HEAVEN ON EARTH
106 min.,CANADA, dir. Deepa Mehta| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Mehta in her new film reflects the problems of brides that come to Canada from India. There have been horror stories in newspapers here in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada of Indian brides disappearing, being murdered, and abused. This is a story of Chand (Preity Zinta), a young bride leaving her home in Ludhiana, India, for Brampton, Ontario, to get married to Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj). She is full of optimism and hope, but soon optimism turns to isolation and abuse.
Chand is desperate and wants to return home. As the film progresses, the legend of the cobra comes into focus, and Mehta introduces aspects of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "magic realism" into her film by mixing it with voodoo through a Jamaican-Canadian woman who works alongside Chand in a factory. The ending parallels Ibsen's Doll House giving us the impression of a wake-up call to all Indian brides that there's such a thing as equality of sexes here in Canada, and that domestic abuse is not tolerated.
The film was well-scripted and the graphic scenes portraying domestic abuse shocked many in the audience, especially women, who felt anger for the way men treat their wives within the East Indian communities in Canada. Mehta delivered her message well by exposing these abuses and giving hope to future brides who may soon come to Canada that the traditional Indian ways cannot be tolerated here.
100 min.,CANADA, dir. Atom Egoyan| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, Egoyan's 12th feature employs an interesting plot structure that is fractured but as the film progresses, everything comes to place like a Hitchcock film. During the Q & A session, he was asked a number of questions which he lucidly answered. He even asked the audience whether they were able to catch a few connections, and the audience responded positively. He said he wrote and produced the film in two years' time, and he based the storyline on an article he read about a Jordanian terrorist married to an Irish woman. I briefly spoke to his mother who said that even as a child, Atom was very cdreative.
Egoyan's films have been well-received here and around the world. He has won a number of awards, and this film is another proof of his creativity and skill as a scriptwriter and director. He said that his use of cell phones, webcams and social networking sites in this film is a reflection of how we now communicate in our rapidly changing high tech world.
ALGERIA, UNSPOKEN STORIES
160 min., ALGERIA/FRANCE, dir. Jean-Pierre Lledo| Reviewer Ed Farolan
This is the third chapter of Jean-Pierre Lledo's documentary series, unearthing buried memories of Algeria's war of independence. After more than 133 years of colonial rule, the French were finally ousted in 1962. Again, from 1992 to 2002, a civil war took place and more than 160,000 people were murdered or disappeared.
In this chapter, Lledo interviews four people who remembered the war in four different cities (Skikda, Constantine, Oran, and Algiers). From their stories, we learn the brutality and anarchy that took place in Algeria's history, especially the war of independence. It reminded me of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and all the confusion that took place. Whether it was in the name of religion, there were killings all over. The French killed the Arabs, and vice versa. This is what war does--killing senselessly.
The only negative I felt about this film was its length. I would have preferred if he had divided this film in two parts. Lledo is now an exile in France but was allowed to return to Algeria to make his film. It's censored, though, in Algeria.
WALTZ WITH BASHIR
87 min.,ISRAEL/GERMANY, dir. Ari Folman| Reviewer Ed Farolan
In this animated documentary, Folman, who was a young Israeli soldier during the first Lebanon war, tries to unearth memories of the war by interviewing nine fellow soldiers, whose recollections he tries to piece together.
The topic is very similar to stories about American soldiers who come back from Vietnam or more recently, the Iraq war, and have nightmares and visions of the horrors of war they went through. The animation turns to harsh reality as Folman, at the end of the documentary, concludes the film with graphic violent footage of the massacre that took place in Lebanon.
The film's title refers to a mad dance performed by a young army officer between posters of the recently assassinated President-elect of Lebanon Bashir Gemayel. This film was well executed, and I think Folma wanted to ease the tragedy and sufferings of war by using the animated format, but then, concluding with archival footage reflecting the tragic reality of the war.
© 2008 Ed Farolan