WAtch Online Cracks 2010

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"Cracks" follows an elite group of boarding school girls who compete for the attention of their free-thinking and glamorous young teacher Miss G (Green). She encourages them to indulge their desires, flout the establishment and - suggesting a world of adventures in her own past - pursue a life of independence and travel. The girls are thrilled to have such an inspiring teacher, but the status quo is threatened when the arrival of an exotic and beautiful Spanish student (Maria Valverde) disturbs the girl's rigid and remorseless power structure. Favored girl Di Radfield (Juno Temple) feels especially threatened and, as Ms G's hold over the girls progresses from emancipation to obsession, there are tragic consequences for everyone.

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So, if you're making a movie about the birth of Muslim punk rock, who do you put at the center? Even if you know the players, that might not be as obvious as it seems: The word "taqwacore" (taqwa meaning "religious consciousness") first appeared in the title of a novel which inspired a number of musicians to pick up their guitars. Fortunately, writer Michael Muhammad Knight is as drawn to the real-life taqwacores as they were to his book, and director Omar Majeed is able to give us both at once.

So on the one hand, we start with Michael, whose life with a racial separatist father and abused mother eventually led him to seek enlightenment in a mosque in Pakistan. He wrote The Taqwacores later, and the novel would gain a following among young North American Muslims who felt stifled by their religion and their country. Among them were the teenagers in the Boston suburbs who formed a band, The Kominas; in 2007 they (and others) hopped aboard a green bus and road tripped across the country to Chicago, where the Islamic Society of North Ameica. Six months later, several would be in Pakistan, looking to spread the punk message to a different group.

Knight is also on the bus for much of the tour, and also returns to Pakistan for the movie's second half. Although he's not a great deal older than the musicians, he does clearly speak from a different perspective. While everyone in the film is outspoken and political, it's most often with a blunt, punk sensibility, while Knight's words - especially during readings or interviews supporting his novel - are much more considered and studied. He's no droning academic, and indeed throws himself into certain experiences with more abandon than anyone else, but he is definitely the one more likely to step back and take the long view.

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