Academy Award Nominations Concur: America is at a Crossroads

With all the excitement of an Israeli film nominated for an Academy Award for the first time in twenty years, I did not pay enough attention to the Documentary Feature category:
Three out of five films nominated deal directly with the Iraqi conflict, including ‘No End in Sight‘, which I wrote about in a post titled ‘Watch This Film and Become a Better Citizen of the World in 90 Minutes‘. If you were not persuaded to follow my advice then, with an Oscar nomination you really have no excuse now.

Watch the No End in Sight trailer here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGPp-WhgEXE

The 80th Academy Awards telecast, hosted by Jon Stewart (Leibowitz), will be broadcasted live:
USA – February 24th, 5PT/8ET, ABC
Israel – February 25th, 3am, Hot Gold (channel 12)

Sarah Silverman and Meta-Bigotry

The hive is buzzing today with the performance comedian Sarah Silverman gave last night on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and so I thought it might be a good time to confess:

I find Silverman’s comedy act to be hysterical!

If anyone asks how Archie Bunker‘s comedy from the 1970’s would look in our time, you only need to point them to Silverman’s Jesus is Magic act or to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat.
While this sort of comedy is often confused with actual bigotry by people who are probably just not smart enough to get it, comedians who venture upon it get both my laughs and my respect.

Here is a little taste from Silverman’s Jesus is Magic DVD – lyrics follow:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWO4WtZpbSY

Sarah Silverman – German Cars (I Love You More) – Lyrics

I love you more than bears love honey
I love you more than Jews love money
I love you more than Asians are good at math

I love you even if it’s not hip
I love you more than black people don’t tip
I love you more than Puerto Ricans need baths

I love you more than girls love dolls
I love you more than dogs love balls
I love you more than the white stuff in a zit

I love you like Gary Busey
I love you more than dikes love pussy
I love you more than my after-show monster-bong hit

Jewish people driving German cars
Jewish people driving German cars
Jewie people buying German cars, what the cock is that shit?

But maybe it’s like “take back the night”
Maybe it’s like how bleeding hearts grow old and swing to the right
Maybe it’s like when a faggot calls himself a faggot

Jewish people driving German cars
It’s the opposite of FUBU

But maybe it’s Patty Hearst siding with her kidnappers
Maybe it’s South African miner killing diamond-wearing gangsta rappers
Maybe it’s like when black guys call each other niggers

‘Vanilla Sky’ Film Quote About Intimacy

Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not?

Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) – Vanilla Sky (2001)

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Israel Losing Its Marbles Trying To Make the Holocaust Cool Enough For Kids

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israeli Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, scraping the bottom of the making-the-Holocaust-cool-enough-for-our-apathetic-kids barrel, has declared a national project in which high school students will compete to gather the most glass marbles, in an effort to collect 1.5 million marbles, one for each Jewish child perished in the Holocaust.

Paper Clips is a 2004 award-winning documentary about middle school children from the city of Whitwell, Tennessee who tried to collect 6 million paper clips to commemorate the estimated number of Jews who lost their lives by the Nazis.
A young aid probably handed the minister a copy of the movie and she must have thought that this idea is, like, totally cool and stuff – and decided to create her own governmentally funded spin-off project.

I have watched the movie last year and thought it was very moving, so how can I be against a similar project this year? Am I just pro paper clips and anti marbles? Please watch the Paper Clips film trailer now before reading the rest of this post:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP15cY3f7UA

Okay, now let us examine the differences:
The rural community of Whitwell has a population of less than 2000 residents, all of them white, all of them Christians.
A middle school history class about the Holocaust made the children aware of the fact that they have never met a Jewish person, nor can grasp the notion of six million people.
The children started writing letters to some people, explaining their project and asking them to kindly send one paper clip.
The project continued for a number of years.
Without giving too much away I will just say that this simple idea started a chain of events and made a difference in the lives of the students, the school and the city.
As a Jewish person, I have found the movie to be inspirational, as it documented contemporary kids who were not obsessed with pop culture and shopping, who were not apathetic when taught about events that happened half a century ago in a country they have never visited to a people they have never met.
That is why I did not linger over the gut feeling that linking paper clips and people is a bit simplistic and might be considered in bad taste by some people.

Now let’s get back to Tamir’s idea:
The esteemed minister initiated a government initiative in which school children from all over Israel will compete with other schools, to see who collects the most marbles.
Most of the children will most likely buy the marbles, to increase their chances of winning.
The project will probably be time-restricted, to make sure the attention-deficit youngsters will not lose interest.

These children will not be encouraged to meet a Holocaust survivor and learn about his ordeals.
These children will not be encouraged to investigate how many of their own relatives perished in the Holocaust.
These children will not be encouraged to learn about recent incidents of genocide.
These children will not be encouraged to investigate xenophobia in their own environment.

Oh no, these children are encouraged in a government funded project to collect marbles, in an effort to quantify the suffering and prove once and for all that our Holocaust was bigger and better than everyone else’s, and being in the Holocaust* was a total bummer.

I believe this is another clear sign the empire is sinking.

*Israeli children may often say ‘he was in the Holocaust’, subconsciously referring to the Holocaust as a physical place.

Who Says The Good Guy Has To Be A Guy?

[singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=right]A couple of months ago when it came to my attention that Hilary Swank starred in the 4th Karate Kid film, The Next Karate Kid (1994), I was sure of two things: the movie sucks – and I absolutely have to see it.
Swank is one of my favorite female actresses since I left the cinema after watching Boys Don’t Cry, and could not speak for an hour, so when I stumbled upon this nugget of film trivia I knew I must witness how someone goes from a B-movie debut appearance to an Academy Award performance just five years later.

Well I managed to get my hands on a copy of The Next Karate Kid film and after watching it now I can honestly say it is everything I expected and even less:
A third sequel to a successful movie, taglined ‘Who says the good guy has to be a guy?’, this film had failure written all over it. The plotline was not believable, the characters had no depth, and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

As a Swank fan I watched this movie with fond eyes, the way only a mother could look at her child as he embarrasses the heck out of her, performing in the living room on a holiday in front of the entire extended family. The benefit of knowing this poor teenager (19 years old at the time of the shooting) would stand at the LA Shrine Auditorium in five years and accept an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, knowing this made all the difference.

You can watch the movie trailer here and purchase the DVD here.

Trunk Shot – Tarantino’s Trademark Camera Angle

Quentin Tarantino’s trademarked the trunk shot camera angle and used it in every movie he directed. For your viewing pleasure, here is the visual proof, including 4 trunk shots, 3 reverse trunk shots, 1 hood shot and 1 reverse hood shot.

Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) - Hood Shot

Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) - Reverse Hood Shot

‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ Film Quote about Being an Addict

Nothing has to happen for me to have a bad day.
That’s the thrilling part of all this.
It just comes and hits and runs me over like a goddam freight train.

Alice Green (Meg Ryan) – When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XenCEkE_xy0

He Is the Greatest Israeli Soldier the World Has Ever Known

His training is lethal
And his skills are legendary
But it was time for a change
This summer
He is leaving it all behind
Entering a new world
And pursuing his dream
Now
His old life
Is catching up with him

The trailer for Adam Sandler’s new movie ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan’ was recently released, and it looks like it is everything you would expect from a Sandler/Schneider film about an Israeli Mossad agent that fakes his death to become a hairstylist: lots of laughs, no need to think, your run of the mill summer hit.

The film features some Israeli actors (Ido Mosseri, Ori Pfeffer), some hot Israeli girls (Moran Atias, Yamit Sol), and some amazing Israeli scenery. You can check out the trailer here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmMXk0bA8gk

If you liked the music in the trailer you might be interested to know it is by Israeli funk band HaDag Nahash. You can check out the entire track here:

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Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Israeli architect and part-time blogger Sharon Raz meticulously documents decaying buildings all over Israel in his incredible Disappearing Architecture website (which has a less than incredible navigation interface).

Decaying Hadar Cinema in Haifa | Disappearing-Architecture.co.il

Here are four photo essays he posted documenting the decadence in Israeli cinemas (#1, #2, #3, #4). Living in a state that has a short history, with citizens that have a short memory, I found his ongoing project nothing short than brilliant.

Why I Saw So Many Bad Movies in the Eighties

Engbrew Translation 101: Film NamesAs a teenager during the 1980’s we went to the movies a lot. Before a movie came out there was no hype, no buzz, no trailers on YouTube, and no behind-the-scenes shown on TV, so picking what movie to see often boiled down to the single-colored text-only poster that each cinema in my hometown published on the public billboards.
I guess the Israeli film distributors were aware of these facts, and decided that if all they have to work with is the name of the film, then by golly they would make it work.

You see, I believe a movie is a work of art from beginning to end, including its title, and when distributing it in another country one should try to translate it with great respect and fervor. I guess the local distributors here do not share my ideas, as they pretty much translate the titles whichever way they see fit, or whichever way they think would make more money.

Sometimes these translations are far-fetched like ‘White Palace‘ (1990, Susan Sarandon, James Spader) that was translated to Hebrew as ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, preceding the movie ‘When a Man Loves a Woman‘ (1994, Andy Garcia, Meg Ryan) that then had to be translated to Hebrew as ‘The Love of a Man for a Woman’.

Other times it seems the distributor was on vacation, as the movies were just phonetically translated and so Big (1988, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins), Heat (1995, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro) and Elephant (2003, by Gus Van Sant) remained the same words spelled phonetically in Hebrew: ביג, היט, אלפנט

But during the eighties the biggest film distributors’ shtick was riding the coattails of a successful film and naming an unrelated film in a way that would mislead a teenager to think this movie is a sequel to a movie he already saw.
The number one example for that is ‘Police Academy‘ (1984, Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall), originally translated to Hebrew as ‘A Drill for Novice Policemen‘. After the movie became successful there were six sequels made, but in Israel all of a sudden many unrelated films became ‘A Drill for Novice Something-or-the-other’.

Here is a partial list:
Gotcha! (1985) – A Drill for A Novice Spy
Doin’ Time (1985) – A School for Novice Convicts
Bad Medicine (1985) – A School for Novice Doctors
Buy & Cell (1987) – A Drill for Gambling Convicts
UHF (1989) – A Station for Novice Anchormen
Beach Movie (1998) – A Drill for Novice Surfers
Miss Cast Away (2004) – A Drill for Novice Models
Gladiatress (2004) – A Drill for Novice Gladiatresses

The really sad part is that I actually fell for it and went to see most of these movies.

If you ever need to decypher the original name of a movie, you can check out Targumon, a website dedicated just for that purpose.