Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'WHERE DO WE GO NOW?"





I have been feeling uncharacteristically peaceful this week and so when I started to think what to write about in my next post, I found out (to my enormous surprise) that for once I had no desire to argue with modern American feminists, or to make fun of the fundamental religious right.

Wouldn’t that be nice to share something positive, something inspirational?

Now, I don’t know how long it will last and so let me just put it out there quickly, before something sets me off and I will revert back to my usual confrontational self:


I had such a great time watching her “Where Do We Go Now” film on Saturday night that I feel obligated to pay a tribute to it on my blog.

But before I do so, let me share briefly why I think that watching movies like hers might be a good idea for people who are striving to become well-rounded and multiculturally sensitive. It’s simple: Because not all of us are in the position of being able to travel the world (which I’m hoping will change for me in the future!), reading books and watching movies is one of the most affordable options of how to taste a flavor of cultures different from our own. Even fictional stories teach us a lot about life in those mysterious parts of the world we normally don’t think about. Some of the best movies I rented from Netflix for past two years were from Iran, India, and/or South Korea. And don’t get me started on books – I would need a whole new blog just for that!

Anyway. Nadine Labaki is a Lebanese actress and film director, and her first feature film, “Caramel”, is one of my all-time favorites, which is why I was so excited to rent her second one. “Where Do We Go Now” is a little difficult to categorize; in fact, that’s the main reason why it’s been getting such mixed reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers are cranky because they are unable to decide whether the film is a comedy or an anti-war drama. (The fact that it also contains features of a musical isn’t helping matters.) I can testify that the movie made me both laugh and cry repeatedly; whether you consider it a good thing or a bad thing is entirely up to you.

I don’t want to give too much away just in case this post will persuade some of my readers to see it, but here is a synopsis:

In a remote Lebanese village Muslims and Christians have been living together for a long time. But when news about religion-based conflicts and violence in Lebanon reach the community, men become restless. Neighbors are turning against neighbors, friends against friends. The women, however, are determined to do everything in their power to keep peace. They are supported in their efforts by both local priest and imam, who are growing increasingly frustrated with their flocks’ stubbornness and aggression. Because desperate times call for desperate measures, the women would do anything to prevent their men from trying to kill each other; including but not limited to hiring a group of Ukrainian strippers as a distraction, or feeding the men pastries containing hashish to calm them down. Eventually, the women succeed in their plan to rid the village of weapons, which significantly reduces the risk of violence even after the men sober up.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But if you are anything like me, the movie will leave you thinking about things like why all the religious violence in the world? How much we should blame religion and how much testosterone? How does economy play into all that? And so on, and so on, until your brain gets overheated, but isn't that what a good movie is supposed to do?

I will end with a quote from one of the reviewers from Rotten Tomatoes, who summarized the movie as follows:

“Odd little movie - but quirky. … Seemed a little confused on whether it wanted to be a comedy, drama, or a musical. It even had a blossoming love connection that they started, then seemed to forget about. Like a said...odd movie.”

I agree. It is odd and quirky and occasionally confusing. Just like, you know, life :)


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