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The Gatekeepers (2012)
Unique insight into the Shin Bet
In this documentary the film maker interviews six former heads of the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service. The interviews paint a picture of the security situation Israel is facing and the decisions it has made in its conflict with the Palestinians.
I was surprised to see that these former Shin Bet heads had a much more nuanced view of the conflict than I expected. Of course, they have been defending Israel and they are still Israeli citizens and they still stand behind decisions that they have made and that have cost Palestinian lives. In that sense they are "pro-Israel". On the other hand some of them openly discussed the possibility of a Palestinian state, they spoke of Palestinians in a much more humane way than many Israeli's do and they were openly critical of Israel's security policy in the past decades, both from a human and from a professional, security perspective.
One of the interviewees for example said that one people's terrorist is the other people's freedom fighter, which is not only very true, but it also shows that these people, through their history in Shin Bet have attained a different way of looking at the conflict. I found that a very surprising and interesting aspect of the movie.
I saw the film at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA). The maker of the movie was present at the screening and he took questions from the audience after the screening. There was one Israeli woman in the audience that condemned the maker of being anti-Israeli and painting a too positive picture of the Palestinians and right after that there was a Dutch man in the audience accusing the maker of painting a too pro-Israeli picture. It just shows the incredible sensitivity around the subject. I myself was wondering "which side is he on" when the movie started. The movie however doesn't really show the views of the film maker, but the views of the former heads of Shin Bet, which is an entirely new perspective, because most movies about this conflict are created from a certain political standpoint.
I think the maker has done a very good job at getting these six important people to participate in his documentary, because the views of these people are important and hard to ignore. It is not a movie that was inspired by right-wing or left-wing sentiments, it was an unbiased movie that shows the views of the six people that were on the forefront of this war for many years. I am very surprised to see what the reactions to this movie will be in Israel. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
How sweet and tender and lovely and cold at the same time
I loved this movie. I loved the atmospheric way in which it was filmed. I loved the music. And I especially loved the realistic setting and the realistic acting in this movie.
The story takes place in a working class suburb in Stockholm. Not a setting where you'd expect a vampire story to unfold, but this is exactly what makes the story so believable. You don't need a dark forest, swords, stakes, wolves and a big castle to create a vampire story. In fact, these fantastic elements all create an unrealistic setting. By setting the story in a normal urban area, the story is much closer to home, both literally and figuratively.
Another thing I liked is how the two kids in this movie remain actual kids. Some (mainly Hollywood) directors have a tendency to give much too emotional and complex texts to children that are supposed to be CHILDREN in a movie. Oskar and Eli, the two 12 year old main characters in this movie talk and think like 12 year olds, which makes them more credible as the children they are supposed to be.
Despite the occasional blood and gore and the loneliness and misery of Eli's life as a vampire this is a very sweet and tender love story. Highly recommended.
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Typical American heroism in a predictable plot
This war movie is a classic epic American war story where Mel Gibson is portrayed as a typical American hero. It had all the elements of a war movie: heroic leader takes his troops, which he considers his sons, to battle. They have a really rough time, the main characters lose some friends who's characters are sufficiently developed during the movie to make the viewer mourn together with the main character, by fighting hard they manage to survive and in the end we see the grief and feelings of guilt of the survivors, in this case mainly Mel Gibson.
I liked the fact that the story is about a battle that has really taken place, but other than that it didn't really rise above other war movies I've seen. It's an OK watch, but it's 'cliche' in the way the story goes and in the way it portrays its heroes. It misses the excellence I found in movies like Apocalypse Now or Platoon. Not a great movie, but still an interesting watch for a night alone at home on the couch.
Stunning footage, but better presented in Attenborough's 'Planet Earth'
I was really looking forward too seeing this movie as it has been advertised as a must-see movie for people that love movies about nature. The movie shows different climates and the animals associated with them by starting at the North Pole and going down south as the movie progresses. The footage from this movie is often breathtakingly beautiful and I many times wondered how on Earth they could have taken some of the shots under water or in the sky. However beautiful, a large part of the footage I had already seen in the TV series 'Planet Earth', narrated by David Attenborough. I found Attenborough's narration of Planet Earth to be much better than the narration of Earth. 'Earth' is an easier movie. It skips much of the scientific detail that Attenborough covers in his 'Planet Earth' series. For instance, Earth will tell you that a tropical sea is an ideal nursery for a young humpback whale, because there are few predators. Planet Earth will tell you that a tropical sea is a good nursery, because the water is low in oxygen and doesn't contain enough nutrients to support very large animals, like large sharks, etc. To me, that's an important difference. That, together with Attanborough's far superior voice make Planet Earth a far better documentary than Earth. Still, however, I think Earth is worth watching for the beautiful footage and the fact that it's easier to understand makes it interesting for children too.