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Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010: Think Global, Act Local, China: The Empire of Art?, & Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall

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Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010: Think Global, Act Local, China: The Empire of Art?, & Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall

The bulk of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival screenings take place in a mall. Unlike the Emirates Palace, the swanky site of the festival’s gala opening night, the Cinestar multiplex theaters offer stadium seating. The rooms not showing festival films screen Eat Pray Love, Devil, and The Town. Fuddruckers is among the most popular nearby restaurants, Carrefour and Ikea among the most popular stores. I wandered around nodding to men in white and women in black in search of an authentic cultural experience, until realizing that I had already found one.

The festival’s first public show, a Friday mid-afternoon gathering, filled the house. It’s a shame that the movie wasn’t better. Coline Serreau’s Think Global, Act Local starts with jumps between talking heads discussing Western agriculture as a postcolonial practice; one expert claims that the First World is practicing genocide both against farmers and against women. I’m not sure how the movie makes this argument, but it involves lots of shots of rural parts of India and of Brazil. We learn that oat has twice as much DNA as human beings have, and close with close-ups of smiling interviewees. The film knocks you dizzy.

I latched onto a loudly bleeped word at one point, which made me wonder if Secretariat had been a good opening-night choice because of its offensive desire not to offend (in a religious country, it’s worth considering these things). Neither of the subsequent two films contained profanity that I recall. The first, China: The Empire of Art?, focuses on “a community of artists with long hair and utopian ideals” who worked at a key moment. In February 1989, the Chinese government closed a modern art show, prompting an artist to fire a bullet at his own work; four months later, the military fired bullets at student protesters in Tiananmen Square. The film cannily claims that the uprising helped fuel a Western interest in contemporary Chinese art, much of which we see in clear images: a black-and-white photo of a man with multiple pins in him, a loud orange-and-red painting of another man in pain. Art’s reception depends on its cultural context—a tired point, but the film makes it well.

“To do a successful exhibition, you had to inject some exoticism,” one of China: The Empire of Art?’s artists says. He could have been speaking about the festival, which offered the world premiere of the new Adrien Brody film Wrecked (with Brody attending) at the Emirates Palace an hour after China: The Empire of Art? That coincided with a world premiere of a documentary so small it doesn’t even have an IMDb entry. But Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall is a wonderful film.

The German director, Robert Krieg, tracks down six boyhood Palestinian friends who posed triumphantly in a photo together during the 1989 Intifada. Twenty years later, their minds have mainly left uprisings and moved on to daily routines. One man, who slaughters chickens for a living, says that if Israel proper were open to Palestinians they’d leave their grimy settlements ASAP; another man clamors for isolationism, only to hear his wife sigh for Israeli citizenship so that she could simply move around.

Krieg said after the film ended that he first cut the film to focus on day-to-day labor before filming more material of the men discussing their perpetual imprisonment (“The wall rules our lives now”). He did well; concerns about an outsider speaking for the guys vanish as soon as they start speaking clearly and cogently for themselves. Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall’s funniest scene shows one of the men explaining to an American woman he meets online that yes, he’s a Muslim, but he’s also a free (“fry”) man. Its most pointedly dialogic comes when one group member claims that soldiers should back off because “I belong neither to Fatah nor to Hamas,” and another group member stumps him by asking how to handle community members that do.

The film is appropriate for a Muslim country, partly because it’s so relevant to Jews. Much of the greater Jewish community, a frequently liberal, historically oppressed group, turns staunchly, oppressively conservative on Israel. (I know several American Jews who voted for George W. Bush because of Israel alone.) The urge to protect a homeland is understandable, but when two of the film’s characters hold up a map that shows how much land the Israeli government’s seized from Palestine since setting the original border, it’s difficult not to feel one’s liberal sympathies aroused. They’re stuck, and the space they’re stuck inside is shrinking—and expatriate Palestinians aren’t usually allowed inside. I have some issues with the film’s structure and pacing, but for a work like Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall, those problems don’t much matter. It’s effective for people of all faiths. The world should see this film.

Children of the Stones—Children of the Wall

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival runs through October 23. For more information, click here.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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