ARAB-ISRAELI filmmaker Maysaloun Hamoud’s memorable feature- film debut fascinatingly tells the stories of three very dissimilar Palestinian-Israeli women who bond while sharing an apartment in contemporary Tel Aviv.
It says much for Hamoud’s skilful brand of feminism that the developing relationship between her protagonists — (Laela (Mouna Hawa), a poised party-loving lawyer, Sana Jammelieh’s lesbian bartender and conservative hijab-wearing Musilim Nour (Shaden Kanboura) — is never blatantly preachy.
Indeed, while the essential message is put across potently, Hamoud’s approach is modern and often lighthearted in exposing the initially unlikely connection that unites the on-the-surface different trio whose various crises both fascinate and convince, making the message universal and also credible in its own context.
Fine performances and sensitive direction ensures that the convincingly conceived, well-played characters are consistently credible as are their respective battles to alter their lives as modern self-driven women in the face of continuing gender, religion and cultural-based opposition.
Lawrence of Arabia (PG)
Directed by David Lean
DAVID LEAN’S spectacular classic 1962 epic about Arabist WWI officer TE Lawrence who ended up leading an Arab revolt against the Turks — on behalf of British interests, naturally — has to be seen on the big screen in order to fully appreciate a stunning achievement that still impresses on all levels.
Apparently Lean was still editing his Oscar-winning masterpiece hours prior to its London premiere in 1962. The film appropriately won eight Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor for Peter O’Toole, making his fourth big-screen appearance.
Seen now in all its cinematically visual and dramatic majesty rather than on the small screen, Lawrence of Arabia still commands praise, showcasing O’Toole’s seminal performance, Omar Sharif making a visual entrance in the desert haze that sticks in one’s mind forever and a roster of fascinating performances, include Alec Guinness (who had played Lawrence on stage) strangely cast here as an Arab.
Our Last Tango (U)
Directed by German Kral
WITH Strictly fever about to grip the nation again here is a must-see documentary about two of the world’s most famous dancers who put tango — originally the diversion of the poor and working classes in Argentina — on the globe’s theatre stages for the first time ever.
At 83 years old Argentinian Maria Nieves Rego, who has lived and breathed tango all her life, is still a force of nature who hasn’t lost either her flair or innate skills on the dance floor.
She met the love of her life and professional partner, 86-year-old Juan Carlos Cope, when she was 14 and he was 17 — they danced together for almost 50 years. He had the creative vision and drive and she was an extraordinary dancer and his muse.
It is a remarkable tale revealed through interviews with the former couple themselves and illustrated with captivating tango-choreographies of snapshots of their lives while providing an insightful potted history of the dance with the aid of archive film footage.
A fascinating and visually compelling documentary with its rather unique artistic twist by co-writer and director German Kral.
Maria Nieves is definitely the heart and soul of this captivating and empowering film.
Borg vs McEnroe (15)
Directed by Janus Metz
THE result is clearly a foregone conclusion but this dramatisation of the riveting 1980 Wimbledon men’s final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe — regarded as the greatest match ever played — is nevertheless a nail-biting roller-coaster ride.
It captures the staunch rivalry between the young giants of tennis dubbed “the Iceberg” and “the Superbrat” by the press at the time to perfection due to the virtuoso performances by Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf who spent over seven months in tennis boot camp.
Gudnason is Borg’s doppelganger down to his brooding ice stare while LaBeouf, whose similarities in character and temperament to the young McEnroe are frightening, finally channels his passion and anger issues into good use by delivering the performance of his career.
But a shout out has to go to the extraordinary razor-sharp editing of the tennis match scenes, which recreates the final showdown with nerve-racking results.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the exploration of Borg’s childhood and the revelation that as a kid (played by the legendary player’s son Leo Borg) he was as big a hothead as McEnroe. It was under Lennart Bergelin’s (a fantastic Stellan Skarsgard) tutelage that he learnt to control his anger and transformed into the outwardly placid player who was unfazed by anything but was in fact a pressure cooker about to blow.