Cinefile by Hannah Brown

'The Squid and the Whale': Hit indie movie about cerebral New York family torn apart by divorce.

Squid and whale 88 (photo credit: )
Squid and whale 88
(photo credit: )
If you've been reading about the critical success of the indie film, The Squid and the Whale, by Noah Baumbach, and wondering when it would get to Israel, your wait is over. It will be at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. and will be opening throughout Israel next Thursday. Set in Brooklyn in the Eighties, it tells the story of a literary family torn apart by divorce, a milieu Baumbach, the son of former Village Voice movie critic, Georgia Brown, and novelist Jonathan Baumbach, knows well. Laura Linney (Kinsey, You Can Count On Me) and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber, Terms of Endearment) star as the parents, who Baumbach admits are modeled on his own. The puzzling title can be easily explained by anyone who grew up in New York: One of the dioramas in the "Ocean Life" section of the American Museum of Natural History depicts a giant squid and a sperm whale locked in combat. Baumbach previously made such films as Kicking and Screaming (1995) and Mr. Jealousy (1997). He co-wrote the bizarre Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), which starred Bill Murray as a failing Jacques Cousteau figure and featured a soundtrack of David Bowie songs translated into Portuguese. He's also co-writing Anderson's next film, The Fantatic Mr. Fox, an animated cartoon. FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, plans are underway for another New Testament-themed film, Nativity. But although this new film, which will tell the story of the lives of Mary and Joseph before Jesus' birth, will be set in the Holy Land, it won't be filmed here. The New Line Cinema project, which will be directed by Catherine Hardwicke ("thirteen"), is set to begin shooting in May, in locations in Morocco (the usual movie stand-in for Israel) and Italy. Keisha Castle-Hughes, the brilliant teen actress, who was the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in Whale Rider (2002), will star as Mary. According to reports, the film will take place in Nazareth and Bethlehem and will include such historical figures as King Herod and John the Baptist. Although Israel may be calmer than it was in 2000, when shooting on the Robert Redford-Brad Pitt thriller Spy Game was abruptly shut down due to the outbreak of the intifada, producers of big-budget films still aren't willing to invest in Israel. That may also be due to the cost of shooting here. In the early days of Spy Game, Haifa's then-mayor, Amram Mitzna, reportedly intervened when the filmmakers complained that local merchants were charging the production exorbitant fees. It's a shame that Israel can't attract big-budget productions, because these provide work for local crews and actors. Munich wasn't made here, either, although many Israeli actors such as Ayelet Zorer, Gila Almagor and Moshe Ivgy had speaking roles. A fairly long scene set at the Tel Aviv waterfront was shot in Malta, a substitution that was obvious to anyone familiar with the real thing. THE SERIES OF FILMS at the Jerusalem Cinematheque by students of Sapir College in the Negev continues with several documentaries. Children by Remote Control, which will be shown on Saturday at 6 p.m., looks at how Thai workers in Israel manage to maintain their relationships with the children they left behind. Afterwards, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a program of three short documentaries about Bedouin in Israel. On Monday at 9:30 p.m., Sabba, a look at director Amram Jacobi's Baghdad-born grandfather, will be shown. Throughout the month, the films of Shunji Iwai, the young Japanese director best known for All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001), are being screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. On Sunday at 7 p.m., you can see his first feature film, Love Letter, the story of two young women mourning for the same young man who was killed in an accident. On Monday night, those of you who yearn to experience Middle Earth again on the big screen can do so at the Jerusalem Cinematheque's Lord of the Rings marathon. This marathon, which features 560 minutes of Orcs attacking, hobbits hiding and Hollywood hunks (Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen), kicks off at 9 p.m. Imagine how those who sit through all three flicks will look when it lets out around 6 a.m. This one is not for the faint of heart.