When The Israeli Defence Minister Gives You Lemons, Take Him To Court

Blog by Ray Philp | 28 Jan 2009

For those of you that possess the savvy to escape to the beach in the first light of a calendar year instead of waiting for the summer rush, where you’ll likely beset yourself with the misfortune of sharing a Traveldodge with many a sunstroked nylon-clad goon, then you may well be boarding a flight to South East Asia.  With all the paradoxical opportunities the continent presents (beach party hedonism and sincere marriage proposals are not mutually exclusive), it attracts revellers far and wide.   


Going AWOL from reality for a few weeks is something most people look forward to, but tell that to Lena Heady.  The moonlighting Sarah Connor puts on her best disconcerted face as radiologist Gina McVey, who stumbles across her body double with less than harmonious consequences in The Broken, released this Friday 30th January. Written and directed by Sean Ellis, this psychological horror is difficult to recommend; horror films that only seek cheap scares from its audience have long since ceased being good enough, so tread with caution. 

As Heady goes mental and gets off her tree, Hiam Abbas' main concern is Lemon Tree, which you can catch at the Glasgow Film Theatre from Monday 2 February. As Salma Zidane, Abbas is a Palestinian widow who is given lemons not from the trees she so lovingly tends to, but from friendly new neighbour, the Israeli Defence Minister.  Mr. Defence Minister promptly ringfences the lemon grove and takes steps to obliterate it, deeming it a threat to his safety. Abbas takes it to the courts in this timely allegory to the commonly perceived bully-boy muscle of Israel.

Meanwhile, To Get To Heaven, First You Have To Die is a feature from Tajikistan that will also be doing the rounds at the Glasgow Film Theatre, from Friday 30th January. Directed and written by Jamshed Usmonov, the film focuses on Kamal, an introverted 19 year old who has recently been betrothed, but finds himself unable to consummate his marriage.  Escaping his rural village with the aim of seeking an anxiety relieving quickie, he ends up in the arms of a married woman.  He then wakes up to find that her husband is not best pleased, and is swiftly dragged into a world of shit. With a synopsis that pairs 'sweet-natured comedy' with 'murder and rape', it's not a film to take your gran to.

Something far sweeter and funnier showing from Friday is Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.  Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are the aforementioned Nick and Norah, who meet as Nick plays a gig with his queercore band, The Jerk-Offs. Unbeknown to Norah, Nick is still pining for his ex. Unbeknown to Nick, Norah hates his ex. Uh-oh!

The Dundee Contemporary Arts is quiet on the new release front, but to make amends by screening two excellent films this week.  The Orphanage, the Spanish horror helmed by Juan Antonio Bayona, is screening Sunday 1st February. An ugly rumour has surfaced that Hollywood is drafting a remake, so catch it before it’s tainted by a blundering, overproduced cousin. On Monday 2nd February, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, based on the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, is a film of breathtaking ingenuity and tragedy that also deserves your attention.

Finally, French flick Conversations With My Gardener is showing at The Cameo in Edinburgh from Friday, having been initially released in November last year.  A pleasant enough film, it’s typical fare;  bourgeois man meets proley man, bourgeois man learns lessons of life from proley man.  It’s just like Trading Places, except without Eddie Murphy.  Or Dan Akroyd.  Well, err, let’s leave it at that.