May 14, 2008
San Jose CA -- Santana Row
Comedy / Drama
Thomas McCarthy [Meet The Parents; Boston Public; The Guru; The Station Agent; Good Night, And Good Luck; Syriana; Flags Of Our Fathers
; Michael Clayton
; The Wire]
Connection Is Everything.
After you've seen THE VISITOR, listen to our spoiler-filled Cinebanter podcast which is posted here
The movie "The Visitor" moved me both as a viewer, drummer, speaker, and policy advocate. It even had me thinking about practicing law. Not that I agree in entirety with the actions of the characters in the move for violating U.S. immigration law, but this movie makes you want to have a deeper national discussion on immigration and refinement of applicable law with respect to political asylum.
Since the father of the man (Tarek) in question had been persecuted by Syria for his writings and beliefs, it would seem plausable that his son would also face some danger in returning to that nation. But, the movie left us hanging on this point.
I felt the most powerful moment in this movie came when Walter was told Tarek had been deported. Walter became almost enraged beyond his control. At that moment, he stood for each of us and how we might have reacted in similar circumstances. As an accomplished professor and a believer in U.S. law and global policy, Walter was tested by the very system he had come to support, and you could see him ready to go crazy in that detention center as he was ordered 3 times to "move away from the glass."
The meaning of the djembe drum in this movie was also interesting. It was both an answer to Walter's inability to play the piano, and it represented a sharing of a cultural and spiritual practice from a man (Tarek) from one part of the world with a man in another (Walter in U.S.). The djembe became the lasting bond between Walter and these people he had come to love.
As a djembe player of four years and a public speaker on rhythms and the brain, I know well how difficult it can be to learn a new instrument. I had to overcome memory and learning issues posed by having a CNS shunt and now 7 brain surgeries. The djembe offers an invaluable role in community relations thru drumming, music, dance, and art activities. It is a conduit to our past, and an instrument of the future in paving the way for better multi-cultural relations in the U.S.