Movie List
Loading ...
Find Theaters and Movie Times
Search Movies

Ends of the earth

By MICHAEL ATKINSON  |  November 7, 2008

The documentaries are a fascinating, rueful bunch. In BON-PAPA, A MAN UNDER GERMAN OCCUPATION[Bon-papa, un homme sous l’Occupation] (2007; ICA: November 9 at 1 pm), Leila Férault plumbs her own family history and uncovers a nest of Vichy-collaborationist secrets on her paternal, non-Jewish side of the family, in stubborn tribute to her maternal grandparents, who died in the Holocaust. It’s a thorny, tense, uneasy experience. Brett Rapkin & Erik Kesten’s HOLY LAND HARDBALL (2007; Coolidge Corner: November 11 at 7 pm + November 12 at 2 pm) is a record of the first professional-league baseball season in Israel; Andrew Jacobs’s FOUR SEASONS LODGE (2007; Coolidge Corner: November 10 at 6:15 pm) is a poignant portrait of a Jewish summer community in the Catskills (one of a few where once there’d been hundreds) peopled almost entirely by elderly camp survivors. Jacobs folds in aging snapshots and listens to the gray lions’ stories and ends up mourning not only the losses of the Nazi rampage but those of the post-war communal era, which is fading away into a second history as time presses on. Here’s a full-bore “Jewish” cinematic feast, evoking in these old-timers’ tales, inflections, and habits an entire century’s worth of disappearing ethnic reality.

Israeli film may be enjoying a kind of international-distribution renaissance, but the fest’s most telling and pungent example of Israeli culture might be the sit-com ARAB LABOR (2007; MFA: November 8-9 in four installments), which is still pulling in high Israeli ratings. The first Israeli TV show to be even partly spoken in Arabic, it centers on the travails of an Israeli-Arab journalist for a Jewish newspaper, and through his efforts to do his job within the constraints Israeli Arabs routinely suffer, the entire contradictory dynamic facing both factions of that society is limned and mocked. It’s still a sit-com, but the nervy nature of its dialogues and implications makes it unlike anything we’ve seen on American TV since All in the Family.

Vincente Amorim’s GOOD (2007; ICA: November 9 at 3 pm; Arlington Capitol: November 15 at 9:15 pm) is based on a play about a guileless German writer and professor (portrayed warily by Viggo Mortensen) who’s sucked into the Third Reich’s rise; it’s a deft and refreshingly literate think piece. We’ll never see the end of the Holocaust inquiries, and they may even come in the shape of Dennis Gansel’s German-made pipe bomb THE WAVE[Die Welle] (2008; West Newton: November 13 at 6:30 pm), a hyperbolic and violent reimagining of a famous 1967 Palo Alto high-school experiment wherein social-studies teacher William Ron Jones reformulated his class along fascist guidelines and found everyone alarmingly agreeable and even enthusiastic. Gansel’s movie transplants the paradigm to contemporary skinhead-plagued Germany and notches up the dread. Like 2001’s The Experiment, which was also based on an American academic experiment that tested students’ propensity toward abuse and torture, The Wave is pedagogic in the extreme, and queasily effective.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Avoiding a border war, Review: Eli and Ben, Review: Within the Whirlwind, More more >
  Topics: Features , Meg Ryan, William H. Macy, Etgar Keret,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   REVIEW: FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN  |  March 06, 2013
    A contemporary mirror of 1967's multidirector lefty-agitprop masterpiece Far from Vietnam , this omnibus epic plumbs the American quagmire in Central Asia from the aesthetic viewpoints of five western filmmakers assembled by John Gianvito (who also contributes a segment), plus a cadre of Afghan locals called Afghan Voices.
  •   OVERDRIVE: THE FILMS OF LEOS CARAX  |  February 11, 2013
    Every Carax shot is a new way to feel about something...
    There will never be another Stanley — cinema's greatest loner-demigod, the hermit CEO of hip public culture for decades running, the filmmaker-artiste everyone could obsess about even if they didn't know any other working director by name.
  •   REVIEW: NOTHING BUT A MAN (1964)  |  January 08, 2013
    Michael Roemer's modest, eloquent, New Wave-y micro-movie — made independently in 1964 — is essential viewing for its matter-of-fact look at an average black man's struggle for dignity in the Deep South in the early '60s.
  •   REVIEW: THE DEEP BLUE SEA  |  March 29, 2012
    Like a bad dream trapped in amber, Terence Davies's studied film adaptation of Terence Rattigan's famous 1952 play is both spectrally beautiful and frozen in self-regard.

 See all articles by: MICHAEL ATKINSON