My Top 10 List of Brilliant Films I Can Never Watch Again

I have compiled a list of brilliant films, exquisite works of art, that I feel everyone must watch. The thing is, these movies are so emotionally drenching, gut wrenching and hazardous to a delicate heart, I can never bring myself to watching them a second time as now I know what’s ahead of me and cannot go through such turmoil again.

Compliance (2012) – Director: Craig Zobel



 
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) – Director: Lynne Ramsay


 
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008) – Director: Kurt Kuenne


 
Dancer in the Dark (2000) – Director: Lars von Trier


 
Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Director: Darren Aronofsky


 
Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – Director: Kimberly Peirce


 
 
* As with any of my ‘Top 10′ lists, upon publishing they usually don’t have 10 items in them as I like to leave room for future additions.

Consumerism 101

A friend needed to give a lecture on consumerism and asked for some assistance. Following is a list of films, quickly composed off the top of my head. I thought I’d share it (listed in chronological order):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_jpG6kv6Pw

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ8mIVz_qW4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm21JY7WhyY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3wyaEe9vE

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGi21YQFjMM

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eKYyD14d_0

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Ctt7FGFBo

 

Extra credit:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jplVjVz4GRo

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UErPxYZb0M

My Top 10 List of Films About Food*

No Impact Man (USA, 2009) – Directors: Laura Gabbert, Justin Schein – documentary
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Ctt7FGFBo

Food, Inc. (USA, 2008) – Director: Robert Kenner – documentary
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4jQq2rGV8k

Fast Food Nation (USA, 2006) – Director: Richard Linklater
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc_z623Wsro

Our Daily Bread (Germany, 2005) – Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter – documentary
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHVGYnryYtw

Super Size Me (USA, 2004) – Director: Morgan Spurlock – documentary
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Lkyb6SU5U

* Well, not really about food in general, but about the global and local impact of corporate production of our food.
** As with any of my ‘Top 10′ lists, upon publishing they usually don’t have 10 items in them as I like to leave room for future additions.

My Top 10 List of Brilliant Films Where Nothing Happens

Can I be alone in my longing for inarticulacy, for a cinema that refuses to join all the dots? For an arrhythmia in gesture, for a dissonance in shape? For the context of cinematic frame, a frame that in the end only cinema can provide, for the full view, the long shot, the space between, the gaps, the pause, the lull, the grace of living.
  
  – – Tilda Swinton‘s State of Cinema address, San Francisco Film Festival

I have compiled a list of movies I really like where pretty much nothing happens. In this age of nonstop-action films, these films dare to show the pause, the lull, the in-between, that which we call life. To say that nothing happens in these films is, of course, an oversimplification, and while these films are not boring, not by any stretch, they are the furthest thing from the climatic feeling you get in other films where a mystery gets solved, or when the two main characters finally fall into each others’ arms.

These films are certainly not for anyone, but those willing to risk losing ninety minutes off their lives, might gain so much more.

 
Lost in Translation (Japan, 2003) – Director: Sofia Coppola

 
Himalaya (Nepal, 1999) – Director: Eric Valli

 
The Band’s Visit (Israel, 2007) – Director: Eran Kolirin

 
The Way Home (South Korea, 2002) – Director: Jeong-hyang Lee

 
Elephant (USA, 2003) – Director: Gus Van Sant

 
The Mailman of China’s Mountains (China, 2003) – documentary

 
Our Daily Bread (Germany, 2005) – Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter – documentary

Entertainment Weekly Deems Israeli Film One of 50 Sexiest Movies Ever

If you haven’t had the chance to see the Israeli feature film Yossi & Jagger, here’s another reason why you should: Entertainment Weekly just released a list of the 50 Sexiest Movies Ever, and at 49th place the 2002 movie just made the cut. Here’s what EW had to say:

Yossi & Jagger DVD | Amazon.comThe titular men (Ohad Knoller and Yehuda Levi) are sturdy Israeli soldiers stationed at an icy outpost on the Lebanese border. Like a less tormented version of Brokeback Mountain’s Jack and Ennis, they keep their coupling a secret.
Sexiest Moment: The guys go at it, fully clothed, on a snowy hillside. Because we see mostly close-ups of their faces as they make out, joke, and laugh, what’s sexy is their sweet delight in one another.

You can buy the movie here, and download or rent it here. Check out Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 Sexiest Movies Ever, and their 25 Least Sexy Movies Ever.

Mom, I Didn’t Kill Your Daughter

Jonathan Danilowitz, Adir Steiner, Uzi Even, Tal and Avital Yaros-Hakak – each of these individuals have helped Israel shape its laws and grant equal rights for queer people, that much cannot be disputed – but I contend that all these people have helped very little in softening the collective Israeli heart towards gay people, compared to one transsexual singer who granted Israel its first Eurovision Song Contest victory in nineteen years. As simplistic (dare I say, moronic) as that may sound, I believe that when Dana International performed on stage in Birmingham, England in 1998, she granted mothers and fathers from the generation right above mine a night of many firsts, as for most of them it was the first time they ever rooted for a queer person and the first time a queer individual had flooded them with feelings of pride and patriotism.

Just like straight men have an easier time accepting the idea of lesbians over gay men, as it is not perceived as a threat to their own masculinity, I believe that many straight men and women have an easier time accepting the idea of transgendered people over other queer individuals, as it is not perceived as a threat to the boy-meets-girl dogma.

Being a minority, any minority, is probably not much fun wherever you may live, but the fact that this country is so tiny must make it that much harder for individuals to surround themselves with enough people that love them, so that they would not be forced to constantly see the masses that hate them. This coming Thursday, Israeli Channel 10 will feature a documentary named ‘Mom, I Didn’t Kill Your Daughter‘ about two F2M transsexuals living in Israel who are also a couple. The film, directed by Orna Ben-Dor, received rave reviews in festivals around the world.

Here’s a snippet:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4RmwE4NCGU

‘Mom, I Didn’t Kill Your Daughter’ will air this coming Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 9pm on Israeli Channel 10. You can also watch it online here. Happy Passover, the Jewish festival of freedom from slavery!

‘And the Band Played On’ Film Quote About Bad Medicine

When doctors start acting like businessmen, who can the people turn to for doctors?

Dr. Dennis Donohue (Ken Jenkins) – And the Band Played On (1993)

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Watch the entire scene here, buy the DVD here.

Nobody Puts Swayze in a Corner

Following the troubling news about Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer, and after reading Perez Hilton’s suggestion for a gesture, I thought I would do one better and watch Swayze’s hit movie ‘Dirty Dancing’ again – as I have only watched it once, 21 years ago.

A couple of nostalgia notes:
1. I first watched the movie when it came out in 1987 in the local cinema in my hometown. The coming of age of Baby (Jennifer Grey) was also my generation’s coming of age, and as 300 people left the cinema that evening (this is before the tiny cineplexes came around), all the boys wanted to be Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and all the girls wanted to be with Johnny Castle.
2. Patrick Swayze’s song ‘She’s like the wind’, played when Johnny is forced to leave the vacation resort, was the song we all slow danced to in 4th grade. I can still remember the birthday party in which I danced to it for the first time with Amit Sadeh who would later be my first girlfriend and my partner to many other firsts that year.
3. While I knew it was inconceivable, for years I was certain that Swayze is singing ‘She’s outta Ma’alit’ (elevator in Hebrew). Have a listen before you dismiss it:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Okay, so he actually sings ‘She’s outta my league’ – but my English skills did not peak until later on.
4. For years I was certain that Jennifer Grey and Sarah Jessica Parker are the same person. It may sound silly, but I think I tracked down a number of extenuating circumstances:
First, I think there is a general similarity between the two, which goes beyond the nose:
Left: Jennifer Grey (1987) – Right: Sarah Jessica Parker (1984)
Left: Jennifer Grey (1987) – Right: Sarah Jessica Parker (1984)

Second, both actresses played in the big dancing movies of the Eighties: Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Parker in Footloose (1984).
Last, Matthew Broderick surely agrees with me, as he dated both actresses, was engaged to Grey and ended up marrying Parker.
Aside: Grey played Broderick’s sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), after which the two became romantically involved – Does that count as an incestuous relationship?

A couple of notes following my seeing the movie in 2008:
1. Even by today’s standards it is a very entertaining movie, although the protagonists are not given enough time to grow. This is especially evident when Baby delivers her memorable line about being “scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life, the way I feel when I’m with you”, which seemed to me as appearing too soon in the relationship.
2. Only after seeing the movie as an adult did I finally notice how Jewish the film is. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the only guests at Kellerman’s are the Housemans, the Pressmans, the Schumacher, and even “on the west porch, we have a symposium by Rabbi Maurice Sherman”. Then again, my only Catskills experience is watching PBS’s The Jewish Americans series.
3. I was surprised that twenty years later I vividly remember a lot of scenes from the movie, including tiny gestures by Baby like the double take on the bridge, the squinty head nod before the climactic lift, Johnny’s sweaty look after jumping off the stage – and worst of all, the entire chorus of the Kellerman’s Anthem (…voices, hearths and hands…).
Memorable Dirty Dancing scenes (from left to right): Baby's double take on the bridge, Johnny's sweaty look after jumping off the stage, the Kellerman's Anthem, Baby's squinty head nod before the climactic lift.
 
 

Hope Swayze gets well soon – I am off to watch Ghost (1990).

John’s Not Mad – Alin and Shani Aren’t Either

I have always been fascinated by Tourette’s syndrome, which naturally manifested in my seeing virtually every documentary ever made on the subject, including:

That is why I was very happy to find out that Israel’s Channel 10 will broadcast an Israeli documentary about the subject titled ‘Involuntary‘ (2007), directed by Boaz Rosenberg. The film follows Alin Tubul (30) and Shani Nulman (18), two young Israeli women very different from one another, as they struggle with severe Tourette over the course of three years. The US National Institutes of Health estimates 200,000 Americans have severe Tourette’s, which might infer there are 4,700 Israelis in predicaments similar to Alin’s and Shani’s. If there is, in fact, strength in numbers, I cannot imagine how lonely it must feel to have Tourette’s in such a small country as Israel.

After watching that many documentaries, I categorize Tourette’s portrayal in popular media into three depth levels:

  • Hollywood’s Tourette, as depicted in TV and movies, emphasizing the quote-unquote funny side.
  • Tourette 101, as depicted in every documentary made so far, emphasizing the day-to-day struggle with social stigmas.
  • Full-blown Tourette’s, which I have yet to have seen in popular media, revealing the typical comorbid conditions of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), intrusive thoughts and suicidal tendencies.

I can only hope future documentaries will deal with this third category.

Here is a fascinating news story about Alin and the documentary, by Channel 10’s Nesli Barda (Hebrew):
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT9VqLrh0Gk
(Please note that for some reason Alin Tubul is referred to as Alin Biton in the story)

‘Involuntary’ will be broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10 this coming Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 11pm.

Aside:
Been thinking about Digital Footprints lately and the need to write an eloquent post about it. During the writing of this post I easily found a photo of the film director sitting naked on the toilet, as well as phone numbers (home and cell) of Alin, the film’s protagonist, along with her mental health history. What do your Digital Footprints reveal about you?