8:00 PM, 18th May, 2012
What happens when two educated, sophisticated, genteel New York-apartment-living married couples meet to resolve a playground quarrel between their two young boys in a civilised manner? In a word: carnage. As any parent knows - and those yet to become so will in due course learn - protection of one's offspring and (by association) one's own sense of ego as projected onto said offspring, is one of those triggers which can regress even the most mild-mannered of us to our primal core and unleash blind, somewhat less-civilised, definitely unsophisticated, non-urbane (and just plain stupid) behaviour.
This proves to be the case when the wealthy, successful Cowans (Waltz and Winslet) meet at the bohemian, intellectual Longstreets' (Foster and Reilly) apartment to reconcile an earlier altercation between their two sons; an initially politely cooperative meeting which devolves as quickly as their behaviour.
Based on the hit play "God of Carnage" by French playwright Yasmina Reza, this wry satire of human nature in sophisticated western society cuts though the thin veneer of social niceties (not to mention the 'high-minded' self-satisfied hypocrisies of the so-called elite) to the childish, barbaric instincts lurking just beneath. As much a comedy of manners as a social satire, this black comedy features spectacular performances from four fantastic actors. I would not miss this one if you paid me - and neither should you.
9:34 PM, 18th May, 2012
This factually based story depicts the events surrounding the emergence of militant Islamists in Algeria and the impact it had on a tiny centuries-old Trappist Monastery in the mountains and the poor, largely Muslim rural community in which it stands. Together, these two vastly different groups coexisted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding for centuries. Some of the monks attended Muslim services in a gesture of reverence to another faith while one, a physician, runs a clinic for the community.
The arrival in 1996 of a militant Islamist group was as disruptive and unwelcome to the local community as it was threatening to the monastery. The film depicts how the monks, dismissing the option of flight and rejecting government offers of military guards, go about their day-to-day activities and services to the community (which begged them to stay) with grace and considerable courage.
A sense of impending doom slowly and inexorably builds throughout the film, which is full of symbolism that members of the Catholic faith may pick up where I did not. As for how the story progresses, you will need to come along and see it for yourself.