Review: The American

By Jonathan Foreman, November 30, 2010

Do not believe the misleading action-packed trailers; The American is not really a thriller.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, a Dutch photographer justly famous for his music videos, it is a sombre, minimalist, very slow-moving exercise in arty style. Packed with film-buff references, it strains to evoke various alienated, "cool" spy/hitman/gangster films of the late '60s and '70s, ranging from Melville's pretentiously laconic The Samurai with Alain Delon, to paranoid American thrillers like The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor.


Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

By Jonathan Foreman, November 18, 2010

There is something wonderfully counter-cultural about the Harry Potter series. Mainstream mass entertainment product is increasingly aimed at people whose faculties of concentration and memory have been dulled by the sensational junk they have already consumed. But the Potter films, like J K Rowling's books on which they are based, have gone in the opposite direction. They get longer, slower and more complex (and therefore duller for non-believers), and expect ever more knowledge and effort from their audience.


Harry Potter and the Israeli muggle grave

By Jennifer Lipman, November 17, 2010

It has been described as a “billion-dollar Zionist project” by an Iranian newspaper and criticised for “corrupting” young souls by the pope. Now it turns out that Harry Potter does have a connection with the Holy Land.

Tourists have been flocking to the Israeli town of Ramla to visit the grave of Harry Potter, a British soldier who died as a teenager in 1939.

Private Potter, unlike his fictional counterpart, grew up in Birmingham and joined the army in 1938.

He was posted to what was then British Mandate Palestine and killed in battle the following year.


Review: The Yankles

By Katie Taylor, November 16, 2010

In the "Big inning" there was God, a few Yeshiva students and an ex-prisoner. The Yankles is a comedy about a group of Yeshiva students who have a calling from God to start a baseball team, aptly named, The Yankles.

It is a true comedic sight as an army of Yeshiva student baseball players, dressed in their uniform black and white suits, march on to the baseball pitch, with Tzizit hanging freely and Payot tumbling from their baseball helmets.


By Jenni Frazer, November 16, 2010 is a 50 minute excursion into the mysterious life of the strictly Orthodox in Israel and, specifically, their relationship with the Internet.

It feels, however, more like 50 hours, as the documentary directors Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak strain repetitively to persuade the viewers to warm to their two main protagonists.


Atonement Day

By Jenni Frazer, November 16, 2010

Kippur, or Atonement Day, is a sweet and rather unexpected short feature film made by the students of the Beit Berl College Film Department in Israel which candidly depicts the gap between religious and secular Jews.

Neta, a medical student, lives in a slightly squalid Tel Aviv apartment with a floating population of permanently stoned flatmates, most of whom spend their time either playing tv games or watching violent films.

For the flatmates, Yom Kippur is just like any other day; and for Neta, too, it's a day when she can take her bike out and cycle round the near deserted streets.


Clint Eastwood and British director honoured at Los Angeles gala

By Jennifer Lipman, November 15, 2010

The work of a Jewish filmmaker has been honoured alongside actor Clint Eastwood at a Los Angeles awards ceremony.

British-born writer and director Joshua Newton was praised for his Holocaust thriller Iron Cross at the Museum of Tolerance International Film Festival.

The film received one of two awards from the museum. The other was given to Mr Eastwood for "encouraging tolerance, justice and human rights" through his work.


Hague to sign Israel-Britain film deal

By Jennifer Lipman, November 2, 2010

William Hague is to sign a groundbreaking agreement cementing ties between the British and Israeli film industries.

The Foreign Secretary, who is in Israel for a two-day trip, is expected to sign the co-production deal tomorrow.

It will give Israeli film-makers the chance to benefit from the facilities and reputation of the British film industry and open up new channels for both countries’ film industries.


Review: Out of the Ashes

By Jonathan Foreman, November 1, 2010

If it were not for documentaries like Havana Marking's Afghan Star (about the local version of Pop Idol) which was a sensation last year, we in the UK could be forgiven for thinking of Afghanistan as simply a war zone rather than a fascinating country in which extraordinary changes have taken place since the overthrow of the Taliban regime.


On this day: Winona Ryder is born

By Jennifer Lipman, October 29, 2010

Winona Horowitz, perhaps better known as Ryder, was one of the most-sought after Hollywood actresses of the late 1990s.

The daughter of a Jewish author and publisher Michael Horowitz, she grew up on a commune with no electricity and was homeschooled for a period of time.

While still a teenager, she appeared in Tim Burton’s dark comedy Beetlejuice, a year later she challenged expectations of high school films with the cult favourite Heathers.