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Non-Review Review: It Must Be Heaven

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2020. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

It Must Be Heaven offers a Chaplin-esque meditation on what it means to be “a citizen of the world,”, albeit filtered through a Palestinian lens.

Writer and director Elia Suleiman neatly divides his comedy into three acts. Playing himself, the veteran Palestian director journeys from Palestine in a bid to finance his latest movie. First, he visits Paris. Then, he visits New York. Along the way, he acts a silent and deadpan observers of the chaos of the world around him. Over the course of the film Suleiman only talks on a handful of occasions. Indeed, it would be handy enough to exorcise those sequences and reduce him to a classic silent film protagonist. However, the world buzzes around him.

So much of It Must Be Heaven is a purely observational film. Suleiman drifts idly from one scene to the next, always watching with mild bemusement as he steps into another story that is already in progress, often without any larger context: a father and son squabble across the balconies of their shared home, two brothers threaten a restaurant owner for serving wine in their sister’s food, a woman marches slowly and certainly from a well carrying two containers of water in a rather relaxed relay. Sometimes narratives reveal themselves through the act of looking, and sometimes they don’t. Such is life.

It Must Be Heaven seems more like a resigned sigh than a profound statement, a candid acknowledgement of how people are strange all over, even if some places offer their own unique brands of eccentricity.

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Non-Review Review: Entebbe

Entebbe is an ambitious, and very messy, hostage drama.

The events that took place in Entebbe Airport in Uganda during June and July 1976 are fascinating. The crisis been adapted for the screen on several occasions already. Anthony Hopkins, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Dreyfuss starred in Victory at Entebbe later that same year. The following year, Irvin Kershner directed Raid on Entebbe with Charles Bronson and Yaphet Kotto. That same year, Israel produced its own take on the tale in Operation Thunderbolt, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Brühl-tal experience…

The events leading up to the daring recovery mission are deeply fascinating, with any number of interesting angles on the larger story. It is tempting to look at the events in terms of the tenure of General Idi Amin, who made Uganda a base of operations for these terrorists, much like Last of King of Scotland did. It is possible to look at the Israeli soldiers who trained to mount the rescue mission, knowing the dangers into which they were venturing. It might be reasonable to treat the events as a formative experience for the (then) young state of Israel.

Entebbe attempts to tell the story through all these different prisms at the same time, to offer a holistic perspective on the events that captures the surreal nature of events and the absurd stakes for all of the players caught up in this perilous game. Entebbe bites off a lot more than it can chew, never quite managing to balance the competing demands of the objects of its focus. Entebbe is an intriguing film, but one that feels fractured and unfocused.

Merc task force.

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