Justin: Woo hoo!
Zoe: What are you so excited about? Wait, let me guess. The “Doctor Who” season premier was this weekend.
Zoe: Was it any good?
Justin: It was freaking amazing. It was a great way to start off the season. I think they may have even topped “The Weeping Angels” in terms of creepiness with this new monster they introduced.
Zoe: Yeah, I have no clue what you are talking about and probably neither do half our readers. So I am going to have to cut you off there. But it is a good transition enough into the indie films we watched this week.
Justin: This is true. Just to remind our readers: Zoe and I have taken on a new task for this site. For our weekly dialogues, we are watching a common movie “together” and then two movies on our own in the same genre.
Zoe: That’s right. This week’s genre was supposed to be foreign indie comedies.
Justin: Correct. Although I think most of our movies took place in the United Kingdom. I had one that was in Paris. Hey, we just go by what Netflix tells us. Their genre system is a little odd at times.
Zoe: Yeah, mine may not have been as foreign as we would have liked. They had foreign actors in them; does that count?
Justin: Hmmm, I guess I will let you off the hook this week. Not exactly sure if you could consider mine foreign as well.
Zoe: Well, maybe our readership will judge us and then let us know what they decide. Anyway, this week the film we watched together was a British movie called The Infidel. It is about a Muslim man who finds out that he was adopted after his mother’s death… Not only that, but his birth parents were Jewish. The lead character finds himself coming to terms with both his Jewish side as well as his Muslim side, all while trying to successfully get his son married to his fiancée, whose new father-in-law is very, shall we say, “traditional.” (Death to the unbeliever!)
Justin: There were some pretty funny parts to the movie and Richard Schiff playing the Jewish cab driver, who the main character turns to for advice on being Jewish, did an excellent job.
Zoe: How could he not? He is Toby from “The West Wing” and an amazing actor all around.
Justin: I know. Although I was a little disappointed to find out there was going to be a Johnny English 2 when I went to see if there were any upcoming shows/movies he was going to be in. Now, I am a Rowan Atkinson fan. I love his stand-up and I enjoyed Mr. Bean. However, in my opinion the first Johnny English movie wasn’t all that great and there is no need for a second. But that is a completely different topic for another time. So, what did you think of The Infidel?
Zoe: I enjoyed the kind of goofy combination of hilarity and awkward cultural interactions. Not just Muslim and Jewish interaction, there was also British and American, too, and a little bit about marriage and secrets. I think I would’ve even enjoyed it more if I were British for some reason. Also it basically avoided the deeper problems that usually stand between Muslims and Jews, making gentle fun of the comedic gold that comes from having different religions, senses of humor and clothing (arguably–don’t get tetchy). What was your opinion of it?
Justin: Overall I enjoyed the film. However, I was kind of disappointed in it. The film had a hilarious concept: a Muslim man finding out that he was Jewish. Like you said, the cultural interactions were classic and I loved the Bar Mitzvah scene where he was trying to act Jewish. Here is where I felt it started to go downhill. You had all this wonderful interaction and cultural misunderstandings and then it comes back to a typical story arch. Tragedy strikes, people learn about his secret, friends and family abandon him and then the rest of the movie is spent trying to win everyone back. It started to feel like a typical movie and it didn’t start off that way. The concept was great and they could have done so much more than the “I need to win my family back” story line. Finally, as with you would have enjoyed it more if you were British, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I were Jewish or Muslim. I know some of the traditions and stereotypes of both religions but I was still an outsider looking in. Being from a Jewish background what was your take?
Zoe: Oh, for sure it was disappointing in that respect. But how could one tiny film possibly explain what it means to Be Jewish or Be Muslim? If someone could do that, it’d end up being like an educational video shown all over the world… Let’s face it, the writer here had to chicken out and go typical in the middle, because to actually seriously contemplate what it would mean for a fairly religious Muslim man to find out he’s “biologically Jewish” or whatever (even without extra complications like a jihadist’s stepdaughter about to marry his son)… not funny. Consider Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Screw it, I can’t even explain what being Jewish is, and I’ve been one all my life. To hit that point in the movie and then just keep making Jew jokes / Muslim jokes would have been kind of tasteless, also.
Justin: That makes perfect sense. Although I think I was looking more along the lines of were parts funnier because you understood the Jewish jokes or traditions better than I might have not being Jewish.
Zoe: Oh… possibly.
Justin: Anyway, let’s get into our solo films. For my first film, I watch Stone of Destiny. It was a really good film and when I started it, I had no clue what it was about, let alone that it was a true story. It starred Charlie Cox (Stardust), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain, 127 Hours) and Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) The film revolves around four college students from Scotland who decide to break into Westminster Abbey and steal the Stone of Destiny. Now if you don’t know anything about the Stone of Destiny, you can find information about it here on Wikipedia. The short version of the story is that an English King stole the Stone of Destiny from the Scottish back in 1296 and since then it has been part of the coronation throne for the English royalty. Anyway, in 1950 these four students decide to try to take it back. I won’t spoil anything for you, although if you know the history of the stone you already know how it turns out in the end. It was a great movie. Not sure I would have classified it as an “Indie Comedy” but there were some humorous parts. I would highly recommend it and there are some beautiful shots of the Scottish landscape.
Zoe: I’m frankly not sure how Netflix decides to categorize things; you can find a lot of the same movies in the different subcategories (comedies, dramas, romance, gay & lesbian, etc.). You’ll have to forgive me if it makes sense to you. But okay, The Infidel was man-centric, so I decided to watch Broken English starring Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud, directed by Zoe (great name!) Cassavetes. Posey plays Nora, a thirtysomething neurotic New Yorker, dangerously close the “oh my Jesus, are there really people like that out there?” line. One night, she meets this young, romantic, completely ohhh I don’t even know the right word… Frenchman, maybe? Ha. He’s alive, is what he is, and enchanting and Nora finds his alive-ness alluring but also sees it as dangerous and impossible. So the story is about his pull, and the question of what really counts as a risk. I found it an almost drowsy film to watch, not lazy or boring, just drowsy in the best way; it didn’t rush and nothing was super heightened emotionally, it felt pretty close to reality in fact… I’d really recommend it.
Justin: Might have to check it out for myself. With my second movie, I moved out of the United Kingdom all the way across the English Channel to Paris, France. 2 Days in Paris, stars Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) and Julie Delpy (Broken Flowers) and is about a couple coming home from a trip to Venice, Italy, and stopping in Paris so he can meet her parents for the first time. It all goes downhill from there, as it usually does in a relationship.
Justin: Sorry, sorry. Anyway, the film is really about him discovering who she is and about her past relationships. I think it ties in very well with The Infidel because it is about discovering a culture you just don’t understand. Goldberg’s character is an American who speaks no French and is often left out of loop in the conversations. He is also not as free to talk about sex as many of the other characters in the movie, who seem to talk about it a lot. You can see him become more and more uncomfortable as the movie progresses. This is another movie that I would recommend. Both stars do a wonderful job and this one was one I would classify as a comedy, but I wouldn’t really say a romantic comedy which you might think at first glance. Check it out and decide for yourself.
Zoe: I started that and while I don’t find frankness uncomfortable, he was so good at projecting his awkwardness that it made me squeamish too! My third movie is now one of my favorite movies, though I don’t think most people would agree. I’m not being snobby; let me explain. It’s called Conversations with Other Women and almost literally the only people in it are Aaron Eckhart and Helen Bonham Carter, Man and Woman. The entire film is split screen, most of the time Man in one frame and Woman in the other, though sometimes one of them is in both or they’re both in one and the other’s momentarily empty. It’s a little tricky to get used to, but it’s nothing like Time Code (four squares of simultaneous stories). What it’s about, though, is Man and Woman meeting at a wedding, each talking about an ex, about getting older, and a little bit about their lives at that moment. There’s more to it–not aliens or explosions or something awful like that–but I don’t want to spoil it. I found it honest and really interesting, and you know those two actors carried the whole thing with intensity and ease and a wonderful fluctuating chemistry. Honest, too. It made me think of a theme for next week, actually. Want to know what it is?
Justin: I would love to know what it is!
Zoe: Well, this is a pretty unknown, but still really good, movie starring two really quality actors. This movie is like a deep cut. Do people still know that term? Or do you have to be a dork or over forty to know it?
Justin: I am going to guess dorky and over forty. Then again I am a huge dork and still don’t know what that means.
Zoe: A deep cut is typically on the “B” side of an album and is a song that wasn’t a single, but a song which many connoisseurs consider one of the best tracks on the album. I wish I had a snappy example… Anyway, I thought of it cause I was making some joke about it like yesterday. What I mean is, I’ll pick Actor A and Justin will pick Actor B and the movie we both watch will be a movie in which A and B co-starred. Then I’ll watch two other movies by A and Justin another two by B. But why it would be like a deep cut is because we can watch the actors’ movies that are good, but not what they’re most famous for. Is that clear?
Justin: Okay, I am down with that. Sort of like the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Zoe: Yeah no, nothing like that, but you’ll get it.
Justin: Fair enough. So join us next week for the Deep Cut of Idle Banter.
Zoe: And if there’s a pair of actors that you desperately want us to look at, better leave your comments quick so that we don’t pick some douchey actor you don’t like!
Justin: Eh, we still may just for the reactions. Night Everyone.