Tag Archives: movies

Ali’s Wedding vs. The Big Sick

Without realising the parallels between them, nor the fact that both movies were biopics written by their male stars about themselves, I added Ali’s Wedding and The Big Sick to my DVD collection in one 3-for-the-price-of-2 transaction. After watching The Big Sick a couple of months ago, Susan and I were finally in the mood for another rom-com recently, and despite the lingering sense of déjà vu, I think it’s safe to say Ali’s Wedding far exceeded our expectations.

Comparing these movies isn’t really fair, except that they were both:

  • autobiographical;
  • released in 2017;
  • written and performed by comedians whose parents emigrated from Asia to western countries;
  • preoccupied with the highs and lows of forbidden (or strongly discouraged) love.

Where Ali’s Wedding stands alone (aside from being set and produced in Australia rather than the USA, obviously) is the depth of its portrayal of an Australian Muslim family. According to Osamah Sami (who wrote and starred), it’s “the first Muslim rom-com”.

From the gently corrected misogyny of the men who came to his father for advice (his dad was the leader at their local mosque), to the community-wide gender roles and segregation (and the ways these are both challenged and respected), to the lewd but somehow endearing elderly polygamist (“temporary marriage”, anyone?), to the flashbacks to the horrors of Iraq and Iran, the bar has been set pretty high for this new genre of romantic comedy. It’s hilarious, warm, believable, honest, memorable, and… different. Unusual. Nice.

4 stars, and may there be many more dramas with this cultural backdrop.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

According to Rotten Tomatoes:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.

A quick reading of reviews by critics and certain reactions to the movie’s Oscar nomination for Best Picture tells the same story: September 11 is too sacred for a superbly crafted aftermath story to be much more than gratuitous Oscar fodder.

That’s if the critics are to be believed, anyway. I think they need to get over themselves and stop worshipping September 11 as if it can only feature in movies that meet their arbitrary standards, but maybe that’s just me.

The story of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is beautiful, original and as you’d expect, heartbreaking, but not because September 11 features so prominently. At its core, it’s a story about the unusually strong bond between a father and son, the reconstruction of a family when that bond is broken, and the redemption of an estranged grandfather. Superb acting by the young lead (Thomas Horn) and supporting cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow) make this a confronting, powerful and ultimately triumphant movie that didn’t once allow my mind to wander.

Production quality is very high. A number of head-spinning sequences that let us inside the fears, anxieties, hopes and frustrations that drive Oskar’s intense persona are particularly impressive, from photography to editing to soundtrack.

You should expect to feel emotionally drained after watching Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (hardly surprising with such a title), but I still highly recommend it as an inspiring fusion of fact, fiction, storytelling and art. I didn’t find it gratuitous or contrived at all. Purposefully awkward, if anything.

The critics were wrong about this one.

The Bourne Legacy

A Bourne movie without Matt Damon? It sounds like sacrilege, and it is, but at least they didn’t drop in a replacement for his character. Jason Bourne is still at large, and this latest instalment adds a whole new arc to the Treadstone story.

There are just enough original cast members to legitimise Legacy, production/acting quality is as high as ever, and there are several thrilling low-tech high-brains combat scenes, but the plot is weak and directionless relative to the originals, so the whole thing reeks of profit at the expense of awesome.

I’ll remain faithful to the original trilogy as 3 of the best movies of all time, and will try to forget this aberration.

Pass the amnesia, please.