Thursday, May 28, 2015

Unfocused UNFREEDOM

There's nudity, sex, lesbianism, violence, politics and a piece of modern art in the shape of a giant erect penis.  The name of this political thriller, opening May 29th, is UNFREEDOM.  The writer/director, Raj Amit Kumar, sets out  to make a big statement about terrorism and intolerance.  In this one movie, he tells two stories at the same time.  But the final product feels unfocused and unbalanced.  This film was banned in India.                                                                                                                        
Honestly, I can't see how he expected it ever to be accepted in India with the whole explicit same-sex relationship alone.  I review Unfreedom for this weekend's ARISE ON SCREEN show on cable's Arise TV.  (I'll give you showtimes at the end of this post.)  I looked forward to watching the movie because it stars Victor Banerjee as the peaceful, liberal Muslin intellectual in New York City.  He's a Gandhi-like figure who publicly speaks out against violence.  That makes him a threat to radical Muslims overseas.
I've not seen a film performance of his in quite some time.  When I was new in television and working at my first professional TV job, I saw him deliver one terrific performance in David Lean's 1984 adaptation of A Passage to India.


Victor Banerjee co-starred with Judy Davis, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and James Fox. He's excellent in Unfreedom.  The film isn't.                                                                                                                    
One story has a Pakistani radical heading to New York to assassinate the peaceful Muslim intellectual.  The other story has an Indian runaway bride.  She does not want to marry the man her strict, bigoted father expects her to marry.  She is in love with and wants to marry another woman.  The other woman is a rebellious, outspoken artist.  Both women are young, lovely and shapely and get totally naked to have lesbian sex.  That bothered me.  Not the women being lesbians.  But the fact that the director spent so much time on those two sexy women being totally naked.  It was like a story based on a man's fantasy letter published in the old Playboy Forum.  There was a leering quality about the direction of their segments that, to me, threw the film off balance.  Is this film about political and social turmoil or hot naked lesbians making out?
The liberal Muslim scholar is kidnapped and tortured.  The director went too far with the torture for my taste.  Here's a trailer for Unfreedom.
The section in which the terrorist kidnaps the scholar had more loose ends than a nudist beach in Florida.  Police visit the scholar's city townhouse to see if he needs an escort.  Cops know he's a target.  For days he's been stalked by bad guys noting his daily schedule.  The cops didn't notice that?  Neighbors didn't notice that?  New York is now in the age of "If you see something, say something" because of Sept. 11th.  The scholar speaks in public, then he and a young Caucasian assistant are kidnapped in the parking lot at gunpoint.  They're driven to another location and gruesomely tortured.  In New York, even the 711s have surveillance cameras.  There was no parking lot attendant or surveillance camera?  There was no reporter at the home of this missing internationally known Muslim pacifist?  If he was a blonde college girl named Tiffani who hadn't been seen for two hours after she went to get a strawberry Margarita during spring break, Tiffani would've been a lead story on the news.  His home is invaded by a lone terrorist.  No one upstairs in his nice townhouse thinks of calling 911 or opening a window to yell for help on that upscale city block.  And another thing -- if a terrorist tied up your relative and wielded a meat cleaver and you had a choice between taking the terrorist down with a gun or hitting him with a golf club, which would you choose? In Unfreedom...she pretty much went with a putter.  And never once did it occur to her to scream even though the front door was open during the daytime attack.  Unfreedom -- poverty and ignorance have created fundamentalist terrorists who are loose in the world.  But, first...take a look at these titties.  Too much sex and torture porn diluted the movie's message.

But Victor Banerjee was excellent.

Unfreedom is playing in theaters and it's also on VOD.  Arise On Screen host, Mike Sargent, has us discuss this movie and others this weekend.  Check your local cable listings to see if you get Arise TV. If you're in the New York area, you'll find Arise on Time Warner Ch. 92 and Verizon/Fios Ch. 481.

Arise On Screen airs Friday night at 8pm EST
Saturday at 8:30am EST, 1:30pm EST and Midnight EST
and Sunday at 8:30am EST.

For the website, go here:  Arise.TV.




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