Showing posts with label Stroszek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stroszek. Show all posts

Monday, July 9, 2018

"Ali's Wedding (A Netflix Original)" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Netflix original movie "Ali's Wedding" as well as "Love, Simon," now out on DVD. I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Stroszek."]

Ali's Wedding

Now streaming on Netflix, this Australian film shows how a little "white lie" can spiral out of control.

"A lie begins in the soul and then travels the world."

So says Ali (Osamah Sami) as he tells his story and how lies have shaped his life.

The first lie involved his father who was arrested by Sadam Hussein but his friends lied their way into posing as prison guards and saved him, and he was able to escape with his family to Iran.

The second lie was believing that Iraqis could have a good life in Iran.  They didn't so the family moved to Melbourne, Australia.

But it was the third lie that was the biggest lie and forms the basis, and humor, of this film.

Ali's father (Don Hany) is a musically gifted cleric who likes to put on religious musicals in the mosque. Ali is studying to take the medical exam because becoming a doctor will make him a more desirable husband for an arranged marriage.  In the meantime, Ali works in a convenience store while studying for his upcoming seven hour medical exam to get into medical school and meets Dianne (Helana Sawires), an Australian born Lebanese young woman, who is also studying to take the entrance exam to get into medical school.  Unfortunately, Ali fails the exam, and even more unfortunately, when those who took the exam are sharing their scores and getting kudos at the mosque, Ali lies about his score saying he received one of the highest scores possible.

So that is the third lie and one that drives this charming comedy as Ali must now perpetuate the lie or shame his father and his family. So even though he did not get into medical school, Ali takes his brief case and attends the classes, but one student, the son of a rival cleric, is suspicious and tries to blow Ali's cover.

Ali also has to contend with the fact that his family is fixing him up with an arranged marriage when it's Dianne whom he loves.

This movie could do more to help Westerners understand Arab culture and assuage their fears about immigration issues than any news reports and debating can do.  It shows that there are more similarities among us than differences.  Though Ali's father is a Muslim cleric, he drives a purple Porsche and Ali and his friends listen to rap music and throw the "F" word around liberally. No matter what our nationality or religion, we are reminded that we are all human beings, who love our families and seek our own take on happiness.  Oh, and a lie is a lie no matter what your nationality or religion.  

The film also deals with women's issues and the old ways vs. the new.  Dianne is a very modern young woman and does not put up with any crap from men.
When a Muslim man addresses her as "Woman" instead of her name, she puts him in his place. She also plays basketball. But at the same time, she wears a headscarf and lives at home with her Dad.  She gets the highest score on the medical exam but her Dad doesn't want her to go to a Western university where she would be meeting unsuitable men so she might not be able to go.  All of this illustrates how there is no black and white when it comes to the clash of culture and the new vs. the old ways. 

But Dianne does get to go to college. Ali talks to Dianne's Dad and plants the idea of how wonderful it would be for him to have a woman doctor in the family who would then be able to take care of him if he got sick!  And at college, it's not long before Dianne figures out that Ali did not pass the medical exam.  However, when she confronts him, she offers to help him study to pass the test and the two embark on a chaste but believable modern Muslim relationship between a man and a woman.

But naturally Ali's lie is discovered as well as his relationship with Dianne and now Ali's Dad's position as the cleric for the mosque is jeopardized and Dianne's father plans to send her back to Lebanon.  Ali's lies have messed things up for everyone.

Co-written by Sami (based on his own experiences) and Andrew Knight and directed by Jeffrey Walker, this film has everything - romance, humor, pathos, drama and Sami and Sawires are wonderfully charming and have real chemistry together.  And believe it or not, this is based on a true story!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this award-winning film will do more to help Western/Arab relations than all of the pontificating in the world, and it's absolutely charming and delightful to boot.  If you loved "The Big Sick,"  you will love this film too.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Love, Simon (2018)

A closeted gay teen is threatened to be outed by a classmate.

The film begins with Simon (Nick Robinson) saying in voice over: "I'm just like you, totally normal except I have one huge-ass secret."

And yes, Simon Spier, who is in his last year of high school, does have a huge secret.  He's gay and he's not ready to tell his parents, Emily (Jennifer Garner) and Jack (Josh Duhamel), or his friends yet. Emily is a therapist and tries to be a hip Mom.  An example?  She suggests they all watch "The Affair" together as a family.  When that is vetoed by the kids with a big "Ew," and comments about how inappropriate that would be, she suggests "The Bachelor," which prompts macho Jack to say that he thinks the Bachelor is fruity.

Simon is a theatre kid with three good friends: Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr).  He comes across a post on a school gossip site by someone calling himself Blue who anonymously confesses that he is lonely because he is gay and no one knows.  That resonates with Simon and he responds with "I'm just like you." The two strike up an online friendship with Simon going by the name of Jacques, and over time, Simon starts to have feelings for Blue.  He also tries to figure out who Blue is, imagining that different guys he comes across might be Blue.  If someone winks at him or smiles, he wonders, Is that Blue?

However, one of his theatre cronies, the obnoxious Martin (Logan Miller), gets onto the same library computer that Simon was using to correspond with Blue.  Simon didn't log out so Martin can't help but read his emails and discovers that Simon is gay.  So Martin confronts Simon with what he knows, tells him he has made screen shots of the emails, and if Martin doesn't set him up with Abby he will put the emails out on the gossip website.  So Simon tries to help Martin hook up with Abby while at the same time discover the identity of Blue.  He also discovers that his friend, Leah, who has been his friend since they were really young, also has been keeping a secret.

A movie like this totally depends on the charisma of the lead actor and Nick Robinson doesn't disappoint and the other young cast members are also likable.

Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel don't have much to do except act like clueless parents, though they get their chance to give out a positive message at the end of the film.

Based on the book "Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda" by Becky Albertalli, and adapted by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, despite some "huh?" moments, the film does a good job of drawing the teens and showing what it's like to be a gay teen who is not ready to tell the world he is gay. Imagine keeping a secret like that and having to endure the unknowing comments about gay people that straight people sometimes stupidly throw around such as Simon's Dad saying the Bachelor is fruity or kids calling each other fags. I guess everyone assumes everyone else is straight unless told otherwise and that it's OK to say disparaging things about gay people to each other. 
Speaking of which, when Simon wonders why only gay people have to come out, there is a fun montage of straight kids confessing to their parents that they are heterosexual.  Now wouldn't that be something.

But those huh? moments include Simon asking to be excused from class to run to furiously run to the bathroom to check his phone to see if Blue has responded.  That seemed a bit over the top.  Likewise, I don't think any Vice Principal would act like Mr. Worth (Tony Hale), no matter how hip he is trying to be.  Talking to a student about being on Tinder?  I don't think so.  I know Martin finding Simon's emails is one of the main plot lines but would Simon really forget to sign out of a public computer when he is having such personal discussions with Blue?

But despite those huh? moments, the film directed by Greg Berlanti had a lot of charm thanks to the young ensemble cast and mostly because of the charming Nick Robinson and a good message: that in most cases, despite the fear and anxiety of coming out, once it is revealed, life goes on as before.

Rosy the Reviewer says...another absolutely charming and delightful film.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

136 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Stroszek (1977)

An alcoholic who has recently been released from prison dreams of leaving Berlin and moving to Wisconsin.

Director Werner Herzog, who is also a screenwriter, author, actor and opera director, was a major figure in New German Cinema along with the likes of Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine in 2009.

Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) is a street performer who has just been released from prison.  The warden gives him a lecture before his release and tells him to stop drinking.  So what's the first thing he does when he gets out?  He hits a bar and as time goes by Stroszek has trouble fitting in and making his life work, mostly because he drinks too much. 
He befriends, Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz), a crazy father figure, and Eva (Eva Mattes), a young woman who is being abused by her boyfriend and his friend. They are two bad dudes who trash Stroszek's apartment for getting involved with Eva and they keep bullying him.  His life isn't working very well.

So Stroszek dreams of moving to the U.S. where he believes everyone is rich, and 40 minutes into the film, and after much bullying, he finally decides to go to America and takes the girl and the old man with him.  But it doesn't take long for reality to set in when he moves to Railroad Flats, Wisconsin to work as a mechanic.  They end up there because Bruno's neighbor knew an American at the American Air Force Base in Germany who lived there.  

Eva gets a job as a waitress at a truck stop and, by the way, did I mention that Eva is actually kind of a slut?

From this film, one can't help but think that Herzog has a jaundiced view of America, because the movie is all about the schism between cultures. He seems to think Americans are very white bread, macho, naive and subtly abusive. When Bruno says that he may have been beaten up in Germany but at least with the physical pain he knew where he stood, Herzog seems to be saying that in America the abuse is masked which creates a more spiritual pain.  But Herzog also shows that you may be able to run away to another country but you can't escape your own demons.  It's The American Dream gone wrong.

This is one of those films where the story could have been told in half the time, but the ending was an amazingly brutal one involving a bunch of performing animals in an arcade with a dancing chicken that was particularly disturbing.  In fact, when making the film, that scene was so disturbing to the crew filming it that Herzog had to film it himself.  So brace yourselves.

Why it's a Must See: "What makes the picture the way Bruno S. commands the screen...he embodies one of the distinctively strange intelligences of modern cinema...[The film] is among [Herzog's] best films and certainly one of the most unpitying dramas ever made about Europe's dreams of America."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I still haven't gotten over that dancing chicken!

(In German with English subtitles)

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of the Netflix original


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
I Die Project." 

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Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.