A fallen son

In the wake of cinematic success, David Grossman suffers the ultimate loss.

uri grossman 88 (photo credit: )
uri grossman 88
(photo credit: )
While Someone to Run With, an adaptation of David Grossman's novel of the same name, is playing in theaters, Grossman's son, Uri, was killed in Lebanon last Saturday. Uri Grossman, 20, was serving as a tank commander. I don't know the Grossman family but have met David Grossman briefly, although, like many of his readers, I feel that I know him from his work, and offer my condolences to him and his family. Grossman, whose books are both extremely cerebral and very cinematic (in addition to Someone to Run With, his early novel, Smile of the Lamb, was made into a movie), often features adolescents and children as protagonists. He is the author of the extremely beloved "Itamar" series for children (as well as several other children's books) and it is hard to imagine that his experiences as a father were not, at least sometimes, the inspiration for these gentle, funny and well-observed works. Grossman made no secret of his political views, which are to the left of the spectrum, and although he supported the retaliation against Hizbullah, he held a press conference last week with writers Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua calling for the government to negotiate a ceasefire. He also, along with writer Meir Shalev, read to children in shelters in the North. In mail I sometimes receive from readers, invariably from those who live in North America, I have been called a traitor and/or an anti-Zionist when I give favorable reviews to movies made by Palestinians or left-wing Israelis, and I can only imagine the slurs that Grossman must receive. But unlike Grossman's America-based ideological critics, he (and his family) took real risks and have paid the ultimate price. ALTHOUGH I AM now back in Israel, before I left New York I attended an early screening of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, the story of two cops pulled alive from the rubble of the WTC. There were tears, but no walkouts and no controversy, which is unusual for a Stone film. The character of the marine who volunteers to search for survivors is particularly heroic, and at the end, in a scene that would certainly receive the approval of the Bush administration, he takes a leave of absence and vows revenge on the 9/11 terrorists. Any discussion of who was responsible for the attacks is absent from the film, but several friends who lived through 9/11 in New York told me this was accurate. At first they experienced a sense of fear (it was not immediately clear that the attacks would be limited to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, after all), then amazement at the scale of the attacks and sorrow over the death toll. It took some time, they say, to start wondering who was behind it all, so in this sense the Stone version is not inauthentic. The fact that the film opened in August, which is traditionally when studios release movies they do not expect to be hits (usually because they really are the worst films of the year), doesn't bode well for its box-office prospects, and I didn't meet any New Yorkers who said they planned to see it. THE JERUSALEM CINEMATHEQUE is offering a few American classics from the archives this week, perhaps as an escape for those weary of war. On Sunday at 7 p.m, you can see Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch (1955), starring Marilyn Monroe as the siren who tempts loyal husband Tom Ewell when his wife and kids are away at their summer home. It's so dated it almost feels like a relic, but it is undeniably retro fun and features the famous scene where Monroe's dress flies up when she stands over a subway grate. Frank Capra's much earlier screwball comedy, It Happened One Night (1934), which is showing on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., holds up much better and tells the story of hard-boiled reporter Clark Gable who meets up with runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert), back in the days when heiresses were "madcap" rather than airheads like Paris Hilton. Of all the films in the Jerusalem Cinematheque's Brazil series, Lower City, starring Alice Braga, the niece of actress Sonia Braga, is one of the standouts. Braga plays a prostitute who gets involved in a love triangle with two men. It's playing on Thursday at 7 p.m.