Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jason goes to Jewfest South--Sunday, November 7

Two more movies last Sunday, starting with the hilarious British comedy, THE INFIDEL. Omid Dalili plays Mahmud, a moderate Muslim living in England, watching soccer, running his shipping company, and taking care of his family. He hates radical cleric Arshad El Masri, who is currently touring England. Things are a little rough when his son wants to marry a girl who turns out to be El Masri's stepdaughter, but he plays nice and pretends he's more devout than he really is. But things get really strange when he clears out his recently deceased mother's house and finds adoption papers. A little sleuthing reveals his birth name--Solly Shimshilewitz (might as well have been Jewy Jewy Jewsteinfeldbergfarb...owitz). He starts obsessing about his hated Jewish roots (hey, he's self-loathing, he's already a Jewish stereotype!) Now maybe it's just me, but if I learned I was adopted and actually had a vastly different heritage, I wouldn't think too much about it. I'm what I (and my family and friends) have made myself, and no accident of birth will change that. And maybe Mahmud/Solly would reach that conclusion on his own in short order, but he finds that his birth father is a) still alive, b) on death's door, and c) guarded by a rabbi who won't lett Solly/Mahmud see him until he's "Jewish enough." So he turns to his neighbor/erstwhile enemy Lenny (Richard Schiff) to teach him how to be Jewish. Of course, what with balancing his Jewish identity and newly radical Muslim identity causes wacky hijinx to ensue. The ending is a little cheesy, but ultimately a defense of moderation and an indictment of phonies. But who really cares about the message, the point is it's a really funny movie.

And the second movie I saw was LOVE LIFE, a graphically erotic Israeli movie. A young, studious but uncertain, married woman develops a mysterious obsession with an old family friend. Apparently he was her dad's best friend back in the day, but her mom is very uncomfortable around him. She tries to stay away, she always goes back, he treats her like dirt, then tenderly, then like dirt again. And along the way she uncovers a troubling family secret. Fantastic acting. Usually these movies kind of bug me. I don't get why the woman would keep coming back to the man who is so obviously a bad idea. And I still felt a lot of that, but at least the excellent acting made me believe her.

And that was a week ago Sunday at south Jewfest.

Total Running Time: 218 minutes
My Total Minutes: 215,316

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