FaithWorld

“The Ledge” equals “God for Dummies” – film review

(Actor Charlie Hunnam poses for a portrait while promoting the movie "The Ledge" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2011/Mario Anzuoni )

Can’t wait until Thanksgiving dinner to witness a pointless conversation between a pompous fundamentalist Christian and a sneering atheist? Then “The Ledge” is the movie for you.

This shrill and pedantic exercise in speechifying gives us “deep” conversations about religion and the afterlife that wouldn’t pass muster in a freshman Philosophy 101 study group, delivered with all the earnestness and lack of subtlety of the old “Davey and Goliath” show. (If that Christian cartoon had featured Liv Tyler’s breasts, that is.)

Tyler, fresh off playing a former drug addict who married Rainn Wilson as a way to get a grip on her life in “Super,” broadens her range by playing a former drug addict who married Patrick Wilson to get a grip on her life in “The Ledge.” When these two move in down the hall from committed atheist Charlie Hunnam, who becomes Tyler’s boss when she gets a job working at the hotel he manages, things start spiraling out of control.

The movie opens, in fact, with Hunnam standing on the roof of a tall building, with policeman Terrence Howard trying to talk him down. Howard’s character, a devoted Catholic, is having his own problems, having just learned that he’s sterile. Since he and his wife have two children, this news comes as some surprise.

“Neither God, nor Master” film angers Tunisian Islamists

(A Tunisian flag at a peaceful demonstration in Tunis January 15, 2011/Zohra Bensemra)

Six months after Tunisia’s uprising, religious tension is rising over the limits of freedom of expression, as Islamists challenge the dominance of liberals in what was once a citadel of Arab secularism. Last week several dozen men attacked a cinema in Tunis that had advertised a film publicly titled in French ‘Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre’ (No God, No Master) by Tunisian-French director Nadia El-Fani, an outspoken critic of political Islam.

Police later arrested 26 men, but Salafists — a purist trend within political Islam advocating a return to the ways of early Muslims — gathered outside the justice ministry two days later to demand their release, leading to scuffles with lawyers. Security forces were heavily deployed in central Tunis to stop protests by Salafists after Friday prayers last week.

Family, Taliban scare off actresses in Afghan film industry

(Afghan film actress Nafisa Nafis puts on make-up at the sets of a television series directed by Saba Sahar in Kabul June 7, 2011/Ahmad Masood)

A young bride silently sobs on the floor watching her mentally disturbed husband gorge on chicken, rub his greasy hands through his hair and scream at her for more, just another chapter in the couple’s violent life together. Film director Saba Sahar anxiously watches the scene by the cameraman, squatting in blue jeans and wearing a bright pink headscarf. “Cut!” she calls.

The first Afghan female in her profession, Sahar, 36, has become a household name after acting and directing for more than half her life. She is adored by Afghan women. Like other Afghan directors, Sahar says finding actresses is her top challenge in an ultra-conservative Muslim country where many view acting as un-Islamic and inappropriate for women.

Witch hunt or wise move? Cannes ponders expulsion over Nazi “joke”

(Director Lars Von Trier arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Melancholia" in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2011/Jean-Paul Pelissier)

Witch hunt or wise decision? That was the question on the lips of movie-goers, critics and executives at the Cannes film festival after the sudden expulsion of Danish director Lars Von Trier. The annual cinema showcase is the world’s biggest and well-known as a haven for provocative voices like Von Trier’s. But organizers clearly decided the 55-year-old director had overstepped the mark when he jokingly told the world press on Wednesday that he was a Nazi who sympathized with Hitler.

And while the festival cracked down on Von Trier within 24 hours, revoking his accreditation, reaction was more divided from the crowd on the famous palm-lined Riviera waterfront. “I’m against the decision. Everyone here is on two hours’ sleep and anyone can say something stupid at a press conference. He apologized and that was enough,” said 20-something filmmaker Christophe Monsourian.

Dracula goes dry as Turkey’s new drink rules bite

draculaGuests at the Istanbul premiere of a new vampire film were among the first victims of new curbs on alcohol that have raised secularist fears Islamic strictures may be encroaching on everyday life.

The rules, announced earlier this month by the tobacco and alcohol watchdog, tighten up licence requirements for serving alcohol, impose restrictions on alcohol marketing and limits sales to designated areas in stores. (Photo: Dracula souvenirs at Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, in Romania, May 19, 2006/Bogdan Cristel)

But the move has revived secularist accusations that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government is interfering in people’s lifestyles and imposing Islamic values. The Ankara Bar Association — part of a judiciary that has become a last bastion of Turkey’s secularist old guard — said it had lodged a challenge to the new regulations in the country’s top administrative court.

Saudi film festival cancelled in setback for reformers

saudi-film-festival1Saudi Arabia’s only film festival has been cancelled, dealing a blow to reformist hopes of an easing of clerical control over culture that had been raised by the low-key return of cinemas in December.  In a country where movie theatres had been banned for almost three decades, the annual Jeddah Film Festival — started in 2006 — presents aspiring Saudi film makers and actors with a rare opportunity to mingle with more experienced peers from other countries. (Photo: Jeddah Mayor Adel Fakieh speaks at Jeddah film festival, 18 July 2007/Susan Baaghil)

But the Jeddah governorate informed festival organisers late on Friday, just before its planned opening on Saturday,  that this year’s festival was cancelled “after it received instructions from official parties. We were not told why,” said Mamdouh Salem, one of its organisers.

Many religious conservatives in the kingdom believe films from more liberal Arab countries such as Egypt could violate religious taboos. Some also view cinema and acting, as a form of dissembling, as inconsistent with Islam.