Saturday, November 3, 2012

What the Reviewers are Making of 'Last Dance'

I'm sorry, readers, but Last Dance is an itch that just won't go away.

1) Australian-Lebanese actor Firass Dirani speaks to SBS reporter Michelle Hanna about his role in 'Last Dance', a confronting movie on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 29/10/12:

"[Dirani] said this was a role he could not pass up. 'I thought OK, they're throwing this at me, why not do the best possible fundamentalist fanatical there is,' says Dirani."

They're throwing this at me, so I'm going to give them their money's worth!

"[T]he films message of mutual understanding may inspire some. 'I don't think it will change the hearts and minds of anybody who takes a firm position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,' says Professor Kevin Dunn from the University of Western Sydney. 'But for the rest of us, I think it might mean that we can have a slightly more rounded understanding of the protagonists involved in those debates and why they come to have the very firm and fixed views that they have.' Dunn is however concerned about the stereotyping of Muslims. 'The way in which we aren't given a sense of how much of a minority this person would be, how unlikely this event would be,' he says. 'Most Muslims in this country are ordinary day to day Australians who have ordinary day to day concerns.'"

A slightly more rounded understanding? Yeah, spittle-flecked, foaming, fundamentalist fanatical, anti-Semitic Palestinian terrorist takes kindly, compassionate, super-smart, Holocaust-surviving, son-bereft, elderly, greying JEWISH MUM hostage. Oh, and I almost forgot to add NURSE.

2) Last Dance (2012), Louise Keller, urbancinefile, 1/11/12:

"It is the comment of a mother to another mother's son that epitomises the essence of this tense film that addresses the cultural differences that form the world's deepest divides."

Excuse me?! Anglo/American-backed Zionist fanatics hijack your homeland and your dogged refusal to acquiesce in the theft boils down to a mere cultural difference between you and them? Sorry if I did my block there, Louise, what was that you were saying about mothers?

"'If the world was run by mothers, there would be more sons,' says Jewish Holocaust survivor Ulah to Sadiq, the fugitive Muslim terrorist..."

Now how deep is that?! If only Golda Meir and Tzipi Livni were running the show no mother's son would be getting killed, right?

"[Ulah's] swarthy, bearded assailant mutters his dastardly violent pledges against the Jews in Palestinian Arabic until Ulah reveals she understands his language. She had lived in Israel after leaving Germany before the war."

Wait up! What's that? Before the war? So she's not a Holocaust survivor? But don't let a mere bagatelle like that distract you. The incredible thing is this: Ulah, naturally, speaks German. She arrives in Palestine/Israel, where she has to learn Hebrew from scratch. Tough ask, right? However, not only does she learn Hebrew, but she goes the extra mile and learns Arabic as well! And who knows, maybe even Sanskrit. And all the bloody darkie can manage is a mutter!

3) Review: Last Dance, Mark Naglazaz, The West Australian, 1/11/12:

"Sadiq counterattacks by arguing he is not a terrorist but a soldier fighting to free his Palestinian homeland..."

Just a minute! In Melbourne?

"... from Jewish occupation... "

Just a minute! By Melbourne Jews? Face it, Sadiq's a friggin' fruitcake!

"Gradually Sadiq and Ulah start to open up to each other about their respective histories and tragedies, revealing a series of parallels that make each look upon the other with new eyes."

Ah, so Sadiq arrives at an understanding not only that coloniser and colonised are on a par, but that a woman who was born in Germany and now lives in Melbourne, and who, thanks to Israel's magical Law of Return, can come and go as she pleases, has as much of a right to live in Palestine/Israel as he does, except for the fact that, thanks again to Israel's magical Law of Return, he cannot go there because he's not a Jew? I see...

4) MIFF Review: Last Dance (2012, Dir. David Pulbrook), Michael Scott,, 9/8/12:

"While the majority of the population of this here planet of ours may not be completely conversant with the intricacies of the Israel question, there can be no denying that it has been one of the defining conflicts of our grandparents' time, our parents' time, our time, and more likely our children's time and our children's children's time. From the outside looking in, it is often reduced to a simple question of religion or land. Inside Israel, inside Palestine and inside their respective diaspora, it is a complex gridlock of religion, homeland, history, ingrained intolerance, guilt, pain, loss, and generations of learnt hatred, suspicion, misunderstanding and pride."

Now come on, Michael, it's not that complicated! What part of this tweaked Ambrose Bierce definition of the word 'aborigines' do you not understand?:

[Palestinian] aborigines, n. 'Persons deemed of little worth by European imperialists found by thrusting European Zionist colons cumbering the soil of a newly liberated (1918) Ottoman land. With a little help from Great Britain (and later the United States) they soon (1948) cease to cumber; they fertilize.

"Sadiq and Ulah's dialogue concerning the war in their homeland..."

Just a minute, Michael! Their homeland? Ulah was born in Germany, spent some time in occupied Palestine, and now lives happily ever after in Australia. Only in the Zionist imagination is Palestine her homeland.

"... is distractingly trite. Curiously, Pulbrook dodges the hard hitting parallels between the the Jewish occupation..."

Jewish? Israeli, yes. Zionist, yes. But Jewish?

"... and the Holocaust experience, opting instead for frustratingly resolute 'penny-dropping' zooms and some well-meaning, pie-in-the-sky pacifism - if only the Israel problem were so easily solved." 

Ah, Michael, now you've done it! You've hinted at a parallel between that mere historical blip, the wiping of Palestine off the map (1918-?), and the seriously unique Holocaust. That's a red line for card-carrying Zionists. Watch out for stormy weather, mate.

"... in the end, the excellent performances and accomplished production values cannot compensate for its bloodless script and overly reductive approach to the Middle Eastern conflict."

You've certainly hit the nail on the head there, Michael.

5) When victims of conflict come face to face, Jake Wilson, 1/11/12,

"The bombing is merely a tacky pretext for a stagy hostage drama involving an elderly Holocaust survivor and a jihadist in flight from the law. Once these two begin to talk to each other, it's clear we're in for a session of rote debate on the rights and wrongs of the Israel-Palestine conflict, leading, as in a David Williamson play, to the revelation that we're all human after all... The script feels misjudged: mutual understanding is encouraged, but viewers who equate Islam and terrorism will, if anything, find their prejudices reinforced."

Way to go, Jake.

And the morning after the Sadiq/Ulah love-in?: The Murdoch press and the shock jocks whip the Australian public into a paroxysm of Islamophobia; Sadiq ends up in the slammer for life; and Ulah eventually shuffles off after bequeathing her flat to the Jewish National Fund, which uses the proceeds of its sale to fund the 'redemption' of land in the Negev Desert once the aboriginal Bedouin (who - can you believe it? - had the audacity to think it theirs) have ceased to cumber it...

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