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.

Freudian take on Vatican life makes Cannes film festival smile

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

The Vatican got a dose of Freudian analysis at Cannes on Friday with “Habemus Papam,” a gentle Italian comedy about a newly elected pope who gets cold feet when the weight of his responsibility dawns on him. The film by Italian director Nanni Moretti drew laughter and healthy applause from critics on day three of the Cannes film festival, where the official selection of movies has so far leaned in the direction of dark realism and social commentary.

Farcical and humane, Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope) casts wide open the door of the notoriously secretive Holy See, as red-robed cardinals converge in a locked chamber to elect a pope under the expectant gaze of millions of Catholics. When the votes are counted and white smoke billows from the Vatican’s dome, the pope-elect played by French actor Michel Piccoli, 85, is led to a balcony to address the faithful — only to freeze up before his momentous task, paralyzed by anxiety.

New Israeli film claims discovery of nails from Jesus’s cross

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(Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici at a news conference in New York, February 26, 2007/Mike Segar)

Could two of the nails used to crucify Jesus have been discovered in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem? And could they have mysteriously disappeared for 20 years, only to turn up by chance in a Tel Aviv laboratory?

That is the premise of the new documentary film”The Nails of the Cross” by veteran investigator Simcha Jacobovici, which even before its release has prompted debate in the Holy Land. The film follows three years of research during which Jacobovici presents his assertions — some based on empirical data, others requiring much imagination and a leap of faith.

Amid row with Israel, Turkish officials attend Istanbul Holocaust Day

turkey

Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and Istanbul Governor Avni Mutlu light a candle at Neve Shalom Synagogue to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day/Murad Sezer

In a rare show of unity with Istanbul’s dwindling Jewish community, government officials attended the country’s first official commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

“For generations in Istanbul, we have lived together with love, tolerance, fraternity and without discrimination, and we are extremely determined to continue living this way,” Istanbul Governor Avni Mutlu said before lighting a candle with Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva at Neve Shalom Synagogue on January 27. Neve Shalom was one of two temples targeted in a 2003 bomb attack in Istanbul that was blamed on al Qaeda. Twenty-one Muslims and six Jews were killed, and hundreds more were wounded.

Wilders’s anti-Islam film screened in Dutch court

wilders wednesdayThe hate trial of Dutch anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders, who will have a powerful shadow role in the Dutch government, resumed on Wednesday with a showing of his controversial film that criticises the Koran. (Photo: Geert Wilders (R) in court with his lawyer Bram Moszkowicz (L)  in Amsterdam, October 6, 2010/Marcel Antonisse)

The screening in court of Wilders’s 2008 film “Fitna,” which accuses the Koran of inciting violence, threatened to interrupt the trial for a second time in a week when defence lawyer Bram Moszkowicz objected to comments from presiding judge Jan Moors.

When one complainant said she did not wish to see the film, which accuses the Koran of inciting violence, Moors said: “I can understand that” — prompting a sharp response from Moszkowicz who said such a remark is simply not allowed. Moors stressed he was not expressing any judgement over the film.

France charges man for burning, urinating on Koran

koran (Photo: Verses in an oversized Koran being copied in Leganon, August 30, 2010/Ali Hashisho)

A blogger who filmed himself burning the Koran and urinating on it to put out the flames is to appear in court in eastern France, charged with incitement to religious hatred, legal sources said on Tuesday.

Threats in September by a Florida preacher to hold a high-profile protest burning of the Koran sparked global outrage among Muslims, and triggered violent protests in Afghanistan in which one protester was shot dead.

In the film, which was posted on the Internet, the 30-year-old blogger from Bischheim near Strasbourg is seen sitting in his living room wearing a devil’s mask and tearing pages out of a copy of the Koran to make paper airplanes.

“MOOZ-lum” film depicts challenges for black U.S. Muslims

mooz-lumThe makers of a new movie about family life for black Muslims in America want to highlight challenges facing followers of Islam, just as Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” revealed the racism and harsh realities facing black youth in Brooklyn two decades ago.

“MOOZ-lum” was filmed in Michigan, which has a large Muslim population, and premiered to packed theaters at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York last Friday.

“I hope people can walk out of the theater thinking more and trying to understand what we’re facing here,” said director Qasim Basir, adding the movie’s portrayal of discrimination mirrored his own Muslim-American experience.  “I’m hoping to give Muslim-Americans a film that reflects them. I want it to be something the audience can look at and say, ‘This represents me,’” he told Reuters in an interview.

Vatican beatifies the Blues Brothers … well almost …

blues brothersJake and Elwood, the loveable if hapless characters played by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the classic 1980 film The Blues Brothers, have finally gotten Vatican recognition for their “Mission from God.”

To mark this week’s 30th anniversary of the film, which became a cult classic and spawned a fashion of wearing black hats and dark sunglasses to parties, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano dedicated a full page and no fewer than five articles to it.

One of the articles says there is “no lack of evidence” that The Blues Brothers can be considered “a Catholic film.”