Iraqi Perspective: Cycles of Violence - Interview with Hussein Al-Alak

Iraq has been in a near constant state of conflict for almost 35 years beginning with the Iraq/Iran War of the 1980s. This was followed by the original ‘Gulf’ War and then the US government’s war on terror. 

Hussein Al-Alak, a British Iraqi writer and editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al Thawra) – the UK's leading English language news and information provider on Iraq, has recently written numerous blogs and academic pieces on the conflict in Iraq and is held as an authority on issues pertaining to the impact on women and children within the nation, in addition to the topics of genocide and the country’s history. 

Read the interview Iraqi Perspective: Cycles of Violence in full, on the website of the Safe World for Women.

The Calling - A Review

I went to see The Calling, starring Susan Sarandon and what I discovered was a film, which I found completely fascinating, well acted, with a story line that was both realistic and engrossing. 

Not wanting to give too much away, despite other reviews in the media being somewhat unkind to The Calling, the film is centred around Sarandon playing a cop, who with the assistance of her colleagues in a sleepy Canadian town, encounter a series of gruesome killings, with a religious dimension. 

While not diverting away from the plot, the film takes the viewer through some spell binding scenery, with a cast of characters, who in their own unique ways, stand with solid personal qualities and professional traits, which allows the film to bind nicely together. 

What was also striking about The Calling, was how refreshingly normal both the film and characters were, which made the film more believable, enjoyable and characters more interesting, with Topher Grace playing an attractive gay Policeman and only one reference to his sexuality in the entire film. 

It was a nice change, that in a modern film, he was able to play such a role and the film allowed everyone to be adults, with no stereo-typical lack of professionalism, or being bogged down with endless “gay cop” references. 
Even Sarandon’s character floors, were not something the film played too much into, with private references being made by colleagues and the occasional scene, illustrating there was clearly something physically and emotionally wrong. 

But the depth of the film, allowed the character to work within the framework of The Calling, rather than personal health complaints becoming the major feature. 

Other characters in the movie, including Sarandon’s mother, the small army of cops, the murder victims and their relatives, the Police receptionist, and even the cafe workers can only be described as “normal” but not in a boring way. 

They were normal in their normality, people whom we’d all know, live around and work with. They were interesting people, and each had concerns that we could all relate too and show a genuine like or dislike for. 

It was among this tapestry of characters, whom with their characteristics, allowed the killer to move so freely among his victims, and knowing the killer’s identity early in the film, allowed for more discovery, into his sociology and psychology, without the attempt to portray the killer, as being anything more or less than what he was. 

All of this allowed the film to build up to its conclusion, and rather than trying to recreate Thelma and Louise, it was more like the Sarandon gem Dead Man Walking. No great shoot outs, no great escape and certainly no CGI special effects.If anything, it allowed a good film to end, with a more than dignified ending. 

Unlike allot of films out in the Cinema, The Calling was a refreshing change to the enhanced, vampire clad experience of movie going, with allot of films seemingly being more focused on explosions, special affects and how good it could look in 3D. 

The Calling is indeed different on all fronts and is something I would strongly recommend a person to go and see, despite its initial critical reception being varied. It’s a film, that I would urge any serious film goers, to make up their own minds about, after seeing it for themselves.