5 April 2019.
A rich array of releases this week – do not miss them!
Ruth Bader Ginsberg has not only been a judge on the Supreme Court of the United States since 1993, but she has been a persistent ground-breaker in the struggle for equal rights between men and women since her early years.
The beauty of her method was in her quiet but persevering manner which she had from her school days through working long hours as a lawyer and a dedicated wife and mother. She also had the moral support of a very understanding husband who was there for her every step of the way.
This exceptional documentary (more powerful than “On the Basis of Sex”, the fictionalized film version of her young years) by Betsy West and Julie Cohen tells both their stories, but of course mainly hers, showing how she gently broke sexual and discriminatory barriers starting off in her brilliant years at Harvard Law School.
It uses family footage, interviews and historical events to illustrate how this tiny, tireless woman, even now at 86, had the stamina and gumption to grow through the ranks to the very zenith of her profession – not for her own glory, but for the very logical idea of gender equality.
I have to confess that I have never been a fan of man-hating, hardcore feminism, and have looked with disdain at some of the exaggerations of the #MeToo movement. However, the honorable Ms Ginsberg has reinforced my conviction in the importance of fairness, with her delicate yet iron will and intelligence. She may be the Mandela of equality in all its forms – impressive and inspiring!
TEL AVIV ON FIRE **** (vo Hebrew/Arabic)
A Palestinian soap opera on Israeli TV, about a love triangle between an alluring Arab spy, an Israeli army officer and a Palestinian ‘freedom fighter’, is a huge success on both sides of the wall.
Thirty year-old Salam, who is helping with the translation of the Arabic and Hebrew dialogue, gets a stab at writing some of the scenarios. The plot thickens when an ambitious Israeli border officer, whose wife and mother love the soap, also gets involved in writing the script (shades of Woody Allen’s “Bullets over Broadway”), putting his own Israeli twist into the show. This tongue-in-cheek satire on life between Arabs and Jews in modern-day Jerusalem/Ramallah is a wonderfully balanced view of how all sides might be content if opposing egos could be somehow appeased: a peaceful, enticing pipe-dream.
The film is deliciously clever, probably because its Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi, born in 1975, had an incredibly eclectic upbringing. Graduated from Tel Aviv University, he finished his cinema studies on a Fulbright scholarship at Columbia University, had residences at both the Cannes and Sundance festivals, picked up various prizes for his four previous films, and got his main protagonist, Kais Nashif, a Best Actor award at this year’s Berlin festival for his latest film. That is some resume for a “minority” citizen in Israel. But such a background is exactly what creates the sort of artist that can make a film that delights and surprises without taking sides. Here’s a daring, wishful-thinking comedy that should not be missed.
LE VOYAGE DE BASHO *** (vo French)
Basho was one of Japan’s most renowned poets and philosophers in the late 17th century, a master of the fine art of Haiku, the condensed three-line poetry of Japan.
Swiss director Richard Dindo has created a sublime homage to the man and his work through this film which follows the footsteps of the master (played by a Japanese monk) as he travels along the magnificent vistas of Japan, through the seasons, reciting from Basho’s journals and some of his Haikus.
Each frame is a beautiful portrait, a tranquil meditation, a journey into the soul of the man and his country. It is a moment of reflection and contemplation on nature, the very essence of his poetry.
(Showing at the Grutli cinema)
Like the wildly amusing, innovative movie “KickAss” of some years ago, this parody of the superhero films starts off with tenderness. It concerns an adolescent who has been shuttled from foster home to foster home while desperately searching for his biological mother.
When he finally lands with a large, loving new family, he takes his time to unwind and shrug off his hard outer shell.
In the meantime, there is an evil parallel underworld made up of the seven deadly sins that is scheming to come to power. This is where our young hero inadvertently comes into his newfound superpowers.
It’s all fun and games until now, and we’re coasting along with the kid as he delights in his various new powers, trying them out with his enthusiastic younger foster brother.
But then, this being a wannabe Hollywood blockbuster and the obvious beginnings of a new franchise, it takes an unfortunate turn into excessive violence and destruction, probably trying to outdo the next superhero blockbuster.
It becomes corrosive, exhausting, and definitely detrimental for young audiences, towards which it is slanted. If this is their entertainment, it is also mind-bendingly insidious, making all this mayhem the ‘norm’ for our future generations. And then we wonder why there are so many violent acts out there?
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.