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In an unusual move, Brokeback Mountain fans who feel it was robbed of Best Picture honors by the surprise win of Crash have been taking out full page ads in movie industry newspapers such as Variety to say that the gay love story is their Best Picture. My take on the Crash upset is that, in addition to its trendy racial politics, Crash focused on a subject that is a major part of Los Angeles life: cars and driving. Not since Repo Man (1984), a look at L.A.'s car culture from the point of view of the guys who repossess cars, has a film spotlighted the importance of cars in the City of Angels. Although Crash doesn't have any lines as witty as this insight from Repo Man - "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are" - it is the rare film from a driver's eye view.
Comedy fans will want to check out the cartoon Brokeback parody at www.angryalien.com, a site which features 30-second animated versions of famous movies (past and present) with rabbits in the human roles. This brilliant site is a must for movie lovers, but remember: The parodies of R-rated movies are also R-rated. It's not a kids' site.
One more thought on the Oscars: While winners such as Best Supporting Actor George Clooney were congratulating the movie industry (and themselves) for making films of political import, consider the winner in the Best Documentary category: March of the Penguins. The adorable birds beat out films on corporate corruption (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room); ecological devastation in Africa brought on by economic factors (Darwin's Nightmare); disabled men reclaiming control over their lives by taking part in a violent sporting event (Murderball); and a contest among two very different black candidates for mayor in Newark (Streetfight). While some may argue Penguins was the best film of the bunch, no one can say it was the most political. Where was the Academy's much-praised courage and trend-setting when it came to this category?
THOSE INTERESTED in documentaries will want to see the film that won in that category at the Jerusalem Film Festival last summer, Sisai by David Gavro, which is showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The movie tells the story of a 20-year-old Ethiopian immigrant who was adopted by another Ethiopian family. Sisai faces conflicts with both the Ethiopian community and the rabbinate when he decides to marry. The movie was made by his adopted brother.
Marking 30 years since the military coup in Argentina, the Jerusalem Cinematheque is showing two movies that deal with the subject. On Tuesday at 5 p.m., you can see Hector Olivera's 1988 film, The Night of the Pencils. Set in 1976, it focuses on the tragic fate of seven student activists. It's based on the memoirs of the only member of the group to survive. On Wednesday at 5 p.m., the 2003 Kamchatka by Marcelo Pineyro, will be screened. This excellent film, which inexplicably did not garner that much attention when it opened, stars Ricardo Darin and Cecilia Roth as two Buenos Aires professionals, the parents of two young boys, who are forced to go into hiding with their entire family when the junta takes over. The story is told from the point of view of the older boy, who doesn't really understand what is going on and at first is just glad to be missing school.
TO COMMEMORATE the recent death of singer/actress Shoshana Damari, the Jerusalem Cinematheque is showing the film Lacking a Homeland (1956), on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Directed by Nuri Habib, it stars Damari as a Jewish nightclub singer in Yemen in the Twenties who becomes concerned about her Jewish identity and joins a group of Jews heading for Palestine. Shaike Ophir co-stars.
Two films are premiering at the Jerusalem Cinematheque this week. Separate Lies, directed by Julian Fellowes, will be shown on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. This highly praised movie stars Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson in a story of a bourgeois couple whose life is changed by a mysterious car accident.
John Turturro is an actor best known for his eccentric roles in movies such as the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski, but he also directs. His third film as director, Romance and Cigarettes, will be screened on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. James Ganolfini (Tony on The Sopranos) stars with Susan Sarandon as a working-class New York couple.