Last night we made a great discovery. It seems there is some sort of a cinema club in this cultural desert. Yes, a real club that runs highly acclaimed non-Hollywood movies at least once a month. The club is still fairly new with yesterday’s screening serving as only their fifth event. The film was Control Room, a documentary about Aljazeera.

We’d been wanting to see this film forever. Finally, last night we managed to watch it and gratis, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. It played at a somewhat run-down theater at The Mall here in Doha, an interesting choice of locations.

What did I think of the documentary? Well, I thought director Jihan Njuien was at just the right place at just the right time. I mean, this documentary was going to be a success simply because it was filmed at the Aljazeera offices during the first days of the Iraq war — one of the most controversial conflicts of our time. I now understand why this flick appealed so highly to Western audiences. It simply quenched their thirst for information about what goes on behind the doors of this controversial channel.

But beyond that I thought the documentary was mediocre, lacking a powerful message. The camera work appeared to be the work of an amateur, as was the editing. The filmmakers really did get some good interviews but I felt she just didn’t package them well. I also thought things dragged out at the end. The soundtrack? Uff! Please don’t get me started. It simply lacked taste. The music was this sort of "Welcome to the harem" thing that was just horrible. It didn’t go well with the dramatic events taking place on the screen. I can describe the music as kind an oriental, exotic melody that makes you think the Arab world is one big harem.

The best thing about the movie for me, though, was hearing Jordanian producer Samir Khader cussing in the Jordanian accent. Man, that was hilarious! Other movies that I have seen recently include:

  • Mean Creek: A downer about a number of kids with deep psychological issues that commit one unforgiving deed. If you live in a depressing part of the world my advice is not to watch this one. Who needs more emotional trauma.
  • The Stepford Wives: At the beginning it was engaging. The story line was unique. Unfortunately, it died at the end, turning all corny. All in all it is a fun movie if you are in the mood for killing time.
  • Cellular: I can’t say much about this movie, as I slept through most all of it. But during the maybe half hour I was awake, I was not impressed. It looked like another cheap Hollywood production. But I might be mistaken. I was asleep after all.
  • The Village: I really liked this movie and really can’t fathom why the "movie critics" were so hard on it. The story was engaging and the twist at the end was brilliant, not to mention the beautiful scenery and brilliant cinematography. Watch it now. I will give you your money back if you don’t like it. I promise.