27 July 2012

Israeli Cinema and the Politics of Representation

Israeli cinema, while achieving a certain measure of success and accomplishment, is often overshadowed by the other giants of the Middle Eastern film industry. The remarkable thing about Ella Shohat's Israeli Cinema (University of Texas Press, 1989) is that it manages to not only sustain but even pique our interest in films we might not necessarily want or even have the opportunity to see. She accomplishes this by using the films as raw material for the subtext (and subtitle) of her book: 'East/West and the Politics of Representation.' By doing this, Shohat has produced an impressively 'representative' work, one whose ostensible subject--Israeli film itself--by no means limits its significance. With its combination of condensed plot analysis deftly exposing the ideological significance of recurring images, and its skillful weaving of social, cultural, and political history, the book serves as a model for the intelligible presentation of any national cinema.

11 July 2012

Michael Moore's Look at American Healthcare

With his 2009 film 'Capitalism: A Love Affair,' Michael Moore once again demonstrated a knack for locating and highlighting the plight of the nameless, faceless ordinary Americans who are virtually ignored by the mass media and most politicians, and who have few if any opportunities to tell their stories. He honed this skill in several previous films and it has become more or less formulaic. This review takes a look at Moore's previous film, 'Sicko' (2007), in which he examines the contentious issue of health care in America. Although nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance and thousands will die every year because they are uninsured, ‘Sicko’ is also about the 250 million American citizens who do have health insurance, but for whom the system is tragically dysfunctional, and point often lost on the interminable election year debates about healthcare.