Movie talk

Control_room_1
Last night we made a great discovery. It seems there is some sort of a cinema club in this cultural desert. Yes, a real club that runs highly acclaimed non-Hollywood movies at least once a month. The club is still fairly new with yesterday’s screening serving as only their fifth event. The film was Control Room, a documentary about Aljazeera.

We’d been wanting to see this film forever. Finally, last night we managed to watch it and gratis, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. It played at a somewhat run-down theater at The Mall here in Doha, an interesting choice of locations.

What did I think of the documentary? Well, I thought director Jihan Njuien was at just the right place at just the right time. I mean, this documentary was going to be a success simply because it was filmed at the Aljazeera offices during the first days of the Iraq war — one of the most controversial conflicts of our time. I now understand why this flick appealed so highly to Western audiences. It simply quenched their thirst for information about what goes on behind the doors of this controversial channel.

But beyond that I thought the documentary was mediocre, lacking a powerful message. The camera work appeared to be the work of an amateur, as was the editing. The filmmakers really did get some good interviews but I felt she just didn’t package them well. I also thought things dragged out at the end. The soundtrack? Uff! Please don’t get me started. It simply lacked taste. The music was this sort of "Welcome to the harem" thing that was just horrible. It didn’t go well with the dramatic events taking place on the screen. I can describe the music as kind an oriental, exotic melody that makes you think the Arab world is one big harem.

The best thing about the movie for me, though, was hearing Jordanian producer Samir Khader cussing in the Jordanian accent. Man, that was hilarious! Other movies that I have seen recently include:

  • Mean Creek: A downer about a number of kids with deep psychological issues that commit one unforgiving deed. If you live in a depressing part of the world my advice is not to watch this one. Who needs more emotional trauma.
  • The Stepford Wives: At the beginning it was engaging. The story line was unique. Unfortunately, it died at the end, turning all corny. All in all it is a fun movie if you are in the mood for killing time.
  • Cellular: I can’t say much about this movie, as I slept through most all of it. But during the maybe half hour I was awake, I was not impressed. It looked like another cheap Hollywood production. But I might be mistaken. I was asleep after all.
  • The Village: I really liked this movie and really can’t fathom why the "movie critics" were so hard on it. The story was engaging and the twist at the end was brilliant, not to mention the beautiful scenery and brilliant cinematography. Watch it now. I will give you your money back if you don’t like it. I promise.

16 thoughts on “Movie talk”

  1. Wow, Natasha, I had a totally different image of this documentary. I bought it last year on DVD and just enjoyed it. Those who have seen it out here in Los Angeles ( at least those who I know and all the rievews writtien about it in local papers and magazines) trully appreciate the work al Jazeera does due to this documentary. they were tocuhed by it, but most importantly, due to our current administration and our corporately owned media, al Jazeera has a very negative image and people unfortunately see it as the same as al Qaeda. yes this is how powerful the rhetoric of administration is. Too bad.
    Every single one of my professors who have seen it has come up to me and said things like they wish they can come out with an english channel or now they know why its so popularin the middle east.
    but for the documentary itself, you are right about the music. it is kind of stereotypical, but that drum beat in thebegining is awesome. but as for theinterviews, i enjoyed them a great deal because they were very simple. it was like just watching two people have a conversation. that is what i like most about it.

  2. Natasha, are you still awake? Why aren’t you asleep? We need to check out Sideways, a film my friend Fadi was raving about. I’m going to get some bad coffee from the cafeteria.

  3. Yeah, I also thought “The Village” was brilliant! M. Night Shyamalan really impresses me. Beautiful movie, one of my all time favorites.
    I was disappointed by The Stepford Wives though… It wasn’t too bad, but with the cast, the plot, and the set, they could have done something sO much better.

  4. Natasha, you’re right!
    National Treasure was the best movie I saw in the past few weeks.
    But Control Room is a farce. Jehane Noujaim did nothing special. She says she is Egyptian but that’s a bit misleading – she is a Lebanese-American who grew up in Egypt.
    I went to high school with her.
    Most Aljazeera high-rankers are unhappy with the film because it portrays the Aljazeera staff as a bunch of whining, pampered unobjective amateurs.
    I agree with Natasha – it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time. She had not initially planned a documentary after first arriving in Doha, Qatar. Then she flew back to the US and sought some funding and returned with a digicam or somethin.
    Roba, yeah Stepford Wives, a remake, was a non-starter. I can’t stand Kidman anyway.

  5. Metalordie,
    I find it hard to believe that Ms. Noujaim is ‘pretending’ to be Egyptian. Why would she say that? Maybe her mom is Lebanese or something.

  6. As I said on my blog, it was a constant reminder how annoying Samir Khader was and apparently still is. How lame is his dream to come to the US. And what credibility does he have if he claims that he wouldn’t mind working for Fox? Let me tell you dipshit, you have to suck more to get your own “Khader and Colmes” on FoxNews
    And Jihan Nujeim,…Please, you’re breaking my balls ma’am…Nothing bugs me more than “Arabs” who want to educate people about the Arab world and they, themselves, need to be educated first.
    Now that I think about it more than a month after watching the movie, I hate it even more.

  7. Jameed,
    You crack me up! Wish we could send Jihan Nujeim your comments…I was around when she was filming and you can’t imagine what a disaster she was! Very unprofessional and spent most of the time flicking her hair and trailing behind her cameraman.

  8. If you can get a hold of her, send her my best wishes for her not to make another “documentary”. And while you are up to it, tell SK that he bugs…Oh, and that he sucks at pronunciation too (that’s in French, English and Arabic)

  9. What are you people talking about?! It was a great documentary. I’ll admit, it could bee seen, by some, as a bit amateurish, but what she got on film was gold. The candour you get to see is amazing. I was very impressed. I saw the film at the university library and people loved it. And mind you I’m talking about a campus in Alabama; Hardcore Bush country.

  10. I actually liked “Control Room.” I believe that the ultimate goal of the documentary was to show the different perspective that media agnecies might have while covering the same events and the goal was achieved.
    There is no Balanced and Fair news period. Reporters and news analyst are human beings who can not be objective in covering the news because they looking through different lenses.
    Personally I believe that there is a continum to for how biased those news agencies are. Fox news is really an exterem. I would argue that Aljazeera score high. BBC might be the most balanced news agency that ever exists, but hey I am biased too!!

  11. Metalordie and Amal,
    I have read a story in a local magazine about her that said she was half Iranian half egyption? does it show anywhere where she has clearly stated what she is?

  12. Iyas,
    watched outfoxed in my media criticism seminar and it was very good. somethings were kind of sketchy but the report on those memos fox used to send out kind shocked me.
    dont people know memos leak. why do people kepp on using them for secret stuff? every time somethink leaks out to the press from the white house, its on a freakin (natasha borrowing your word) memo.

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