Friday, November 8, 2013

Jason goes to Jewfest South and finds that THE WORLD IS FUNNY

Back at the SVJFF for antother movie last Wednesday night.

THE WORLD IS FUNNY is the first half of a line (ending with "...and so we laugh") made popular by the Israeli comedy group HaGashash HaHiver. I had never heard of them before but apparently they were (still are?) hugely popular cultural icons and the pride of Tiberias, a town of some ~40,000 people in the north of Israel on the Sea of Galilee. I had never heard of them before, but the opening text made it clear that they are the inspiration behind this film (whether it's made in a style similar to their comedy, or just made by fans depicting fans, I can't really say.) The movie also takes place in Tiberias, and follows a loosely connected cast through...well, not really comic adventures. More like tragedy, or comi-tragedy. The title doesn't really refer to actual humor, but to how laughter is used to dispel anxiety...in life in general and in Israel in particular. There's a man coping with his girlfriend's terminal brain cancer. A father and son who bring their eldest son home from the hospital after waking up from a 10-year coma. A young cleaning woman who visits everyone, a writing workshop, a mysterious pregnancy, a much less mysterious pregnancy. It would be impossible to try to describe the plot (although I guess I just did) precisely because there isn't much of one. A lot of stuff happens, but it's more about getting to briefly know these characters, their anxieties, and how they deal with it through comedy--particularly the comedy of HaGashash, whose lines they quote to each other (and one member shows up for the climax to the film, explaining that since one of the original trio is dead, there can be no reunion.)

Incidentally, from what I can glean a lot of their humor was elaborate wordplay, which would make it pretty hard to translate for a non-Hebrew speaking audience. Kind of like explaining Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First?" to non-English speakers (or those who don't know baseball, for that matter.)

Running Time: 122 minutes
My Total Minutes: 341,276
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