Fucky Film Review!

Archive for November, 2008

Made in Israel

Posted by Web Manager on November 30, 2008

Ari Folman 2000

dodiFucky Film Review‘s all time favorite Israeli film. Set entirely in the Golan Heights, near Israeli’s northern border with Syria, over a winter weekend in the near future. As part of a peace treaty, Syria hands over a Nazi it has been harboring, rumored to be the last Nazi alive. A local trumpet player who earns his living playing at memorials for fallen soldiers keeps getting screwed by the hit teams chasing the 2 million dollar bounty on the Nazi. I loved the snow and the northern mountains’ howling winds, the beautiful Russian-Israeli actress Jenya Dodina who plays a resigned and loveless Bonnie to her brutal Russian Clyde, the music (the trumpet is dubbed by Avishai Cohen and the film score is by Berry Sakharof), the police chief in charge of protecting the Nazi (played by the great Tzahi Grad), and of course Eddy Zanzura, the trumpeter played by Menashe Noy. But most of all I loved the film’s overall feel, the immediacy of the handheld camera, and the triumph of low-budget filmmaking that the film exemplifies. The film is probably not widely available outside of Israel yet, but it will be soon, following the success of director Ari Folman’s recent smash animated documentary WALTZ WITH BASHIR.

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Divine Intervention

Posted by Web Manager on November 27, 2008

Elia Suleiman 2002

If you want to see a good art movie that is Palestinian in the most Palestinian way I can imagine, see this film. The first half of the film or so is a quiet comic introspection on life in an Arab town (might have been Ramallah, but it looked a little too small). Before that, Santa Claus is stabbed on a Jerusalem hilltop. The Palestinians frustrate each other arbitrarily in a way that mimics their treatment at the hands of the Israeli occupiers at the checkpoints. The movie is often silent, and moves along with a very strange and deliberate pacing that has more in common with films from the Far East than those of Europe or Israel. The protagonist (played by the director) lives in Jerusalem and meets his lover at a checkpoint, where they sit for hours in his car without speaking. There’s an absolutely batty musical scene featuring a Palestinian female warrior goddess ninja taking out a handful of Israeli operatives in training. This is not a slick film by a craftsman; it’s an exposition by a talented and funny artist. It’s cultural.  It’s good and good for you.

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Death Proof

Posted by Web Manager on November 19, 2008

Quentin Tarantino 2007

I admit to being a pretentious ass from time to time, but whenever I see someone’s nose scrunch up at the name Tarantino I have to suppress a passing desire to slap them.  Yes maybe there is something annoying about QT the Celebrity.  But QT the Filmmaker rules.  And as much as I like his early work – like the screenplay he wrote for TRUE ROMANCE, and his first two major films RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION – it was KILL BILL (Vols I and II) where he really hit his stride as a giant.  DEATH PROOF is more along the KILL BILL lines than those of his previous work; pastiche and homage in his own original language.  I think DEATH PROOF is also the most linear movie he’s made to date. The two parts are so different and yet so perfectly complimentary – kind of like BARRY LYNDON goes to Texas.  I’m in Austin Mode baby.

Fucky Film Review Film of the Month!

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The Bubble

Posted by Web Manager on November 18, 2008

Eytan Fox 2006

I have a French friend who recently moved to Tel Aviv from New York. She asked me if I’d seen the Israeli film called Bubba. I was like, there’s no Israeli film called Bubba, bubba. After some back and forth I figured out she meant BUBBLE, as in THE BUBBLE, Eytan Fox’s little love note to Tel Aviv. I watched it with a Canadian visitor, her first time here, and it served as a great primer to the town and its ‘tude. The first hour of the movie is funny and original and warm (especially the mock dinner after hours at Orna and Ella, and the Super 8 footage of the Palestinian home being bulldozed in the early 80s in French Hill, Jerusalem), but it derails towards the end where it suffers from the CRASH syndrome, in which everything that happens in the film coincidentally involves everyone who happens to be in the film; an IDF raid in the Palestinian lover’s village the day after a suicide bomb in Tel Aviv, at a cafe where, you guess. Maybe it was supposed to go over because the bubble is so small and they really want it to burst — and the climax does accomplish that, actually, in a strange and kind of cute way, but it would be better if the characters made it to the climax without so much overt motivation.

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Atash (Thirst)

Posted by Web Manager on November 17, 2008

Tawfik Abu Wael 2004

An intensely quiet and restrained film about a Palestinian family living off the radar in an abandoned Israeli military bunker outside of an Arab village somewhere in Israel.  I met the director randomly at a bar near my apartment. Afterwards the bartender told me he was a director and so I went and rented his film the next night. Hussein Yassin Mahajne, who had never acted before in his life – I think he was a construction worker – played the lead role, the recalcitrant father, so beautifully.  The film spills off the screen with accomplished cinematography by Asaf Sudri, who also lives in my neighborhood, and a memorable score by Wisam Gribran (I don’t know where he lives or drinks).

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Yi Yi

Posted by Web Manager on November 13, 2008

Edward Yang 2000

Yi Yi means “and a one and a two . . .”, as in, and a one and a two, and . . . AND??? Fair question. The film’s ambition – to do a lot with a little – might be its biggest conceit. I know this was made like five years before LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (which I’ve never seen, incidentally, on principle), but it has some of that same vomit inducing precociousness thats so prevalent in modern “indie” filmmaking (see also, ONCE) (don’t, actually). I did however like the the little tyke’s photographs, which were equally guilty of preciousness, but WTF can I do, I liked them.

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Don’t Mess with the Zohan

Posted by Web Manager on November 11, 2008

Dennis Dugan 2008

I woke up hung over and got up around noon.  I went out to get some eggs and stopped by the third ear where I picked up ZOHAN in the new releases.  I had a moment of self-doubt as I left the store, thinking, am i really doing this with my day?  But something in me wanted to laugh.  ZOHAN delivered.  It is at times laugh out loud, which is all you can really ask for in a comedy.  Comedy is hard.  There aren’t that many movies that are both funny and good.  A lot of good movies have a lot of funny moments.  But not necessarily laugh out loud.  Woody Allen made some funny good movies.  THE GRADUATE is very funny.  Wes Anderson’s movies are funny.  Then you’ve got FLETCH, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, ANIMAL HOUSE, solid comedies without any bullshit.  And I guess you might think back on AIRPLANE and its ilk, but those have some really dumb jokes and lulls.  Sandler’s got dumb jokes and lulls and sometimes, usually, just a lot of awful time wasters and obvious plot points (but he’s not all bad on the romantic side – he’s a much better sensitivity to women then, say, Judd Apatow).  But I laughed so hard, much harder than in any of those other movies.  The deep kind of laughter, like when Rip Torn threw a wrench at a dodge ball dork in, that’s right, DODGEBALL (A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY).  That kind of laughter is great sometimes, and I know where I can get it.

This is Zohan in the scene were he tells his parents (in their ridiculously appointed living and dining room – picture CASABLANCA meets the PIANIST) that he wants to quit his job as Israel’s best counter-terrorism agent and move to New York to cut hair.  To his right is a bottle of Fizzy Bubble, his favorite drink.

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Collateral

Posted by Web Manager on November 4, 2008

Michael Mann 2004

Everyone kept telling me COLLATERAL was good.  Why did they do that?  I was fine without having seen it.  I could have lived happily to a rotten age without having seen it, but everyone had to keep talking about it.  Like most of MM’s movies COLLATERAL has mad style; in this respect, he keeps getting better. But COLLATERAL is totally predictable and the acting is uneven at best.  The story is probably dumb and uninteresting because it is told from the perspective of an essentially dumb and uninteresting character – a cabdriver played by Jamie Fox.  Good to watch on a plane after you’ve taken a xanex but can’t sleep because the armrest is digging into your gut and you keep passing awful Zyklon B farts that you feel terribly guilty about but there’s just nothing for it.

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