'I Care a Lot,' 'Sweetie's Party': Must watch shows, movies in Israel

What's new to watch on TV and streaming?

THE CAST of ‘Nafas.’ (photo credit: HOT)
THE CAST of ‘Nafas.’
(photo credit: HOT)
 It’s nice to know that Meghan and Harry actually admit to watching The Crown like the rest of us, as we learned in their recent tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast here on Yes Drama. They have a development deal with Netflix and are reportedly planning to create a series about Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, who was a major character on the last season of The Crown. 
These days, a lot of us could use another good series about relatable characters with interesting problems, like The Crown, but Netflix has been giving us a lot of dark shows recently that have not provided the escape many of us are craving. I Care a Lot, starring Rosamund Pike, is a movie about a woman who makes her living as a court-appointed guardian for elderly people whose health is beginning to falter. Even if they can still live on their own, she puts them in care facilities and liquidates their assets, taking a hefty profit for herself, but she makes a big mistake when she institutionalizes a woman (Dianne Wiest) who turns out to have a secret connection to an eccentric but brutal crime lord (Peter Dinklage). 
It’s done in the style of David O. Russell’s American Hustle, where attractive and articulate villains tell their thoughts in voiceover, which makes us root for them at times, if a bit queasily. The highlight is Dinklage as the gangster. You probably remember him as Tyrion in Game of Thrones, but here he gets to project low-key menace in what seems to be the role he was born to play. While this film has a few twists and it can be fun at times, its underlying subject makes it a bit depressing. 
In the run-up to the election, you might want to check out the new series on KAN, Sweetie’s Party (Motek bul B’Emtza) which is running on Channel 11 on Sunday-Thursday at 9:15 p.m. and is also available on the KAN website (kan.org.il) The series focuses on a reality TV star, Motek (Gily Itskovitch), who, through a not-so-improbable series of coincidences, becomes a Knesset member for a party that calls its position “the extreme center.” 
Created by Shmuel Hasfari, much of it is a retread of his beloved show, Polishuk, in which Sasson Gabai played a hapless politician who became the minister of social advancement, a nonsense position much like the ones that were created to accommodate the unprecedented numbers of ministers in the recent government. That series was from a few years ago, and this Knesset satire has updated its jokes by poking fun at three elements: the insane level of political correctness and identity politics even the most centrist politician must play, the way that social media and the 24-hour news cycle have changed the game and, finally and most damningly, the huge salaries and perks that Knesset members currently receive. 
At first the heroine thinks the Knesset is just a game that will enhance her Instagram feed, but when she decides to try to make some positive changes, she is in for a rude awakening. Itskovitch is very pretty, but is a bit understated for the role. The character actors who surround her get to have a lot more fun in this Israeli version of Veep. 
IF YOU WANT a break from politics, you might try the five-part series Small Axe, which consists of five self-contained films by Steve McQueen (the director who made 12 Years a Slave, not the actor who was in The Getaway) about the West Indian community in London in the late ‘60s-early ‘80s. These films have won him comparisons to French master director Francois Truffaut for the authentic portrayals of the lives of young immigrants. John Boyega of Star Wars is one of the headliners. It is showing on Yes Drama Movies on Mondays at 9 p.m. and is also available on Yes VOD and Sting TV.
The next Israeli series that may well be a hit around the world is Maysaloun Hamoud’s Nafas, which will begin showing on Hot 3 on March 11 at 10:15 p.m. and is also available on Hot VOD and Next TV. Hamoud’s 2016 film, In Between, about three young Arab women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv was a huge critical success, and Nafas, her followup, has been much anticipated. It’s a darkly comic crime drama that may remind you a bit of Quentin Tarantino’s films and the Netflix series Money Heist. It stars Maisa Abd Elhadi (Netflix’s The Angel, Tel Aviv on Fire), Ala Dakka and Hisham Suliman from Fauda, Salim Dao (Arab Labor, Avanti Popolo) and many other of Israel’s top actors. It’s in Arabic and Hebrew, with Hebrew titles. If it’s hard for you to read in Hebrew, just wait and it will be on Apple TV or Netflix before you know it.