Rating: R, Time: 1hr 49min, Director: Brad Anderson, Cast on IMDb
So how did you find the madness of Beirut?
Well according to modern Lebanese, the country has recovered and they use no Lebanese people in the making of the movie, so maybe its not particularly popular in Lebanon, which is recovering from the civil war of 1980s. That being said, the movie does cover the chaos of a civil war between Christians, Muslims, Palestinians and others that led to 120,000 people dead. In the movie, there are multiple checkpoints after the Civil War is triggered and the government breaks down into small tribal controlled areas.
Another way they show the chaos is after an ex-rising star of the US State Department arrives back as a negotiator in Beirut, a Muslim woman is harassed and shot in the street close to where he lives and people just go on as if not much has happened than a car backfiring.
How do you like the juxaposition of the main character Skile's development?
Well, this rising star has his life turned upside down when his wife is killed by the older brother of his sponsored kid of the family. Mason begins a slow descent into alcoholism, but still functional as he retreats back to the US and small business negotiation. Then with the kidnapping of a Chief of Operations in the US Embassy, he is brought back into the fold to negotiate the return of his best friend despite internal turmoil in the US Embassy. Within the first day, he loses his bounty of $6,000 in a gambling tour to the local corrupt head of the PLO, which makes sense for a broken man trying to make his way back to reality by making amends with the past.
What did you think of the US Embassy staff?
As soon as Mason hits the ground, he gets thrown into play of all the US Embassy staff that are working on rescuing the CO Cal. But since he's been gone a whole decade, he has no idea of the politics, duplicity and inside games being played by the current staff. It's a nice way to roll out the movie, as we play along at the same lack of knowledge of the games being played. This later turns out to be an important secondary reason for why the CO is being held.
How do you think it shows how recruits get into terrorism?
This part is a bit skimmed over, but captures the basics. A young kid Karim gets recruited into the coming Civil War by his terrorist brother, who happened to be involved in the Munich bombing and others. As a kid, Mason has kind of adopted him and is actively sponsoring his schooling, but then the brother intervenes, which ends the life of Mason and leads to his desperation. Fast forward 10 years and Karim is heading a new band of split off group of Islamic terrorists intent on recovering his brother. The trouble is no one knows who has his brother and what it will take to get this mass terrorist to exchange for the incredibly valuable Cal, the chief operations guy for the US embassy. All in all, I think it's a good film with great period costumes, cars and the typical espionage spy craft. Maybe its inaccurate, but it makes for great historical fiction and a way to understand a multinational area turned on itself in a Civil War.
Do you have art related to this movie?
Black Widow in the Garden of Eden - 24x48 inches
Well, when I was researching the cause of the Boston bombing, I was looking into the Chechen brothers behind it. I realized in their US attack they were displacing their rage about Russia's treatment of Chechnya. Then I discovered this really interesting photo of a pair of lovers that literally died fighting Putin during the Russia-Chechnya war. So this painting is related to Islamic terrorism from a territory about 15 hour flight away. Chechnya is a mountainous area only recently conquered by Russia in the 1800s and its people have strove for independence ever since. Under Stalin, he tried to placate the rebellions by deporting the whole population to Siberia, which didn't work. After the fall of the USSR, Chechnya briefly broke off of Russia before being reconquered. Putin helped put down a rebellion there and his forces killed the guy above. The couple had recently married after she was 18 pictured above. After her husband was killed, she would never remarry in the conservative tribal culture she was from, so she decided to join the Black Widows, female suicide bombers. She lay down her life to get revenge by bombing the Moscow subway at age 19. As soon as I saw the image on the internet I had to paint it.
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