2 March 2018.
WAJIB **** (vo Arabic, Hebrew, English)
This auteur work by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir was the best film at last year’s Locarno film festival. Its touching story of a father/son moment when the son comes home to Palestine from Rome for his sister’s wedding is a superb portrait of family love, duty and tensions. They come together as the father has to go about his “wajib” or duty of delivering the wedding invitations by hand to each of the invitees, as is their custom.
Of the older generation, the father believes in tradition and getting along with his Israeli neighbors. His less moderate, fiery son does not believe in accepting the conditions his people are forced to endure. And so they discuss politics and personal matters as they drive from house to house, delivering the invitations. A whole world comes through in their conversations, as they get closer and then further apart in this intimate road movie. And their world opens up a bit more with each home they visit, enduring the ceremony of gossip, coffee and snacks they are served.
The incredibly authentic acting of the handsome pair is enhanced by the fact that they are father and son in real life – Mohammad and Saleh Bakri.
The film has won numerous awards in festivals around the world, including the Mar Del Plata festival in Argentina, and those of Dubai and Amiens, France. This is a deeply moving film on many levels.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME **1/2
The critics have been raving about this film for quite some time now, proclaiming it a wonderous love story. I was expecting the moon, yet it felt like candy-coated soap opera when I finally got to see it.
Here’s an idyllic summer interlude – a villa somewhere in Italy, a 17 year-old boy (Timothee Chalamet) somewhat bedazzled by a gorgeous, debonair, older new-comer (Armie Hammer) from the States who has come to work on some historical art project with the boy’s father.
It’s obvious that the family is well-off and very liberal, the mother smoking constantly, the parents in a close, loving relationship, open to their son’s friends and parties. It’s all so hip, intellectual and groovy (it’s the 80s after all…). We are to be impressed and charmed.
To me it felt like a corny watercolor of la dolce vita, or reminiscent of David Bailey’s photos of nubile young girls (boys, in this case…) languidly laying around (isn’t all this a bit off-color in today’s MeToo world…?!)
The growing attraction between the two comes to a boil when the easy-going parents let them go off on a lover’s weekend through some picturesque villages. Oh dear, were those critics really serious about all this? Is all this even legal? He is, after all, under-age. And I didn’t feel much of the love, except for some longing looks – or were they just lustful? A bit of a coming-of-age trauma for the spoiled, talented kid – he composes and plays the piano, speaks various languages, etc….The whole family is uber-mensch…
Oh well, this is the Italian director, Luca Guadagnino, who came out in 2015 with “A Bigger Splash”, the dreadful remake of ‘La Piscine’…
I, TONYA **
The title alone proclaims a pride that is misplaced. Why is this film glorifying the girl responsible for a deplorable act in sporting history that we were all witness to some years ago? It spotlights the 1991 attack by Tonya Harding’s entourage that injured Nancy Kerrigan, her biggest rival in ice-skating, so that Tonya could win the top medal and go on to the Olympics. Whether it was Tonya or her abusive husband and his imbecile buddy who were the master-minds is never really clear, but why this homage to the whole event?
Producer and actress Margot Robbie, who plays Tonya, seems to give as excuse or apology the fact that Harding had an emotionally-abusive barracuda of a mother who gave her no love but a constant push to perform. The whole thing feels grimy and ridiculous, but the ensemble acting is strong, especially from Allison Janney (who has been picking up supporting-actress awards everywhere) as the vicious mother. It’s perplexing and sleazy, which it all was…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.