Beaufort Loses Best Foreign Film in Academy Awards

While it would have been nice to get the very first Oscar for an Israeli film, Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort was not Oscar material in my book.

Here is Cedar making his good-for-you-face to Austrian winner Stefan Ruzowitzky for Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters):

Joseph Cedar (right) making his good-for-you-face to Austrian Winner Stefan Ruzowitzky (left) for Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters)

More info on your mainstream media.

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)

‘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.

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.

Watch This Film and Become a Better Citizen of the World in 90 Minutes

I have recently watched ‘No End in Sight’, a jaw-dropping documentary that chronicle the reasons behind Iraq’s descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy. While essentially a talking heads film, it is the ultimate insider’s tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality. Watching the film guarantees you would have a better understanding of our world and the political forces that drove it to its current state. The film provides a candid retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003 by high ranking officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003) as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and prominent analysts. The movie shows how the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government, and the disbanding of the Iraqi military – largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today.

No End in Sight

How did a group of men with little or no military experience, knowledge of the Arab world or personal experience in Iraq come to make such flagrantly debilitating decisions? ‘No End in Sight’ dissects the people, issues and facts behind the Bush Administration’s decisions and their consequences on the ground to provide a powerful look into how arrogance and ignorance turned a military victory into a seemingly endless and deepening nightmare of a war.

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