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5.29.11
This is an Archival Site
There is now a new Rogovoy Report home



5.18.11
Weekend Preview May 19-24
Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller



5.18.11
Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever



5.17.11
FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy



5.17.11
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5.12.11
Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21



5.15.11
Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm



5.12.11
Special Effects Wizard to Be Honored by Film Festival
Doug Trumbull to be Feted by BIFF



5.11.11
Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend



6.4.09
Talk about a small world
Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....



5.8.11
Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak



5.8.11
twiGs Branches Out
Lenox boutique launches new e-tail site



5.8.11
[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy



5.8.11
[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy



5.7.11
[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy



5.7.11
[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy





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FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men

5.17.11


In a Better World


In a Better World
Of Gods and Men


Review by Seth Rogovoy

Two European films, one French and one Danish, that are probably coincidentally running at the same time at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington, Mass., make for a thoughtful and provocative double-feature Ė back-to-back viewing or one night followed by the next, as was my circumstance, in that they both deal with similar overarching themes and questions, albeit in very different scenarios and from very different aesthetic and ideological point of views. Nevertheless, both In a Better World and Of Gods and Men are terrific films that plumb the age-old question of violence and manís response to such.

Of Gods and Men, winner of the Grand Prix at last yearís Cannes festival, is a luxuriously slow and gorgeous film, befitting its main setting Ė a French monastery located in 1990s Algeria against the background of an Islamist uprising and a government crackdown. A group of Trappist monks lives quietly surrounded by villagers; one of the monks is a doctor who ministers to all who are ill. Ostensibly the monks, all middle-aged and older men, have little or nothing to do with the political battles swirling around them. But as is so often the case, they unwillingly get sucked into the struggles around them, and are forced to make ultimate choices that push their Christian faith to the breaking point.

The film does a terrific job in not taking sides, Christian vs. Muslim vs. corrupt government and army officials. Well, maybe itís clear the corrupt figures are corrupt. But there is blame for the situation to be spread everywhere; even the monks themselves, in that they represent the vestiges of French colonialism, arenít entirely blameless. But this isnít a film about blame. Rather, it is about violence, or more important, standing up to violence. It is also about faith, and the beauty of piety and ritual. The film revels in long scenes of singing and worship, both with the monks and with the Muslim villagers. The film also places these scenes in the otherworldly context of gorgeous Algeria (actually, it was filmed in Morocco), and the setting itself is a character in the story. The film eschews sentimentalism, so when the climax comes, a viewer does not feel cheated or manipulated.

Turn thy cheek and the Hippocratic Oath run up against some heavier challenges in the Danish film In a Better World, the winner of the 2011 Academy Award for best foreign language film, in which bullies come in all shapes and sizes, from schoolyard taunters to rough-edged street punks to African warlords. The violence in this movie is more up close and personal, tearing apart friendships and families which should be sanctuaries of peace.

But betrayal comes in different guises, and hatred of the other never lurks far below the surface, driving innocents to the very extremes of violence they detest and reject.



In a Better World and Of Gods and Men are currently at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington, Mass. The former is showing until Thursday, May 19, and the latter until Sunday, May 22, 2011.





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