June 26th, 2009 26th

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Amreeka With Dahshan: A Must-See

A couple of days ago I went with my Egyptian friend Mohamed el Dahshan to see a Palestinian movie about a mom and her son migrating to the United States. It would be very difficult for me to justly portray Amreeka so that you can get a good idea of what it’s about, but it’s suffice to say that you absolutely have to watch it. I was really amazed by it, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. Director Cherien Dabis & Co put forward a movie so realistic, that it is very difficult to remember that you’re sitting in a movie theater watching a screening.

Amreeka, The MovieThe movie starts in the West Bank where a Christian family is going through the daily hell of the occupied territories, until they receive the immigration letter that allowed them to move to the US. That’s when it takes you through the period of settling in with their extended family, and taking in the huge cultural gap between the two countries. The movie is mainly in Arabic, although I would say a good third of it is in English (sometimes even mixing the two – which made it much closer to reality). So watch it in its original version with subtitles (many movie theaters here, and throughout Europe, dub the movies, and that would take away the beauty of it).

Many movies fail to capture the differences of opinions within Arabs and Palestinians regarding the Israeli occupation. In fact, there is a significant crowd who’d advocate that the Palestinians abroad have pretty much the same mentality. Well, one of the strongest aspect of this film in particular, is the fact that you have a wide range of Palestinians, each with their own influences and thought processes. While they are all unanimously against the Israeli occupation (as is the entire world, except for the US), and they equally enjoy Arab food, there are quite a few significant differences between them.

I leave you with that. The best way to learn more about the movie is to actually watch it. Since we went on a Tuesday night, the tickets for students are at 5 Euros and change (compare with standard 10 Euro fee), and Dahshan was kind enough to invite me, since I’m kind of stripped on cash right now!

I wish everyone can see it so we can talk about it. The conversation that followed with Dahshan was very intriguing, but I think that would’ve been the case anyway, because he’s quite the intellectual, intelligent guy.

June 16th, 2009 16th

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Les Beaux Gosses With Alberts

Today I went to see my first French movie at the cinema. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Mk2 (a chain of cinemas found everywhere) have a special offer where if your under 26, you get to see a movie for 3.90 Euros! Compare to the regular 10-Euro fare, and you’d understand where the excitement is coming from.

My friend Alberto Estrada, from Barcelona, had called me up so that I can help him look at laptops and what not. As a good Egyptian, I got to the store where we were going to meet at 20:07. Besides the fact that we had arranged to meet at 19:00, and thus I was over an hour late, the store Surcouf shuts at 20:00. So wasn’t the most efficient of evenings, but that OK. We went for amazing Lebanese food instead, and Alberts (that’s what I call him – to me it sounds very Catalan to say it that way, but to them I just sound stupid) did something a true Catalan would NEVER do and actually paid for dinner. So I would like to take the opportunity via my personal Paris blog to express my official appreciation to the Catalan people for being able to produce at least one person who goes against the stereo-type! (For those of you who aren’t aware of the stereo-types out there, Catalans are known, and proven, to be some of the most stingy people around). Seriously, though, having amazing Lebanese food, paid for by Alberts, definitely made my day.

Les Beaux GossesBack to today’s movie. We saw an American-Pie-style film taking place at a high school in France. The idea is to get some laughs out of it, and that we did. There were obviously a lot of things that I couldn’t really follow (lots of slang and speedy talk), but I’m glad to have been able to hang on to the huge majority of events.

It’s incredibly funny, and shockingly disgusting at the same time. French cinema, you see, doesn’t care too much about revealing scenes that no one finds attractive, and many find offending, even. However, having said that, it gave the movie an interesting twist.

The main character is basically the typical loser who’s horrible with girls and is far from motivated. Surrounding him, were many characters that brought interesting twists to the story. Like his mother, for example, who enjoys involving herself in everything her son does, and his friends at school, who make him seem more or less normal.

It’s a clever comedy that’s very entertaining until the last 20 minutes or so, when they run out of ideas for ending the movie properly. Still, though, it’s definitely worth the trip (even if it weren’t for 3.90!).

So on a night when I was supposed to help my friend with his new laptop investment, I got a free Lebanese dinner, and saw a French comedy at the Mk2. Not bad, eh?