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Valley of the Wolves: Palestine: Focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is the latest instalment of a popular and successful film series in Turkey. In this sequel, the story focuses on a team of Turkish operatives on a mission to avenge the deaths of the aid workers killed by Israeli commandos in the flotilla that was bound to Gaza.
Polat Alemdar (Sasmaz) and his men put their lives at risk by crossing more than just the enemy’s lines as they head to Palestine on a mission of revenge, honour and patriotism.
The freedom fighters’ main objective is to locate and eliminate Moshe Ben Eliezer (Besikcioglu), the Israeli military commander responsible for the killing of innocent aid workers in the Gaza flotilla raid. However, Eliezer’s arrangements take an unexpected turn as Polat Alemdar will stop at nothing to bring him down.
Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is clearly influenced by the Palestinian conflict. The main stars are just drawn into the plot as supplementary elements; the real chronicle focuses on the people of Palestine and their suffering.
However, the highlight of the plot is how such undercover teams make their way through Israeli intelligence and the numerous army forces. The brutality of some scenes will stir compassion and empathy for the Palestinian people: one scene in particular shows a disabled child buried alive under the wreckage of his home by Israeli soldiers.
The supporting actors in Valley of the Wolves: Palestine actually give more memorable performances than any of the leads, who are pretty average at best. As the most expensive film ever made in Turkey, Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is full of action scenes from beginning to end. While the action element is not exactly top-notch when compared to Hollywood standards, audiences will still appreciate the effort. However, many scenes are over the top as our heroes seem to be superhuman; it quickly becomes insulting to the audience’s intelligence!
The film was actually shot in Turkish and Hebrew, but the version in Cairo cinemas is dubbed in Arabic, which is frustrating as Egyptian audiences may not fully understand the dialogue because of the poor translation and strange accents.
Overall, Valley of the Wolves: Palestine is a well-made film that demonstrates the violence and injustice of the Palestinian people’s struggle.
Lasse Hallstrom’s latest onscreen efforts – following his generous offering in 2000’s Chocolat – is yet another delicious treat that celebrates the power of food and the importance of family traditions in the predictable but exceptionally charming, The Hundred Foot Journey.
The story is centred on the Kadam family from Mumbai, who, after having experienced a personal tragedy and the loss of their beloved family-run restaurant, decide to flee to Europe in search for a better life. However, after failing to make it in the cold British weather, the Kadams, led by Papa (Puri), decide to head further south.
The family of six, which includes Hassan (Dayal) – a young aspiring chef - soon stumble upon a small village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, located in the south of France. Immediately taken in by its small-town charm, Papa decides to explore the village and after laying his eyes on a piece run-down of property, he decides that his family will settle and try to reopen their family restaurant.
After many objections from the rest of the family – who believe that the French are not accustomed to Indian cuisine – the rebuilding soon begins; however, problems soon arise when they learn that their new restaurant is located exactly one hundred feet from a Michelin-starred restaurant run by uncompromising food-snob, Madame Mallory (Mirren). Naturally, she isn’t too welcoming of competition.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first; it is highly advisable not to go on The Hundred-Foot Journey on an empty stomach. If you do, know that it is at your own risk.
Adapted from the pages of Richard C. Morais’ novel of the same name – and produced by the unlikely pairing of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey – the story is very, very simple. Regardless of its rather predictable and sometimes overly-sentimental premise, however, it manages to create an inviting world that is pretty hard to resist. Easy on the eyes, the refined and somewhat old-fashioned cinematography – which embellishes most of its shots with a sun-kissed glow – adds to the overall experience and manages to awaken and breathe life into everything it touches.
Mirren, who seems to have mastered the French accent pretty well, shows great versatility in her role of the icy restaurant owner whose hard-as-nails exterior slowly begins to melt away as the minutes go by, while Puri, as the sensitive and the exceptionally stubborn father determined to make it, is simply irresistible.
However, it’s Dayal as the passionate chef who serves as the secret ingredient to the mix and although his romantic attachment to a sous chef named Marguerite doesn’t really translate all that well, he still manages to carry and convey Hallstrom’s obvious passion and love for food to an audience who will more than likely be summoned to stop by for a quick Chicken Tikka Masala on their way home.
Following in the footsteps of the 2014 teen- tear-jerker, The Fault in Our Stars, R.J Cutler’s onscreen adaptation of yet another best-selling young-adult novel explores the perils of young love in the terribly formulaic and melodramatic, If I Stay.
The story is centred on Mia (Moretz); a shy high-school junior who dreams of one day becoming a great concert cellist. Her super-cool, rock-loving parents, Kat (Enos) and Denny (Leonard), are very supportive of her dreams; however, Mia – who constantly doubts her own talent – is not so sure that she will be able to make the cut when she auditions for the Julliard School of Music in New York.
As Mia awaits the news that will determine her future, her relationship with Adam (Blackley), the lead singer of a local rock band, is not doing so well, as his career and schedule begins to take him away from the relationship. Uncertain what her future holds, Mia’s world is soon turned upside down when she and her family are involved in a horrifying car accident that leaves both her parents dead, her younger brother Teddy (Davies) fighting for his life and Mia in a coma.
Stuck in between the two worlds, Mia begins to undergo a lengthy out-of-body experience and soon finds herself examining and questioning her entire life – through a series of flashbacks – and quickly comes to the realisation that it is up to her whether to let go and walk towards the light – literally – or wake up and deal with the fact that her life, as she knew it, will be forever changed.
Scripted by Shauna Cross, If I Stay does very little to break away from the usual patterns of young-adult novel adaptations and once again lends its entire focus on the workings of a romance between two young teens under the burdens of life and big decisions. Weighty subjects are thrown around, but never fully explored and the gaps in the logic – mostly to do with the supernatural part of the tale – are vast and, frankly, a little baffling.
Nevertheless, Moretz proves to be a reliable and capable lead, though the chemistry shared between her and Blackley doesn’t really resonate. As her extra-hip parents, Enos and Leonard, came off as a little forced – and a little hard to take seriously – while Keach, playing Mia’s loving grandfather, is the only one who brings a bit of sincerity to his role.
Told mostly through flashbacks, If I Stay is paced well and there is certain lightness to its step. However, it’s all a little bit too cutesy to take seriously.