Although the final nominees for the prizes of the European Film Academy have not been announced yet, two Israeli films made the list of movies from which the nominees will be chosen. These are Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz's To Take A Wife, the story of a Mizrahi family in Haifa falling apart, and Eran Riklis' The Syrian Bride, about a how a Druze family in northern Israel is affected when one of its daughters decides to marry her cousin in Syria. Last year, Assi Levi was nominated for a Best Actress award for her performance in Raphael Nadjari's Stones, but she didn't win. The nominees for specific awards will be announced in early November, and the awards ceremony will take place in Berlin on December 3.
Big Eyes (1973), one of the last films by Uri Zohar, the onetime comedian/director/writer/actor who became an ultra-Orthodox rabbi in the late Seventies, is showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Saturday at 7 p.m. In it he plays Benny Forman, a married basketball coach who is a womanizer. His friend, singer Arik Einstein, has a supporting role and sings the wonderful title song. Co-starring in the film are Elia Zohar, Uri's wife then and now, as well as Alona Einstein, Arik Einstein's then-wife, and Sima Eliyahu, the actress who has been Einstein's partner for the past 20 years. It would be impossible to watch this movie today without remembering that after the Zohars made their break and began living a Haredi lifestyle, Alona Einstein followed suit, and that two Zohar sons are married to two Einstein daughters. Arik Einstein remains an unrepentant secularist, although he is close to his daughters and attended their weddings, which took place in the Eighties. It's an amazing story and makes the movie worth a look, although it is not considered one of Zohar's best.
The latest film by the Dardennes brothers, L'Enfant, won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival and has its Israeli premiere at the Haifa Film Festival this week. It will then be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. Critical darlings all over the world, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes are among the select group of brave artists who visited Israel over the past five years. They were guests at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2003, during a period when many American Jewish filmmakers were staying away. But the Dardennes were happy to bring their last film, Le Fils, about a teacher who discovers that one of the students in his carpentry course murdered his son. L'Enfant is the story of a petty thief whose life changes when his girlfriend has a baby. The Dardennes brothers' movies are slow and demanding by the standards of most viewers, but intense and heartfelt. Their earlier films, La Promesse (1996) and Rosetta (1999), are marginally more accessible. L'Enfant will be opening throughout Israel soon.
It's official: Daniel Craig will be the new James Bond. If, like many viewers, you've given up on the James Bond movies over the past few years because they've become so mechanical and lifeless, the news won't mean much. Although Pierce Brosnan was really pretty good as Bond, I stopped seeing Bond movies when he switched from an Aston Martin to a BMW, which was one of the series' sponsors. It was just too dispiriting to see England's top spy driving a German car and to realize that the whole movie had become little more than a series of product placements, otherwise known as commercials. But the movies still do big business, probably mainly among younger viewers who do not know what an Aston Martin is. Craig is an interesting choice for the lead because he is known for being a gifted actor more than as a hunk. He is probably best known for his portrayal of poet Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath in Sylvia. He was seen recently as the contractor who has an affair with a much older woman in Mother. He also stars in Steven Spielberg's upcoming Munich. He will star in the twenty-first Bond film, which will be based on the Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale. A comic version was filmed in 1967, starring Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress (the first Bond girl), David Niven, Orson Welles and Woody Allen (as Bond's bumbling son, Jimmy).
Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, known for his depictions of homosexuality and sadomasochism, once visited Israel and Jordan, looking for locations for his film, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Apparently he was disappointed with what he found in this region, but he made a movie chronicling his journey, Sopralluoghi in Palestina (1964). This cinematic oddity will be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Wednesday at 9 p.m. as part of Italian Language Week, and will be followed by a panel discussion in Hebrew and Italian with Professor Yitzhak Laor, Danny Muggia, Dr. Emigiano Zabaraglia and Giovanni Lindo Pra.