For me, this one went from great to good in the last fifteen minutes. I thought that the way the personal and political intersect in places like the occupied Palestinian territories (a phrase I use advisedly) was handled pretty masterfully up until the end (which I'll talk about in a second). The theoretical/political debates the characters had felt wholly natural, even in the extreme situations in which they found themselves. I recently rewatched The Social Network and found Sean Parker's "lives lived online" speech towards the end a little forced because I couldn't help but think "no one actually talks that way out loud." They write that way or speechify that way, but in normal conversation, if felt inauthentic (though on the off-chance Aaron Sorkin is reading this, I still love you and would like to go out). Paradise Now made me realize that for a lot of people, political arguments don't live in theory-land. They are desperately, perpetually, present. Along these lines, I thought the idea (as well as the character) of the suicide bomber managed to be both deeply symbolic and completely non-exploitative. The political IS the body in this movie, and to me, that feels very true for the historical moment of the film.
However, I did NOT like the articulation of this thesis by Said towards the end. That felt forced to me in a way that the rest of the movie didn't, and that reminded me of the Gault speech in Atlas Shrugged and Bigger's lawyer's endless closing statement in Native Son. I don't like it when things are said rather than demonstrated, particularly when I thought the rest of the film did a sensitive and nuanced job of showing rather than telling. I think the movie painted itself into a corner in a way, and I wasn't wholly satisfied with the resolution.
I haven't watched What Time Is It There yet, but I will put my vote in that this movie needs to be included in 1001. I think it would make an interesting pairing with Munich. I'm sure Nat and I will discuss the two together more, but I'd also like my brainmate's thoughts on one of the lines that I found really provocative: "The resistance takes the shape of the occupation." Do you think that's true? My first impulse is to say no--that there are a million ways to resist and most hegemonic regimes (not that I am in any way prepared to say that I believe Israel fits the bill, but that seems to be the argument of the movie) seem to be, at heart, sort of the same. But I wonder if that's true. Maybe it is so that the historical specificity of oppression does work in a dyad that shapes and is shaped by resistance. It's an idea I find really intriguing but in no way qualified to talk about intelligently. Your thoughts?