Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 3

February 11, 2010

Yeah, so the Berlin Film Festival has probably started already. This may still be of use to somebody. The Forum section is traditionally populated by newbies and experimental filmmakers. This year, several themes have emerged, among them the importance of labor and the plight of women in the modern economic system. The third part of our Forum preview has a particularly feminist bent, with documentary filmmakers tackling life in both ultra-Orthodox Israel and ultra-crazy North Korea. After it all, though, we end with a zippy Taiwanese comedy about a guy who just wants to visit his Parisian girlfriend. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.
Click here to read the second part of our Forum preview.

Pus (Haze)

A handgun and a photograph lead a young DVD pirate to become involved in a troubled couple’s lives. Director Tayfun Pirselimoglu situates this noir threesome in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, where the atmosphere is as potent as Eraserhead’s distillation of Philadelphia.

Putty Hill

American filmmaker Matt Porterfield uses the day before a junkie’s funeral to scrutinize the rest of the family. In a faux documentary style, Porterfield creates deft sketches of put-upon skate punks and their impressively inked parents.

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Trailerama: Soreret (Black Bus)

February 10, 2010

The fundamentalism of Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is seen through the eyes of two women–a blogger and a photographer–in Anat Yuta Zuria’s documentary. Sarah and Shlomit have suffered for leaving the Haredi, which imposes restrictions on dress and physical contact. Now both take the community as their subject. The title refers to the Haredi buses, on which women are only allowed to sit in the back third. Zuria’s film will have its world premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Dokumente, Part 2

February 8, 2010

Gay life in and outside of New York dominates this year’s Dokumente sidebar. Both Rock Hudson and The Boys in the Band are placed beneath the camera lens. But if camp reappraisal isn’t your cinematic bag, then perhaps a lost Nazi propaganda film or Iran on the eve of a momentous election will be more to the taste. Too grim? In fact, the overall mood is one of celebration, whether it’s being LGBT in Israel or simply pounding the Berlin pavements.

Read the first part of our Panorama Dokumente preview here.

Hazman havarod (Gay Days)

Israel once had a reputation as a homophobic country, with police quick to crack down on gays and transsexuals with violent enthusiasm. In the last decade or so, homosexuality has been decriminalized and Israel now celebrates its gay heritage. A transsexual singer, Dana International, even won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel in 1998. Yair Qedars examines what he calls “the pink revolution.”
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Dana International is now a judge on Israel’s equivalent of American Idol.

I Shot My Love

A funny thing happen when director Tomer Heymann screened his last film Paper Dolls (2005) at the Berlin Film Festival. He met a German dancer, Andreas Merk, and fell in love. Merk moves to Tel Aviv to be with Tomer, but finds life in Israel difficult. The couple’s future also depends on Tomer’s patriotic mother, who is reluctant to let her son leave the country.
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Paper Dolls took as its subject Filipino transsexuals working in Israel as caretakers for elderly Orthodox Jews.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Dokumente, Part 1

February 8, 2010

The Panorama sidebar at this year’s Berlinale overflows with documentaries. Especially documentaries about either a) gay life around the world or b) downtown New York during the 1980s. Both of which, some might say, are closely related. As well as portraits of Warhol superstars and stories of gay life in Paraguay, there’s a search for enlightenment David Lynch-style and a new film from the director of Control Room. Click on the title for trailers and other clips.

Alle meine Stehaufmädchen – Von Frauen, die sich was trauen (All My Tumbler Girls Or All About Women Who Dare To…)

Ever wonder what it’s like being a woman over 40 living in Berlin? Lothar Lambert did, so he went out and interviewed 11 associates. Although well-known in Germany, friends like photographer Erika Rabau and painter Evelyn Sommerhoff may not mean a lot to international audiences. Lambert’s doc highlights the common threads of their lives as well as the differences.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: The name “Berlin” is possibly derived from “Berl,” an Old Polabian stem meaning “swamp.”

Arias With a Twist: The Docufantasy

Klaus Nomi fans will recognize Joey Arias’s name. He was the singer’s confidant during the Lower East Side’s ‘80s heyday. Since his lover’s death Arias has emerged as a formidable performance artist in his own right. Bobby Sheehan documents his collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist on Arias With a Twist and digs up related footage that featuring Jim Henson and Andy Warhol.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: While working at the Fiorucci boutique, Arias took part in the first live display in the shop’s windows.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Main/Special, Part 3

February 6, 2010

Starting with a Sapphic rock ‘n’ roll band and ending with an elegy for the Bolivian aristocracy, the final part of our Panorama preview contains a broad range of viewpoints. Of note is an Aki Kaurismaki-endorsed story of incest, stories of seclusion from Russia and Israel, a no holds barred biopic about Ian Dury and a charming collection of South Korean actresses. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the first part of our Berlin Competition preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Competition preview.

The Owls

An aging ex-members of a lesbian rock band get a kick up the behind by the appearance of a 20-year-old newcomer. Twisted passions lead to both rebirth and revenge. The ninth film from Liberian-born lesbian director Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy) stars Guinevere Turner, best known for writing the screenplays to American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Paha perhe (Bad Family)

Produced by Aki Kaurismaki, this deadpan comedy features an obsessive single dad (Ville Virtanen) who will do anything to keep his son from hooking up with the love of his life—who happens to be the boy’s sister. The icky topic is perfect fodder for that very special brand of Finnish humor. Directed by Aleksi Salmenperä (A Man’s Work).

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Oscar Nominations: The Long List

February 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a learning experience. Apparently when Anne Hathaway reads out the Oscar nominations, she doesn’t have to sully herself with announcing the titles in the Best Animated Short pack.

The only real surprises here are a mixed bag for the Best Supporting Actor role (Did The Lovely Bones ever get released?), which Christoph Waltz is now a dead-cert to nab. Then there’s the Best Actor nomination for Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner (well-deserved) and In the Loop getting a Best Adapted Screenplay nod. The Yanks really liked that movie.

Here were the nominations read out at this morning’s press shindig. The list will be updated shortly.

UPDATE: The complete list of Oscar nominations is as follows. Predictions and commentary will take a little bit longer.

BEST PICTURE

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

BEST DIRECTOR

James Cameron (Avatar)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

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Must See Movies: February 2010

January 31, 2010

With the dregs of January swirling down the drain, audiences can prep themselves for classier fare. This month marks the return of two cinematic masters in the form of Scorsese and Polanski. Their works might look a little loosey-goosey, but there’s little doubt about the razor-sharp talents behind a pair of crime dramas from Israel and France. Finally, get some uplift as Shah Rukh Khan battles Homeland Security for his dignity.

Ajami
Release date: Feb. 3
The pitch: Israel’s problems—and lord knows there’s a lot of them—are filtered through several interlocking stories set in a tough neighborhood of Jaffa. It’s an Arab-Israeli Wire!
Fun fact: Jaffa gets a nod in the Bible as the port where Jonah boarded a ship on his ill-fated escape to Tarshish.
Why it could be great: After earning acclaim on the festival circuit, this tough drama won Best Picture and Director at the Israeli Oscars last year.
Why it could suck: There are very few happy endings in Israel.

My Name is Khan
Release date: Feb. 12
The pitch: An autistic Muslim (Shah Rukh Khan) finds happiness with a single mom (Kajol) in San Francisco. Then 9/11 turns his world upside down.
Fun fact: Last August, Khan was detained by Newark Airport security for questioning while promoting the film.
Why it could be great: SRK stars in a story that’s sure to tug the heartstrings of discriminated-against immigrants and angry liberals alike. There’ll be a few musical numbers, too.
Why it could suck: The emotional maelstrom reaches fever pitch when Khan embarks on an odyssey to meet Barack Obama himself.

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Trailerama: Ajami

September 8, 2009

Ajami is a tough neighborhood in the Israeli city of Jaffa. It provides the backdrop for this debut from the Israeli-Arab filmmaking team of Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani. Several stories are wound around each other, using The Wire‘s methodology to show how criminal, class and racial tensions make up the Israeli fabric. Copti himself has a role as a man dying to leave the precinct. First, though, he must dispose of his brother’s packet of drugs. The film received a Camera d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Trailerama: Phobidilia

September 3, 2009

After experiencing a massive anxiety attack, a computer programmer (Ofer Shechter) decides to shut himself away in his cozy apartment and live through the Internet. After four years of this singular existence, his lifestyle is threatened by a free-spirited girl (uh-oh) and a landlord looking to cash in. As Bugs Bunny might say, “This means war.” Might be some psychic disintegration involved, too. More information and video can be found on the production’s Vlog.