Monday, June 15, 2009

The Combination /// The Controversy

So I just saw this amazing and powerful Aussie film - "The Combination." It's uber controversial... and I love a bloody, good controversy (anything/anyone that challenges the status quo)!

The film revolves around a contemporary Lebanese family in urban Australia - more specifically Sydney's western suburbs of Parramatta and Guildford.

Plot: John Morkos (George Basha) is released from prison intent on a new life, free of his old ways. But he finds his younger brother Charlie (Firass Dirani) being lured by the local underworld. His demands to stay clear of crime fall on deaf ears as Charlie has no respect for his older brother. In the thrall of gang leader Zeus (Ali Haidar), Charlie's life oscillates between the school yard punch-ups and the gang-land streets of his neighborhood.

When John meets Sydney (Clare Bowen), a beautiful Anglo-Aussie girl, and finds a job at the neighborhood boxing gym his life is challenged and changed in unexpected ways. But Charlie's continuing descent into the world of crime places his whole family in harms way forcing John to risk his new life to right his younger brother's wrong.

In regards to the storyline, it's very "American History X." The acting and some of the visuals aren't so superb, as most of the young actors in the film were literally talent-spotted off the streets of western Sydney (where much of the film was shot). However the message as well as the history of the film is well worth the watch!

The script for the film was written by George Basha, who plays the main character John in the film. He's a Lebanese-Australian who grew up in Guildford and who, between stints as a tradesman, has had minor acting roles in other Australian films including the 1997 film "Black Rock" (internationally, best remembered as the debut film for Australian actor Heath Ledger.)

The film's subject matter is raw and real, particularly the racial tension between the Lebanese + Asian school boys and their Anglo-Aussie counterparts.

Perhaps to emphasize the point, albeit fleetingly, TV footage of the Cronulla riots of 2005 were incorporated in the film.

The love interest between Basha's character, John, and Anglo-Australian girl Sydney (Clare Bowen) with her disapproving parents reinforces evidence of the racial divide in Australia. One of the film's classy performances comes from Doris Younane, who plays John and Charlie's mother Mary with at times heart-wrenching sensitivity.

The essence of the film is encapsulated in Basha's own words: ''A world away, streets apart.''

Honestly, I didn't realize Aussies were so racist to Middle-Easterners and I really didn't know about this situation in Australia until I watched the film. It really enlightened me on the subject!

The Lebanese-Australians in the film, as well as in much of Australia, are treated much like how African-Americans are treated in America. It's very violent, vulgar and primitive!
(Although I do realize this isn't really a new subject since ever since 9/11 Middle-Easterners and anyone who looks "Middle-Eastern" have been targets of racial tensions, hate and crime.)

There were parts of the film which I could relate to in many ways.
I think everyone can relate to the film in the sense that everyone wants to "belong" / wants to "fit in" but you can't no matter what you do!

I am (according to society and norms) South-Asian and American... so when you are from two different cultures you realize how much you never really fit in. When I go to South-Asian places I'm considered too "American" and when I'm in America people ask me "What's your race?" The same dilemma many Lebanese-Australians face. Also, the Leb-Aussie family in the film were Christian and yet they were still treated as foreigners simply because ignorant individuals think all Lebanese / Middle-Easterners are Muslim. A problem which knowledge and an open-mind can easily solve! It's a problem I'm familiar with, as well, because I grew up as a Roman Catholic and most people think I'm Hindu and/or Muslim because I'm from India.

To me, the core of the film really was that -
We are not our parents!
We have the choice to think,

& choose for ourselves!
Stop living in the past,

& begin the future!
Stop the hate,

& start the love!
We're all human beings!

I'm an avid believer in humanity! I don't believe in religion, sexuality and nationalities/races!
In fact, many people who really know me probably already know that... If you meet me then ask me "What race/nationality are you?," I'll answer with "Why? Does it matter?" or I've had people ask me straight-forwardly "What are you?" and I reply with "I'm human."

A lot of people think I don't like my nationality/race/culture but that's not the case really. Sure, I don't know much about it and there are several dramatic individuals who make me wish I was a different nationality/race/culture but I never said I didn't like what/whom I am! In fact, I love myself but at the same time I hate myself. I'm that way with everyone - I love you and I hate you - regardless of everything. I think I'm a rare breed. I haven't met many people like myself. There's only a few and they're scattered all throughout the world. I say we unite as one and create a revolution!

On a lighter note, Firass Dirani (left from above picture, in the camo) may be super cute in the film but Ali Haider (right from above picture, in the stripes) is the definition of sex! Well, he's my definition of sex - which really is defined as unconventional, ballsy, edgy and "he'll fuck you up if you fuck with him". But, that's only one definition of my kind of sexy since I do adore dark rebels, lovely romantics, gorey goths, gender-benders and mostly "outcasts". Anyone who doesn't "fit in" anywhere and isn't anything like my parents / "society" - that's for sure!

Also, I love the haircuts of the Leb-Aussie boys in the film - super sexy!

And I had to share this as well... my favorite quote from the film was when the Leb-Aussie guy says to the racist Anglo-Aussie guy: "At least we came in planes; you came in chains." (I adore satire!)

Alright, to end this post - I hope this film gets the wonderful recognition it deserves... in Australia and worldwide! It's a definite must-see, especially if you love controversy (like myself)!

It's so controversial in Australia that there have been several security increases needed when this film was screened and there were even bans to play the film in theaters because of violence/riots that have occurred after the showing.

However, great films are meant to provoke and challenge! I believe films are an art form and they should be created to help people think in a larger sense, not just escape their normal day-to-day routine (much like mainstream Hollywood and Bollywood does). Entertainment is fine once in a while, but really you need to challenge your way of thinking! After all, some of the best inventive moments were born out of "wrong thinking". Most people start with the right way so they all follow the same path. The wrong way will lead to mistakes from which you can learn and create new discoveries – the kind of original ideas that come to life when we dare to be different, keep an open mind and have no fear of failure. x.
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