BEST FILM CONTROVERSY

Divine Intervention

More than one film critic will tell you that all films are political. Heck, there's even that school of thought that maintains that everything is political. But nothing that passed through a movie projector this year began to touch the political quagmire generated by one particular film. Locally, as elsewhere in this country, the film Divine Intervention, by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, split audiences right down the middle, sparking more than one angry outburst with its controversial depiction of daily life in the dusty neighborhoods of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Some saw the film as high art, others as mean-spirited agitprop, and some (like this viewer) saw it as both. The movie's money shot — a sequence played for laughs, in which a flying Palestinian female ninja murders a squadron of Israeli commandos by driving Islamic star-and-crescent-shaped darts through the men's skulls — left some viewers applauding and others gasping in disgust. You know who you are.

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