Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More Reel Bad Arabs

When was the last wild Western you saw at the movies? That's right, I can't remember either. But hey, Hollywood's still churning out wild Easterns.

The latest is called Beirut (directed by Brad Anderson), and Fairfax reviewer, Jake Wilson, weary of "youth-oriented blockbusters and Oscar-mongering prestige," has given this "human-scaled entertainment for adults" three-and-a-half stars.

First, the where and the when:

"Beirut... a period espionage thriller set against the background of Lebanon just before its 1982 war with Israel... " (Finally, a thriller for adults, The Sun-Herald, 29/7/18)

Hello? Lebanon's 1982 war with Israel?

Y'all remember that one, don't you? You know, when the Lebanese Army blitzkriegged its way to Tel Aviv, laid siege to the city, bombed and shelled it from land, sea and air for 3 long months, and then pulled back to northern Israel which it occupied until forced out by the heroic Israeli resistance in 2000?

Good one, Jake.

But no, seriously, Jake may not have his history the right way around, but he's still cool, OK, because he's (albeit dimly) aware that SOMETHING IS AMISS WITH THIS FILM:

"More shrewdly realistic than the average Hollywood political thriller, Beirut remains open to accusations of self-involvement, if not outright racism, in its privileging of an American of an American point of view. [Former American diplomat] Mason commands our sympathy throughout, while the 'foreign' characters are menacing or inscrutable. Ultimately, you might wonder if this is really a film about Middle Eastern politics at all, or if this is merely a pretext for exploring how one middle-aged white guy negotiates his midlife crisis."

But, hey, why let a little Arabophobia spoil your night out:

"Then again, is there any reason it can't be both?"

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