Paranoia in Palestine

Lemon Tree chronicles the story of Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass), a Palestinian woman who lives on the “green line” border with Israel. She has been tending her family’s lemon grove since she was a child. That is, until the day that the Israeli defense minister moves into the house across the border.

A nearly angelic sequel

Sequels (or prequels) are hard. On the one hand, your goal is to make a film that is successful and as interesting to watch as the original. On the other, if the first film was successful you can rest a bit easier knowing that you already have an audience waiting to see your next film.

The dead should stay dead

It is always a bad omen when a film takes nine minutes to get through its opening credits. Right away that tells you that the film is more about the filmmakers than the subject being filmed.

Lost in Saigon

You have to love a film whose main character is a 10-year-old girl who isn’t a smart-mouthed brat. Thanks to Stephane Gauger for taking the high road with Owl and the Sparrow. We’ve had far too many films in recent years centered around horrible little kids with no conscience.

Behind the burlesque

I’ve never witnessed a train wreck before but am told that they’re impossible to look away from. A Wink and a Smile is a similar experience. However, it isn’t riveting because of the horror but because of the sheer oddity of it all.

A welcome change of pace

Sweden is well known for its films. Foreign film fans usually list at least one Swedish film in their top 10. However, all too often, critics see Swedish films as oppressive and depressing. That isn’t the case with the newest Swedish film to hit the United States, Everlasting Moments.

Melodrama in Laos

It is always very exciting when a documentary emerges on a little known subject. Such is the case with The Betrayal, opening this Saturday. Filmmakers, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath tell the story about Phrasavath’s life in Laos up until the Americans left and the Pathet regime took over.

Best of the worst

It’s always a frightening proposition when anything is labeled “The Best of. …” At one end of the spectrum you might be treated to a large number of very good films, but on the other hand you could end up wallowing knee deep in a dismal load of sewage like The Best of the Ottawa International Animated Film Festival.