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Broken Wings- one of my favorite Israeli movies


Editorial Reviews
An uncommonly powerful film, Broken Wings captures a family in mid-disintegration: A midwife at an Israeli hospital struggles to hold her children together in the wake of their father's death. Maya, a gaunt, pale young woman, aspires to win a band contest; Ido, a boy bullied at school, tries to film himself jumping from heights; Yair, a teenage boy, wallows in the meaninglessness of existence as he hands out flyers, dressed in a mouse costume. This may sound tedious or excruciating, but it's given vivid life by an incredible cast and a humor that manages to be absurd and a little sad at the same time. The movie embraces its characters with a profound empathy; it's hard to imagine that anyone could watch Broken Wings and not be deeply moved by the end. Not surprisingly, the movie has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world. --Bret Fetzer

Editorial Reviews
An unusual psychological spy thriller, Walk on Water follows Israeli agent Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi, from the superb romance Late Marriage) as he tries to learn from a German brother and sister (Knut Berger, Push and Pull, and Caroline Peters, Schone Frauen) whether or not their grandfather, a Nazi commander, is still alive--but his growing friendship with the pair forces him to grapple with his wife's suicide only months before. Walk on Water grapples with racial prejudice and homophobia without once seeming preachy; surprisingly, the spy storyline introduces these issues naturally, as Eyal's hostility towards Arabs and his blithe view of Nazi war criminals are central to his character. Ashkenazi is charismatic and subtle; his bedroom eyes and understated smolder make him something of an Israeli Clive Owen. Don't buy Walk on Water expecting James Bond spectacle, but the excellent performances, intelligent script, and quiet tension will draw you into this thoughtful and emotionally nuanced movie. In English, with a few subtitled scenes in Hebrew and German. --Bret Fetzer


According to Box Office Mojo, this film grossed approximately ,000 in U.S. first-run theater receipts, which means that if ever a movie qualifies an overlooked gem, this is it. Which is a shame. There's a bushelful of wonderful performances here, from lead Oshri Cohen to Esti Zakheim and Albert Iluz (as parents Ruhama and Robert respectively) to Yigal Naor as the gruff but kind-hearted headmaster.

And you've not lived until you've seen Aya Koren (as the young female lead) smile. Her beauty will take your breath away.

My wife and I tried to tell everyone about this movie, but it was so far under the radar, it slipped quickly from distribution in a jiffy. Please make every effort to see this beautiful film on DVD.

Produced, filmed and released in Israel under the title "Ha-Kochavim Shel Shlomi" ("The Stars of Shlomi"), Shemi Zarhin's bittersweet tale of a (highly) dysfunctional Israeli family is at times hilarious, at other times heart-rending. If you liked the wonderful Israeli film "Broken Wings," then Bonjour - a slightly lighter cup of tea - is definitely right up your alley.

Which reminds me, if you're in the mood, here's a quartet of recent Israeli films that ought to be on your immediate veiewing agenda (arranged in order of lightness, so you can prepare accordingly):

1. This one.
2. Broken Wings ("Knafayim Shvurot")
3. Time of Favor ("Ha-Hesder")
4. Kadosh (bleak! Not a casual viewing)
Reviewer: Andy Orrock (Addison, Texas)


Reviewer: Andy Orrock (Addison, Texas) - See all my reviews

The real star of 'Time of Favor' is cinematographer Ofer Inov. About half the movie takes place at night & the actors appear bathed in an almost bluish tint, with glowing eyes. It's a superb effect.

I can see why this movie swept the Israeli version of the Oscars for films released in 2000. It's a well-told, gripping saga of a confrontation between the religious and secular forces that push for ascendancy in Israel. Contrary to what we may think back here in the States, there's a healthy skepticism and mistrust in many parts of Israeli society of the ultra-religious, especially when mixed into national institutions like the Army.

Throw in West Bank settlement politics, a messianic rabbi, his flowering daughter, an unbalanced star Torah student, a studly company commander, the Mossad, a star-crossed love triangle...and you've got yourself a very compelling movie.

My only problem: the ending is a little too melodramatic and over the top; but it's still a good ride.

'Time of Favor' is in Hebrew with English subtitles. The subtitles are very legible and well-timed. Certain untranslatable words and concepts are transliterated from Hebrew and presented in quotes. All in all, the subtitled version of the film loses none of the emotion and subtlety of the original.



Friends of film, take note, May 31, 2003 Reviewer: A viewer It is 1991 in Tel Aviv, and with the threat of Saddam Hussein's poison gas missiles forcing Israeli citizens into sealed rooms in the middle of the night, an interconnected set of stories manages to put warmth into a most controversial of topics: Immigration and Israel... For once, the film manages to set aside the politics a bit and a human face is seen first. Yana's Friends is a lovely story. Everything in this film is charming and perfectly moderate. The music is beautiful, the comedy is genuine, the story has it all: finely interwoven stories and surprises, beleivable charm. I wish for the appropriate word; it seems to me this film is, beautifully and charmingly, moderate; and that is what makes it so successful in reaching its aims: to warm, to charm, to make one laugh. Its details, its atmosphere, its characters all are created with a feeling that is not precisely "magic," but "real," and it is genuinely and warmly funny. I think this director, Arik Kaplun, has something to teach to the international scene. (This is the first Israeli film I have the opportunity to watch, and what a good beginning! ) And the actors are a scream. Oh my goodness, are they amazing. A periodical compared quoted on the box compares Evelyne Kaplun to Audrey Hepburn in elegance. But I think that is a strange comparison, though I can see where they made the connection: Evelyne Kaplun's inmense charm. The quiet, sweet, subtle Yana has a light of her own. Eli (Nir Levi), if yes, begins the film as a funny but womanizing bachelor wedding videographer, will soon and easily win viewers' hearts. And then there are the other characters (most of them Russian immigrants) whose stories are woven directly but lightly with Yana's; there is Rosa, the stern landlady who is about to do away with her armor... And Alik (Vladimir Friedman) and Mila (Lena Sachanova) and the paralyzed grandfather and World War II hero Yitzhak (Mosko Alcalay)( who has to, thanks to Alik, "compete" with musiciand/beggar Yuri (Shmil Ben-Ari) for coins), who are in for a surprise. I think Mila especially was a very endearing character, she plays the role of the wife who married not a prince charming, but a man with lots of faults and temper, though always in the end the love from both shines through. (If you are too tired of words and phrases like Ariel Sharon, Intifada, Abbu Mazen, colonies and occupation, Israeli tanks firing at Palestinian children and suicide bombers taking a whole Cafֳ© or bus with them right now... and just wish there was peace in that region for a change, you might want to watch this film... to renew your news-battered heart and join in a prayer [or wish] that peace be possible.) Lovely, charming film. A splendid debut




Very Personal and Realistic Look on War Uniquely Captured, March 13, 2002 Reviewer: T. Nakajima (Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-hu Japan) - See all my reviews It happened in 1973. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), October 6, war broke out between Syria-Egypt and Israel. During the 19 days of the Arab-Israel war, director Amos Gitai joined the Israeli Army. But the helicopter which was carrying him and other seven soliders was shot down by a missile attack. Though one was killed and many severely injured, Gitai survived it, and 27 years later he turned his experience into this movie. (The final scene of the film actually comes directly from his own experience.) Therefore, "Kippur" is a very personal look on war, avoiding cross-fire battle-scenes we ususlly see in so-called war movies. Rather, the film depicts the confusion of war as the director himself once witnessed; there is no "enemy" (of course, from the viewpoint of Israel) in sight. Lots of tanks are wildly running with roaring engines, and they keep on shooting cannons, but we don't see the results of these attacks. We hear the sound of shells and airplanes, but we don't see soldiers killed by them (though many dead bodies appear). And the soldiers yell and shout to each other, but their voices are not often intelligible. But this total confusion is the point of the film. Consequeltly, the story is very thin. We follow the protagonist Weinraub (Liron Levo), but he cannot report to his section of the Amry because it already started, leaving him and his friend behind. They accidentally join the rescue team (because a doctor whose car is broken asked them to give him a lift), which must carry the injured soldiers back to hospital by helicopter. All those "actions" are shot with as few cuts as possible; once the camera starts to shoot the soldiers, it dwells on them, following closely their confused behaviors, which do not always go smooth. So, complaints about the film's lingering camera shots, which may make some of viewers sleepy, are understandable. Still we sense the director's intention there, and we should respect it. The final scene of rescuing a heavily wounded pilot is especially time-comsuming, and may be boring to some though its potential power of realism is undeniable. The soldiers struggle in the muddy ground of the Golan Hights (where the film was shot); they slip and fall many times; they can little advance; one of them almost loses his mind; these haunting scenes, which are slowly developed on screen, are exactly the strength of the film, which conveys the reality of the war in Gitai's unique and even daring fashion. I must admit "Kippur" is not for everybody. However, if you prefer something original, you got it here. Like Samuel Fuller's "The Big Red One," it is very personal, but at the same time very universal and immediate



A rare glimpse into the world of Orthodox Jewry in Isreal, February 24, 2001 Reviewer: Linda Linguvic (New York City) - This is an Israeli film that deals with the forbidden subject of ultra-orthodox Jewry. Filmed with excruciating attention to detail, the daily rituals and total immersion in the faith are deeply explored. The word "Kadosh" means sacred and this film is basically the love stories of two sisters who are trapped in this very constricting world. Rifka, the older sister, is sweetly in love with her husband of ten years. There is deep and gentle feeling between them and they take joy in each other. Problem is, they have no children, and according to Orthodox law, the husband must take another wife. Malka, the younger sister, cannot marry the former soldier and guitar player who she loves because he has left the community. She becomes the victim of an arranged marriage to a brutal over-zealous fundamentalist who I can only characterize as a religious nut-job. The wedding night is horrendous and depicted with startling detail and I found myself crying. I saw this film in a theater, and when I glanced at the woman sitting next to me, she was crying too. The writer and director, Amos Gitai, is a secular Israeli and is clearly depicting Orthodox Jews in a negative way. I wish the film would be more balanced. Surely, there are people who live that way without the sad unhappiness that permeates this film. Several years ago I read a novel called "The Romance Reader" by Pearl Abraham. It, too, was about the restrictions imposed in her small Hasidic community. However, not everyone saw the restrictions the same way, and there was a lot of love and caring in the community. Most of this film was shot indoors, in apartments and synagogues with crumbling walls. I wondered if there was even plumbing in the buildings. Other scenes showed the crowded winding streets of Jerusalem packed with traffic. Some of the scenes were also a little too long for my taste. But the director certainly did capture the anguish of these two women as they struggled in their own ways to deal with their lives. The atmosphere throughout is sad and morose but I do recommend this video. The public knows little, or nothing, about this particular world; this film provides rare glimpse of it


Gripping Contrast of Arab-Israeli and Male-Female Cultures, August 29, 2001 Reviewer: Jedidiah Palosaari "Not My Real Name" (Dar Baida-Casablanca, Morocco) - See all my reviews One of the best foreign films I've ever seen, Wedding is also perhaps the only Israeli-made film that is sympathetic to Arabs. In both Hebrew and Arabic Khleifi tells the story of a Palestinian man during the Israeli occupation who wishes to have a normal, large wedding for his daughter, and is granted that permission as long as the Israeli military governor can come as the guest of honor. What is wonderful is this film doesn't follow an easy path in which every one suddenly gets along. It presents the true animosity and difficulties in the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians: the fear that rules Israeli lives, and the constant control the Palestinians are placed under. And yet there are moments when both sides can also see each other as human. The Israeli soldiers see simply a family desiring to celebrate a life boundary event, and there is great compassionate expression in the care for a female Israeli soldier. There is also a very interesting subtext of gender dynamics within Arabic and Islamic culture. How do men and women relate to each other in the traditional manner during an occupation? The Arab dynamic is contrasted with the more relaxed gender interaction of the Israelis. While there is some unfortunate brief full nudity, it adds to a very interesting moment exploring the cultural value of a broken hymen and what this shows of the power relationships inherent in a culture where a man can gain honor but a woman can only lose hers. The bride finds a way to reverse this through following the cultural dictates *and* gaining control of her own body. I encourage everyone to view this movie to see how she accomplishes this, and to understand how these two very different and very valuable cultures interact in this time of turmoil. _____________________________________________________________________

Funny movie! ____________________________________________________________________



Hilarious Israeli Feel Good Comedy, May 4, 2005 Reviewer: mmgal (The Big Apple) - See all my reviews "Oscar-winning Israeli director Dror Shaul exposes the rough edges of Israeli society in this biting comedy, in which a sweet grandmother (Tiki Dayan) has the power to put curses on people and grant blessings. She's in high demand, and at every turn there's someone who wants to use her gift for their own needs. Extras include commentary, deleted scenes, premiere and behind-the-scenes footage, the theme song music video, the trailer and TV ads." Although the subject of this movie is not meant to provoke any mind blowing revelations, what comedy does? I highly recommend this movie to those who understand the culture & language and just want to have a good lighthearted laugh. No mind blowing issues being discussed, no too deep thought provoking intentions...unlike many Israeli movies. Many funny one liners, clever sarcasm & very likeable & engaging characters _______________________________________________________________________




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