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Home Movies/Out in Digital: March 9, 2017

Mar. 7, 2017
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Homeland: Iraq Year Zero

Call it an historically important home movie: Homeland is five-and-a-half hours of cinema verite by Iraqi filmmaker Abbas Fahdel. He trains his camera on family and friends at home and in cars circling around Bagdad, editing together slices of life in a country devastated by the U.S. invasion. Part 1, “Before the Fall,” was shot in February 2002, the year before the war. It shows a country where TV broadcasts began with a song to “our beloved leader,” followed by classic American cartoons. Iraqis appear content.

Part 2, “After the Battle,” was filmed in April 2004, two weeks after Bagdad fell to U.S. forces. Life at first seemed semi-normal, aside from Humvee convoys, road blocks and the occasional bombed and looted building. GIs were friendly but growing frustration with the occupation was palpable. Signs memorialized students killed in airstrikes. The radio began broadcasting news of Americans killed by ambush…

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As compelling as any post-’70s Hollywood crime flick, Police (1985) stars Gérard Depardieu as a brash, sexually voracious Paris detective. He doesn’t mind slapping around suspects or losing evidence to make his case. He’s trying to bust a fiercely loyal Tunisian gang, but develops feelings for the girlfriend of a jailed dealer. It gets complicated. Dialogue and character driven, Police costars Sophie Marceau as the girlfriend, a crafty woman who finds herself in over her head.

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Panther Girl of the Kongo

In 1954, on the eve of independence for most African nations, the producers of this serial for low-budget Republic Pictures were still imagining Africans wearing bone necklaces and grunting “um-gawa.” The benighted natives obviously benefitted from the presence of a great white hunter—huntress in this case. The “Panther Girl” (Phyllis Coates) was an interesting character, determined, self-assured, fearless when facing down nefarious white villains and jungle monsters alike with only minimal male assistance.

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