Friday, April 18, 2008
I catch The Band's Visit and find that I am in agreement with most reviewers: the film is a delight without being cloying. Members of an Egyptian police band find themselves stranded overnight in a dead-or-alive Israeli desert town. The band members and the locals, who offer them awkward and somewhat reluctant hospitality, form bonds of intimacy in inauspicious circumstances.
Politics aren't mentioned. Instead, we have halting conversations between guests and hosts about love, about the importance of music, about the pain of loss. Because they know they will never see each other again, confidences are shared. And the unspoken contrast is always there, between lively, open, cosmopolitan Alexandria, where the band hail from and which we never see, and the sterile Israeli settlement. There's much humour alongside the poignancy, including a positively Chaplinesque scene at the local roller skating rink. .
I spot a friend in the cinema audience. We meet up afterwards and compare notes. This happens in a small town (or even a not-so-small town), you meet people you know. Those of us who have alternative tendencies, who are interested in the environment and world cinema, and walking and yoga, tend to hang out in the same places.
We run into each other unexpectedly. Then we talk. I'm really not used to this.