Tonight's the Academy Awards ceremony -- really! You may have missed out on it, but it's going on, under-represented as ever.
When friends mention the Oscars, I get the same sort of pained look on my face that my friends do when I mention hockey. This year, I've been telling everyone (to circumvent the discussion) that the only movie I saw in 2005 was "Good Night, and Good Luck," which I'd be quite happy to see win every Oscar, EVEN IF IT WASN'T NOMINATED.
I missed one, though. I saw "Paradise Now," a shattering and powerful film, and I suppose I didn't think of it because I saw it the day before I came down with severe pneumonia, and also because it never occurred to me that it might be up for anything.
It is, though predictably, I didn't realize it 'til there was an uproar over its selection. The petition campaign ... I don't feel I have any right to criticize the organizers. If I'd lost someone in a suicide bombing, certainly, it would be quite an effort to look at the subject dispassionately.
But. As someone who has the luxury of being outside the conflict, it's very hard for me to see how "Paradise Now" glorifies suicide bombers. Portrays them as human beings? Certainly. Raises some difficult questions? Absolutely. But glorifies suicide bombers? No, not at all. I think that anyone of a thoughtful mind who was completely unaware of the events in the Middle East (a stretch, certainly, but they had to find the O.J. Simpson jurors somewhere) who viewed this movie would subsequently see the greater conflict as ... less than black and white.
I've had more discussions than I care to count about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past few years, escalating even more since the Hamas victory in January. I'm tired of it, and yeah, I have opinions on it which probably aren't hard to guess at. It strikes me that this petition can only backfire on its organizers; it's going to bring more publicity to a film that many would have missed, a film that's intelligent and excruciatingly thought-provoking.
It's a great -- if unpleasant -- movie, and I hope to see it do well.