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February 23, 2006 By:
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Trouble in “Paradise”?

Milton, get out your map — there may be some redefining of boundaries Sunday night when the Oscars are broadcast.

With “Paradise Now” — a suspensefully sustainable film about suicide bombers and their kamikaze craft that is at once gripping and gritty — in the lead for best foreign film, the most controversial aspect of its possible Oscar grab would be the country it’s representing.

Will “Palestine” play in Peoria?

Hell, forget Peoria — how about plain old Jerusalem?

“Palestine,” as of this writing, is written in the category of country of origin for “Paradise Now.” Which, to a degree, is a statehood falsehood since international companies and contributors have been involved in the film’s production, as well as some Israelis. (Not to mention that there is no recognized state of Palestine at this time.)

Yet, when the film took home — wherever that may be — a Golden Globe earlier this awards season, the globe seemed to sit up and take notice when “Palestine” was decreed the film’s provenance.

It doesn’t help much that “Paradise Now” is going history-to-history, head-to-head against “Sophie Scholl — The Final Days,” a fact-based Holocaust-era film about a woman who risked all to save Jews.

If this were a normal year, the Oscar would most certainly go to “Sophie” — Holocaust films historically have a heartfelt appeal and headstart with Academy voters, and “Sophie” tucks into that line of Holocaust-oriented honorees.

But this is no regular year. In a season when it’s not the horse the cowboy kisses at film’s end, and “Munich” got a muted reaction at the box office despite Steven Spielberg’s spitfire attempt to re-ignite conversations about the 1972 Olympic tragedy, now may indeed be “Paradise” in the Hollywood sun and sign.

But will Hollywood’s powers at be — and there definitely is a heavy Jewish bloc to contend with — vote it in or void it out?

No matter what, at least Vanessa Redgrave won’t be making the acceptance speech.

 

• • •

Without a doubt, there will be somewhat of a Philadelphia cheering section having a ball when the best documentary nominees are announced Sunday.

Will the game ball of “Murderball’” go to Elkins Park’s Geoff Richman, an editor with the film who may have to edit out all the hoopla if he is to hear the winner’s name? The same for Jamie Gross of Wynnewood, who served as an assistant editor on this film about a very unusual powerball sport that has nothing to do with hitting the lottery.

Maybe the film will hit it’s own lottery Sunday night, and wheelchair its way past those marching penguins in the race.

 

• • •

And, finally, one of the best picture nominees unintentionally provides the answer to a question posed in Carnak fashion about the broadcast’s inevitable interminable length.

Question: Would I be better off going to bed early or waiting for the final credits to roll?

Answer: Good night, and good luck.

 

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