Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Inch’Allah – Canada – Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette

From those wonderful people who brought you Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar comes another politically tinged dramatic film. Incendies won international praise as did Monsieur Lazhar, which by the way I thought to be pretty close to being a perfect movie, so my expectations were very high for this one. It is about a young Quebec woman and physician who is working at a United Nations sponsored women’s clinic on the West Bank in Palestine. She lives in Israeli Jerusalem but crosses the checkpoint every day to Palestine to her job. The film does an admirable job of portraying the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis through this lead character who has friends and lovers on both sides. I began to lose touch with this film when the Quebec physician basically chain smokes (I do not know many doctors in this time who smoke) and basically lives a very wild lifestyle while all the time pining for her home in Quebec. Also there is absolutely no explanation of why she would volunteer to work in a highly dangerous location. Her motives are completely mysterious.

So having already lost confidence in the reality of the character I was further disappointed in her relationship with a Palestinian man who really has nothing to offer her except his leaning toward terrorism and rebellion. This all the while her best girlfriend is an Israeli border guard. I think the producers and director wanted to write a pro-Palestinian story and support the case by having it observed through the eyes of a Canadian/Quebec Physician. Not sure if there was some line to be drawn here between the oppressive condition of the Palestine and Quebec but I will not go there. Nonetheless, having lived in Israel (which colours my perspective I suppose) I was very disappointed with the way in which the current conflict is portrayed and very unhappy with the way it is played out in this film. There are two important scenes in this movie. One is when her Israeli girlfriend confronts her and asks her why she is even there. The second is when her Palestinian friend and patient tells her go back where she came from. Since this had been crossing my mind throughout the film, I almost said out loud, “Right! Go home.” Politics from this production group are not nearly as sophisticated as those of Costa-Gavras. Enough said. I cannot recommend this film – go see Gatekeepers instead.


Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God – United States – Alex Gibney

This film is a documentary that begins with the attempt by four men to confront the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest while children at a School for the Deaf in Wisconsin in the 1970’s. It goes far beyond that however as the director suggests this is the incident that opened the door on sexual abuse within the Church and the efforts of the Vatican to hide or deny it. The interviews with the four victims are very moving and this is interspersed with interviews with priests and clergy who either were instrumental in exposing the problem and those who worked to hide it and all those in between. It is a complex and difficult issue to pick apart but the director does a superb job. Chilling and yet intriguing we hear from a Canon law prosecutor/priest who to this day continues to bring charges against the guilty clergy, a Benedictine monk who treats the perpetrators and the victims, a retired priest who once covered up for the guilty, a gay archbishop who tried to intervene but backed away when his own misdemeanours were exposed and on and on. But ultimately this film is about the victims and the courageous fight they still wage to bring the Church to acknowledge its crimes and act with dignity to the victims rather than the priests who committed these crimes against those entrusted to them.

Mea Maxima Culpa

The Company You Keep – United States – Robert Redford

This was fun movie for a child of the 60’s. It is set in 2012, 30 years after the Weather Underground, homegrown terrorists and anti-Vietnam activists have gone truly underground following a botched bank robbery and the murder of a security guard. The FBI is still hunting them but they have all managed to find new identities and roles and, of course are now older and wiser. Redford stars as one of the group who is exposed after a fellow activist (played by Susan Sarandon) is arrested. Tracked by a young, naïve but intrepid journalist (Shia Lebeouf), he runs but where and why is the story of the film. I am not sure if anyone born after 1980 will understand all the elements of this story but it certainly took me back to the days of the late 60’s and early 70’s, the SDS, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and the Chicago Seven trial. Redford is a very good director and this movie smacks of Hollywood big time. This is not all bad. Redford is also able to command a great array of stars to give cameo but key roles in the movie including Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Sam Eliot, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard and Julie Christie to name a few. Well-paced, well written, a fun ride particularly if you are over 60 but even if you aren’t. Not Oscar worthy but worthy of the price of admission. Enjoy.

The Company You Keep