What is the best movie you’ve seen lately? And, GIVEAWAY: Tickets to Lebanon.

The film, sillies. Not the country.

(Psst, update. Frank Rivera! You are the ticket winner. Congrats, friend!)

Ok, so. This past summer, I saw a preview for this film right before watching I Am Love. Have you seen that one, by the way?  Tilda Swinton, hot, Italian-speaking, and sultry?  I know.  Tilda Swinton, embodying all of those adjectives. Believe it.

Anyway, when Lebanon flashed on the screen, I felt that awful, anticipatory pang. You know, the kind on television, when the abusive husband is softly touching his wife’s face, and you know he’s about to hit her.  It’s going to hurt – both her, and you, too – but you can’t not watch.  You want to be there with her, support her somehow, even though she’s fictional, and you can’t reach through the screen and still the husband’s palm. All you can offer is your sustained gaze, because – while she may not be real – it’s these small demonstrations of empathy that, you know, keeps you human.

I’ve read a few reviews of Lebanon since that preview.  It is about a war, a war that happened the same year I was born.  A 20-year-old gunner inside one of the tanks that first crossed the border into Lebanon, during Israel’s invasion, cannot shoot when ordered to, and then, he can.  Actually, he discovers he can kill many people.

The gunner tells his story from the crosshairs of his tank, and that’s the view we see as the audience, too.  Three decades later, that gunner grew up and made a movie about what he saw. And that movie is Lebanon.

There is a metamorphosis, first physical, when you lose your sense of taste, you don’t need to eat, you suddenly hear and see everything sharp and clear. When you fall into such an extreme situation, when the basic rules of life are not there, you can’t continue thinking with the logic of normal life.

At the end you don’t fight for your country or your kids, you’re fighting for your life.

Those are quotes the director, Samuel Maoz, gave The New York Times in a story this summer.  It is his very first feature film.

Sometimes I don’t think I have the stomach for war films, but then I saw The Hurt Locker. And loved it of course. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien? Only one of my favorite college reads, ever. I think “war films” or “war books” as genres are victims of being washed over in very broad strokes, the subtext being: “dude stuff.”

But we both know that’s just not true.  Ladies like intelligent war films, too.  Sometimes we are in the mood for The Kids Are Alright, sometimes we can take on Lebanon.

SO! Ladies, and dudes. After a slightly rambling opener, I actually have a pair of tickets to Lebanon to give away. They come courtesy of the Austin Jewish Film Festival, who graciously offered to supply an Austin Eavesdropper reader with passes. It opens at Regal Arbor Cinema on Friday, September 24, and will be showing at 12:20, 2:50, 5:20, 7:50 and 10:15 that day and every day the week following.

To enter, simply leave a comment answering this question: what is the best movie you’ve seen lately?

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, by 11am CT.  Remember to leave your email address so I can notify you, por favor.

PS. I know this film/post has been heavy, but no judging if you loved Sex and the City 2 or something. Hell.  I cued up Despicable Me the other day.