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DVD Review: ‘Zaytoun’ Pulls Off An Unlikely Friendship

This film begins with the thought of a slow, dragged out trip in the dessert.  But as it continues, Zaytoun shows an intriguing amount of character development that eventually leads to a beautiful friendship.

Set in Beirut, during the war of 1982, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee meets Yoni (Stephen Dorff), a 30-year-old Israeli combat pilot when he is captured by the Palestine army.  The two immediately despise each other and Fahed is especially bitter after the death of his father, who died as a martyr protecting his family.

Before Fahed’s father died, he took great care of a barely surviving olive (known as zaytoun in Arabic) tree.  Fahed’s one wish is to plant the tree in the family’s ancestral village that is now located in Israel so that he may memorialize his father.  With Yoni desperate to escape his prisoner’s cell, the two find common ground and decide they would be beneficial to each other.  Fahed agrees to let Yoni out, still in chains, only if he can guarantee him entrance to the Israeli border.  Once the two begin their long journey, the road traveled isn’t an easy one.  They stumble upon many problems, including the police, car troubles, and the constant worry of whether or not the other one is trustworthy.

Truthfully, this friendship is about as improbable as they come.  I don’t know if planting a tree would necessarily warrant a moment of truce for two people that are fighting for opposing countries.  However unlikely the plot may be, the story ends up working really well.  It might be because the two maintain a love/hate relationship through out the film, or it may be because it is hard to believe anyone would turn on an innocent kid even if he is technically your enemy.  But I’m going to go with the most obvious fact;  the performances by Dorff and Akal are outstanding and give this film plenty to work with for an extended amount of time.  The transformation of these characters is subtle, but as it continues the audience begins to believe in their relationship more and more, and it isn’t long before you will also be touched by it.

Spoken in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, Zaytoun provides originality, terrific acting, and a heartfelt premise.

Zaytoun is out on DVD February 18th.

Zaytoun Movie Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “MOMO: The Sam Giancana Story” Reveals more than you Expect

Out of all the documentaries I have seen this year, Momo: The Sam Gianca Story, would not be my top recommendation. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic documentary and absolutely worth the watch for the shocking details alone. The film tends to drag bit, and is more informative than emotionally impacting. It’s a documentary about the infamous Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana.  The narration is done by two of Sam’s loving daughters, Bonnie Giancana and Fran Giancana, who are now both in their sixties.  They are speaking about their father publicly for the first time in 30 years, and present audiences with never-before-revealed insight into Sam when he was at home.

Sam ran the Chicago Outfit from the late 50’s to the early sixties. He had a long running relationship with famous singer, Phyllis McGuire, from the McGuire Sisters.  He had three daughters that he raised and adored very much.  He was also best friends with Frank Sinatra.

Given his abusive background from his own father, Sam proved to be nothing like his old man when raising his little girls. Sam’s daughters loved their father, which is shocking that this man could be two totally different guys at once.  Half the time he was a loving dad, while the other half he was one of the coldest hearted bosses ever to run Chicago.

Director, Dimitri Logothetis (Champions Forever, The Lost Angel), does a great job of not only showing us the two sides to Sam, but also revealing secrets about his life that I would have never known.  Including how Sam helped John F. Kennedy get elected President by swinging several Midwest and eastern states.  He was also hired by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Just from the batch of documentaries this year, if you want an informative and gripping documentary that will literally haunt you even after it is over, watch God Love Uganda.  However, you will still be pleased with Momo: The Sam Giancana Story.

Available on DVD and Streaming on November 19th

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