Cinefile: March 10

Close to Home, which just won the International Confederation of Art Cinemas Prize in Berlin, will open soon throughout Israel.

hannah brown 88 (photo credit: )
hannah brown 88
(photo credit: )
The Israeli film, Close to Home, which just won the International Confederation of Art Cinemas Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, will open soon throughout Israel. Directed by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager, it tells the story of two female soldiers assigned to guard the center of Jerusalem. It's a story we haven't seen before and it's also a rare movie filmed entirely in Jerusalem. It will certainly make you take a new look at female soldiers and the whole issue of keeping the city center secure. THIS MONTH the Jerusalem Cinematheque is presenting films made by students at Sapir College, the up-and-coming film school in Sderot and Israel's only film school located in the Negev. Meital Abecassis' White Walls will be screened at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday night. It's the story of an independent young woman who faces conflict after the death of her more traditional grandmother. Ronen Amar's Family Pizza, the story of a family-run pizzeria in Sderot, will be shown on Wednesday at 8 p.m. On Friday, March 17 at 10 p.m., Amit Russ and Yair Koyfman's Lost in a Moment will be screened. It tells the story of two friends who head for India after the army, and the crisis that follows when one of them disappears. ALERTING ALL Hollywood musical lovers: The Jerusalem Cinematheque is having a marathon of relatively recent musicals on Tuesday night starting at 10 p.m., in celebration of Purim. This news should be particularly welcome to Orthodox film fans, who usually have to miss out on the marathons, which are generally held on Friday nights. It kicks off with Grease, and if you're of a certain age, you'll remember that back in the summer of 1978, that soundtrack, one of the bestselling movie soundtracks in history, was playing everywhere, all the time. While the songs aren't the world's most memorable, the sight of the young and beautiful leads, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, belting out "You're the One I Want," will certainly stir a few memories. Stockard Channing, currently the First Lady on West Wing, gives a funny performance as tough-gal Rizzo. Hollywood veterans Joan Blondell, Sid Cesar, Eve Arden, and Frankie Avalon also join the party. Next up is the innovative movie version of the Sixties stage classic, Hair (1979), directed by Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). More a Seventies film than a Sixties nostalgia fest, Forman mixed song-and-dance, drama, comedy and social commentary seamlessly and the result is an engaging film that holds up remarkably well. (Full disclosure: I was an extra in the Central Park scenes.) Treat Williams gives the performance of his career as Berger, the fast-talking leader of the band of hippies, while John Savage looked as if he would become a huge star after playing Claude, the na ve young recruit about to be sent to Vietnam. The funky dance numbers by Twyla Tharp gave the film energy and originality and the song numbers are wittily staged. It's rare for a musical to age this well. The last film in the marathon, Moulin Rouge! (2001), directed by Baz Luhrmann, an elaborately staged and costumed mix of contemporary pop music set against a background of 1899 Paris, stars a gorgeous Nicole Kidman as a courtesan, Ewan McGregor as her fresh-faced suitor and John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec. In spite of its ambitions, the final result is rather chilly and the most memorable aspect of the film is Kidman's sexy costumes. But those who like this movie are passionate about it. ON TUESDAY MORNING at 10 a.m., the Jerusalem Cinematheque is having one of its rare children's programs, "Animation with Kofiko." Bracha Shlita will be on hand to explain the art of animation and then show children animated cartoons featuring Kofiko, the children's book hero. This will be followed by a screening of Mary Poppins, dubbed into Hebrew, another film that made innovative use of cartoons. Given that this program opens with a lecture-demonstration, it won't be suitable for very young children who will simply want to watch cartoons. MUSIC LOVERS will also want to check out the tribute to Israeli songwriter and musician Sasha Argov, who contributed a great deal of music to Israeli cinema, on Thursday at 6 p.m. There will be a lecture by Michael Wolpe and a concert by students of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, followed by a screening of the 1967 film, He Walked Through the Fields, for which Argov wrote the music. Starring Assi Dayan, it's based on the play by Moshe Shamir about a tormented kibbutznik.