 Ari seeks out old army comrades in order to reconstruct his lost memory. It is a surreal personal and political journey told strikingly through graphic animation. This lifts the documentary into another realm.waltz2

 Waltz with Bashir leaves an impression you won’t forget.

 - Daphna Whitmore

Film review: Brokeback Mountain

December 11, 2008

Brokeback Mountain, the film of the Annie Proulx novella about the love affair between two lonesome cowboys, has inevitably sparked a series of internet jokes about life on the range.  The film would probably have the likes of John Wayne spinning in his grave (then again, Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison).

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Book review: How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen

December 11, 2008

(Harper Collins, London, 2004)

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The Band’s Visit

November 9, 2008

- Film review

An Israeli film where most of the characters are Egyptian is something other than ordinary.

When an Egyptian police band gets stuck in a small Israeli town there are all the ingredients for a comedy of errors. Stranded, with little money the eight men who are more musicans than police, spend a night with the locals. The closeness of strangers is evident as the quaint and old fashioned band members interact with their Israeli hosts.

The politics are thankfully understated allowing the humanity of the characters to take centre stage. 

The Band’s Visit has been collecting a string of film festival awards. Worthy of everyone of them.


Book review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (Sceptre)

October 20, 2008

“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl,” opines the protagonist of The Other Hand. The pound coin has many advantages, not least of which is its effortless mobility:

“A girl like me gets stopped at immigration, but a pound can leap the turnstiles, and dodge the tackles of those big men with their uniform caps, and jump straight into a waiting airport taxi. Where to, sir? Western civilisation, my good man, and make it snappy.”

Little Bee is a Nigerian girl fleeing men armed with machetes and men armed with official powers. Sarah is a suburban career woman juggling a young son who refuses to take off his Batman suit with an extramarital affair with a Home Office functionary, Lawrence. Their lives are thrown together in an unlikely way, forcing them to confront themselves and the society they live in.

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Album Review: Roots Manuva Slime & Reason (Big Dada Recordings)

October 12, 2008

Britain’s foremost rapper, Roots Manuva (or as his Jamaican parents named him, Rodney Smith) returns with his fourth full album. The listener is immediately hooked in with the infectious carnival anthem “Again & Again”, where Roots states his mission: “I came to the scene and came to uplift.”

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Review: The Kite Runner

February 4, 2008

The Kite Runner (Book) by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner (Film) directed by Marc Forster

One Thousand Splendid Suns (Book) by Khaled Hosseini

Reviewed by Jared Phillips

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