Thursday, March 5, 2015

Evade the Ravenous Turks in JERUSALEM!

Yuval Adler's BETHLEHEM is a well-crafted espionage thriller with the nuance of an IDF sledgehammer used to bash down the door of a Palestinian home before demolition.  It's both thrilling and loaded with enough stereotypes of Palestinian men that would make anyone familiar with the basic politics of the conflict blanch.  Political parties are made into opposing camps of a tangled web of intrigue that only Shin Bet can maneuver.
The film follows young Sanfur (Shadi Mar’i) and his Israeli handler, Razi (Tsahi Halevi), as they develop a bond based around the young man's betrayal and manipulation of his family, particularly his brother Ibrahim (Hisham Suliman), a member of -both- Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.  There is a very engaging and interesting espionage thriller in the script, but it has the same level of accuracy as a mid-1980's anti-Soviet American action picture, perhaps akin to ROCKY IV or RAMBO III.  Radicalized Palestinian men are so vicious and prone to violence they come off as sociopathic thugs, while women are restricted to speechless placeholders.  This point is especially ridiculous because most experts on the topic emphasize that it is Palestinian women who shoulder the burden of the movement whereas men are made disposable by the IDF and Shin Bet targeted killings.  The father, Abu Ibrahim (Tarik Kopty), comes off as a befuddling, helpless old man who has no ability to chastise either of his sons.  In essence, this is a color-by-numbers action film that could easily be remade in America as a film based around drug lords and the FBI.  And both films would rely on stereotyped antagonists, in Israel based around Palestinian thugs and, perhaps in America, either black or latino hoodlums.

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