Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Congress, Ari Folman’s first film since his international breakthrough with the animated pseudo-documentary Waltz with Bashir, is surely a broken-down disaster of a movie, barely able to function as an entire self-contained object. But I am absolutely confident that I wouldn’t be half as thrilled by it if that wasn’t the case: like far, […]

Areas don’t get a whole lot greyer than the ones explored in The Gatekeepers, lately a nominee for the Best Documentary Oscar (it lost, and to a weaker film; but we had best not stay up nights for frustration at all the movies losing Oscars to weaker films). It is a film from Israel, broadly […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/18 & 10/20 & 10/22World premiere: 14 June, 2012, Israel If you have ever heard of the Israeli comedy trio Gashash, you’re one up on me, both as a student of important cultural touchstones throughout the world, and as concerns Shemi Zarhin’s hugely successful film The World Is Funny – recipient of […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/17 & 10/18World premiere: 11 February, 2012, Berlin International Film Festival It appears, sometimes, that the Israeli film industry exists almost solely for Jewish directors to make incredibly serious, politically-minded movies about how their government needless abuses the Palestinian and other Arab citizens of that country, and years of variations […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/13 & 10/14 & 10/21World premiere: 7 September, 2012, Toronto International Film Festival 2011’s Weekend is a great film. A bracing film. A film that I’d recommend to everybody, gay or straight, interested in seeing two men navigate a single difficult romantic entanglement that arises in part from the assumptions they make […]

The easiest, and indeed most accurate, way to describe Footnote would make it sound like an absolute chore: an Israeli family dramedy about a father and son pair of feuding Talmudic scholars, recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar. If you are anything like me, the only word in that description that was […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/13 & 10/15 & 10/16 World premiere: 12 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival If I were to lay out the plot of The Slut all nice and simple, it would sound like Israel is now in the business of exporting its pornography: there’s a small farming community out by nowhere, where 35-year-old […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/7 & 10/15 World Premiere: 12 December, 2010, Israel The word on the street is that Rabies, a collaboration between first-time writer-directors Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado, is that it’s the first slasher movie ever made in Israel. This is almost true: I cannot speak for the state of ultra-violent horror in […]

Time for another Israeli film about how the terrible conflicts in that region are ultimately between well-intentioned people on both sides who just want to go about the business of being human, but can’t quite figure out how! Ah, yes, it’s an evergreen subject, but no matter how often we see Israeli filmmakers approach this […]

If the new Israeli film Lemon Tree seems an awful lot like many other Israeli films in the last several years, it’s not really hard to understand why. The big thrust in Israeli message pictures of late (much like their far less widespread counterpart, Palestinian message pictures) has been to dramatise intimate stories of what […]

By turns irritating, confounding, and endlessly fascinating, the animated Israeli documentary Waltz with Bashir is, at the very least, not the kind of movie that comes along all that often. I can’t say that it’s unlike any movie you’ve ever seen before, not knowing what movies you’ve seen, but it’s certainly unlike any movie I’ve […]

The jellyfish does not swim, but instead drifts through the ocean on the currents, gently moving through the waves with no aim other than to encounter its food as it floats. So too does the charming and sensitive Israeli film Jellyfish, the 2007 winner of the Cannes Camera d’Or, drift without much in the way […]