For Whom the Bell Tolls: V

Okay children, today I will be doing one of my trademark mini-reviews. I’m not really sure what alternate week I’m on but I have two very hot review prospects, so my feature article will be next week.

Movie: Osama, written and directed by Sidbiq Barmak, winner of the 2003 Golden Globe Award for best foreign language film. The basic plot is the story of a girl who masquerades as a boy in order to work for her mother an grandmother (women were not allowed to work, or appear in public unaccompanied by a man). Clearly written to make a statement about life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the film as a work of art is left far behind its political motives. The characters are, for the most part, undeveloped and uninteresting. The film would be poignant and effective if I cared in the least bit about the characters; unfortunately the film was blatant and simplistic and had none of the effective tactics of procuring sympathy from the viewer. The central character was presumably being displayed as conditioned; however, I felt that she was weak, obnoxious and poorly conceived. The only interesting character in the entire film was a young orphan/beggar boy whose role was minimal. Not only is the character development poor, but the film managed to turn a very promising plot into a series of interesting scenes that, when strung together, become tedious. The writing and acting were also points of some distress, but none that I can go into without being confronted with the obvious language barrier, so I will let well enough alone. The films redeeming values? The storyline was, despite its fine-tuning flaws, quite interesting and the scenes individually compelling. For instance the scene when she gets her period is very powerful. Some of the cinematography was breathtaking and shocking, but I was sometimes left feeling that the film was trying to hard to be provocative and shocking. The overall package was less than appealing. I think the biggest downfall of the film, besides my Hollywood trained pet-peeves, was the desperate urgency of its political motives. From the very opening until the final shot the film was self-righteous in its attempt to bring light to issues of human rights and anti-dictatorship sentiments. I say, wait for the video. Star Rating: 1.5-2

Literature: Woman Warrior, a collection of interwoven stories written by Maxine Hong Kingston. This book was written years ago, and has caused uproar in both the Asian-American community and the literary community for its somewhat conflicted and confusing views of Chinese-Americans. Kingston uses words as her weapon against the injustices she has experienced both within the Chinese-American community as well as the larger American community. She employs elements of satire and candor as she explores the role of her femininity and individuality in her Chinese family, the greater Chinese culture and the American society in which she grows up. Her stories are intricate tales that blur the borders of fiction and non-fiction employing the Chinese tradition of talk-story to weave fable like stories that create an image of her life as a child torn between the Chinese traditions of her family and the expectations that American society placed on her. She tells personal anecdotes as well as doctored vedrsions of Chinese myths, such as the story of the warrior Fa Mulan (of recent Disney fame). The book is phenomenally detailed and the five tales intricately woven into one another. She writes from several perspectives and employs many styles, thus the texts moves quickly. However, the book is not disjointed and feels more like an abstract novel. Excellent read and a wonderfully interesting book to pick apart as there are many layers to Kingston’s writing and many different elements of the Asian diaspora and her personal experiences. Star Rating: 4.5

One reply on “For Whom the Bell Tolls: V”

I honestly think the thing that hurts Osama so much is the fact that we (you and i, the college age viewer) is more aware of the offensive human rights abuses in this world and the opression of women. If we weren’t i think this movie would have had more impact due to shock value. But the scenes and conditions expressed really didn’t stun me because thats already how i view life in a nation under strict islamic fundamentalist rule. I think due to our awareness of this the film loses it’s magic and we get to look at it for what it really is, a mediocre film that is only getting attention for political reasons.

In closing if this beats the barbarians invaion i’m going to be furious.

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