Friday, March 21, 2008

Jimmy Carter, Man from Plains DVD

Jimmy Carter, Man from Plains
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Defends President Carter’s Controversial Stance on Israel

In 2006, Jimmy Carter wrote Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, a best seller questioning Israel commitment to peace in the Middle East, given its erecting a wall and passing laws restricting the movements of Arabs. The former President acknowledges that the blowback from the book has hurt, because he has been called a “liar,” a “coward” and an “anti-Semite.”
He says that he’s tough and can take the criticism, but he regrets that rather than addressing the issues, “the debate has degenerated into an ad hominem attack on my character.” Perhaps for this reason, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (for Silence of the Lambs) decided to make this bio-pic which does its best to restore some luster to the image of its stigmatized subject.
For there is much to admire about this Nobel Peace Prize-winner, including his work all over the world with Habitat for Humanity on behalf of the homeless. We also learn that he donated land to black families in his native Plains, Georgia for a church, and that his life was substantially shaped by his African-American nanny who raised him, Rachael Clark.
Still, this movie focuses mostly on the Palestinian question, and Carter does not budge in his stance that the United States’ news media coverage is unfairly slant in favor of Israel. The film has been cobbled from archival footage of appearances on TV talks shows hosted by the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Charlie Rose, Larry King and Tavis Smiley.
While Smiley adopts a slightly empathetic stance, most of the interviewers, here, are circumspect, if not outright adversarial, asking questions like, “Why do you hate Jews?” Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz turns out to be Carter’s most impassioned detractor, playing a tape of a quote taken out of context during which the ex-President refers to the “so-called Holocaust.”
Even-handed in tone, this enlightening and thought-provoking documentary is proof-positive that Israel is likely to remain a very sensitive topic of conversation easily capable of triggering controversy.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes and brief disturbing images.
Running time: 126 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Deleted scenes, exclusive interviews, plus a commentary with Rosario Dawson and the director.

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