December 3, 2010

Foreign cinema

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. You know, as women, as mothers, as muslimahs, we still have personal interests (just not usually the time to indulge in them!) I think alot of people, both non-muslims and not, believe Muslim women are restricted to the confines of their home, both physically and mentally. I can accept this attitude somewhat from non-Muslims; they often all too easily fall prey to the najasa spewed by the media and don't take the time to discover the truth on their own.

However when a sister has the same outlook it baffles me. I once read on a sister's blog how she felt all the other sisters around her were one-dimensional, only interested in child-rearing, their husbands, and home, as if that somehow made them less. *UNNECESSARY DISCLAIMER*: This is absolutely fine but even the sisters who devote and dedicate their time and energies to their families have hobbies, interests, and likes outside of that arena.

I chose to be a traditional Muslim wife and mother but I know my worth isn't merely defined by how well I can make couscous or how clean my bathrooms are. (ALHAMDULILLAH! lol)  I am respected and loved by my husband for all of my good qualities and accepted with my faults alhamdulillah. I am responsible in front of Allah swt for fulfilling my religious obligations and I am encouraged to pursue my own halal passtimes and seek knowledge (ilm).

On a side note, ilm is defined as knowledge of one's deen not merely scholastic knowledge with no practical benefit. Just like to clear that up as so many people like to quote a particular hadith but without the true meaning of it. :-)

Sorry back to the regularly scheduled program. I started this post (as the title shows) to discuss one of my newer interesst which is foreign cinema. I just got sidetracked on a tiny little rant, sorry. lol Anyway at night, when all the family is asleep, is mama time. The house is quiet and I can concentrate. I sometimes read or catch up with the bills online, etc. Really just whatever I feel like doing.

I recently had some spare time and decided I wanted to watch a movie via Netflix. I like alot of different types of movies but of course so many of them now are full of sex and innuendo so its harder for me to find something I can feel good about watching. Which lead me to check out the foreign films.

I might be a little addicted. :-) I've always loved to learn about other cultures (um hello, I'm a convert to Islam which is a pathway to learning about alot of different cultures!). So here is my list of recently watched films:

1. Tuya's marriage: I really loved this one. Filmed in 2006, it is set in inner Mongolia and tells the story of strong-willed Tuya whose husband was disabled. She is trying to run their sheep ranch and care for 2 children, their home, and her husband. Eventually her husband insists she divorce him to remarry because she cannot continue doing it alone. Her stipulation: her new husband must accept her children and ex-husband as well. This is a very moving film and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

2. Arranged: Um so technically this IS a foreign film (it said something about CanadaFilm) but it was shot in New York. However it is an indie film and focuses on the unlikely friendship between an orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim sister. Both are in "arranged" marriages and it gives a pretty balanced look. It alternately pokes gentle fun at these institutions while also showing their strengths. I really enjoyed this one as well.

3. Bliss:  This one really deserves it's own post. It's about a young Turkish girl who is raped. She cannot remember the attack and therefore is outcast by her family who believes it is her sin. The patriarch of the family (her uncle) decides the girl must be killed to preserve the families honor and sends his son to do the job. He takes her to Istanbul but despite many opportunities to finish the job finds he cannot. They eventually fall in love but it isn't a love story and the main characters aren't always likeable. Although Cemal (the cousin) does the right thing, he has a bad temper, is very jealous and alternately goes from believing Meryem to reviling her as a whore if she even speaks with another person. I find this makes the film much more believable because rarely are people all evil or good. I highly recommend.

4. Jodhaa Akbar: This is everything you would expect from a high-budget, Bollywood blockbuster extravaganza. I really enjoyed it. :-) Actually there weren't many of the (to me) cheesy dance scenes and the one love scene was fairly tasteful and not very explicit. Anyway this is based on a true story of a Mughal (Muslim) emperor in India who tried to unite all of Hindustan. He marries a young Hindu girl who is very devoted to her religion and her personal god, Krishna. My only complaint is that Islam isn't always portrayed in a correct manner but it often isn't PRACTICED in a correct manner. It does show alot of good about Islam as well so I think it's pretty balanced. It does of course make the Hindu leading lady out to be a saint but I can forgive that. It's a sweet, moving love story but it is LOOOOOONG. Took me two nights to finish it. Anyway I enjoyed it but not because it's an intellectually stimulating movie. It was just a fun film for me. :-)

Alrighty that about does it. I tried to watch 2 others; one was shot in Sri Lanka but the camera work was soooooo crazy I actually got motion sickness lol. I also started to watch Kadosh, an Israeli film about 2 ultra-orthodox jews who weren't able to have children but the husband loved his wife and didn't want to divorce her as his father commanded. It was a little slow but I felt the love scene was starting to be too graphic and opted to not watch it. I might try it again some night but will fast forward through that part.:-)

Let me know if you guys like to watch foreign films and what do you like about them. :-) Ma salaama!


Khadra said...

This is lovely. I too like to watch films, but sites like NetFlix and even Hulu block my access from Egypt. I have accounts on both from my time in the US.

I suppose I could buy the DVDs here, but sifting through the obviously fake "copies" turns my stomach, and there is little way to find out if the film is actually worthwhile before spending money on it.

Any ideas?

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam sis. Hmmm let's see. You could look up videos through google, see what's new, what has a good rating and then order via eBay. But probably gonna be a little $$. I am cheap so netflix and hulu are great for me!

Maybe some of the other sisters on here from Egypt have some ideas? One of the things I love about my online sisters, such a great resource!!!!

Mona Z said...

I have the same problem Khadra, There's showtime/orbit but it's kinda pricey.

Umm Aminah, the dances are the best parts! :)

Khadra said...


While the idea of ordering online is appealing (and I did it a lot in the US)...

Here in Egypt, ff you are lucky enough to have a mailing.. much less street address, your chances of actually getting a package are pretty slim. :)

I am open to more ideas though!

Katia said...

Salaam, thank you so much for sharing this list, now I know what I will be doing this weekend!
Also I wanted you to know that I made some changes in the recipe for the last cake that was printed wrong. Please check the corrections before making it :-)

Muslim Convert said...

I saw "arranged" although it was called something else....i think it was under the title "friendship has no religion" it's on youtube under that title anyways. It's a Very nice movie

HijabiMommy said...

I remember seeing "Arranged" on the list of foreign films on Netflix. I'm going to have to watch it now!

And I looooved Jodhaa Akbar! Her jewelry and clothes were beautiful and his acting was awesome!

Umm Aaminah said...

Katia, thanks and I will check out the amended recipe. :-)

Muslim Convert, I can never find full movies on youtube. :-) I always get the little "snippets" instead. lol

HijabiMommy, you know what was one of the things I really liked about Jodhaa Akbar? The action scenes looked REAL. I mean no one was some crazy hero. When they rolled in the dust to get their sword, it was kinda awkward like a REAL human would be, not some super-human robot. And the clothes were AMAZING. :-)

Angelle said...

I am putting these on my instant download cue right now.


Another Loved and Respected Wife and Mother

DD said...

thanks for telling me about netflix! foreign films are my favourite kind of movies too! you should watch The Lizard, a movie that was made in Iran-it's so LOL!

Umm Aaminah said...

Angelle, I hope you enjoy them too!

DD, thanks for the tip. I'll check it out in the next couple of days. I went by the library and checked out "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. I've never read it and just one of those things you stop and say, Hmm, think I'll read it!

Anonymous said...

i remember seeing Jodhaa Akbar on the dvd rental store, i will defenitely see it whenever i have time to watch movie.

thank you,
wa salam