Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Phil Donahue: Body of War

May 18, 2008

Phil Donahue was all over the media here in Chicago last week promoting his new documentary film “Body of War.”  The film looks excellent, inshAllaah I hope to try and see it in Chicago to support the effort.  I know it is only showing in a handful of cities.  The film is billed as “an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today.  The film juxtaposes the struggles of Tomas Young, 25, who was paralyzed in Iraq as he deals with the severe physical repercussions of his injury and develops his own anti-war voice with an aggressive and angry critique of the dishonesty of the administration that pushed the US into this war and the cowardice of the politicians of both parties who did not stand in its way.

Mr. Donahue of course was a prominent war critic before the war, which is a big part of the reason why his show was pulled off the air by MSNBC.  I have to say, over and above my profound agreement with and admiration for his unflinching anti-war stance seeing him interviewed on several programs this week reminded me of what warm feelings I have for Mr. Donahue.  Although of course he comes from my parents’ generation, he does have that Irish Catholic liberal midwestern background.  My affection for Mr. Donahue of course started with his afternoon talk show, which I would occasionally enjoy watching even if I didn’t much care or understand the issues being discussed because of his charismatic liberal humanism  (I mean this in a good way, his love for people and especially for the ‘little guy’ against big powerful institutions).  It continued as I was in high school and college when I would enjoy watching his cable show that he hosted alongside Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner.  It was actually through several interviews on that show with Irish journalist and historian Tim Pat Coogan that my love and enthusiasm for Irish history and Irish republicanism was first kindled.

Of course another great joy of my childhood that I’ve recently rediscovered through dvd with my own children was the film made by Mr. Donahue’s wife, Marlo Thomas, Free to Be You and Me.  It may cause chagrin to those who think that Muslim male (especially us “white” converts) are too feminized but I still can’t find too much that I don’t appreciate in this 1970s feminist classic.

In other random recent events, I also saw the film “Arranged” on dvd.  The film tells the story of an Arab Muslim woman and an Orthodox Jew teaching at the same school together in New York who form an unlikely bond over their concurrent searches to find husbands through the “arranged” marriage procedures of their religions and cultures.  It was a nice little film, heartwarming and funny, and with hardly any of the false notes one expects from films that try to tell the stories of truly religious people.