'Honey Trap's truth, Diana's struggles and Disney' rom-coms

These movies and TV shows should be added to your "must-watch list."

 A SCENE FROM ‘Honey Trap.’ (photo credit: HOT 8)
A SCENE FROM ‘Honey Trap.’
(photo credit: HOT 8)

Sometimes when you read an article in the newspaper, you realize that what is written is just the tip of the iceberg and that you really know very little about what happens outside your own community. Honey Trap is a gracefully made, informative and interesting documentary that uses a news story (a tender for a neighborhood-wide renovation in Rehovot’s Kiryat Moshe section) as a springboard to take an in-depth look at the city’s Ethiopian community.

The documentary was directed by Alamork Davidian, who made the acclaimed feature film, Fig Tree, about a young Ethiopian woman struggling with her decision to move to Israel, and her husband Kobi Davidian, a producer-director.

Honey Trap, which was shown at the Haifa International Film Festival and the Cinema South Festival in Sderot, follows the Ethiopian community in this neighborhood for eight years, as activists work hard to get the urban renewal plan approved. The buildings here were constructed hastily in the 1950s to house immigrants and are now dilapidated and beyond repair. 

The complicated tender will enable them to move away while the buildings are rebuilt by developers, who will upgrade them and add many new apartments that they will sell at top prices, which is where they make their profit. In the long run, it will improve the residents’ lives, but the plan sounds confusing and threatening to the mostly Ethiopian residents, many of whom are elderly. Community activists spent years educating the residents about their rights and how the renovation can help the neighborhood. 

What is the movie about?

 Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Disney +, HBO Max, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu and Prime video logos, in this illustration taken January 20, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION) Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Disney +, HBO Max, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu and Prime video logos, in this illustration taken January 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

The movie focuses on two activists whose energy and dedication are admirable, but you can also sense their frustration and exhaustion. Hanna is a single mother going through a divorce who runs a catering business; Kevret is a young law student who works in a gas station. They and a few other devoted residents have to steer the wary residents, many of whom do not speak Hebrew, through a sea of real-estate sharks who might or might not want to take advantage of them. Through the lens of this struggle, a portrait of the community emerges, filled with contradictions. 

Honey Trap is exceptionally well made. It is beautifully photographed and there are no talking heads pontificating. The activists and community members get to tell their own stories, which are quite memorable, and the movie is worth seeing even if you have never heard about the issue before.

It will air on HOT 8 on November 20 at 9 p.m. and will be available on HOT VOD.

New season of The Crown on Netflix

BY NOW you’ve likely read quite a bit about the new fifth season of Netflix’s The Crown and you may have watched some or all of it. So I’ll cut to the chase and pinpoint what I think is the real problem with this season: Diana. 

Elizabeth Debicki is a fine actress and gives an accomplished performance as Diana. If you had never seen the real princess, the series’ portrayal of her would be fine. But we all saw so much of Diana, enough to know that she was one of the most charismatic figures of the 20th century, a movie star and a rock star rolled into one, with an unerring sense of how to talk to all kinds of people and a face the camera loved. 

I remember a news report of her speaking to a young AIDS patient and the empathy she displayed for him was remarkable, as was the dignity she allowed him to express. Her poise and charm in this potentially difficult situation went beyond anything that can be taught and revealed her as a person of substance as well as a fashion plate. 

Any actress playing her is faced with the problem of how to portray such a well-known person, and I would say that of all the screen Dianas we have had – including Kristen Stewart in Spencer, Naomi Watts in Diana and Emma Corrin in previous seasons of The Crown – Debicki is the best. The trouble is that Diana was so much better than anyone else could ever be at playing herself. 

Disney+ offers more than just movies geared to kids

AS MORE streaming services vie for viewers’ attention, it’s hard to know which ones will be the most worthwhile for you and your family. While everyone associates Disney+ with children’s programming (mainly from Disney and Pixar), I have been pleasantly surprised recently by the movies they offer aimed at an older demographic. 

These include a library of movies from the ’80s onward, some of which have become modern classics, such as James L. Brooks’s Broadcast News, a 1987 comic gem that stars Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks (no relation to the director) as the staff at a Washington network news station. 

For anyone interested in journalism, as well as for any rom-com fan, this is must viewing. Another enjoyable offering is Mike Nichols’s 1988 Working Girl, with Melanie Griffith as a secretary striving to make deals rather than coffee. It co-stars Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver, and features a beautiful, Oscar-winning theme song by Carly Simon. 

Miami Rhapsody is an underseen comedy from 1995 with Sarah Jessica Parker as a young woman confused by the sudden breakup of many marriages around her, and stars Mia Farrow and Paul Mazursky as her parents. Other titles on Disney+ include Ron Howard’s Splash, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah; 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton; and Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. 

NETFLIX HAS added some more classic films to their relatively small list recently, mostly gritty dramas such as Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro (Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino are also available) and Brian De Palma’s Scarface. Quentin Tarantino is also well represented on Netflix, with such films as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds. 

Of all the Tarantino films on Netflix, I would recommend Jackie Brown, his 1998 adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch, which stars Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson in what many feel is the best Leonard adaptation ever. 

Leonard was the king of crime thrillers, but few movies based on his books captured his wit and depth. Tarantino used the carte blanche he got from the mega-success of his previous film, Pulp Fiction, extremely wisely by insisting on casting Grier and Forster. 

These two actors were considered has-beens by the movie studios but gave incredible performances. Thanks to their roles in Jackie Brown, their careers were reinvigorated, and Forster got a well-deserved Oscar nomination.