Just how well do you really know yourself? This is a question Mina (Sofia Black-D'Elia) is forced to ask herself. When her parents are horrifically murdered in front of her, she is picked up by security services and told the horrible truth - her father is not the man who raised her. She is actually the daughter of a ruthless warlord who had a brief relationship with her mother. Now, the warlord wants her back, and she is forced into a horrific warzone in order to escape the man who is trying to take her, while also save the people he is willing to kill in order to achieve her aims.
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In 1976 Salford, George and Ella (Puri and Bassett) only have one child left at home, 15-year-old Sajid (Khan). And he's a real handful, feeling even more fiercely English than his older siblings. So George decides to cart him off to the Old Country to gain some respect for his heritage. What George doesn't count on is learning a lesson himself, because once in Pakistan he's confronted with the life he left 30 years earlier, including a wife (Arun) and daughters who have been waiting for him.
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Ayub Khan-Din, Emil Marwa, Linda Bassett and Zita Sattar - Writer: Ayub Khan-Din, Linda Bassett, Zita Sattar Aquib Khan and Emil Marwa and director Andy DeEmmony Manchester, England - Premiere of 'West is West' at the Odeon. Monday 17th January 2011
It's 1976 and with a lot of determination George and Ella Khan have managed to keep their family together. All but one of their seven children have grown up and the youngest, Sajid, is going through somewhat of an identity crisis. Totally unfamiliar with his Pakistani roots and becoming somewhat of a nuisance to his father he decides it's time to take drastic measures and takes his son back to Pakistan to visit some of his family.
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Penny Woolcock's film is based on modern composer John Adams' 1991 opera, which in turn was inspired by the Achille Lauro affair, which took place over three tense days in October 1985. (In an odd resonance, the San Francisco screening took place the day after the real hijacking's ringleader, Abu Abbas, was captured in Baghdad.) As a movie, it's not fully successful: Dramatic opera staging and dramatic filmmaking aren't the same thing, and Klinghoffer often drags. It can only move as fast as the music, and Adams is a composer focused on slow, swimming paces. Yet Woolcock mostly makes the film work visually - she's excellent at the pointed close-up and frenzied camera movements, especially as we follow the terrorists' lives in flashbacks. In the poverty-stricken camps in which they grew up, we see the turmoil and anger that drives their lives into violent fundamentalism. Mamoud (Kamel Boutros) carries the key of his childhood home, from which he was evicted when it became part of the state of Israel.
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This sounds like a BBC Kitchen Sink Drama of the week or an early Mike Leigh TV-movie (in Leigh's pre-Naked days), and indeed would end up being just that if it weren't for the fact that East is East is delightfully funny. As the tragedy of a family being torn apart by Muslim upbringing clashing with Christian ideals, East is East journeys further into the realm of absolute absurdity.
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The plot is dippy melodrama cloaked in politically charged keywords: corporate entities, genetic coding, the Haves and the Have Nots, multicultural whitewashing, language barriers, secret passports, checkpoints, homeland security. It's charged material, but Winterbottom transforms it into so much white noise. That's all right -- it provides a sheen that's nice to look at, and the keyword dialogue takes on a musicality when spoken by detective William Geld (Tim Robbins) and suspect Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton). But it's all a smokescreen meant to disguise a story about love found, love lost, and a tragic denouement made-to-order from the Oedipus legend.
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Making fun of its own light comedy clichés (like its must- stop- the- girl- from- marrying- the- wrong- guy finale) could have added an extra layer of laughs to a movie like "The Guru" -- if it wasn't entirely dependent on those same clichés to drive its plot.
Amiable, boy-faced Indian actor Jimi Mistry (seen in the imports "East is East" and "The Mystic Masseur") plays an enthusiastic immigrant named Ramu Gupta who comes to America with wide-eyed dreams of stardom, born of his jones for the movie musical "Grease." But through a series of screwball misunderstandings, he's soon being celebrated by Manhattan's trendy elite as "the Guru of Sex" -- a spiritual healer who tells the people what they want to hear: nookie makes good therapy.
Ramu gets all the sexual philosophy that's making him famous (he's soon appearing on "Sally Jesse Raphael") from a good-hearted porno actress (Heather Graham) he met when he mistakenly wandered into the wrong kind of audition. But in one of those ham-fisted movie mix-ups that could be corrected with a single line of dialogue, she thinks she's advising him on how to overcome performance anxiety and become an X-rated stud, and therefore shares her innermost sexual secrets.
Continue reading: The Guru Review