Tag Archive: hiam abbass

Nisreen Faour and Melkar Muallem, in 'Amreeka'

Dir. Cherien Dabis
(2009, PG-13, 96 min)
★ ★ ½

Amreeka is a pleasant, well-meaning film I wish were more than that. Starting out with a Palestinian mother and son living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it suggests a pointed drama about everyday life for Palestinians without a homeland. Upon arriving in the United States for the first time, the mother, Muna (Nisreen Faour), is asked by an impatient customs agent about her citizenship, but she doesn’t have any citizenship, because she doesn’t belong to a country. “Occupation?” he asks. “Yes, we’ve been occupied for the last forty years.”

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Dir. Thomas McCarthy
(PG-13) ★ ★ ★ ½

Walter Vale is an unhappy man. He is a college professor in Connecticut and a widower, and has receded from his life, except to try to learn the piano, which he can’t get the hang of. Early on during The Visitor, writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent) shows him in lonely static shots: his life in a series of solitary tableaus. Walter is played by character actor Richard Jenkins, who played the deceased father on HBO’s Six Feet Under and most recently played beneath his talents in Step Brothers. Here, he gives an internal performance expressed mostly with eloquent body language. His Walter carries himself rigidly, in a closed, defensive posture that keeps others at a distance. To make us understand Walter, Jenkins doesn’t need to say much; we need only watch how he stands, moves, and glares.

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