Tag Archives: Rachel Weisz

Disobedience

Firstly: why the big gap in posts? It was on principle, about Word Press privacy and security. I am dismayed that you’re all having to agree to nonoptoutable cookies to read this, and I wish to register that 1) I disapprove 2) it’s contrary to GDPR and 3) I as author in no way place anything on you or track you or know anything unless you wish to share it.

So if there’s another gap or this blog disappears, you’ll know why.

 

I rather like that I’m starting again with Disobedience. It makes a naughty title!

It’s a film I’ve been awaiting all year, and was thrilled to be able to twice see it before its British release, this weekend. I read Naomi Alderman’s novel again in between.

On paper, it is natural for it to appeal to me: a story of love between women set in a religious community and featuring a favourite actress (Rachel Weisz, opposite Rachel McAdams).

So far, that’s a synopsis of my own first novel. But perhaps that can be a recipe for disappointment as much as delight. Fortunately, I felt much of the latter.

 

I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of anyone who has not yet seen or read this story, so instead I will share brief insights and comparisons.

In the opening moments, I wondered if I had savoured a film so much.

The last time I recalled doing so was a film which I could make several comparisons to:

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley – another one which is special to me.

Its title too is a single word beginning with D; a noun, or rather a state of being, something that is seen as sinful by organised religion, although both stories question that;

both are set in the narrow enclave geographically and religiously that their authors grew up in; a mostly three hander (two women and a man) where homosexuality is central and transgressive; and starts with a sermon and ends in a religious garden.

 

Much of my other musings about Disobedience have been about the changes between book and film. As an author of both, this is of concern. It’s not just about this book, or books in general: what might they do to mine?

I won’t list those changes, but I will say that some were improvements, and some felt arbitrary. I sometimes wonder why filmmakers option work which they intend to change so much. I noted that the filmmakers were non Jews, and that the area and even country were unfamiliar to some of them; and that this female penned and led story was directed by a man. I missed the opportunity for Dovid’s colourful headaches to be shown visually.

 

The other area of thought was about the way women are treated – and to some extent, men too; and how traditional Jewish ideas about women and our bodies have pervaded Western culture and other faiths.

 

Lastly, I would like to add two insights.

The silver snuck in the sack – is this a reference to the Joseph story? Or David and Jonathan?

The final shot in the cemetery, a dense city of monoliths: is that meant to look like Manhattan?

 

And as for the film itself: the fact that I have already been twice and been checking for the film tie in novel for some weeks should be encouragement enough.

 

My next post will be another adaptation involving Alessandro Nivola – this time, he plays the naughty one.

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Whistleblower

is a 2010 film starring Rachel Weisz about the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac.

It’s the flip side of My Age of Consent post on Socyberty (link in previous post). I want to make clear that I take abuse very seriously. Whereas some young women manipulate older people and it is inappropriate to call what might be unwise and unhealthy relationships child abuse, this film is clearly a story of what is.

In fact the legal ages are irrelevant, as what is happening is horrific and wrong for anyone of any age. It would not be less shocking if these were over 21s, and no less horrible for those that suffered.

I am not going to make any explicit comments here, should anyone be alarmed. The film too conveys horror without detail.

One one level, I am impressed by the film. It is based on the memoir of an American former police woman who was sent to Bosnia in the late 1990s as a peacekeeper, and who uncovered wide spread trafficking overlooked and often used by personnel of international military, law enforcing and peacekeeping organisations.

First of all, I want to back up. Why is an alien country going into one already torn with civil war, to have a foreign military and police help them sort out their problems?! What right does another country have to go barging and interfering, setting themselves up as world police?! Do any of these countries exemplify a perfectly just, libertarian society? No!! In fact as I shall write in the future, I don’t think democracy is the best system; I am intrigued by Isonomy as suggested by a former lecturer. (This could end up going back into another summer of Wonder Woman, who upheld democracy – see my earliest posts). And I feel that the US particularly* is not in a position to show another country how fairness works; there’s enough corruption at home without spreading it to a land limping after years of guerrilla warfare.

Spreading that corruption is exactly what seems to be happening.

Even Kathryn’s contract was dubious – $100,000 for 6 months work – tax free. After the global financial problems and cuts, such pay makes me livid – why should anyone work even indirectly for a government and be exempt from contributing with such a high salary?! “Is this even legal?” Kathy asks in the film. It shouldn’t be.

Next, there is legal “immunity” for those working for the various organisations. In the film it is called Democria, a British registered international company recruiting army and police officers. There should never be immunity – if you’re wrong, you should be brought to justice.

I feel like I did after the Valerie Wilson Plame film, Fair Game – that I both admire the person for sticking up to a powerful system and telling the world what’s really happening; and dis-ease for their jobs. As much as I don’t support the work of the CIA, the peacekeepers (ironic title) are another shadowy force supposedly for the good of civilians. Anyone reading this very much will know my thoughts on the irony of suppressing liberty to protect it, of opaque organisations off public radar who want to hold secret courts  – yes I opposed that British proposal. (See https://elspethr.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/justice-is-restored-but-the-chickens-are-gone)

The verb ‘police’ is one I am uncomfortable with. Although I have seen police strap lines claiming role is support for the public, practice is one of non action when needed with heaviness when it is not.

Kathy wants better recruitment and training for those doing her work – and clearly she took her police role seriously and genuinely, as I’m sure many others do. But that shouldn’t be a surprise – people shouldn’t be getting through the recruitment net who don’t. She recognised the need for better cultural understating in her role, but I really feel outsiders should not be there, especially as she’s shown the UN to have serious corruption at its core. She claims some officers were actually running the sex rings, while the organisation wouldn’t allow inquiries.

Death threats are are sure sign that she’s right. Officials have made statements that Kathy is wrong, even that she deserved her dismissal… but why the threats if she was erroneous and had a genuine reason to be sacked? Why would she make such a thing up, and go to such a risk, especially if it only over sour grapes for a job loss?

I was pleased that the book has been published and a film made, with many well known actors keen to be involved, as well as being an opportunity for a first time director. But I can’t see that the Whistleblower got an airing in Britain, or perhaps as widely internationally as it might have been. It wasn’t nominated for any of the usual film awards, though it did get some humanitarian type ones. I can’t find a British release date for it, and I have checked my own film magazines and brochures – I don’t think it came to my city nor was it picked up by the major cinema chains. I found it in the library, a single copy, unlike the mass orders of some new films.

I am writing this partly to say, this is a film that needs to be seen. This is an issue that needs to be known – but what can be done to stop it?

And I am also voicing my mixed views. Portrayed by a favourite actress, it was easy to sympathise with the actions of Kathryn. Reading more about her, I felt conflicted and this is as much about keeping out of other countries and the immunity/tax free corruption as it is the atrocities being inflicted on young women.

*PS that was not meant to be an anti US diatribe. You know I criticise my own country enough!

Someday, I shall write an article called “Things I love about America”.  Several individuals will feature, including dear friends.

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