Dir :Karzan Kader
Bekas is the expanded version of a 28 minute film released in 2010 by the same director, which I have not seen, but after seeing this how I wish I had! It would have saved me 2 hours of time and some money too.The expanded version comes billed as a comedy, the promising trailer showed two plucky and improbably young Kurdish boys embark on a naive journey to America to meet Superman, armed with nothing but their cinematic immortality, which guarantees that in films cute kids will survive ling enough to entertain us.
The film at hand gives us the same story that the trailer promised, but what I hoped would be the OTT salesmanship of the trailer turned out to be the whole film itself. This comedy about two brothers Dana (Sarwar Fazil)10 years and Zana (Zamand Taha)6 years old is one of the most contrived films I have seen in a long time.I totally get the point that its a comedy but instead of making the scenes funny the director tries to make everything cute, artificial and hopelessly improbable.Take two young boys, dress them up in vests and jeans as impoverished, oppressed and destitute versions of James Dean and let them loose to do all kinds sweet stuff.I would be very scared to let my child watch this film, riding off on a donkey called Michael Jackson to America from Iraq to enlist the help of Superman is not the best adventure story especially since it shows them making hopelessly stupid decisions, even for their tender age.The donkey has a BMW badge on his head in a kind of clever anti product placement.However Coke gets a good ride on the donkey, Zana dreams of drinking so much Coke that he pees out Coke too,he surely has not heard of Mayor Bloomberg.
In Bekas which means orphans, Zana gets slapped around casually at the drop of a hat, he says so himself to Dana,”If I got a Dinar for every slap you gave me, I would be a millionaire”.This is not just tasteless but downright cruel depiction of how it may be all right to slap around a kid if he is Kurdish, poor, an orphan and trying to go to America, just for a few laugh’s. Bekas might have been secretly funded by George W. Bush who is living in exile, since the film obliquely tries to make a case for American intervention against the tyranny of Saddam Hussain.W. is somewhat back in infamous limelight, being referred to as el Diablo(the devil) by Hugo Chavez in his UN General Assembly speech, as the TV channels try to make good copy out of his death.
This is also a kind of poverty porn and takes all the wrong inspirations from Slumdog Millionaire and Majid Majidi’s classic Children of Heaven.When we find it so difficult to connect with the people of middle-east it makes sense to use children and make the mainstream audience swoon over a stupid film and give them the satisfaction of reading subtitles because thats the cool thing to do.
The actors are very good, they have amazing screen presence, especially the younger one whose shrill voice and animated face makes the film somewhat watchable, over its wisely economical 90 mins runtime.The older kid Dana is bound to become a teenage heart-throb, he appears straight out of a boy-band and will undoubtedly create headaches for parents as he grows up into a Hershy’s mascot.
The polished camerawork stands out as well, the saturated golden sepia color tone of the film tries to take advantage of the natural hues of the landscape but the same can be completely de-glamorized in the hands of a serious director.The golden glow of Bekas tries to warm the cockles of our heart on a subliminal level while the antics of the boys are much more in the face.
Hopefully the Mr Kader will turn his attention to better material next time, he certainly knows how to shoot films. Or he may get lapped up by the Hollywood studios and direct the next summer blockbuster, The Hangover part 4 perhaps.This film is financed by Swedish guys, maybe they are acting out sadistic fantasies here, a very tiny fraction of what passes for comedy here will land people in jail in Scandinavian countries.This is Home Alone part 6(or whatever) masquerading as Children of Heaven part 2 with a dash of Cinema Paradiso.
Categories: World Cinema