October 12, 2005, - 1:38 am
“The War Within”: NBA’s Mark Cuban Produces Sympathetic Homicide Bomber Film (Blows up Grand Central)
By Debbie Schlussel
Timing is everything. But for some things, no time is ever the right time.
And that applies to “The War Within,” in nationwide release Friday. No time is ever the right time for a movie sympathetic to homicide bombers and terrorists.
Given last week’s rumors–hoax or not–about possible bombings of the New York subways and this summer’s actual bombings of London subways, “The War Within” is especially loathsome now.
Someone needs to tell that to Executive Producer and Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban.
The movie, about a Pakistani Muslim homicide bomber who blows up New York’s Grand Central Station, is especially frightening because the goal is to get you to like the terrorist, Hassan (played by Ayad Akhtar). Hassan does not have a scary looking Mohammed Atta-esque visage. He is a laid back, very likeable, devout guy, with regular values that could be those of the religious Christian or Jew next door.
And that’s the point. Producers want you to sympathize with Hassan, understand his point of view. At the end of the film, viewers may find themselves actually rooting for this hail-terrorist-well-met to blow up Grand Central.
In media notes provided by the movie’s publicists, Director and Co-Writer Joseph Castelo’s answers to questions are mortifying. “How are we ever going to understand what’s going on right now if we don’t see these people [homicide bombers/terrorists] as human beings?” Is he asking or telling us?
His “Director’s Statement” is the written definition of chutzpah:
“I understand the reluctance to extend sympathy to those who wish to do us harm. But I am a firm believer in the power of empathy. Whereas a sympathetic portrayal would imply an affinity, either emotional or intellectual, with Hassan, our protagonist, an empathetic depiction implies a more complex and potentially enlightening dynamic: that of coming into an awareness of the experience of another.”
Empathy. Sympathy. Whatever. It’s a distinction without a difference, and this absurd psychobabble to justify rooting for terrorists is flat-out disgusting.
No film should EVER have a homicide bomber as its “protagonist.” Period.
Then, there is the story of the “protagonist,” Hassan, and why he chose to become a terrorist. When the movie begins, we see Hassan on the streets of Paris, a secular Muslim speaking on the phone about going to the movies. Then, he is called several obscene names and violently nabbed by American agents. We next see secular, innocent Hassan in a dark Karachi, Pakistan dungeon–questioned, tortured, and mutilated. Throughout the film we are treated to views of his various ugly scars and his flashbacks of the torture.
Yes, predictably, it’s the Americans’ fault. We turned this nice guy into a terrorist through torture.
Exactly how many of the’93 World Trade Center or 9/11 hijackers fit this description? Was the Blind Cleric, Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman kidnapped from Egypt to the tax-funded Alkifa Refugee Center/mosque in Brooklyn, which he used to plot the ’93 attack?
Was Mohammed Atta tortured before he commandeered planes into buildings? No, as I recall, he was ignored by a clueless federal government employee when he told her he was going to take over Washington and wanted her photo of it. Were Khalid Al-Midhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi tortured by America? Actually, they spent a life of luxury in sunny, balmy San Diego, courtesy of Saudi Princess Haifa Al-Faisal, who paid their rent. How about the hijackers who went to Vegas to gamble and drink, patronized strippers at South Florida’s “Pink Pony,” and “visited” prostitutes? Was that American-inflicted torture?
The Lackawanna Six Qaeda cell? Were these mostly-American born jihadists tortured? Some might say the tough winters they suffered in Buffalo could qualify. You get my drift.
It’s not the drift of the creators of this movie. In promotional materials, Castelo said, “You know I’m not ever going to sit here and just go off on the US government; I’ll let people arrive at their own conclusions about what’s going on.” The conclusion he wants movie-goers to “arrive” at are quite obvious.
Who is the dummy at the New York Transportation Authority or Mayor Bloomberg’s office, who let this guy shoot the film at Grand Central? How to use bombs hidden in New York cab car batteries and how easy it is to blow up 42nd Street and other important New York sites . . . . yeah, that’s what we need more movies about.
“The War Within” goes to great lengths to tell us the “true meaning” of jihad, which they claim is a mental and religious struggle, not the violent one against non-believers that it really is. Ironically, the Imam who delivers this sermon is played by Kamal Marayati, the real-life brother of Salam Al-Marayati, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. That’s significant because not only was a prominent MPAC officer tied to the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group, but Laila Al-Marayati–Salam’s wife–recently had to shut down her KinderUSA charity because it was laundering money to HAMAS martyrs’ families. That’s the real meaning of jihad.
In case there is any doubt, the filmmakers provided movie critics a bibliography for the film. Listed are books by Palestinian terrorism supporting academics Edward W. Said and Raymond William Baker, Seymour Hersch’s “Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib,” and most notable, the work of Sayyid Qutb. Qutb was Osama Bin Laden’s spiritual leader and the father of modern extremist Islam.
In a metaphor repeated during the movie, Hassan tells the young son of his friend that Muslims are having their homes seized by Americans and others who want the land for oil (or whatever), and they must live in the backyard. Hmmm . . . so, who was it in Saudi Arabia who had their land and oil wells seized and nationalized? Not Muslims. Americans. Nice metaphor. Doesn’t match reality.
The other terrorist in the film is played by Charles Daniel Sandoval, who also starred in “West Bank Brooklyn,” about “how hard it is” for Palestinians to live in Brooklyn among Jews. Interesting. Jews out of Gaza, today. Brooklyn, tomorrow. I think I know whose house was taken and who has to live in the backyard doghouse. It’s not the Muslims.
Last week, the movie was screened in Dearborn, Michigan (the heart of Islamic America) and, not surprisingly, well received. Sadly, there was no “War Within” that audience to oppose this anti-American, pro-homicide bombing film.
Unfortunately, “The War Within” is but one of a new chic genre of nouveau terrorism cinema not-so-verite. Coming up next: “Paradise Now,” the Palestinian version of this same old “empathize”-with-the-terrorists trash. Same plot, different setting.
“The War Within” is executive produced by the Danny Bonaduce of the NBA–Dallas Mavericks’ owner, failed reality TV star, and loudmouth billionaire Mark Cuban. His HDNet Films, Magnolia Pictures, and 2929 Entertainment developed, financed, produced, and distributed the movie. Landmark, Cuban’s chain of artsy-fartsy theaters, is showing the film nationwide.
On his blog, Cuban urges:
“And because you all know I have to plug and promote. [sic] Our movie, The War Within [sic] came out this week and got off to a good start in NY and [sic] expands Friday to multiple cities . . . GO SEE IT. It’s intense.”
Yes, intensely repulsive.
Thursday is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. No word on whether Cuban is expected at synagogue to repent for this sickening celluloid sin.
E-mail Mark Cuban about his production choices. Post notes against this irresponsible movie on his blog. And don’t buy any Dallas Mavericks merchandise.
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