Lebanon Bans Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” Because Of His Support of Israel, Proving The Country Is Run By Stone Age Airheads

At the rate Lebanon’s censorship bureau has been going for the past year, the country might as well have rang in 1918 instead of 2018, because the situation has become unacceptable.

The latest victim of a censorship bureau that doesn’t want to upset what’s becoming a form of cultural terrorism in the country is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a stunning drama that is absolutely VITAL to be seen today.

The reason why Lebanon has an issue with Spielberg is both anti-semitic and because of the country’s anti-Israel laws. When Spielberg’s Tintin was released, his name was struck out from the poster in order to upset anyone due to his last name’s obvious Jewish background. His name was eventually added to the blacklist of the Arab League’s Central Boycott (of Israel) Office because of a donation he made to the Zionist state in 2006.

Yes, Spielberg making donations to Israel is abhorrent, but he’s not the only Hollywood figure to do so, nor will he be the last. When and where do we draw the ridiculous line about what we ban and allow in this country when it pertains to Israel, because this sure as hell is pushing it. An American director, with no ties to the country in question except for his religion, makes a contribution to the country like thousands of other Westerners and Americans do, and he’s suddenly persona non-grata?

To make matters worse, the decision to add Spielberg to that Arab ban list occurred in 2007. He’s had countless movies released in the area since, without any form of controversy. He has been director and producer of many movies that were released without a glitch in the area. Of those movies, I list: Transformers, The BFG, Bridge of Spies, Jurrasic World, Lincoln, etc…

Over the past 10 years, Lebanon has screened SIXTEEN movies in which Spielberg was either directing or producing. And here comes 2018, with Lebanon’s BDS office finding new muscle in our government, and the country won’t be able to get any of his movies ever again.

I would call such a ban illogical, but those calling for him to be blanket banned don’t really understand logic. They are the same people who believe Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is a covert attempt at spreading zionism into the subconscious of the Arab masses, except in Gal Gadot’s case the argument was that she was actually Israeli, whereas in Spielberg’s case, the affront is an association to the n’th degree, just to appease to some people’s hypersensitivity, but I digress.

Being in the United States, I had the pleasure to watch “The Post” in its opening weekend a few days ago. The movie, set in the 1970s, features legends Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the owner and editor of the Washington Post at that time, respectively, as they try to reveal government secrets about the Vietnam War, during Nixon’s White House, as he attempts to silence the press.

The movie, based on a true story, is exceedingly important in today’s day and age where freedom of speech, the press, and the important of expression are all threatened. The irony of a movie about fighting off censorship being censored in a country that is developing a knee-jerk response to anything that ruffles its feathers should not escape you.

What we have in Lebanon is a bunch of airheads in power, whose brains only function in binaries, and who can’t appreciate enough nuances to be able to distinguish between cause to ban (which should never exist, but it’s Lebanon) and not. Instead, The Post is the second movie to be banned this week after Daniel Radcliffe’s “Jungle” also receives the same fate, when it’s discovered that the screenwriter, and some of the people involved in the making of the movie are Israelis.

To expect any movie coming in from the U.S. to be Israel-free is non-sensical. To expect any media import that we get from the big bad West to be Israel free is stupid. What’s next, banning everything that breathes because of a positive opinion they have of the Jewish state? I’m willing to bet those calling for the movie to be banned have watched countless Steven Spielberg movies before.

I expect this bullshit we’re dealing with not to decrease over the next few months, but to further perpetuate like the rabid fire it’s becoming. The next Nathalie Portman movie? Forget about it. Anything featuring Gal Gadot? Forget about that either. Any Steven Spielberg movie coming up after The Post? Nope. It’s just sad.

Again, I reiterate what I’ve said countless times before. Boycotts are not bans. Boycotts add to whatever message the BDS folks want to propagate in the country, whilst bans do the exact opposite. With every single movie they cause to be banned, they lose more people who’d be willing to support them. But I guess they don’t really care about that, either.

The hypocrisy of banning movies in Lebanon because they’re an easy target should not escape anyone. There are products distributed in the market, and imprinted in everyone’s personal life, that are also related in one way or another to Israel, but BDS’ dependency on such products will never have them call for bans.

The lines that movies can’t cross in this country are increasing by the day. “Call Me By Your Name,” the year’s best movie, won’t be released because of its LGBT theme. Movies are banned because Israel. Movies are banned because they upset Christian or Muslim clergy. At this rate, there’s no point in cinema in this country anymore.

Until then, enjoy streaming the movie online or buying it for $2 at your local bootleg DVD store. The biggest loser in all of this bullshit is that Lebanese distributor, in this case Italia Films, that already bought the rights for the movie and will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, as did Joseph Chacra with Wonder Woman, just because we have easily-influenced entities in offices of power, without any ounce of backbone whatsoever.

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Lincoln [2012] – Movie Review

Lincoln Movie Poster

Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Lincoln, is the American Civil War-era story of the United States’ 16th president on his quest to get Congress to pass the 13th amendment to the constitution, effectively ending slavery, something he wants done before his inauguration ceremony for the second term which he had just won. In order to do this, he must gather a 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives – one that goes beyond the 56% majority that his Republican party held and into Democrat territory, a party that is staunchly against such a thing.

Lincoln is Spielberg’s best movie in a long time, something that is definitely helped by the fact that the director has been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln since he was a little boy. In this highly dignified portrait of the late American president, you are invited to delve into a world of charged polarizing politics on a story with an undertone of liberty and humanity. The movie can be divided into two halves: A strong first half sets the tone – the era, the characters, the entire situation and its framework.  The even stronger second half shows how the wheels set forth in the first half play out.

The true gem of Lincoln and what helps elevate this movie into a masterpiece is Daniel Day Lewis who incarnates the character he’s portraying to the letter – from the mannerism, to the tone. Lewis’ subtle, engaging, deep and highly emotional performance is one for the ages. His portrayal of the late American president is spot on in every sense. It never wavers, never falters, never drops from the standard that is set with the movie’s opening scene down to the last frame. He adds a sense of humanity to the commander in chief: a man who tells stories, laughs at his own jokes, cares deeply for his family. This sense of humanity gives the character an entirely new dimension.

Daniel Day Lewis is helped as well by chilling performances by Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones. Fields plays Mary Todd Lincoln. As a mother, she’s afraid for the life of the sons she still has and as wife, she’s growing more distant by her husband’s coldness towards her after the death of a child that she blames on him.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a “Radical Republican” congressman whose goal in life is to establish equality between America’s black and white populations.  Jones is the only character in this movie that knows, deep down, that blacks are equal to whites in every way. The hurt that his character has to go through as he’s forced to tone down his convictions is passed on convincingly in a multi-layered and highly engaging performance.

However, not all acting performances in Lincoln are as great. Joseph Gordon Levitt, for instance, as Lincoln’s oldest son who wants to enroll in the army but is forbidden by his protective parents never quite finds his footing, causing the father/president-son story arc to falter and be less compelling than it could actually be. The father-son story that is interesting, however, is Lincoln’s relationship with his younger son Tad, played by Gulliver McGrath, as a young boy who wants his father to curl up next to him besides the fireplace and look at portraits of slaves who should be freed.

Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay for Lincoln, did a great job at turning a mostly dialogue-driven movie into something that doesn’t drag on and, despite the extensive running time, doesn’t feel overstuffed. His take on the story is very focused and specific which in itself is a very good thing if you’re familiar with the history behind the movie, which I believe every American viewer is and should be. In a way, it is the screenplay that sets Spielberg in a certain framework that helps him not turn the movie into an overly melodramatic mess but to give it a documentary grit. However, many non-American cinema enthusiasts, who will end up watching Lincoln because of the attention it’s garnering, might end up being overwhelmed by the details causing them to care less about the story which should be front and center and seek entertainment in the acting performances that I’ve previously mentioned or other attributes that I will mention subsequently.

What helps Daniel Day Lewis in his Lincoln incarnation is a stunning make-up work that transforms the actor’s face into that of the late president’s identical twin. In fact, Lincoln is bolstered by a technical team that spans from the aforementioned makeup to the cinematography to the sound mixing to the art direction. Almost every aspect of this movie is taken care of in a way to ensure authenticity.

Lincoln is a highly engaging and entertaining film, one that stops being a historical portrayal and becomes a character study of what many Americans believe is one of their best presidents. By becoming a character study, Lincoln also becomes a movie about politics which are the wheels that get the movie rolling: how these characters interact to make legislation, how these characters use each other’s flaws in order to advance their agendas, how this presidential character so deeply believes in the sanctity of freedom, how this presidential character wants peace for his nation and for himself.

If I were an American, I’d be proud to have a movie such as Lincoln portray one of my presidents.

9/10

 

Lebanese “Activists” Call for Lara Fabian Concert Cancellation

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Spread around the Lebanese highway are billboards announcing two concerts for Belgian-Italian singer Lara Fabian, on February 14th and 15th at Casino du Liban. This is the third time she has concerts in Lebanon.

All is well, right? Fabian has many fans in Lebanon, mostly of the older generation. Her repertoire includes songs that many fans of older French music know.

But as it is with many so-called “activists,” they are now calling the Lebanese government to cancel Fabian’s concert because Fabian performed at a concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

For reference, French-Moroccan comedian Gad El Maleh had his sold out comedy show at the Beiteddine International Festival also cancelled because of his ties with Israel. Armin Van Buuren’s most recent NYE-1 concert was also met with resistance because Van Buuren has pro-Israel stance. Steven Spielberg’s name was hidden off his movie poster in Cinemacity because he donated money to Israel… And the list goes on. The latest casualty: the French singer behind Je T’aime and J’y Crois Encore.

I am not an Israel-supporter. If my country is in a state of war with a country, then, regardless of what I personally think about that war, I am supportive of my country’s stances regarding its enemies. But I, as a Lebanese, cannot expect people from other nationalities to also conform with my ideas. I also cannot condemn them if their ideas are different from mine – even if they are about Israel.

Most foreign artists are pro-Israel. It is simply a byproduct of being in the countries they come from, where the existence of the state of Israel has become associated with a redemption for the holocaust and where the Palestinian political leaders are as inept about defending their cause as the media portraying them badly. Those artists, however, are not coming to Lebanon to spread their pro-Israel ideas. They are coming here to sing, act, give you a comedy show. They are coming here to share their talent with you. The fact that some “activists” cannot see beyond their finger and are so adamant about the whole “OMG FIGHT ZIONISIM” mantra is none of my concern as an individual who simply wants to be entertained.

Look at it in a different way as well. How many of those “activists” use laptops & smartphones? How many of those “activists” go to Starbucks on daily basis for their daily “activism” meetings? How many of those “activists” are so drenched in Israeli-related products that their shouts of disdain become meaningless, childish and non-sensical?

You know, perhaps instead of shouting against Israel (which people, for the record, have the right to do) those Lebanese (and other nationalities) “activists” need to look at the injustice going on in their own backyard before lashing out for the causes of neighboring countries that have, like it or not, also caused their country harm. Are those activists as vocal about their support for the fight rape campaign as they are for artist bans? Are those activists as vocal about the eaten rights of their fellow countrymen as they are about the rights of Palestinians? Are they as vocal about the people losing their lives to Lebanon’s rent laws? Are they willing to help those people?

One only needs to look at the state of Christians in Egypt and Iraq, at the situation of women in the region, at the lack of freedom and all the other basic human rights that the region lacks to know that those “activists” are as empty as the shouts and slogans they will chant outside the Casino du Liban when Lara Fabian sings there.

I understand some of those “activists” are not Lebanese. And I always tried to steer away from discussing Palestine-related stuff on my blog. But let me tell those “activists” this: do not bring your fight to your country, especially with things as meaningless as this.

So sing miss Fabian, sing. And don’t you worry. Irrelevant people will remain irrelevant as long as their priorities are not sorted.

 

Update: Fabian has canceled the concerts. 

War Horse – Movie Review

Steven Spielberg’s new movie is a World War I epic that opens with a view of lush green English fields and hills to set the tone for a quiet hometown, full of farms and grasslands. You have the pesky landlords and the people who can barely afford the rent on their farms. You also have Albert Narracott’s dad, Ted (Peter Mullan), who just bought a horse for thirty pounds just to spite his landlord. His intent was to buy a horse to plough the land. The one he bought hadn’t been trained for anything.

So Albert (Jeremy Irvine) convinces his parents to keep the horse and he names him Joey. Soon enough, the family falls to some financial problems as the crops in the land Joey was taught to plough get swamped by torrential rain and Ted, the father, is forced to sell Joey to the British military as World War I breaks. Albert, too young to enroll in the army and be with Joey, is forced to stay home as Joey goes into the battlefield and strays from one owner to the next, all in a quest to go back to Albert, a journey that will take him from Albert, the devon farmboy, to a British cavalry officer, a German soldier, and an old Frenchman and his granddaughter, Emilie.

One cannot speak of War Horse without describing it as an overly sentimental movie. But you embrace that. The rousing emotions in the movie hide away some of the plot holes that many people started to dig up with it such as: how could they focus on the journey of a horse through a war that cost ten million people their lives? The answer is quite simple actually. War Horse is based on a children’s story. And just as other children’s books, also sharing a world war timeframe, do not focus on the war (The Chronicles of Narnia come to mind), War Horse does not dwell on the morbidity of it even though the movie is violent at times. War Horse is a quest for life.

Many British actors and actresses have small roles in War Horse. You have Albert’s mother Rose (Emily Watson) in a brief but strong performance as the woman who’s the counterpart to her husband’s ‘insanity.’ At one point, when her husband asks her if she doesn’t love him anymore, she answers: “I can hate you more. I cannot love you less.”

War Horse is Jeremy Irvine’s, who portrays Albert, first movie ever. And he manages himself remarkably well. You wouldn’t think this is an actor whose career was launched a couple of years ago with a little known TV show and who got the role in War Horse without agency representation.

However, the very interesting thing about War Horse (apart from the aforementioned elements and the ones presented below) is that the movie relies on human actors to a very minimum. In away, the human aspect of the movie is simply a link between the acts where the horse, Joey, takes center stage to tell its story. It’s truly fascinating to think of War Horse as the movie that is really centered and built around this horse and how the actors and actresses simply become, for lack of better words, props.

Apart from the splendid backdrop to which War Horse is filmed is also a brilliant music score composed by Harry Potter’s John Williams, the man responsible for the infamous Hedwig’s Theme. War Horse‘s music is stunning, mesmerizing and enchanting. It is also so present in the movie that few are the moments in War Horse that do not have some form of musical instrument playing in them.

War Horse also looks stunning. I did some research here and apparently the cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (previous works include  Saving Private Ryan & Schindler’s List) shot the movie on film stock, a technology which is apparently becoming an antiquity. I do not know the technicalities of this but I thought it was interesting enough to mention. I decided to research this because there was a beautiful texture to the image of War Horse that persists throughout. One shot towards the end has the Naracott’s farm to the backdrop of a stunning sunset and it’s such a gorgeous scene to look at that your eyes cannot move off the screen.

Steven Spielberg honestly shines in directing War Horse. I can say this is one of his finest works – or at least one of my favorite Steven Spielberg movies. Although some of the elements in the movie are oversugared, it simply doesn’t feel forced. You don’t feel as if Spielberg made them as such to make his movie more family friendly. The whole plot, along with the technical elements employed in the movie, are weaved together into a great texture by the masterful hands of Steven Spielberg.

The bottom line is that War Horse is a movie that, whether you like it or not, will get past your emotional defenses and get you to feel something – anything – at the end of its long run. It is gorgeous to look at, it is mesmerizing to listen to. The story is enchanting (and again keep in mind this is based on a children’s book) even though it’s obviously not made to be Earth shattering. It is the movie about the human-animal relation centered around what the animal human can do. At the end of the day, War Horse is emotional. War Horse is sensational. War Horse is phenomenal.

9/10

Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon: The Adventures of TinTin in the Country of Brainless Censorship

Welcome to Lebanon, the country where blocking a director’s name off his movie poster is apparently our *awesome* government’s way of affirming its power.

The latest incident of cultural terrorism in Lebanon is having Steven Spielberg’s name hidden off TinTin’s movie poster, simply because Spielberg donated $1 million to Israel during the July 2006 war. While I am firmly against what Spielberg did, as I am against anyone who actively supports acts of violence either financially or morally, does this really warrant this ridiculous act of hiding his name?

Spielberg is Jewish so it is natural for him to feel some compassion for the state of Israel – regardless of whether we like that or not. The same applies to many Sunnis in Lebanon who feel loyal towards Saudi Arabia and many Shiites who feel loyal to Iran. It’s just the way things are. If religion is important to you, you feel strongly about countries where your religion has a good stronghold. It doesn’t mean it’s right, it just means it’s there. If religion is the least of your concern, well, power to you for being”free”.

But before we start thinking about banning movie directors’ name off their movie posters, why don’t we contemplate this:

1) If we’re going to have a problem with every Hollywood director or producer who has Israeli-ties, then the only array of movies we’ll have in our theaters will be the crappy Egyptian movies we get and the occasional Nadine Labaki movie which takes our theaters by storm (PS: If you haven’t watched Where Do We Go Now? yet, what are you waiting for?)

2) The act of blocking Spielberg’s name off the poster is simply ridiculous. What end is served through the decision to do so? People won’t know that he’s involved in the movie when his name is flashed on a huge screen in front of them? It would have made more sense to have the movie banned in its entirety, not that would be acceptable in itself. Tintin is an animated movie based on a hit comic series that many of us have grown up reading. The fact that this agenda-less movie is being targeted in a flimsy “ban” is beyond ridiculous. It’s simply egomaniacally stupid.

3) For those who are probably furious that I’ve somehow, in a nonexistent way, shown “compassion” towards something Israeli, this is far from the case. In fact, if Tintin had been “Waltz with Bashir,” I would have probably been less offended by whatever’s taking place with Tintin today. While I could simply download the aforementioned movie, I would have understood not having it play in our theaters, simply because it’s an Israeli production. But Tintin is not an Israeli production, even if an Israel-compassionate person had a role in doing it. If Tintin had been serving some hidden pro-Zionist agenda, which as I’m writing this seems hilariously ridiculous, then perhaps I would have understood an act of banning in any form towards the movie.

4) Our country needs to start getting accustomed to the idea that, even in these simple ways that it does, it shouldn’t “silence” those that are different from us. We pride ourselves that we are a beacon for freedom of speech in the region and we most definitely are. But things like this “ban” put a damper on what is, truly, an innovative country that we have. The fact that Tintin was played in theaters across the region without a hitch is a clear indication that our lovely government (or whoever issued the Spielberg ban) is out of its mind. Maybe the government should start caring less about blocking a director’s name because of a Wikileaks article and more caring about fixing the internet situation of the country (I still haven’t gotten my upgrade!).

5) Just for your reference, this is a list of actors, actresses, directors, producers & singers who have ties with Israel, be it moral or financial: Adam Sandler, Annette Bening, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ashton Kutcher, Ben Stiller, Billy Crystal, Bruce Willis, Dustin Hoffman, Halle Berry, Harrison Ford, Kathy Bates, Kevin Costner, Kobe Bryant, Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, Paula Abdul, Norah Jones, Robin Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Cruise…. and the list can go one to list hundreds of other names. All of these people are entertainers that provide us with movies and songs that we love. How about we ban all of their movies, music and anything they’re affiliated with?

The sad thing is this isn’t the first time this happens. First it was Gad Elmaleh, then Lady Gaga’s album, which was later unbanned, passing by an Iranian movie against the Islamic revolution: Green Days. When will Lebanese cultural terrorism stop and we begin to care less about a person’s political,  religious or whatever affiliation they may have and care more about what they’re providing the world with. If you think it’s offensive, you can CHOOSE not to be exposed. But you have NO RIGHT to force your own views on other people who don’t share them in any way whatsoever. As for me, I may have not wanted to watch Tintin but I’m definitely going to now.

So dear Hezbollah, protecting your precious arms doesn’t start with you blocking every single that that is related to the root of your weapons. Culturally terrorizing the whole Lebanese population into believing that if something isn’t approved by you then that thing shouldn’t work is NOT acceptable. Instead of having Lebanese traitors, whose dealings with Israel are as clear as the sun rising every morning, almost getting no jail time (Fayez Karam in case you’re wondering), Hezbollah is offended by Steven Spielberg’s name on a movie poster. You see, a movie poster is simply a weapon of mass destruction.

Hezbollah allies speak of “change and reform.” Well, where is change and reform when you truly need it? Or does it apply to some internet upgrade through a submarine cable that’s suffering from more outages in its month of service than the whole Lebanese internet sector has had over the past two years? Perhaps Mr. Aoun, instead of being Hezbollah’s little minion 24/7, you’d pass some of the freedom values you might have learned in your fifteen year stay in France because of Hezbollah’s BFFs?