Friday, August 21, 2009

vicious circles

set in a template of the clichéd secular allure of the drug trade in sydney's outer west, serhat caradee's cedar boys is an exposition of racial prejudice & the blinding difference buried within sameness between east & west. where metaphor transposes the literal.

in a city divided by racial stereotypes none more visible than the integration issues of lebanese and australian cultures, this poignant tale from the POV of tarek [les chantery], a young lebanese man who eventually succumbs to the lifestyle pressures around him whilst motivated for the desire for an upward trajectory out of his atypical domestic environment & limited future prospects is a telling & sensitively handled perspective from the "other" side.

fueled by the need to break the crippling confines of his class when he desires the allegedly unattainable [an appeal for his incarcerated brother, love for a beautiful white uptown girl [rachael taylor], tarek eventually becomes embroiled with his friends [buddy dannoun & waddah sari] into the tangled self-woven snowballing web of drugs, deceit and a double life manifesting the tortured dichotomy of becoming everything that he & society most hates yet expects of him/them.

there's a wonderful relinquishment which occurs when one maintains separatism from the default line of misrepresentation but then finally surrenders into it. a tragedy of ethical release, a slow outward breath when resistence finally yields in spite of higher consciousness & lofty idealism that surroundings cruelly will not afford.

a beautifully crafted story, the journey at times is detracted from by some strange stylistic & editing choices but takes us through emotional terrain where character identification is unarguable. tarek's pain & temptation are very real.

his confusion tangible when finding his girfriend as a double operative complete with wig & stripper ensemble conducting private erotic dances for strangers behind a pole from her "interior design" office. the barrier of the projected screen & reality are diffused & rendered invisible. that bleeding heart was mine. his downward spiral is ours. and thus the cycle of violence is complete; for want of a nail the shoe was lost.

sadly when fellow punk monk, clare & i went to see this film, the cinema was virtually empty which is the sorry lot of most but the most hyped australian cinema.

this is a film perhaps more than all the beautiful kates, and australia's put together which should be granted a home audience. the moral & social fabric ring loud & true whilst deftly illustrating important cultural issues of marginalisation that are both locally & globally valid.

sydney film festival premiered cedar boys & both screenings were notably almost instantaneously sold-out. limited marketing resources for most australian films mean however that despite often being granted a theatrical release, they languish & disappear buried under the glossier campaigns for bigger budget films.

a must see reminiscent of scorsese's breakout "mean streets" with important issues brilliantly handled by a first time feature director who deserves more credit than what will probably be received from this gritty exploitation tale of a boy from the alleged wrong side of the tracks.

i cried. and will continue to do so when hoyts packs audiences into hollywood rinse repeat blockbusters whilst in the interim, empty cinema seats stare back at screens projecting stories of importance which justify soul searching patronage a thousand times more. see it now & support mainstream cinema houses actually showing a film worth seeing.

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