Emad Burnat bought his first camera to record the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. His first three sons, he says, mark different phases in his family's life as Palestinian farmers living in the West Bank.
Emad soon finds another use for his camera when the Israeli government puts up a "separation" fence between his village and the newly-constructed houses for Israeli settlers. The fence cuts across the agricultural land farmed by Emad and other Bil'in villagers, depriving them of about half of their own farm lands. The villagers organize a nonviolent resistance against the encroaching Israelis and its military forces. With his camera, Emad documents the struggle to have the fence torn down.
Emad, the farmer turned self-taught cameraman, goes through five cameras over a period of five years documenting his village's nonviolent struggle. One after another, his cameras are smashed or shattered or shot at by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Each camera becomes Emad's witness to the violence perpetrated on his family and neighbors. Each camera, too, chronicles Gibreel's growing awareness of the injustice committed against his father and fellow Palestinians. ✍
I wasn't able to get a copy of this other Oscar Best Documentary Feature nominee. The Gatekeepers features interviews of the surviving former heads of the Shin Bet - Israel's security agency (like the CIA). Watching the trailer and clips, I got the impression that this docu reveals the men behind all those disappearances and assassinations of Palestinians. But what was chilling was the cold-blooded way these former Shin Bet directors would talk about how they kept "terrorists" at bay - and that was just from the clips on YouTube. ✍
For those of you who demand a "faithful" adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel, don't watch this movie. Let me say it again, a movie adaptation is a movie and NOT a book.
But for those who expect a creative interpretation of Tolstoy's novel, this one is for you. Tom Stoppard's screenplay and Joe Wright's direction of Anna Karenina project the passion and torments of love on a grand scale. And Keira Knightley's intensity burns up that big screen.
After reading that Tom Stoppard was doing the screenplay, I was excited what he would do with the novel's sprawl. I wasn't disappointed by his choice to locate most of the scenes in a claustrophobic theater hall, complete with the backstage machinery that makes spectacles happen onstage. The setting becomes a character in itself, as it locates the movie's audience as spectators. And so Roger Ebert says in his review, Anna who is caught up in her love for Vronsky "doesn't seem to realize that the audience is right there and paying close attention."
With Joe Wright's masterful direction, the audience (well, at least I was) gets carried along in the waltz (it felt like that, with the cameras sashaying along) among the characters in this sumptuous grand ball of a movie. ✍
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