Yes. Films. Religion. Together at last. Brave new world, such people in’t, et cetera, et cetera. It’s been a reoccurring entertainment news story even before the world flocked to see JesusSnuff, and we’ve generally avoided the topic just because no one seems to say anything new (and we’re hard pressed to believe that it’s such a continual revelation that there are religious people out there who are also interested in watching movies), but there’s been some interesting stuff of late, particularly with "Ushpizin" opening last week and "Paradise Now" opening tomorrow.
Andrew O’Hehir notices as much in Salon, where he talks to "Ushpizin"’s Israeli director Giddi Dar about the fact that his film, the "first feature film made within the closed world of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community," is going to playing in the same New York theater as "Paradise Now." "It’s like something from above," Dar says. O’Hehir admires the two films, both of which are notable for shooting in extremely difficult conditions.
Damon Smith at the Boston Globe surveys "Paradise Now" and the ”The War Within," and talks to directors Hany Abu-Assad and Joseph Castelo about why they chose to make films about suicide bombers, and how they’re responding to the inevitable controversy surrounded them.
Abu-Assad, born in Nazareth and now living in Holland, says he was intrigued by stories he’d heard about various bombers, details that weren’t widely reported in the media — ”it’s amazing how shocking reality is, more so than film" — and began scripting Said’s character with his co-writer and producer, Bero Beyer, based on his research. But he curtly dismisses the suggestion that ”Paradise Now," in connecting the would-be bombers’ profound sense of despair to living under the shadow of Israeli force, inadvertently makes him an apologist for terror tactics. ”Was Francis Ford Coppola, when he made ‘The Godfather,’ an apologist for crime? Nonsense."
Anthony Kaufman, in an older piece in indieWIRE, looks at the economics behind and bitter invective facing Warner Independent’s release of the film:
Warner Independent has received messages like "Muslim = Death" and angry missives like this one: "Why do you glorify the sick Arab homicide bombers who kill innocent civilians? . . . Maybe you should have named your movie ‘The Barbarians.’"
We totally swooned over "Paradise Now" at the New York Film Festival and we maintain our state of swoonage â€” it’s a fierce piece of filmmaking.
Alan Cooperman at the Washington Post looks over Sony Pictures plan to bypass theaters entirely and release "Left Behind: World at War" (so that’s where you got to, Lou Gossett Jr.!) exclusively in churches.
And Catherine Gander in the Guardian examines the challenges facing (and we’re trying so hard to envision this pitch meeting) 20th Century Fox’s planned adaptation of "Paradise Lost." But who’s the perfect Miltonian Satan? For some reason we keep picturing Stuart Townsend. Anyone got a better suggestion?
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Holistic Healer (LA Weekly)
+ How an Outsider Told a Hasidic Story From the Inside (NY Times)
+ Sympathy for the devil? (Boston Globe)
+ The Palestinian Invasion: Will "Paradise Now" Be the Biggest Arabic-Language Film Ever? (indieWIRE)
+ To haj and haj not on the road to Mecca (London Times)
+ Coming Soon to a Church Near You (Washington Post)
+ Lost in translation (Guardian)