Israelis cast aside differences

June 17, 2010

A new Israeli film, Ajami, which opens in the UK this week, tells the story of co-existence amid mutual suspicion in the eponymous neighbourhood in Jaffa – chosen because this is a district where Jews, Muslims and Christians are able to live together as neighbours, despite their emnity.

The film, itself a Jewish-Arab collaboration by Jewish writer/director Yaron Shani and his Arab-Israeli colleague Scandar Copti, tells the stories of a small group of characters.


Review: The Killer Inside Me

By Jonathan Foreman, June 3, 2010

I was dreading The Killer Inside Me. I knew from multiple spoiler-filled articles in the Sunday papers and elsewhere that Michael Winterbottom's version of the book by pulp novelist Jim Thompson features scenes of extremely graphic violence.

I also knew that Winterbottom had justified his depiction of vicious violence in the predictable pseudo-high-minded way of "serious" filmmakers who court controversy by indulging in slasher-film cruelty - it apparently is important that we filmgoers get a lesson in what violence really looks like.


Inside Israel's Oscar film factory

June 3, 2010

There is no doubt that Israeli film now commands a significant international presence. However, what is less well known is that so many award-winning Israeli directors, writers and producers are graduates of Tel Aviv University's (TAU) Film and Television School.

Situated in a non-descript grey building on the Ramat Aviv campus, where cats lurk in its basement corridors and studios are piled with what on first glance appears to be junk, it is described by its academics and former students as "special".


Review: Prince of Persia - Sands of Time

By Jonathan Foreman, May 21, 2010

The first of this year's summer movies, Prince of Persia, is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the master of the visually slick, action-packed but sexless modern blockbuster aimed at pre-adolescent boys. Like so many recent movies, it is based on a video game. It is perhaps because of this that it is less engaging than the films it draws inspiration from, like The Mummy trilogy, and the Indiana Jones series.


Review: Lebanon

By Jonathan Foreman, May 13, 2010

Israel's military conscription and precarious existence ensure that citizens who would never be anywhere near uniforms or guns if they lived in another country can find themselves at the sharp end of modern warfare.

Whatever that means for the country's military - and Lebanon hints that a budding filmmaker is not necessarily who you want next to you in combat - it does mean that Israeli artists of all kinds are exposed to experiences that are rarely presented their equivalents in other countries.


Review: Hot Tub time Machine

By Jonathan Foreman, May 6, 2010

The title seems to say it all, as with the dumb but successful "high-concept" comedy, Snakes on A Plane. But Hot Tub Time Machine turns out to be a peculiar and often surprisingly effective hodgepodge of genres and comic styles.


George Lucas' Star Wars peace plan

By Jessica Elgot, April 29, 2010

George Lucas made his name chronicling a conflict in a galaxy far, far away. Now the creator of Star Wars is trying to help resolve a conflict on Planet Earth, one infinitely more complex than the Jedi knights' battle with the evil Empire.

The notoriously publicity-shy film director, whose six Star Wars films has made him a fortune of $3.5 billion, made a rare visit to London this week to advise an Israeli and a Palestinian film student on how to direct movies, and in doing so build a bridge over the Middle East divide.


Barmitzvah Boy on DVD

By Simon Rocker, April 29, 2010

Maureen Lipman has long bewailed the BBC's failure to release her late husband Jack Rosenthal's plays on DVD.

At last, good news: independent distributors Acorn Media have taken on the challenge and are planning to bring out a box set of his TV classics such as The Barmitzvah Boy and The Evacuees early next year.

Acorn's Peter Smart said: "We monitor all the requests we get and Jack Rosenthal comes up time and time again."


Review: Date Night

By Jonathan Foreman, April 22, 2010

Both Tina Fey, the star and writer of the TV comedy series 30 Rock, and Steve Carroll, the star of the US version of The Office, have a talent for deadpan humour. They make a fine team and an appealing couple in Date Night, a genuinely funny date movie for grown-ups that harks back to '70s comedy thrillers like Foul Play and Silver Streak.

The Fosters, a hard-working middle aged couple from suburban New Jersey, try to reignite their marriage with a special date night at a fashionable Manhattan restaurant.


Review: Extract

By Jonathan Foreman, April 22, 2010

In 1999 the cartoonist Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, directed Office Space, his first live-action feature film. It was an inspired, often brilliantly funny satirical evisceration of modern white-collar life.