Wadjda – Film Review

An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest.  –IMDb

I first heard about this film through Girls’ Globe, a site dedicated to raising awareness and educating others on global issues about the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls.

Wadjda is the first feature fully filmed in Saudi Arabia. Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to direct a feature film. This was not an easy task. Women are not supposed to work with men in public. Haifaa directed all exterior scenes from the inside of a van. She watched the actors on monitors and communicated with them via walkie-talkie. Nonetheless, she received government approval to complete the film in the country. Although cinemas are not permitted in the country, audiences can see the film on television.

Wadjda is one of my favorite films this year. The film is thought provoking. It carries a heartfelt message about what it means to grow up as a woman in a country where women have plenty of restrictions. For example, women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive. Wadjda wishes for a bike, but she’s constantly told that girls “should not drive bikes.” The notion of a giving a girl a bike is frown upon by society. “You will not be able to have children,” her mom tells her when Wadjda persists on getting a bike. It’s a beautiful metaphor about a girl’s pursue for agency in her society, to make her own destiny, and find her voice.

It features great actors. Waad Mohammed plays Wadjda, a ten years old girl living with her mother in a middle class suburb. Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah (Wadjda’s mother) deliver a wonderful performance. The moments between mother and daughter are sweet and transcend all cultural differences.

This film depicts the life of men and women under the politics and spaces given to them in their society. Wadjda’s mother is devoted to her husband, yet her movements are restricted to what’s expected of her as a married woman. She fears that she will lose her husband due to her invalidity to give him a son. Wadjda’s school plays a big role in enforcing gender restrictions, where a strict principal sets the rules and expectations how girls should behave.

Wadjda is now playing in selected theaters. I urge everyone to go and see this film. You will not be disappointed.

And no, this is not a “girl’s movie.” It’s a film about women’s issues, which happens to have a female lead. Please, do not feed on this idea that films about women (or female leads) are only for female viewers…  Plus, women watch plenty of superhero films. Go watch Wadjda. It’s a wonderful film

Also read: Dana Stevens’ Review

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Oscar Buzz 2013: Argo

(Possible Spoilers)

Argo is an adaptation/dramatization of the 1980 CIA extraction of six American diplomatic personal from revolutionary Iran. Clinton administration released information about the project during the Clinton administration.

Ben Affleck directs and plays the lead role of Tony Mendez, the CIA agent in charge of the operation. The film made $19,458,109 (USA) on opening night. It has a 94% audience rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Ben Affleck did a fantastic job directing this film. There was a sense of suspense, which is what you would expect from a thriller film.

The moment Tony (Affleck) arrives in Iran, he keeps finding bodies hanging from bridges and polls all over the city. It becomes clear to the audience this might be a foreshadow of Tony’s death. The bodies are event dressed as Tony. These subliminal messages of death kept me fidgeting throughout the duration of the film.

The end of the film was good. There is a complicated chase. Although the ending works for the story, I’m not sure if it is necessary for the audience’s entertainment. I don’t know why it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Nonetheless, Affleck’s acting is good. He did a good job as Tony Mendez. This is a fresh and interesting look for him. He did a fantastic job directing film. There’s no doubt this film has Oscar Buzz all over it.

 

This film is rated R.

Thanks,

Steph

Oscars: Bridesmaids


The Academy Awards announced  the 2012 Oscars nominations last Monday. I wait for the announcements every year, hoping to recognize some of the nominees. This year, I’m quite happy to say that a comedy written by women and about women made it to the list.

Directed by Paul Feig, this film received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90 percent, and an audience rating of 76 percent.

Bridesmaids will always bring good memories to me because I was fortunate enough to see it with my friends during my last year of college. Bridesmaids was the last movie we watched together before going our different ways.

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The Descendants

(NO SPOILERS)

Alright, let’s get straight to the point. The Oscars nominations will be announced next week.

Therefore, I studied the Golden Globes winners’ list for a clue of possible Oscar nominees.

The Descendants has become a favorite. Alexander Payne directed this film and he’s known for his satire and dark humor.  The Descendants made 1, 190, 096 dollars on its opening weekend. It has a 89 percent at the Rotten Tomatoes website, with an audience rating of 82 percent.

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