Reading about the new Australian film Last Dance in the lead-up to its first showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August provoked me into taking a swipe at it in my post, One Incredibly Dumb Idea (11/8/12).
Well, now that it's regrettably been given oxygen by a feature in The Australian in its issue of 24 October (prior to general release on November 1), it's time for another.
(I won't tire you by revisiting the film's basics - please read my earlier post if you're not already in the know. Just click on the 'Anti-Arab racism' label below.)
A number of things in particular in the Australian's feature/promo got me going:
First there was the headline, Prejudice melts as worlds collide, and its matching paragraph:
"She [elderly Holocaust survivor and mother of deceased Israeli soldier] nurses him [failed but wounded Palestinian suicide bomber] back from the edge of death; he begins to accept that the world is bigger than the deadly prejudices that colour it; and gradually each opens up to the other's stories."
Get it? What motivates Palestinians is simply prejudice - they just hate Jews. Not dispossession, not ethnic cleansing, not occupation, not a stolen homeland - no, that's all too boring - just your common and garden anti-Semitism. Jeeesus!
Then there's the intensely irritating pose in the accompanying photograph (which also includes co-star Julia Blake) struck by Firass (I'm too sexy for my shirt) Dirani. Jeeesus!!
Finally, there's Dirani's lame 'understanding' of the Palestinian issue:
"I think for Sadiq [Dirani's character], if you stripped everything away from what you have now - your life, your language, your wealth - and you lived in a desolate place like Palestine, and your family gets taken from you, then what are you capable of?' Dirani muses. 'You might get manipulated by a particular organisation to act in an extreme manner. But what are you capable of?'" Jeeesus!!!
(Nor BTW is Blake's any better: "Blake is clear on this point, saying: 'People are capable of anything when they're left in a position of no hope. And I think that's what's happened to the Palestinians. They have very little hope left.'" If Palestinians are left in a position of no hope, Ms Blake, it's because not only are they the victims of an immense, ongoing historical injustice but because they're constantly being misrepresented and demonised in the West by trashy films like Last Dance.)
Interested to see what the reviewers were making of the film, I scanned a few reviews.
There was this:
"[G]rapples intelligently with a hot-button international issue." (Last Dance: Melbourne review, Megan Lehman, hollywoodreporter.com, 22/8/12) Jeeesus!!!!
But also, praise the Lord, this:
"[T]aking a situation as complex as this and reducing it to a story about the way we'd all like people to behave doesn't wash. It results in a humanist fantasy." (In final stages, Lynden Barber, sbs.com.au)