WikiLeaks: Spielberg boycotted for Israel support

By Jennifer Lipman, December 20, 2010

Film director Steven Spielberg was the subject of an Arab League boycott for his support of Israel, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed.

The Jewish filmmaker gave $1 million to Israel in 2006 during the second Lebanon war.

In response, members of the Arab League voted to block the sale or distribution of his work, covering films including the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List and Munich\, the story of the aftermath of the Munich Olympic attacks.


On this day: Gone With the Wind premieres

By Jennifer Lipman, December 15, 2010

Jewish producer David O Selznick earned an Oscar for the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind. The film, first shown in a star-studded Atlanta screening on December 15, won ten Academy Awards in total and the date of its premiere was declared a state holiday by the governor of Georgia.


Golden Globes: Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network up for awards

By Jennifer Lipman, December 14, 2010

Jewish screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his film about the creation of Facebook.

The Social Network, which stars Jewish actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, is up for best screenplay at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

It has also been placed in the category for Best Film, while its stars have been nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

To take the prize The Social Network will have to beat the forthcoming drama about rivalry in the ballet world, Black Swan.


Review: The Tourist

By Jonathan Foreman, December 9, 2010

The Lives of Others was such a brilliant achievement that it is hard to believe that writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck could make a misfire as dire as The Tourist. The involvement of Julian Fellowes in the screenplay makes it seem even more of a bizarre failure.

A romantic thriller-cum-comedy, it stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, flanked by the likes of Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton and Rufus Sewell (Jolie is the only female character).


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.