Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Kite Runner

Marc Forster, China-US, 2007 (8.4*)Khaled Housseini's award-winning novel is brought to life in a near-epic film by Swiss director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball), who seems to have a delicate touch in bringing out the humanity in the stories that he films. The story begins with the childhood friendship of two Afghani boys in the peace before the Soviet invasion of their country, which turns many into refugees. The most exhilirating and joyful scenes in the film are of kite flying in Kabul (filmed in western China), which usually involves trying to attack other kites and cut their strings.

The central part of the story involves a dramatic turn of events that changes the boys' lives forever, while the latter part shows the new lives of Afghani immigrants in the U.S., forced to flee to avoid Soviet reprisals against anti-Communists during the occupation of Afghanistan. The acting is superb, even the amateur child actors (one was a Broadcast Film Critics award-winner), and especially Khalid Abdalla, who was a terrorist in United 93. However, like most films of novels, it seems a bit of a synopsis of a longer novel. This is a tough story to bear, showing guilt, shame, violence, fear, hope and redemption - but one that should definitely be experienced by those of us in the west who have never had to endure an invasion of our homeland. Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee for best foreign film - why no Oscar® nomination, which it deserved? (the music was nominated)

Be sure to see Forster's Finding Neverland, which is Kate Winslet's favorite film of hers (and perhaps Johnny Depp's best performance), and also Jack Gold's Goodnight, Mister Tom (1998), which features John Thaw (of Inspector Morse fame) in his finest dramatic performance as an embittered widower in the British countryside forced to take in a London child evacuee during the WW2 bombings of England, one of the highest rated films at Netflix among viewers.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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