Friday, August 26, 2011


Incendies is a film I saw half a year ago, but it's currently playing at the place I work. If you're right by the theater and are a member and/or a student-as to get discounted tickets-then, and only then, come check it out if you have time to waste. Otherwise, save your gas money or train faire. The film, a international mystery film, adapted from Wajdi Mouward's play Scorched, is about a woman discovering she has family, not in her home of Quebec, but in her ancestral home of Lebanon. A discourse is proposed involving what the Middle East was, at one point, and still in several ways, if you look outside the Orientalist (go read Edward Said) US military hegemony on US media, a progressive and modern place. There are still the regressive elements, but we have that also in our society.

What unfolds is interesting, yet only traditional cinematically, so its not worth much merit. And my whole intellectual analysis above borrows more from my anthropology undergraduate courses than what is actually in the film, but I had to try to sound smart. The movie seems to borrow a bit from Atom Egoyan. Especially Egoyan's Ararat in terms of Incendies and it both being Middle Eastern historical and political mystery films. Yet, Ararat is a far superior film because unlike Incendies-which tricks you with glossy art house cinematography and a non-linear script-it delves much deeper into socio-political implications. Not only of what occurred in Armenia (where the main character in Ararat is trying to expose a genocide to the world), but also how the story is being portrayed. This is done via a non-linear meta-film technique that ultimately yields a much more intelligent analysis of the implications of one's history and how your history is portrayed-and spread-in terms of what history does to us phenomenologically. 

Incendies is then just a so-so film, surely better than most mystery films you'll see this year at the multiplex, but nothing that will incite cinephilia as it is overall a film that fits many of the dull Hollywood conventions art house movie theater-goers now expect after 30 years of Blockbuster saturation plaguing our understanding of what film can do. I mean, the film could of done so much more, but it just does the job and gives Western audiences a American History X-esque and.or Hollywood-ized portrayal of what occurred and is currently happening in the Middle East, which a film like Ararat was intelligent enough to avoid through more innovation. Definitely check out the director of Incendies Denis Villeneuve's better last film Polytechnique along with Egoyan's Ararat, but in the historical-political mystery market there is a whole contingency of films to check out before these like the amazing Katyn (Andrezj Wadja) or Z (Costa-Gravas). 


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