A lesbian, an aspiring actor, an aspiring singer, a low-class marriage, a neighborhood community and 2 renowned directors have memorable less-than-24-hour-long experiences while living in/visiting the capital of Cuba.
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"...the little rest and peace I derive from this very turbulent world is when I'm honest.... Which is what I try to do in the film." (Suleiman)
Kind of a sleeper, but if you like "not Hollywood" -- Children of Heaven (Iranian), My Life as a Dog, etc. -- give this a try. The movie is a series of vignettes or tableaux, some "real life," some fantasy. Often the two intertwine and you can never be sure which is which. On the surface it's about the writer/director's return to his native Palestine, Jerusalem. It's not a documentary and it's not overtly political, but on some level it's both. "I think everything is personal. Everything is political." (Suleiman)
The director himself describes the work as "a very 'Iranian film' because of its crossing of documentary with narrative approach." (Quoted from a post (#30963) by Kia Fri Jul 30 15:34:03 1999 on the Message board of The Jewish-Palestinian Encounter Site.
What I like best about this movie is the slices of Palestinian life, the deliberately over-slow pace as an antidote to the daily Middle-East news: the director and a friend sitting timelessly in front of a "Holy Land" trinket shop, a bunch of guys night fishing on the Mediterranean or Dead Sea, a long and slow descent down an old road into Jerusalem to the sound of an ancient/modern song of reconciliation, scenes from the Suleiman household, peeling garlic and small talk, Mr. Suleiman Sr. arm wrestling the local youth, etc. These things give the movie a timeless beauty.
Politically -- although as Suleiman points out it can't really be separated from the personal -- a French tourist/friend? pontificates to the director about the origins of Mideast violence, perhaps framing our "Orientalist expectation from audiences in places like Europe and the States." (From Invisible City - Coco Fusco talks with director Elia Suleiman about Chronicle of Disappearance. In another scene, a Palestinian women with "good Hebrew" tries to find an apartment. She can "pass" on the phone, but her name is a give-away. And in a series of scenes from a Palestinian theatre piece, the dance is so Jewish one wonders how such a wide gulf has come to separate the two communities. (For an interesting take on Palastinian-Iranian-Jewish 'resemblances', see further discussion from the Message board of The Jewish-Palestinian Encounter Site.)
No Violence. A good film to generate discussion amongst family members. Ideal (essential?)for deconstructing the nightly news view of the world.
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