Right now, I am just getting a sense of the terrain, and coming to appreciate just how vile the Egyptian secret service can be - and remember, it's on our side. And Al Quaeda is just as bad in its own way.
There is one incident when the Egyptian spooks kidnap a couple of kids from jihadist families and drug and rape them, and then blackmail them into planting bugs on Al Zawahiri by threatening to release the photographs. The kids go along with it for a while and then confess, and are shot on Al Zawahiri's orders. The hideous thing about it is that those kids were dead the moment they were raped, because they would have been the victims of honour killings whatever happened after that. And there seems to have been an element of that in what happened to them.
It's also clear that killing and torture get to be addictions - just as much when you are doing it for politics and religion as when you are doing it in the course of being a serial killer. And the same applies to ordering it done as to doing it, clearly. Apart from what both sides in this nightmare do to us and other civilians, there are the deformities they inflict on themselves.
It is all too hideous to contemplate.
The other thing is the situation of the wives and daughters of the Al Quaeda and Taliban leaderships, who get traded around as alliance tokens but are all, by definition, true believers in an ideology in which they are fundamentally inferior and have to be locked away from the gaze of evil and lascivious men. Al Zawahiri chose his wife for her exemplary piety, which manifested itself in adopting ever more extreme forms of modest dresss and in praying all night.
Gosh, I bet their breakfast conversations are a bundle of laughs, what with him coming up with ever more obscure hadiths to justify killing civilians and her finding more ways to wrap cloth around herself.
They almost make the Bushes and the Blairs look normal... No they don't, what am I talking about?
'Unveiled' reminded me of just how sickening it is that queer asylum seekers are liable to be sent back to their deaths because it is so hard for them to prove that their lives are at risk save by their being killed. One of the political exiles has the best line, though, something about a German bureaucrat asking him to produce a notarised copy of his death sentence.
I promised to talk about Backstage and there is a limit to how much I can say without spoilage. You really need to see this movie, especially you jennyo because it is wonderfully trashy and camp and sad.
What I can say about Emmanuelle Bercot's 'Backstage', it is that it is about a pop diva who has been a monster so long she has forgotten how not to be, and a baby fan who gets adopted into her entourage. Emmanuelle Seigner is magnificent and creepy as the diva Lauren, the sort of person who expects her audiences to start lighting up cigarette lighters during her power ballads, and Isild Le Besco is equally deranged as Lucie, the teenaged fan.
This is a film about power, and who has it in relationships and how complex that question is. It is also about the dirty secret of the human messes that lie behind art. One of the reasons why I got irritated with the audience is that at the end, they got up during the credits, whereas the whole point is that the song over the credits is one of Lauren's least overblown, truest songs, and it is her song about Lucie. I won't say what happens except that it all ends badly, though not as badly as all that, but the song mitigates that, makes it bittersweet. In the end, writers and artists are liars and crooks and cheats, and out of those lacks in them they sometimes make exquisite beauty. I cried and I hate the sort of Europop Lauren is shown singing.
I must find the cast album, glorious in its kitsch way.
And I am still behind, and there is a lot I want to say about the Trannyshack film.