cemetery club 88.
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Another one of the handful of Israeli movies made in the past year is having a premiere screening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. prior to its general release, although the buzz on Comrade is not particularly encouraging. Directed by Eyal Shiray, it's a coming-of-age film about a teen boy, a genre that Israeli filmmakers have a history of bungling. It follows a boy (Adam Hirsh) who runs away to live with his sister in Tel Aviv. She was thrown out of the house by their parents after she dated an Arab. The boy befriends one of her neighbors, a quirky Communist who is still obsessed with the Spanish Civil War and makes a living selling marijuana. Assi Dayan, who has been everywhere in films and television this year, plays the neighbor, while Tinkerbell, who hasn't been seen nearly enough since winning a Best Actress Ophir award six years ago for Ha'Hesder, is the sister. Going against the film is the fact that its Hebrew title, B'karov Yikre L'cha Mashehu Tov, literally, "Soon, Something Good Will Happen to You," is in the same spirit as two other ironic titles of very grim recent movies, Joy and What a Wonderful Place. But it's too early to say whether "Comrade" will be the film that reverses the trend of so-so recent local films. ISRAELI DOCUMENTARIES have been decidedly stronger than feature films during the past year, and one of the most highly praised films that was shown at the recent Docaviv festival, The Cemetery Club, will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Thursday at 9 p.m., in the presence of director Tali Shemesh. Shemesh focuses on an informal club of older Israelis who have dubbed themselves "the Mt. Herzl Academy" and meet at the national cemetery to discuss current events, literature, history and all manner of topics. The director's grandmother and her great aunt are part of this club, and the film is a portrait of them as well as of a generation. If you've ever felt that most elderly Israelis have an incredible story to tell, then you'll find this film intriguing. Shemesh won the Tel Aviv Mayor's Award at Docaviv for Cemetery.
THE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL (see cover story) is currently on at cinematheques throughout the country, and this year the organizers have chosen to feature French-language films from around the world as well as from France. Among these, several come from Africa, including Kirikou and the Sorceress on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, and Little Senegal, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Kirikou is an animated film by Michel Ocelot, a French-Belgian co-production that dramatizes a West African legend about a baby who challenges a witch. It features haunting images and a beautiful soundtrack by Senegalese composer Youssou N'Dour. Little Senegal, directed by Rachid Bouchareb, is a feature film about a Senegalese tour guide who goes to New York to track down long-lost relatives who were separated from his family when they were sold into slavery. Although the plot might sound schematic, it's a charming and moving look at a clash of cultures.
CALL IT THE FIRST MOCKUMENTARY. Woody Allen's first film as director, Take the Money and Run (1968), which is playing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Thursday at 5 p.m., is a documentary-style comedy about a bank robber (Allen), told from prison. Although it isn't Allen's funniest or most inventive film, it is still very funny and now, with reality TV all the rage, is more topical than ever. These days, when he makes films like Match Point in which the d cor is more interesting than the characters and there isn't a trace of humor anywhere, it's interesting to note that he planned a gory ending for Take the Money, a slow-motion climax meant to be a parody of the violent ending of Bonnie and Clyde. After he delivered the first cut of his movie to the studio, they asked him to sit down with a far more experienced film editor, Ralph Rosenblum, who immediately cut the bloody ending and trimmed the film down to the lean and funny 85 minutes it now runs. Best scene: the illegible stickup note.