Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jason goes to SFJFF--Tuesday, August 6th

Another night, another two movies. And last Tuesday night started with a real treat, 3 episodes of season 4 of ARAB LABOR. I first got into this popular Israeli comedy last year when I saw three episodes of season 3 at this festival. Since then I bought season 1 and have season 2 and 3 on the way.

In season 4, Amjad is out of work, being unable to capitalize on his recent fame on Big Brother. Plus his wife Bushra is pregnant...and he reacts incorrectly to that news. So he finds himself living out of a tent, inadvertently leading a protest movement, and a star again. That is parlayed into a new position as a consultant on Arab affairs...only one problem, he's so modern and liberal he has no idea how Arabs react to anything. Meanwhile Meir and his wife (remember, he's Jewish she's an Arab--they're very modern and liberal) are also out of work. To make ends meet they might have to move to the Arab neighborhood. But he loves her and after some time in a tent is convinced to do that. Or one step further--move to the occupied territory. Which is difficult until the Jewish telecom company thinks he's a brave lone settler and they hook up phone lines and Internet access, which all his Arab neighbors are happy to share. Turns out this unwelcome Jew was actually a miracle. As funny as always (and my cousin can attest that it's funny even if you jump into the middle of it) and of course it pushes a lot of hot buttons.

And then I saw THE LAST SENTENCE, A Swedish biopic about journalist and editor Torgny Segerstedt. Shot in beautifully photographed black and white it tells the story of a brave man and his few friends who stood up to Hitler. Sweden was officially neutral in the war, but those in power basically rolled over for the occupying Germans. But not Torgny, he and his magazine attacked the Nazis in print with the combination of wit an anger the times called for. As the powers that be clamp down on him more, he continues to print (or in one piece of brilliance, prints a headline only (about the death camps) and leaves a blank space where the objectionable article was.) While war throws his country into chaos, he is haunted by the ghosts of women in his life--his mother and his (Jewish) mistress. The movie is long (running just over 2 hours) and as I'm not a Swede I didn't get all the references there. But the choice of black and white was perfect, the cinematography was gorgeous, and the final scene was poignant and brilliant. (SPOILER ALERT: An ill and aged Torgny gets confirmation that Hitler is dead, then allows himself to die. That's the last sentence) An excellent look at a man whom he and his friends saw as a valiant knight riding into a battle against existential evil armed with nothing more than a pen.

Total Running Time: 204 minutes
My Total Minute: 336,565

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