Maybe you didn’t get to the Jerusalem Film Festival as much as you would have liked this year or maybe you didn’t get to it at all. Don’t despair because some of the highlights from the festival, and many other good films that came out this past year, will be showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque throughout the month.
Short Term 12 is an American indie that was very popular with festival audiences last month. It tells the story of Grace (Brie Larson, an actress who is regularly hailed as one of the next big stars – you may remember her as Toni Collette’s daughter on The United States of Tara), a young staffer at a residential facility for (very) troubled teens. Grace seems to have it all together – the residents and staff all look up to her – but it’s clear from her home life that she is as tormented as any of her charges. She lives with Mason (John Gallagher Jr, who plays Jim on HBO’s The Newsroom), a fellow staffer and a decent guy who loves her. It’s not clear at first why it’s a crisis for her when she discovers she’s pregnant, but gradually, as she tries to help a new resident, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), her own sad story is revealed.
While this may sound like a grim story, Larson’s incandescent performance and the humor and affection for the characters raise it to a level way above a movie of the week.
Short Term 12 is playing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on August 1 at 10 p.m., August 2 at 9:30 p.m. and August 3 at 7 p.m.
Vanessa Lapa’s The Decent One was awarded the Van Leer Fund Prize for Best Documentary at this year’s festival, a category that was especially competitive this year. It focuses on Heinrich Himmler, the architect of Hitler’s Final Solution, using recently discovered letters, photos and diaries. It will be shown on August 2 at 9:15 p.m.
Stephen Frears’s Philomena wasn’t shown at this year’s film festival, but the director was a guest at the festival in 2001, at the height of the second intifada. Philomena, which was released in late 2013, was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Judi Dench.
The film is a fact-based drama about an Irish woman who got pregnant out of wedlock, gave up her baby for adoption, and then was denied any information about him for decades. It’s kind of a companion piece to The Magdalene Sisters, the 2002 film about young Irish women forced to labor in laundries run by the church. Steve Coogan co-stars.
Philomena is playing on August 2 at 9:15 p.m. and August 3 at 9 p.m.
There’s not much middle ground on director Wes Anderson’s films – people either love them or hate them. He’s best known for Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). His films can be a bit precious. His latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, falls into that category, but his fans will enjoy it anyway. It’s playing on August 2 at 5 p.m.
Siddarth, a thought-provoking movie about a father in India who sends his son to work in a factory for a month and then searches for him all across the country after he disappears is playing on August 10 at 9:15 p.m., August 11 at 9 p.m., and August 12 at 7 p.m.
The Jerusalem Cinematheque is offering a number of films to mark the centenary of World War I. My recommendation from these is The African Queen (1951), which is showing on August 7 at 5 p.m. It’s one of the most glorious romance/adventure movies ever made. Directed by John Huston, it stars Humphrey Bogart (in his only Oscar-winning performance) as the hard-drinking captain of a small cargo boat in Africa, who picks up Rose (Katharine Hepburn), a missionary who was left stranded in the jungle when the war broke out. She persuades him to attack a German warship, and it’s both very suspenseful and very funny.