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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Captain Abu Raed (2007)

This was an enjoyable film to watch. It gives an insight into the somewhat typical (and hard) everyday life of a group of people in an Arabic culture, specifically Jordanian. You can relax. The movie isn't full of violence and it doesn't touch upon international politics/problems. The story revolves around the neighborhood, and it moves at a leisure pace, a pace appropriate to the unfolding story.

The main character is a janitor at the airport, but a group of children in the neighborhood where he lives mistake him for an airline pilot. He halfway goes along with it, acting as a pseudo big-brother/mentor to the kids. He then goes out of his way to help one child who's having difficulty with an abusive father, an act that has unforeseen ramifications.

The movie was filmed in Amman, Jordan, and there's some great photography of the city.

message 2: by Julie (last edited Nov 13, 2011 10:20PM) (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments It's good to hear about a film from a country I'm not really familiar with. I've watched a lot of Israeli films, which are very good. I also saw a very good Lebanese film, CARAMEL, made by a female director, Nadine Labaki. She has a new one out, WHERE DO WE GO NOW?, that I want to see.

I've seen many Iranian films too, my favourites being CHILDREN OF HEAVEN (Majidi), TASTE OF CHERRY (Kiarostami), TWO WOMEN and THE HIDDEN HALF (Tahmineh Milani).

I'd like to hear more about films from this part of the world.

message 3: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments TWO WOMEN ... there's a de sica italian neo-realist film by the same name. don't know the one you're talking about.

so many films come to mind, i'll make a list and post here soon.

message 4: by Sooz (last edited Nov 19, 2011 03:49PM) (new)

Sooz Children of Heaven. yes! what a lovely little film.
also The Colour of Paradise.

i think i saw Two Women. well, i know i saw the Italian one with that title, but perhaps the Iranian one too. Julie - is it about a woman seeking refuge who hides out in another woman's garden? i saw one like this a few years ago but i cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was called.

there is also one i saw a couple of years ago called Three Women. set in Iran, a woman who deals in Persian rugs juggles her job with worrying about her aging senile mother and her headstrong teenaged daughter.

the other one that comes to mind that i'd be surprised if anyone had seen (just cause i doubt it had a very wide release) was a beautifully filmed fable about a man who travelled about collecting tears. it was called White Meadow, directed by Mohammad Rasoulof.

also A Time for Drunken Horses and No One Knows About Persian Cats by Bahman Ghobadi. both worth a watch.

message 5: by Sooz (new)

Sooz oh and the Lebanese film, The Lemon Tree. so good.

message 6: by Phillip (last edited Nov 20, 2011 09:49AM) (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments the lemon tree .. are you sure that was lebanese? isn't that the one where the saudi woman is living on the border of israel and the israelis conspire to cut down her orchard because of a security risk?

i LOVED that movie.

message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments there's also PERSEPOLIS, which was a great adaptation of the graphic novels.

message 8: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Phillip wrote: "the lemon tree .. are you sure that was lebanese? isn't that the one where the saudi woman is living on the border of israel and the isrealis conspire to cut down her orchard because of a security ..."

opps my bad. it absolutely is not Lebanese. it's from Palestine.

St[♥]r Pr!nc:$$ N[♥]wsheen pictures, pictures, pictures ||| ♥ Zin Uru ♥ |||| | 482 comments oh and the Lebanese film, The Lemon Tree. so good. ...


I would like to watch the movie sometime, sounds nice. I like watching foreign movies about common life, something I can relate to even with the language barrier.

message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Sooz wrote: "Children of Heaven. yes! what a lovely little film.
also The Colour of Paradise.

i think i saw Two Women. well, i know i saw the Italian one with that title, but perhaps the Iranian one too...."

Sooz, the film you refer to about women seeking refuge in a garden sounds like WOMEN WITHOUT MEN from a few years back. That film had some very powerful imagery, but I would need to see it again because there was so much going on within the various women's time frames. It's visually creative and profound.

I tend to watch Iranian films made by women as they focus more on the difficult plight of women in Iran. I will look for THREE WOMEN, sounds good.

TWO WOMEN (2000) was about two promising female architecture students and what becomes of them later on in Iran.

I also thought GABBEH (Makhmalbaf) was a lyrically beautiful story about an elderly couple's ritual of washing their persian rug or gabbeh and reminiscing about their youth while being helped by a young woman who magically appears from within the rug's threads to tell her tale that's been contained within the rug (quite the metaphor).

THE LEMON TREE was very good too. I love Hiam Abbass, such a wonderful actress. She's been in quite a few American films.

And I also loved PERSEPOLIS, the animated film based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels. It was very faithful to the books.

St[♥]r Pr!nc:$$ N[♥]wsheen pictures, pictures, pictures ||| ♥ Zin Uru ♥ |||| | 482 comments Speaking of Iranian , I watched The Mirror about a little girl who is a reality star, it was ok.

I watched Amrika , about Arab immigrant woman who works at a fast food place , it seemed nice so have to watch it from the beginning maybe sometime soon.

message 12: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Women Without Men! yes. thank you Julie. that's the one i saw. it was -as you say- so visually compelling. so powerful. i need to see this again too.

so many of Iranian films -or atleast the Iranian films that make it to North America- are directed by, and are about, women.

message 13: by Phillip (last edited Nov 22, 2011 10:30AM) (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments good marketing - they know the west is full of sympathizers to the cause of liberating women in the middle east.

on that topic, THE CIRCLE is a really fine film from iran.

and, we have discussed this film at length in another thread, but THE STONING OF SORAYA M certainly fits this topic.

message 14: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Phillip wrote: "good marketing - they know the west is full of sympathizers to the cause of liberating women in the middle east.

on that topic, THE CIRCLE is a really fine film from iran.

and, we have discussed ..."

Both excellent--difficult yet essential to watch.

message 15: by Julie (last edited Mar 09, 2012 11:40PM) (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Sooz previously mentioned this Iranian film, NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS. It's a docu-drama about underground musicians in Tehran. The music is great--from rock to rap, as well as heavy metal (played in a barn), jazz/blues, and traditional Persian music. I especially liked the Persian rap because it superbly underscored all the repression artists face in Iran. While the music is playing, daily scenes of Iranian life go by.

The film shifts between the story of two young musicians who want to leave Iran and go to London to play a concert and the various underground musicians they meet in their pursuit of attaining (fake) visas. The story is mostly true with some fictionalized content.

Nader, an eccentric promoter the couple meets, is in charge of getting them the visas, but first he wants them to meet fellow Iranian musicians who are surviving underground and possibly arrange a concert for them to play in Tehran with some of these musicians.

This is a pretty courageous film considering that the filmmaker, Bahman Ghobadi, didn't have a permit to film (info on dvd) and the musicians were all underground.

The film paints a very bleak portrait of young artists struggling to survive in repressive Tehran, yet their passion is also inspiring.

An offbeat and interesting film.

message 16: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I saw a very good film last night--A BOTTLE IN THE GAZA SEA (UNE BOUTEILLE DANS LA MER DE GAZA), an Israel/France/Canada co-production.

It tells the story of 17-year-old Tal, who lives in Jerusalem, and 20-year-old Naïm, who lives in Gaza. Tal wants to understand what would make someone bomb the café near her home and so asks her soldier brother to toss a bottle with a note inside into the Gaza sea when he goes back on duty in Gaza.

She may be naive in believing someone would answer her (she writes her email address in the note), but despite having friends and going to parties she is still affected by the threats of danger all around her and wants to understand what is happening.

Naïm lives with his widowed mother (Hiam Abbass) and hangs out with his buddies trying to get by despite the constant tension. He and his pals find the bottle and have a laugh. Naïm decides to write Tal back after a while, initially ridiculing her for her naiveté, but when Tal demands an honest answer he begins to reflect on his perceived views.

I liked that the film didn't take sides and that we got both perspectives. I also liked that it wasn't melodramatic but realistically depicted the hardships that both sides endure. It effectively interwove adolescent life with the harsh reality of the outside world.

The two young leads were wonderful, giving very natural performances. The film ended on a positive note--perhaps it was idealistic, but it was inspirational nevertheless.

message 17: by Heba (new)

Heba Gamal | 1 comments It's so nice to know you have such interest in Middle Eastern movies.. There are many in my mind right now..

If you go for a light Dramatic one: You can watch "Asef Ala el ezaag", in english: "sorry for disturbance", or "Bolbol hayran"..

Both are Egyptian movies, and kind of light. No big cause or something. yet, they are more about personal insights..

Hope you enjoy!

message 18: by Julie (last edited Mar 25, 2012 10:46PM) (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Heba wrote: "It's so nice to know you have such interest in Middle Eastern movies.. There are many in my mind right now..

If you go for a light Dramatic one: You can watch "Asef Ala el ezaag", in english: "..."

Thanks for the Egyptian recommendations. I tried to look for them in my library, but they don't have them. Are there any that you think might be available in Canada?

message 19: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I watched another Israeli film, EYES WIDE OPEN. It's set in an ultra Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. It focuses on Aaron, a family man whose father has just died. He takes over his butcher shop and hires Ezri, a young apprentice.

Aaron has lead a quiet religious life, but when Ezri begins working for him things heat up. Aaron soon realizes his attraction to the young handsome Ezri, but when Ezri wants to take it further Aaron declares that their lust is just 'God's test,' that they must resist.

Aaron thinks he's strong. The community respects him as a 'righteous' man. He is not happy though and continually denies himself, whether with food or with desire.

The film was an interesting portrait of a narrowly defined community that looks at 'outsiders' with suspicion. Ezri is considered an outsider and the community leaders begin to hear rumors about him. They warn Aaron to send him packing.

Aaron finally realizes that he doesn't want Ezri to leave, that he feels alive when he's around.

I liked the film's exploration of what it means to be religious and gay in an uncompromising community. I liked the interplay between Aaron and his wife, his family life; as well as the relationship between him and Ezri. I felt sympathy for all involved.

This is the second film I've seen with Ran Danker, who plays Ezri (the first being RESTLESS), and I think he has talent.

message 20: by Bea (new)

Bea | 87 comments I thought the Iranian film, A SEPARATION, that won the Academy Award this year for Best Foreign Language Film was absolutely outstanding. I thought it should have won Best Screenplay as well.

A couple separates when the wife wants to emigrate and the husband wants to stay home to take care of his elderly father. When the wife goes home to mother, the husband hires a devout Muslim woman to take care of his father while he is at work. Things rapidly become increasingly complicated in unexpected ways.


message 21: by Phillip (last edited May 02, 2012 07:00PM) (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments yeah, this was a great film - took me by surprise and did a great job of messing with your assumptions. i wrote about it elsewhere on these threads, but suffice to say that i loved it and highly recommend it.

message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I'm waiting for it to come onto dvd. A must-see.

message 23: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Went to see Nadine Labaki's WHERE DO WE GO NOW? She also made CARAMEL. She really has a flair for making intelligent humourous films about Lebanese communities that, although they touch on religion and politics, aren't heavy-handed but rather present daily life with all its difficulties and joys.

Her latest film even has some musical scenes that work quite well (especially the opening scene).

The film cleverly depicts the Christian and Muslim inhabitants of a small Lebanese village who live together harmoniously as long as no outside news reaches them.

When the women discover that there's some trouble brewing between Christians and Muslims in the next village, they do whatever they can to prevent the men from finding out and engaging in the fighting. Most of the women have already lost husbands and/or sons in religious wars and don't want any more men to die.

This is a heavy topic but is handled with a light touch. It was refreshing to see this film, and I look forward to more from Labaki.

message 24: by Sooz (new)

Sooz i liked Caramel .... i'll add Where Do We Go Now to the ever-growing list of 'wanna sees'

message 25: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments yeah, that sounds great, thanks for posting, julie.

message 26: by Phillip (last edited Jun 12, 2012 09:42AM) (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments found CARAMEL on netflix instant - put it in the queue ... the other is on "save" mode - guess i'll get to see it when it becomes available.

message 27: by Julie (last edited Oct 16, 2012 03:43AM) (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I watched two very different films, one from Israel and one from Turkey.

Ronit Elkabetz and Simon Abkarian star in TO TAKE A WIFE, an Israeli/French film about a couple's disintegrating marriage, set during 1969 in Haifa. The film is a harrowing look into a couple's daily routine.


Viviane is unhappy having to care for their four children while also providing hairdressing to some of the women in her apartment building; she is harried and exhausted. She longs for her husband to be romantic and thoughtful, but he is mostly concerned with going to synagogue and following Jewish traditions. She is more free-spirited while he is rigid.

Viviane is suddenly thrown into turmoil when an old lover, Albert, reappears to once again ask her to leave her husband. He is also in an unhappy marriage and wants to leave. The two seem made for each other; the only happy moments in the film are when they are briefly together. Albert seems to be everything Eliahou is not--thoughtful, soft-spoken, and attentive.

What I found distressing was the way Viviane and Eliahou almost force the children to take sides during their frequent fights. Viviane is quite close to her teenage son (almost too close), while Eliahou is very close to their teenage daughter. There are also two younger sons, one an infant. The infant is mostly taken care of by Eliahou's mother who lives with them. Some of the most painful scenes are watching the older children's faces when their parents are fighting--the hurt and bewilderment.

It's a very upsetting film as we watch the couple subtly and not so subtly tear each other apart. Viviane's desperation is palpable (Elkabetz's performance is breath-taking), while Eliahou remains passively stoic. There's an excellent scene in the synagogue near the end where we briefly see Eliahou's anxiety and doubt.

The film raises questions about religion and family tradition (Viviane's brothers are very controlling), as well as women's place within a traditional family setting.

I kept wishing Viviane would allow herself to freely love Albert, but she sacrifices her own happiness so as not to upset the rigid (and misogynist) Jewish laws.


The other film I watched was the Turkish ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA. It's quite slow-moving but beautifully shot and full of interesting characters.

The film excels in gradually revealing character traits and flaws, as well as employing stark close-ups of characters' faces and expressions.

The main story is about a police procedural to locate a buried body in a rural village. The police, as well as the d.a. and a doctor, go on a road journey through the night with the murderer (who's confessed) leading them to where he thinks he buried the body (he was drunk at the time and can't remember too precisely).

The Anatolian Steppe is beautifully shot. The film's tone is melancholic, reflected in the characters' demeanors as well. There's a scene where the doctor has gone across the field to urinate and lightning illuminates the sky for a moment, revealing an ancient monument or sculpture with a gaping face. The doctor's expression of horror is unexpected. Later on, he'll look into a mirror in his office and have that same expression of emptiness or despair.

Another wonderful scene is when the men stop at the mayor's home for a meal and the electricity goes out. Suddenly we see candles coming into the room and it's the mayor's teenage daughter with a tray of tea going to each man to offer him a cup. The men stare at her illuminated face with expressions of awe and lust. She never says a word.

I think this is the best Turkish film I've seen. I usually find it difficult to connect with characters in Turkish films because it's such a male-dominated society. The same is true here, but there's a deeper psychology at play and the men (at least the doctor) show some vulnerability. The director is also playing with darkness and light, literally and figuratively.

message 28: by Sooz (new)

Sooz To Take A Wife sounds like something i might like - i will look for it.

i saw Once Upon a Time in Anatolia last winter and loved it. so much atmosphere. i think the last quarter of the movie was a little weaker than the rest .... once the countryside - night time quest was over the film lost something for me. still - overall an excellent film and well worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet.

message 29: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10494 comments i've been hearing lots about ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA ... i need to remember to search for it. want to see both films julie discussed. thanks for that, julie.

message 30: by Julie (last edited Nov 04, 2012 12:54AM) (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I recently watched the Israeli film FOOTNOTE (directed by Joseph Cedar), which was nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar last year.

I enjoyed it a great deal. It's difficult to really explain it because it's set mostly in the academic world of Talmudic Studies (of which I know very little).

I laughed a lot, though, because of the lead actor Shlomo Bar Aba who plays Eliezer, a somewhat autistic, extremely touchy, dedicated scholar who's had a lot of bad luck, being overlooked for the major Israel prize in his field for over 20 years.

This character only has one expression for most of the film, and it's pretty dour (along with his perennial shuffle). There are really humorous scenes with him though, especially at a party to celebrate his son Uriel's (Lior Ashkenazi) latest award. Uriel works in the same field, and they are both professors, and rivals.

But while Eliezer is a purist, never compromising in his work, Uriel likes to please and dislikes confrontation. He has become very popular as a result, while Eliezer is generally disliked.

There are many ironies at work in this film--between father and son, as well as within the academic world and the competition for the big award. Eliezer scorns popularity yet yearns to be recognized by his country for his lifetime of work. He doesn't respect his son's work and doesn't believe he should win any prizes. He is very harsh with him.

Uriel is more likable, however he can be just as irritating as his father. They are like two children. And then there's Uriel's son, who Uriel thinks is wasting his life. Lots of tension between fathers and sons.

The film's last few scenes are quite surreal as they take place at the Israel Prize award ceremonies--surreal, ironic, and slightly frightening.

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks! I didn’t know it and I will look for it.

message 32: by Sooz (last edited Dec 02, 2012 07:57AM) (new)

Sooz The Forgiveness of Blood. i debated whether to post about this Albanian film in this thread or the European thread, but i believe The Forgiveness of Blood has more Middle Eastern themes then French or German or Italian ....

the director of Maria Full of Grace directs this one, and co-wrote it with an Albanian film maker, using non-professional actors.

essentially it is the clash of old world views with the technological era. it focuses primarily on a teenage brother and sister and their struggle to make sense of their world when an age-old tradition -a blood feud- upends their whole life. the brother in particular -mostly due to his gender- enjoys being with his friends, videoing them with his phone camera, texting a girl he has a crush on, dreaming of opening an internet cafe when he graduates. none of these things mesh very well with the rigorous code of honour that is implemented when the teenager's father and uncle ramp up an on-going disagreement with a neigbour.

both the teenagers give really believable, natural performances. the boy often silent and resentful of his lost freedoms or angry and demanding. the girl giving a much more subtle performance, her facial expressions and glances revealing her uncertainty, fear and -at times- her resignation to the family's situation .... and to her place -as a girl- in the family.

message 33: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments Sounds powerful Sooz. I will keep an eye out for it.

message 34: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Julie wrote: "Sounds powerful Sooz. I will keep an eye out for it."

funny ... i wouldn't use the word powerful to describe it. the story is ... certainly ... but maybe not the way it was but together or filmed. at least for me, it felt i was kept a little at arm's distance.

still if your library has it Julie, i would definitely recommend you giving it a watch. in fact, i would be interested to hear if you had a similar experience watching it.

message 35: by Julie (new)

Julie (brontesister) | 898 comments I saw a wonderful film, THE SOURCE (LA SOURCE DES FEMMES), directed by Radu Mihaileanu, who also made the excellent LIVE AND BECOME (VA, VIS ET DEVIENS).

The film is set somewhere in Northern Africa but was filmed in Morocco and produced in Europe. The language spoken is Arabic. It's about a small village that is insistent on the tradition of its women carrying water down from the mountain's source. The way down can be treacherous and many pregnant women have miscarried.

Leila (played by the wonderful Leila Bekhti) has only been living in the village for three years, since she married Sami (played by the charismatic Saleh Bakri). Theirs is a love match, quite unique in a village where thirteen-year-olds can be married off to older men.

Sami is a teacher and wants Leila to be able to read and write. He lavishes her with love and attention, something his mother resents. The great Hiam Abbass plays the mother, a strict traditional woman who takes a dislike to Leila because Leila wants to change things.

Leila is tired of seeing women miscarry while bringing water down from the mountain while the men sit around and drink tea. She proposes a 'love strike' until the men either fetch the water themselves or press the mayor of the neighbouring town to install some pipes.

The women are reluctant to join her at first, but the village's fieriest woman (played by the amazing Biyouna) shows them the way.

The film has a great story, fine acting, enjoyable musical numbers, and a haunting soundtrack.

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