It seems like movies from the horror genre are where it’s at these days….Most of the innovative and interesting films I’ve seen have been horror films or at least partly horror….And they have also been foreign films.
Here’s three that particularly stand out….
INSIDE is a French film that came out in 2008 about a pregnant woman who at the beginning of the film survives a terrible car crash that kills her boyfriend. Later, on the eve before her expected delivery she is visited in her home by a strange woman who tells her that she wants her baby and then attempts to cut it out of her….The rest of the film is cat and mouse game in the house between the pregnant woman and the crazy woman that also involves those who visit the house (the pregnant woman’s mother, boss, and several police officers)….It’s an extremely violent and gory film but it does ratchet up the tension and has one of the best surprise endings I’ve ever seen….A superb shocker that is disturbing and dark that will stay with you afterwards.
Even more so is another French film MARTYRS In fact I would go as far as to say it is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen….The gore makes one cringe particularly a scene near the end that involves someone being skinned alive….The plot is actually quite complex so I will only say here that it’s all about faith….In fact this is one of the deepest most complex philosophical films I have ever seen….The end “keep doubting” says it all….This is a stunning intellectual statement that just happens to be a horror film.
THE HORSEMAN isn’t quite a horror movie it’s an Australian revenge flick….It was suspenseful and well-made….It was ultra violent but not gory which means much was left to the imagination rather than shown in graphic detail.
For the first hour of the film, the vengeful father kills and tortures people left and right to get to the bottom of his daughter’s death….However, unlike say a film like DEATHWISH , the viewer is left wondering who the real bad guy here is as the people killed are in a gray area of wrongdoing (pornography industry) rather than black and white bad guys….I found this made for a slightly more thoughtful take on this type of action film.
However, the film changes into typical bad guy mode for the last half hour and I think it loses a bit there….Still, I think this has future cult film written all over it….The lead actor, Peter Marshall, is also really good and a very scary anti-hero....His relationship with a daughter surrogate, a pregnant teenage runaway, reminds me of George C Scott and Season Hubley in Paul Schrader's HARDCORE ....In fact there is some similarity between the films (aside from the ferocious violence in this film)
The thinking behind the burqua ban in France seems to be that most if not all women who wear the burqua are being forced to wear it against their will....Also it is viewed as an example of the worst excesses of Islamic society and the inequality of women in these type of societies.
My answer to the first part is that would be okay if France was mandating this in A MUSLIM COUNTRY WHERE THERE IS A THEOCRACY IN PLACE AND GOVERNMENT REPRESSION IS THE NORM….However, France is a secular country with a certain amount of personal freedom….It seems ridiculous to ban a type of dress because it is viewed as repressive in a free society….That just doesn’t make sense.
The burqua ban assumes that the only women who wear the burqua are those that are being forced to….This is not the case….I used to teach Arabs (men and women) and there are professional women who make the decision to wear the burqa because that is their interpretation of Islam….I would bet this is even more the case in a secular society like France.
I’ve seen interviews with women who are lawyers as well as housewives who have come against the burqua ban and the issue of freedom of choice is most important here….I say this as an atheist and someone who generally thinks that religion is a detriment to society as well as believing that women should have to show their faces if they work with the public or want any sort of documentation such as driver’s licenses ….And what I say is the burqua ban imposes on personal freedom….It also seems highly selective….What about other religions whose adherents wear strange garb?
I’ve just finished THE SEA OF FERTILITY tetralogy by Yukio Mishima (which has taken me the best part of six weeks) and I am at a loss for words….The four books contained within – SPRING SNOW, RUNAWAY HORSES, THE TEMPLE OF DAWN, and THE DECAY OF THE ANGEL are not an epic of visual space and time that is something that can be measured although they do take place over a lifetime….Paul Theroux once described it as “the most complete vision of Japan we have in the twentieth century” but I don’t think that’s the most important part of this story.
For these four books tell the story of the illusion of material living as well as the continuity of existence (although it is left to the reader whether or not this is an illusion).
The interlocking story is that of Honda whose teenage friend Matsugae meets with a tragic fate in SILENT SNOW….Matsugae has three birthmarks on his side and also keeps a dream journal (there is much in these stories that is first prophesized by dream)….His last words are about meeting Honda under a waterfall.
Honda next meets Ilinuma in RUNAWAY HORSES…. He is an ultra-nationalist youth who is seen under a waterfall and who also has three birthmarks on his side….He meets a similar tragic fate after being assumed to be Matsugae’s reincarnation as does Thai princess Ying Chan in THE TEMPLE OF DAWN the third reincarnation….The last book deals with the fourth reincarnation and then questions the truth of this whole sprawling narrative….One ends where he starts.
I’m not sure Mishima believed in what he was writing (hence the ending) so the side-trips to India and all the talks on reincarnation especially the conversations between Matsugae and Honda in SILENT SNOW are more alternatives offered to the reader rather than an expressed philosophy.
I will look at this for the writing and storytelling only….It is a tremendous story and tells us much of the different delusions, rituals, patterns the human mind can fall into….Perhaps it could have been edited slightly better (there are a few too many philosophical conversations to suit my taste) but I understand this is all background material for the reader.
Another thing I found striking was the change of tone between the first two books and the last two books….There is the healthy vitality of a mystery and also of the characters who seek to retain honor among all the diversions (such as love and family) in the first two novels….However, the third and forth books have scenes of debauchery and decadence….Even the main character Honda shows his perverse side in the third book (he’s a foot fetishist and a voyeur!) which seems to coincide with his burgeoning wealth as he is a successful lawyer.
Bu that’s how people are….The assumption of normalcy is perhaps based on one view of a complex person….Somebody who knows the same person at a different time in their life with different consequences will know a completely different person.
Much of life does feel like an illusion….How else to explain its seeming unfairness and ridiculousness….It’s rich material for an epic of the human consciousness such as this.
It’ s all about the sound or sounds plural….And for me one of the greatest is that which started with The Beatles-pretty yet emotional vocals, superb harmonies, verse-chorus structure with a middle 8, sparkling guitars….Acts such as Squeeze and XTC kept this sound alive in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s not to mention The Posies, The Shoes, Cheap Trick etc.
Will Owsley’s day job was a guitarist (for Amy Grant among others)….However the two solo albums he made prior to passing away last weekend were beautiful examples of the above sound.
In particular his first one OWSLEY has got to be one of the biggest candidates for album that should have sold a million copies from the incredible single ON THE RADIO to more evocative tracks such as GOOD OLD DAYS this is the equivalent of a bag of candy - Impossible to stop eating or put down.
His death is sad especially when one had spent the last several years hoping for a third album….What is also sad is musicians who produce this type of clever pop music seem to be few and far between these days.
I personally think from the viewpoint of argument critique (that is the structure of the argument not taking into accounts my own personal beliefs) that using the Holocaust as a justification for the creation of the state of Israel is a weak premise.
It’s ludicrous on the face of it as the Palestinians had nothing to do with WWII and taken literally this means that Germany should be the homeland of the world’s Jews.
Perhaps sensing the weakness and even the danger of this argument to their land claims there has been a move of late to link the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Hussani during the British Mandate to the Final Solution.
An example of this would be the number of assertions made by Alan Dershowitz such as Adolf Eichmann visited Husseini in Palestine;" "taken on a tour of Auschwitz by Himmler;" "The grand mufti of Jerusalem was personally responsible for the concentration camp slaughter of thousands of Jews;" the mufti organized a commando unit "to poison Tel Aviv's wells"; "The mufti was apparently planning to return to Palestine in the event of a German victory and to construct a death camp modeled after Auschwitz near Nablus;"
The bottom line is there is no historical evidence for any of this. The fact the Mufti chose to align himself with forces that were enemies to that nation which colonized the land where he lived reminds me of Gandhis’ attiude on WWII which subsequently got him locked up-Why go along with war in which you are expected to fight on the side of those that oppress you?
Let’s also kept in mind that Eichmann met with Zionist groups while in Palestine as a possible means of shipping Jewish refugees there.
Who are the real Nazis here anyway-a long deceased Arab leader who was a marginal figure at best and whose reputation and importance have been so pumped up and exaggerated that he now gets as much ink in Zionist literature as Adolph Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler
Or a government that commits crimes such as these….
Kamal Zghair was a fifty-seven-year-old, impoverished wheelchair-bound invalid. He slept in a backroom of a gas station in Jenin, near the Ibrahim Haddad factory. Almost every day, he went in his wheelchair to a neighboring industrial warehouse where his friend, fifty-year-old Durar Hussein, washed his clothes for him, repaired his wheelchair, provided him with food, and also gave him some respite from his lonely existence…Human Rights Watch went to inspect the site of the killing and found the crushed and bullet-ridden wheelchair by the side of the road, its white flag still attached. The stretch of road on which Kamal Zghair was killed was completely open with excellent visibility, so it is unlikely that the IDF soldiers who shot him saw anything other than an elderly, wheelchair-bound man.