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REVIEW: "In Between"

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 10/24/2017

REVIEW: "In Between"

Adjectives like ‘brave’ and ‘daring’ are all too often thrown out in relation to filmmakers, but in the case of those attempting to make films in the Middle East, such labels are indeed appropriate. Despite being the subject of a filmmaking ban imposed by his government, Iran’s Jafar Panahi has managed to elevate his career by finding loopholes in the system that allow him to defy the authorities who seek to silence his voice. Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa al-Mansour was forced to direct her debut film Wadjda using walkie-talkies to communicate with her crew from the back of a van. Now Palestinian filmmaker Maysaloun Hamoud finds herself the subject of a fatwa thanks to her feature debut In Between.

Hamoud’s film is the story of three young Palestinian women sharing an apartment in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Chain smoking and coke snorting Layla (Mouna Hawa) is a lawyer who in spite of her feminist ideals, just wants to find herself a decent guy. Salma (Sana Jammelieh) is a struggling DJ who keeps her lesbian lifestyle a secret from her conservative Christian family. The hijab clad Nour (Shaden Kanboura) is initially shocked at the liberal lifestyles of her new housemates, but soon finds them more affable than her domineering fiance Wissam (Henry Andrawes).

As Arabs in Tel Aviv, the three women find themselves torn between cultures. Though Layla and Salma dress so as to be indistinguishable from the young Jewish women of their city, they’re reminded in small ways of their outsider status. Layla rebuffs a suitor by reminding him that his mother’s desire is for him to find a nice Jewish girl, while Salma storms out of her day job in a restaurant kitchen after refusing to stop speaking Arabic with her co-workers - “It puts the diners off their food,” she’s told.

Yet Layla and Salma are even more distanced from their own cultures. When the latter’s sexual preference is discovered at a dinner party, her parents attempt to keep her under house arrest until she agrees to marry a man of their choosing. As Salma’s father berates her, tears cloud his eyes, and the suggestion is that he’s in pain at the fact that his religion forces him to treat his daughter in such a manner.

The secular Muslim Layla meanwhile discovers that the Muslim men who call themselves liberals in her presence are still wedded to tradition, and are unwilling to introduce such a staunchly independent woman to their families.



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Nour is the odd one out, and the weakest of the trio in terms of drama. Her arc is a lot more free of nuance, as her hypocritical religious fiance predictably rapes her when she begins to display signs that marriage may not be for her, at least not to him. At the same time, hers is the most tragic arc of the trio, as she finds herself betrayed and manipulated by the culture she has so invested herself in.

At times, western viewers may have to remind themselves that the seemingly innocuous images presented here are so revolutionary in Islamic culture as to provoke a death warrant on the filmmaker who fashioned them. What seems like a throwaway glimpse of Layla clad in a bra  might easily go unnoticed, but I couldn’t help thinking of Janet Leigh in Psycho, and how Hitchcock used her half naked form to inform his audience his film was about to break a few established rules.

That a female filmmaker is willing to endanger her life to tell her story makes a mockery of Hollywood’s reluctance to ‘take a gamble’ on women directors. In Between is by no means a perfect film, and its protagonists are equally flawed. But that’s what makes them so real. Hamoud isn’t interested in making her characters ‘likeable’. They’re not seeking our approval, just our acceptance.

3 1/2 Stars Out Of 5

Directed by: Maysaloun Hamoud; Starring: Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura, Mahmud Shalaby





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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert At NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert. Don’t miss the fourth installment of Harry Potter in Concert when NJPAC hosts the full-length film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, projected in high-definition on a giant screen, with Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle’s masterful score performed live by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm. 
Hopewell Theater To Celebrate Halloween With Fright Fest Week of Horror Films
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- For an entire week, Hopewell Theater will celebrate Halloween with, Fright Fest, a mini fest of classic Halloween horror films from October 25 - 31, 2018. The slate of films are icons of horror cinema, and will be displayed in all their gory glory on the big screen. 
"Mother Of All Secrets" To Screen At Golden Door International Film Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The Golden Door Film Festival is hosting a red carpet screening of the female-led thriller, Mother of All Secrets, on Friday, September 21 at Landmark Loew’s Theatre with several stars in attendance. The movie, which was entirely shot in Bermuda, stars Emmy award-winner Kate Mansi, Top Gun star Kelly McGillis, Real Housewives of New York LuAnn de Lesseps, Brooke Burfitt and local Jersey actor Sean Stolzen. 
Golden Door International Film Festival To Present A Screening of "The Pretender"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- One of the most popular sports films in history is Rocky - a film that mirrors the real life experience of professional boxer Chuck Wepner from Bayonne. A new independent film called The Pretender takes viewers inside the life of Mike Kunda, a “Rocky” fanatic since the movie’s release nearly 40 years ago. The film explores Mike’s fascination with the Rocky Balboa character and how it continues to impact his life, and the lives of others, in interesting and unimaginable ways. The film screens as part of the Golden Door International Film Festival on Sunday, September 23rd at 12:00pm at the Landmark Lowe’s Jersey Theatre (54 Journal Square Plaza) in Jersey City, NJ.
Hopewell Theater Offers Crybaby and Family Matinees
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- Hopewell Theater is presenting a special monthly movie matinee, “Crybaby Matinee” just for parents and little ones. Toddlers as well as babes-in-arms, infants in strollers and carriers are all welcome to attend. These special Thursday morning screenings offer a sensory-friendly environment – lights are turned up, sound is turned down, and talking and noise is allowed. Latecomers are admitted and guests can move around. The matinees are a fun and affordable option for families, tickets are $6.00 and babes-in-arms, infants in strollers and carriers are admitted free. Hopewell Theater is also offering Saturday “Family Matinees” one Saturday a month, featuring screenings of new and classic films that families with older children can enjoy. Tickets are $6.00 per person.


Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
The Luring: Fear & Neurosis In Vermont
“As a kid, I was always drawn to the darkness,” said filmmaker Christopher Wells.  “I’d think, ‘Why can’t monsters protect me? If I’m friends with the monsters then I don’t have anything to fear.’”
REVIEW: "Searching"
A few weeks ago the body of a 14-year-old schoolgirl was discovered around the corner from where I’m sitting writing this review. Within hours of the tragic discovery, two 13-year-old boys had been arrested. The police had their work simplified by a series of damning posts across social media which pointed to the guilt of the boys in question. Increasingly, when young people go missing or have their lives taken from them, police investigations are now focused more on trawling through the victim’s internet history in search of clues rather than the pavement pounding of old.
REVIEW: "The Children Act"
Earlier this year saw the release of On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centered around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Now we get The Children Act, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centred around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Both are scripted by the novelist himself, and both suggest McEwan should stick to the literary world.
New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 Preview
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  The Festival runs on select Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. For the complete schedule visit www.NJFilmFest.com. Here is a look at the screenings for September.






Event calendar
Thursday, Sep 20, 2018


MUSIC

ELI YOUNG BAND WITH CODY BRYAN @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

CELTIC THUNDER X @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

Lost 80's Live @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Citizen Cope @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

ICON 2018: ELIMINATION ROUND 2 @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

Linda Eder @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Auditions for Seussical at CDC Theatre @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:00pm

Playhouse 22's Third-Thursday Play Reading Series @ Playhouse 22, East Brunswick - 7:30pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Opening Reception @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 6:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 8:00pm


FILM

New Jersey Film Festival @ Ruth Adams Building #001, New Brunswick - 6:00pm


KIDS

Crybaby Matinee: The Triplets of Belleville @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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