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“Homeland,” Reviewed

“Homeland,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Before he directed 1988’s astounding “The Vanishing” and 1993’s astoundingly disappointing American remake of the same film, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer made a trilogy of documentaries entitled “Land of the Fathers” that followed two Palestinian families through their experiences in 1974, 1978 and 1983 — the last, “Adios Beirut,” he mentioned was sold to PBS but never broadcast. With “Homeland,” one of the films making its world premiere at Abu Dhabi, Sluizer revisits those two families, now spread out over Lebanon, Colombia, the U.A.E. and other locations, and also puts himself and his feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict center stage.

“Homeland” starts quietly, with Sluizer discussing his own history, the earlier films, the aneurysm two years ago that left him needing crutches or a wheelchair to get around, and how that brush with mortality encouraged him to revisit the past. It ends with him looking in on a comatose (and heavily Photoshopped) Ariel Sharon, telling him the world would have been a better place if he’d died in Auschwitz along with much of Sluizer’s Dutch family. So, no mincing around with ambiguities here. The sincerity of Sluizer’s feelings are without question — his reunions with each family member, particularly the elderly head of the large Hammad family, are tearful and joyous, his fury in the face of the displaced from their homes palpable.

But “Homeland” wanders into browbeating Michael Moore-style documentary techniques, even before Sluizer’s diatribe to an unhearing, hospitalized Sharon. He walks up to Jewish settlers living in a formerly Arab house in East Jerusalem and asks to speak to the young man who answers the door on camera. When the young man says that someone else in their household speaks to the press and that he’s not home at the moment, Sluizer taunts “I guess now the most oppressed have become the oppressors!” An interview he does get with an American settler who needs no help looking ridiculous is nevertheless abusively edited to cut her off mid-sentence in her responses. Discordant string music swells behind periodic quotes from Sharon and others about how “if I was only an Israeli civilian and met a Palestinian, I would burn him and make him suffer before killing him.”

Regardless of where you stand on Israel and Palestine, the amount of vitriol on display in “Homeland” and the determined one-sideness of the argument is startling and off-putting, the language on occasion powerfully uncomfortable — Sluizer speaks, for instance, about the biased reporting of all the “Jewish news agencies.” These things basically guarantee “Homeland” will never screen for an audience not already sympathetic towards and invested in the Palestinian cause — it won’t win someone over. (It’s slated to eventually air on the Aljazeera Documentary Channel, but at the moment has no theatrical distributor in place.) It’s fiery agitprop, but it’s not a well-made movie.

“Homeland” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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