Talking Movies

January 13, 2020

From the Archives: The Kite Runner

From the pre-Talking Movies archives.

Gruelling is the best word to describe this film. Indeed it’s hard to fathom how such an unrelentingly depressing story could ever have become a world-wide best seller. But then maybe Troy screenwriter David Benioff has sprinkled his own peculiar variety of anti-gold dust over the original novel. After all German-Swiss director Marc Forster has a much better track record than Benioff having brought us Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland and Stranger than Fiction. Forster is almost physically incapable of making an uninvolving film and The Kite Runner grips like a vice throughout. However that’s not because you’re emotionally engaged with the characters, it’s more that you’re scared, rightly wary of what new horror Forster intends to visit upon the audience.

The story centres on the relationship between two young boys, Amir and Hassan, in 1978 Afghanistan. Amir’s father is rich and Hassan is the son of his loyal servant Ali. Hassan thus shows fanatical devotion to Amir but asserts this loyalty to the wrong bullies and gets raped by a gang of older boys. The terrifying villain of the piece Assef is (like the infamous Fascist Captain in Pan’s Labyrinth) just too many kinds of evil all rolled into one, without any redeeming features or quirks, to actually convince as a character. Assef in 1978 is a racist despising Hazzara Afghans, a rich snob who exults in his wealth and Pashtun breeding, and a homophobe who rapes Hassan to teach him a lesson. Assef in 2000 is a Taliban official who is now a bisexual paedophile, when he’s not stoning women to death for committing adultery. If you’ve managed to sit through the rape, you have a graphic stoning to death of a woman for committing adultery and a bloody slingshot to the eyeball still to come…

The Kite Runner fails because Amir is so incredibly horrible to Hassan after the rape. Nothing he does can achieve redemption as Hassan has the patience of a saint in all his scenes while Amir is never likeable. In addition despite the laudable use of subtitles and Afghan actors this film arguably falls into the old trap of using an ‘American abroad’ approach by having Scottish born Khalid Abdalla play the adult Amir. If this is an attempt to focus our sympathies with the San Francisco dwelling older Amir then it doesn’t work. Amir cannot find ‘a way to be good’ as the trailer so pompously promises. While it is interesting to see the Western influence in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion and the realities of life under the Taliban it’s not enough to make the misery worth while. You would not recommend this to friends.

2/5

November 30, 2017

ADIFF 2018: Animated and Silent Cinema

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival has announced the Irish premiere of Nora Twomey’s animated feature film, The Breadwinner, and the launch of the Silent Cinema programme for the 2018 festival.

The Breadwinner, directed by Nora Twomey and executive-produced by Angelina Jolie, will make its Irish premiere at ADIFF 2018. Co-produced by the award-winning Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (The Secret of Kells, The Song Of The Sea), and based on Deborah Ellis’ acclaimed novel, The Breadwinner tells the extraordinary story of an 11-year-old Afghan girl Parvana, born into an ever-changing world of conflict and Taliban oppression, who must disguise herself as a boy to become her family’s sole breadwinner.

On behalf of everyone who worked on The Breadwinner, I am delighted that the film will have its Irish premiere at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival,” said Kilkenny-based director Twomey. “The festival has a long history of presenting  exciting films from across the globe and we are all so proud to be part of it this February.”

With a team of over 200 animators, artists and actors from around the world, Twomey created an innovative mix of 2-D animation with acrylic and digitally painted environments, as well as digital paper cut–out segments, all blended into a captivating story about family, friendship, and imagination. The film is a co-production with Aircraft Pictures (Canada), Melusine Productions (Luxembourg), and Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon.

The Irish premiere of The Breadwinner will take place on February 22nd, 2018 ,at Cineworld Dublin, on Parnell Street.

Ticket for The Breadwinner are on sale here.

ADIFF,  in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, also announced screenings of the silent films, Behind the Door (accompanied by musical director Stephen Horne on the piano) and The Italian Straw Hat (accompanied by live quartet) as part of 2018’s Silent Cinema programme. Never intended to be watched in actual silence, these films were always accompanied by carefully curated musical scores, or in the case of the young Shostakovich improvised madness on the piano, allowing for musically cued visual storytelling. ADIFF presents these films to the public as a culturally valuable historical record: “Silent films are a rare art form that have influenced generations of filmmakers and continue to inspire audiences almost a century after they were made,” said ADIFF Director Grainne Humphreys, “We are thrilled to be sharing these gems from the early days of cinema with audiences for the 2018 Festival.

Tickets are available at http://www.diff.ie/festival

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