movies

Hollywood has never been kind to the colonized peoples of the Middle East (Arabs, Persians or Kurds). They have been portrayed as sexual predators (a stereotype most famously portrayed by silent film era heart-throb Rudolph Valentino in the 1921 film The Sheikh), terrorists (True Lies, The Siege, Rules of Engagement, Executive Decision, The Kingdom) and authoritarian parents (Towelhead, Babel).

November 1: A Better Life tells the story of Carlos, a Mexican immigrant working in Los Angeles illegally. Carlos is trying to make a go of it to give his son the chances he never had. At fifteen, his son Luis is slipping away. Luis is skipping school, mingling with local gangs and he sees his father, a garden worker, as a cliché. When Carlos’ work truck gets stolen, father and son search to find it. The journey turns out to be as much about the truck as it is about the first connection they’ve had with each other.

Royalty has been portrayed many different ways in many different films. Royals have been variously presented as benevolent (Mufasa in the Lion King), mentally ill (King George the Third in the Madness of King George), polite (Jack Skellington in the Nightmare before Christmas) and, of course, completely evil and underhanded (Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland). There are, however, very few films that portray Kings and Queens as ordinary people just as flawed and vulnerable as the rest of us.

When I started thinking about this month’s column, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t have enough content. The Fernie Mountain Film Festival and The Reel Canadian Film Festival have wowed and waved goodbye, the various film series are wrapping up;- IFF closes on Monday April 4 with Broken Embraces starring Penelope Cruz, Think Tank offers food for thought in the final film of the season No Impact Man on April 15.