The Septembers of Shiraz is not only a compelling movie but an important one to see. Based on the book by Dalia Sofer which recreated the experiences of her own family, the film is the only one I can recall dealing with the plight of Iranian Jews after the fall of the Shah and the takeover by Ayatollah Khomeini. Its contemporary importance is heightened by the recent agreement between the US and Iran and the threat that this poses to Israel and to the many middle-eastern Jews persecuted by Muslims in countries that were formerly hospitable to them. They all learned first-hand how brutal that persecution was - confiscation of wealth and property, imprisonment, torture, expulsion or death.
In a searing performance by Adrien Brody, the character of Isaac goes from that of a successful gemologist and jeweler to the Empress to a bewildered man imprisoned summarily and beaten into submission in an attempt to force him to divulge the whereabouts of his shady brother and his own fortune. His family is never told of his whereabouts or whether he is still alive and part of the story concerns their own travails. The faithful housekeeper who has been with them for many years begins to be influenced by her militant son who believes the propaganda that anyone with money has gotten it by stealing what rightfully belongs to the common, less fortunate man. In this case, forgetting the paternal kindness exhibited by Isaac when the housekeeper and her son were homeless and poverty-stricken, the son steals the jewels and furnishings of the business and threatens to further blackmail Isaac in a way that could prove fatal.
In a surprisingly sensitive role, Salma Hayek portrays an adoring wife and mother who has enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle but is now plunged into a state of uncertainty and fear for all their lives. She and her young daughter must adjust to the ongoing anxiety of not knowing where Isaac is or whether they will ever see him alive again. Though primarily known for her beauty, Ms. Hayek does a substantial acting job and is additionally credited as producer. At a time when there is so much discussion about American “Islamophobia,” this movie is a reminder of the very legitimate reasons for our fear. The images of dead bodies strung up along the main thoroughfare of Teheran, the brutality of guards placing a prisoner against a wall and using his body for target practice, the swift indoctrination of the populace into compliance with Islamic authority are all bold indictments of an aggressive ideology that should be feared. The pervasive anti-semitism that is endemic to this culture vividly illustrates why Israel is in trepidation of Iranian nuclear power. By using the travails of one family rather than a more general overview, the film allows us to experience the emotional spiral of despair these people underwent. See The Septembers of Shiraz - it will force you to confront some ugly and powerful truths and it will leave you both shaken and stirred.
The most recent Islamic act of war, in which self-professed Islamic State jihadi Omar Mir Seddique Mateen slaughtered 49 people and injured scores of others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., should be a game changer. The deadliest attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, should finally convince our leadership that dealing with the Islamic threat must no longer be business as usual.
The presidents were not all men of greatness. The briefest stroll through the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibit on the presidents confirms that. There was dim party tool Warren G. Harding and crony catspaw Ulysses S. Grant. The feckless and imbecilic James Buchanan and the tragically twisted Richard Nixon.
In a hazardous year for political predictions, I’ll offer one confidently: if the Republicans currently freaking out over Donald Trump can redirect that energy toward beating Hillary Clinton, she’s toast.
In late October 1969, Richard Nixon took out one of his famous yellow legal pads to jot down some thoughts. The new president was faced with serious global and domestic turmoil. The Soviet Union had initiated a nuclear buildup, the Middle East was aflame (some things never change), and the war in Vietnam raged on. At home, the war drove hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets, convulsing a nation already seething from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and a growing countercultural movement.
Some 40 percent of voting-age Americans don’t exercise their right to vote, according to the Pew Research Center. It could be fear–not disenchantment or indifference – that keeps some people away from the polls.
Let’s start with the misguided decision to have famed editor Maxwell Perkins wear a hat indoors in every scene of this film. Undoubtedly it was stimulated by the biography on which this movie is based, but for viewers who haven’t read that book, it becomes a joke to see a cultured intellectual sit at a dinner table with his elegant wife and daughters wearing the hat that he wore with his winter coat when he walked through the front door of his elegant home. You just know that any wife played by Laura Linney would have glared at him and not allowed the meal to commence before the hat was removed. Since the movie never rises to that level of emotional truth, it won’t be a spoiler to reveal that its ultimate removal is meant to signify a larger than life sentiment.