CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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TOWELHEAD Trailer Is Unwrapped

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 16, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Warner Independent Pictures is releasing Towelhead, the theatrical debut of filmmaker Alan Ball, the creator of Six Feet Under, the upcoming True Blood series and is also the Academy Award Winning writer of American Beauty (1999). The film premiered in the Toronto Film Festival with the title Nothing Is Private. It has been named back in the US to Towelhead, the same title of the Alicia Erian novel that Ball has based his written adaptation on.

“Towelhead” Trailer

Set during the first Gulf War, a teenage Arab-American girl named Jasira whose new found and confused sexual awareness results in drastic measures by her mother (Maria Bello, The Cooler, 2003). She is sent away from New York to a small town in Texas to live with her strict, disciplinary Lebanese father, Rifat (Peter Macdissi, Three Kings, 1999). While the Middle Eastern war spreads prejudice at home, they struggle to be recognized as a respected Americans. Jasira is played by newcomer Summer Bishil who is running as fast as she can from children’s television programming to dramatic material more mature and respectable, much like Anne Hathaway did with Havoc (2005).

Director Ball is still testing the water with another plot about the adult male leaching after the underage girl. A bigoted Army revisionist played by Aaron Eckhart (Your Friends and Neighbors, 1998) is torn between his racism and his attraction for the minor. Eckhart, who exudes sliminess as well as James Spader (Secretary, 2002), says to girl in private: “You know what you do. You know what you do to men.” Ewww…

Watching the Towelhead trailer, the tampon sequence brings to mind a scene from Tamara Jenkin’s Slums of Beverley Hills (1998) where a well-meaning father (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) takes his mortified daughter (Natasha Lyonne, But I’m A Cheerleader, 1999) out bra shopping. I’m also reminded of the menstrual-minded Canadian werewolf-horror film Ginger Snaps (2000).

towelhead2Towelhead also stars Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding, 1994 and Japanese Story, 2003) and Matt Letscher (Identity, 2003) as welcoming, sarcastic Liberal neighbors. Here’s hoping this daring American indie is sharp, poignant and uncompromising as Alan Ball’s previous efforts.

The release date is August 28th.

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