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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Kite Runner, The Orphanage 

The Kite Runner:

There’s a certain voyeuristic appeal to fiction like The Kite Runner. It’s safe to say the topic of “Afghanistan” is a touchy and fascinating one, and to be honest, before 9/11, no one on this side of the Atlantic felt much need to know anything about it since the Russians withdrew in the ‘80s. The Kite Runner brings us an insider’s point of view on what the country was, before the Communists arrived and after the Taliban took over. We learn something new about a culture we have until recently ignored, with tragic consequences. For Afghanis, The Kite Runner – both book and film – may be their big chance to show a bit of what their culture means to the Western mainstream.

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The Orphanage:

Man, what a pleasure it is, finding a horror movie that understands dread. Merriam-Webster defines dread (the noun) as “great fear especially in the face of impending evil,” or “extreme uneasiness in the face of a disagreeable prospect.” “Impending evil,” “disagreeable prospect.” It’s the prospect of facing something, rather than actually facing the thing itself. Here’s where I start to sound like a bitter old cliché: American filmmakers have forgotten that dread is, in fact, the root of good horror. American horror instead focuses on the gratification rather than the build-up, and anyone with a sex life can tell you that someone focused only on that isn’t worth seeing a second time. But a filmmaker who knows how to coax and coerce you into greater fits of “oh please god no”? That is an infinitely more pleasurable experience.

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