Monday, September 14, 2009

Forbidden Lies (movie review)

Forbidden Lies

Norma had a clear goal in telling her story, which was to draw attention to so-called "honor crimes" [sic] engaged in by sickos in many countries, but in her case in Jordan.

Her book became a bestseller, meaning the backlash was intense, ala Satanic Verses or one of those. The fact that she'd encrypted (concealed) a lot of the core details made her a target for Malcolm and other newspaper reporters hot for some literal truth, a lot of which emerges through the film as facts about Norma (still under FBI scrutiny) -- even as Dahlia, the victim and a symbol for every girl with dreams, becomes a deeper mystery.

They spin her story against her, but she spins right back, jumping into this movie-making experiment in defense of her campaign, to which she is loyal. The movie revels in spin, doesn't clamp down, which keeps the audience thinking. The reviewers keep spinning it in their reviews, a lot of them buying the counter-spin that Norma is a con artist and nothing more.

The chief irony in this film is defensive Jordanians repeating the lies from the book as evidence of a cover up (for some money-making scheme? -- various motives imputed) while at the same time admitting openly that these lynchings of women occur, complete with corrupt laws and a tacit nod from the bench. My disgust for nation-states was excited by this film (not just Enron is worthless).

Abuse, sexual and otherwise, is what goes on, is what's being brought into the open and discussed. Norma is good at jihad, is like the Valerie Plame of Jordon in that sense (yeah, she's also quite a looker, maybe did Vanity Fair already, me out of the loop as usual). Her deathly deceits keep the ball bouncing around this story. We don't forget about these human rights violations and their perpetrators.

After the movie ended, we went for beers at Laurelwood Pub. Dr. Tag, a duck to water in both Amman and Portland, actually knew a few of those talking heads in the film, so this was a perfect "small world" experience for both of us. I mentioned my hope we'd have dinner with Norma sometime.

Then we headed over to the west side for a soiree with Portland's intelligentsia. I yakked with some exCIA guy who'd been stationed in New Delhi back when Dulles was driving crazy. He'd met this woman with a shared sense of adventure and they had a car delivered to Kenya so they could drive it to London, not missing the channel boat. This was in the 1940s sometime?

Our guest speakers were from Seattle, talking about their work to get women title to lands, even just small plots. Those micro-loans don't do much good if there's nowhere safe to build stuff, tend a garden or whatever. We also talked about AFSC work in this area (nutrition, education).