MASTERWORKS OF ISRAELI CINEMA (Pt. 2)

Taught by George Robinson
Mondays, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
6 Sessions, March 15 – April 26
Registration deadline: March 12
$169 ($149 for JxJ Donors of certain levels*)

George Robinson’s popular course Masterworks of Israeli Cinema just scratched the surface of the cinematic riches of Israel’s national cinema. Now, he’s back with a follow-up class, offering a deep dive into 6 standout productions from the 2010s. Participation in the earlier course is not a pre-requisite; all are welcome!

Bombay Beach – Alma Har’el (2011). An unlikely documentary about an unlikely California town. Israeli filmmaker Har’el went to the desolate Salton Sea to look at life on the edge of despair in one of the Golden State’s forgotten corners. She basically moved in with these folks for several months and the film that results is hypnotic, funny and frequently stirring, a paean to the indomitable spirit of Americans who just don’t know when to quit, even when perseverance is downright foolish. Is it a metaphor for her own nation’s struggles?

Footnote – Joseph Cedar (2012). This bitterly funny comedy of academic egomania chimes strangely well alongside Cedar’s claustrophobic war film Beaufort. When the Israel Prize is given to the wrong half battling duo of father (Shlomo Bar Abba) and son (Lior Ashkenazi), the result is a controlled emotional frenzy that is, if anything, even more disturbing than the brutality of war in his previous film, but a lot funnier. Winner of Best Screenplay at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Off-White Lies – Maya Kenig (2012). Libby (Elya Inbar) is an adolescent girl who finds herself saddled with her feckless father Shaul (Gur Bentwich), a classic luftmentsch who is incapable of living in the real world. How can she awaken him to reality while dealing with the stresses of being a teenager? A terrific debut feature from Maya Kenig that blends laughter and sorrow deftly.

Cupcakes – Eytan Fox (2013). Fox is best-known for his darkly tragic tales of thwarted love (Wade in the Water, Yossi and Jagger), but this charming offering is a giddy send-up of the Eurovision Song Contest, a winning combination of brightly colored slapstick and musical bonding.

Foxtrot – Samuel Maoz (2017). Eight years after his startling debut film Lebanon, Maoz steps behind the camera again for another searing look at the way that armed conflict damages Israeli lives. Lior Ashkenazi is at his very best as the father of an IDF soldier whose death under ambiguous circumstances shattered the seeming calm of a bourgeois home. Foxtrot is a devastating collision of dark humor and bleak, absurdist tragedy. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2017 Venice Film Festival and a nominee for Best Foreign-Language Film Academy Award.

Working Woman – Michal Aviad (2017) Aviad is a veteran director whose documentaries are invariably interesting (Dimona Twist) for their presentation of a woman’s point of view on Israeli issues. Her second fiction feature is a stunningly nuanced tale of poisonous patriarchy. Orna, (Liron Ben Shlush) is the mother of three whose husband is struggling with his restaurant. Orna returns to the workplace, landing a job with a former army superior, Benny (Menashe Noy). While Orna embraces her new position and tries to balance its demands with her home life, she begins to experience escalating sexual harassment.

Note: Additional streaming film rentals required

 

Teacher:  George Robinson recently finished 26 years as the film critic at The Jewish Week (NYC). An adjunct assistant professor of media arts and technology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, he has been writing about film for almost 50 years. He is also the author of Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals (Simon and Schuster/Atria) and Essential Torah: A Complete Guide to the Five Books of Moses (Schocken).