Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where do we go now? (review) - وهلّأ لوين؟

HD trailer of Where do we go now?

After long wait, Labaki's second feature is released in Lebanese theaters. Unfortunately, this time Lebanon was not a priority on the release schedule, France beat us to be the first to release the movie to the public :-(.
To describe the movie simply, it's a must-see exquisite tale full of emotions, inspirations and motivations. Anyone should enjoy it. It's a movie about peace, not war. Unlike what some myopic Western critics say that it's a movie about a war between Christians and Muslims, it is wiser to see it as a universal movie to eliminate division, to reduce discrimination of all forms (not only religious), and avoid wars. In contrast to In the Battlefields, it should be noted that Where do we go now? throws the division problems to outsider agents, and avoid tackling the hatred that is originating from within. Nevertheless, It merits all the awards that it's currently gathering. The music, along with the intelligent lyrics by Tania Saleh, makes an integral part of the story and cannot be separated. You can enjoy the complete original score at Mouzanar's myspace. Although it may reveal some of the plot, even if listened apart.
The actors are very natural, most noticeably talented is clearly Claude Baz playing as Takla. The microcosm goal of Labaki was reached successfully. Nadine's directing talent becomes very clear by her manipulation of the emotion with such an ease: flipping the audience from laughter to tears in seconds. As in Caramel, the messages are passed smoothly to the viewer. Nadine is very talented in knowing how to attract the viewers, and she continues to confirm this assertion with each new work. This debuted long ago when she started her career, but it's getting more obvious with the collection of audience prizes almost everywhere: Tornoto Festival, and the San Sebastián Festival (for her second feature, she lost to second place by a thin margin of a mere 32 votes out of 9,046).
Even though it might be considered as Nadine's signature, some transitions might be felt interrupted, but at no time, it may disturb.
My single complaint is that, for some reason, the Lebanese theaters decided to include subtitles for Lebanese audience! Why would anyone think that the Lebanese people need English subtitles to understand Arabic in Lebanese dialect?!! Whose decision is it anyway? Unfortunately, aside distracting the viewer from the beautifully set scenes, the subtitles even spoiled and overrode  the nicely designed movie Arabic title at the beginning :-(. One might think that subtitles are added for foreigners, but it becomes even more disturbing when you witness English passage went untranslated to Arabic. Usually, one or two theaters may include subtitles, but to implement this decision nation-wide might be considered somewhat offending! Note that, when Caramel was released, the release date in Lebanon preceded that of France, and the film was released without any subtitles in the theaters.
Among minor "glitches" (or minor directing mistakes), I couldn't help noticing that the only victim received a bullet in a place that should be normally protected with the worn helmet, yet the helmet remains intact. Another glitch, the cross got broken in a visibly artificial way, leaving behind 2 bars with the sawed regular (rectilinear) sections clearly apparent.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

TIFF Victory!

"Where do we go now?" won the prestigious People's Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival. Unfortunately, Labaki was not present there to deliver a speech.
We would like to congratulate Labaki and her team for their success in making such a good movie. The movie is already enjoying a popular success among French film viewers since its public release few days ago.
A reminder that in the recent years, previous winners at TIFF won the Best Picture Oscars at the Academy Awards.