Monthly Archives: September 2019

“Delicate Tiger. Ferocious Snowflake” by Christopher Soden— At the Theater

Soden, Christopher. “Delicate Tiger. Ferocious Snowflake”, Lulu, 2019.

At the Theater

Amos Lassen

I love the theater and am so glad that I have relocated to Boston where theater is wonderful (excluding that little incident with Faye Dunaway). I have seen some very fine productions here including the pre-Broadway runs of Tennessee Williams “The Glass Menagerie” with the magnificent Cherry Jones and the breathtaking revival of “Pippin” to name just two. I also love that I am so much closer to Broadway than I have ever lived before. Now that does not mean that there is not good theater elsewhere and we see that through Christopher Soden’s love of theatre which is evident through this collection of reviews. (We agree on a lot of productions but those that we do not agree on are masterfully handled).

I have often wondered why people would publish a book of reviews since there does not seem to be a market for them but I suppose that in the world of literature it is each to his own. It is a pity, however, that books like this do not get the attention they deserve. Reading Soden’s work, you feel as if you meet a man who is driven by his love for the theater and I find that exhilarating. Soden is more than just a critic, he is also a guide and translator. Through his reviews, we gain insights that we might not have seen as well as background information as well as history, context, psychology about the plays. By this, we reach a different level of comprehension and understanding. He gives no spoilers and he gives credit to those who deserve it whether that be the playwright, the director and/or the cast. We forget sometimes that without those three elements, we really do not have a production.

I like that he does as I do in reviewing film and books. If something does not deserve or merit a good review, I do not post something negative. Creating art is much like pregnancy in that the result is never really clear until it walks on its own and who are we to tear something down before it walks? I would not destroy a child just as I will not destroy a work of art.

What makes Soden a different kind of critic is that his reviews are designed to help the reader better know and understand the plays here. While his reviews are productions from Dallas, Texas, they are also universal. They are multi-layered and written from the heart. I want to add here that for those of you who have never written a review, you have no idea how difficult this is to do and there are many factors to take into account. I see reviewing as an art and Christopher Soden is a mighty fine artist.

“KAPPA FORCE”— A Satiric Melodrama from Revry

“KAPPA FORCE”

A Satiric Melodrama

Amos Lassen

“Kappa Force” a new satiric comedy is coming to Revry as their newest original series. This campy comedy is “an intersectional queer take on college rom-coms.” Set at State University somewhere in the United States we get. Different look at college life, State University has everything: Greek life, Division 1 sports but most importantly it has five “kick ass sorority sisters doubling as a masked crime fighting unit keeping the campus safe from evil”.

The CW meets Marvel Cinematic Universe melodrama fis about freshman Jen who is in the middle of a  clash between a superhero sorority and the patriarchy.  Then with the murder of one of the sorority sisters is murdered by a new villain who calls himself “The Douche,” everything is jeopardy including the sisterhood, the college, and the entirety of America. I do not want to spoil anything because to say too. Much would damage this tongue-in-cheek look at queer history.

The sorority sisters and looking to avenge the Douche with their “Sorority Justice for Frat Boy Scum. Created by Addison Heimann, the show premieres on October 27th  8pm (PST) / 11pm (EST) on Revry TV, Pluto TV and Xumo.

Our intersectional queer superhero force is dedicated to saving the world and destroying evil fraternity brother scum.  We have “a world in which a trans woman, an Asian woman, a black woman, and a lesbian kick butt and take names, all in the name of feminism…and humor.”   We have not had much queer representation in the superhero genre and even though this is satire, it is OUR satire making in personal and all the more fun—the kind of fun you can wink at and about.  And because it is our, we connect to what we see. The queer characters we see on the screen get a chance to do what non-queer (cis) have always had a chance to do. We now have a new place of visibility. As our community ventures into a new genre, we can be proud of how far we have come. Creator/writer/producer Addison Heimann has done himself and our community proud.

 

About Revry

Stream out loud with Revry–the first global queer streaming network. Watch exclusively LGBTQ+ films, series, and music videos highlighting the best of queer culture from around the world.  Experience Revry worldwide on seven OTT, mobile, and online platforms, and 24-hour programmed free channels on Pluto TV, XUMO, and coming soon to TiVO Max. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry is led by an inclusive team of queer, multi-ethnic and allied partners who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv. https://revry.tv.

“THE DIVE’ (“Hatzlila”)— A Family Saga

“THE DIVE’ (“Hatzlila”)

A Family Saga

Amos Lassen

 A family sees massive fighting when they reunite to bury their in writer-director Yona Rozenkier’s semi-autobiographical feature, “The Dive.” Avishai (Micha Rozenkier) is preparing for his mandatory IDF training, he’s reunited with his older brothers who readies him for the harsh realities of war.  Itai (Yona Rozenkier) is the first of the older brothers who we meet.  As the family, including their mom, Franca (Claudia Dulitchi), comes together, Yoav (Yoel Rozenkier) shows up and is killed because Israel is more or less in a state of war. They’re back on the Israeli kibitz where they grew up but it is not what it was when they were growing up.  It is practically empty by now with almost no one living there.

Their father had a final request and that was to be buried in an underwater cave by the sea.  He never could have understood his sons fighting among each other while saying goodbye to him. As they prepare to do so by burying according to his wishes, the two older brothers prepare Avishai for his future in the army. They teach him how they were taught and this includes a very violent paintball game serving as a stand-in for a war zone.  It’s almost as if their training is handed down from generation to generation.  Yoav and Itai opposite views and we see that Yoav’s own trauma informs his way of thinking.  On the other hand, Itai feels very strongly about IDF service.  Avishai can only watch this.

Things get toxic and violent at times but we see and understand that family is. The film is ostensibly about the death of a family’s patriarch, the return home by one of its three sons, and funeral rites  to be done.

Yoav is clearly struggling with PTSD in the wake of his military service. Upon his return, he’s confronted by Itai who lives by an intense macho code, and Avishai  who does not. The film alludes to a growing conflict elsewhere (of course) which will conscript the younger brother into that same crushing ordeal, setting the three off in opposition. Itai wants Avishai to man up and survive; Yoav wants to get his gentle brother out entirely. Owing to their real life status as family, the fraternal interplay feels natural.

“The Dive” is ultimately urging someone to take the plunge towards something truly courageous. We see what happens when one comes from such a kibbutz and a close family, but then something breaks. What happens when brothers are sent to war, but you do not know if you doubt the need for that war because you are afraid for doubting that need to begin with. This is what happens when the world in which one grows up is no longer the place it was.

“MY SAMURAI”— Teacher. Protector. Personal Weapon

“MY SAMURAI”

Teacher. Protector. Personal Weapon

Amos Lassen

When young Peter McCrea (John Kallo) is witness to a gang murder, he is suddenly thrust into a dangerous world where survival is based upon strength and power. His only hope is Young Park (Julian Lee), a powerful martial arts master who has a gift for destroying any opposition. However, Park is on the the run from the gang and the police, yet must teach Peter the secrets of self-defense -and inner strength. Peter learns about courage, force, and himself – so that he is able to confront the ultimate challenge of his life.

This is the solo directorial debut of Fred H. Dresch after having been assistant director on cult classic. What one might think is going to be a boring indie exercise  actually becomes turns an engaging adventure with a lot of fight scenes.
There are some disappointing missteps throughout and there seems to be some untold backstory regarding the villain, with the filmmakers trying to draw a parallel between two sets of fathers and sons, but this is left until the film’s final minutes and is confusing and pointless.

There’s no shortage of fight scenes, here and they balance out some of the film’s flaws. The action doesn’t start out promisingly, with some strikes clearly not making contact and a combatant dying by falling out of a five-foot window, but it picks up. Julian Lee provides his choreographers all the physical talent they need, and they exploit it by keeping the matches grounded and intimate. There’s some flashiness and this satisfies. “My Samurai” has the right attitude to be a kickboxing flick but not quite the concentration to maintain its enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the mixture of unusual touches and inspired moments make it worth owning for mildly patient fight fans.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p, 1.78:1) Extended Cut presentation of the main feature 

  English 2.0 Stereo Sound (LPCM) Audio

  Optional English Subtitles

  NEW! Interview with stars Julian Lee & Mark Steven Grove (HD, 45:18)

  NEW! ”Watching My Scenes” with actor Jim Turner (HD, 23:58)

  NEW! Interview with actor Christophe (HD, 28:40)

  The original R-rated version of the film (SD, 1.37:1, 85:12)

  Photo Gallery

  Julian Lee Photo Galley

  Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 01:30)

  Collectible Mini-Poster

“KILLER NUN”— A Sex-Crazed Sister

“KILLER NUN”

A Sex-Crazed Sister

Amos Lassen

Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) is a sex-crazed sister with some seriously bad habits in the cult classic “Killer Nun”. Sister Gertrude is “a disturbed woman of the cloth who degenerates into a perverse mire of drug taking, sexual perversion, sadistic torture and murder.”

“Killer Nun” takes us on a hair-raising journey from the heights of religious ecstasy to the depths of total  degeneracy. Director Giulio Berruti’s sleazy film has now been remastered into a stunning new 2K restoration with a many new extras and available on Blu ray.

“Killer Nun” (“Suor Omicidi”) was originally released in 1978 release and included on the British Director of Public Prosecutions’ list of banned video nasties in the 80s (making us want to see it even more). It’s now been released uncut, and  as we watch it , we see the insanity of British censorship practices. It should not even qualify as a horror movie, “much less a video nasty.” Of course, there were those that thought that the idea of evil nuns was enough to threaten British civilization.

Unlike other nunsploitation movies this one does not have a historical setting and doesn’t take place within the confines of a nunnery. This one has a contemporary setting and set in a psychiatric hospital where Sister Gertrude is the head nurse. She had an operation earlier to remove a benign brain tumor and she has made a full recovery. However, she doesn’t believe it and is obsessed with the idea that she is dying. She has also developed a morphine habit, and this combined with her health obsessions has made her somewhat unstable. If that is not enough, she is also troubled by sexual thoughts. She shares a room with Sister Mathieu, who is obviously in lust with her and has a disconcerting habit of wandering about naked, and this doesn’t help the situation. But Sister Gertrude is not interested in Sister Mathieu. She wants a man and when you add these sexual cravings to her other problems it’s not entirely unexpected that she begins to crack up. She steals a ring from a dead patient, and buys herself lots of drugs and a slinky dress, and indulges in some steamy anonymous sex with a guy she picks up in a bar.

Then patients begin to die rather mysteriously, by falling out of windows, or with their heads smashed in. The hospital administrators and the Mother Superior are determined to stop a scandal before one starts. They’re not going to allow a few dead patients to damage the reputation of the hospital or of the nursing order. The patients on the other hand are starting to show signs of rebellion, and when more deaths occur it becomes more and more difficult to stop the police from being involved. When we consider Sister Gertrude’s increasingly erratic behavior, a police investigation would be very inconvenient. Sister Mathieu is doing her best to protect Sister Gertrude, while also doing her best to find a way of getting into Sister Gertrude’s bed.

This is more a psychological horror/murder mystery than a nunsploitation film, even though it does contain many of the essential features of the nunsploitation genre (lesbian nuns and a fairly modest amount of nudity). There is some gore, but not really enough to explain how it could ever have been considered as nasty and bloody.

Anita Ekberg is rather good, resisting the temptation to indulge in total emotive acting. Joe Dallesandro as the head doctor, Dr. Roland, gives one of his better performances (and with his clothes on).

Director Giulio Berruti probably have enjoyed greater success had the exploitation elements been more strongly emphasized but it is an interesting oddity, and it’s worth a look if you enjoy off-beat 1970s Italian cinema.
There was a time when a film about a naughty nun featuring Anita Ekberg would have been upsetting. Ekberg, in her late forties, vamps it up but the Gertrude succeeds in her scheming to remove the doctor who contradicted her diagnosis and he is replaced by the younger Dr. Roland who doesn’t know what to believe now that Gertrude’s negative x-rays have been destroyed by her young, adoring subordinate Sister Mathieu. As Gertrude’s delusions peak, matters turn murderous around the hospital, with the Sister staging one patient’s suicide by chucking him out a window after cracking his skull with a candelabra. It’s also at this point that Berruti begins employing some bizarre flashback sequences that appear to suggest some kind of experimental brain surgery, as well as a bit of necrophilia. It’s all very lurid and very senseless, though fascinating and the viewing public will undoubtedly thrill to the soft-core lesbian sequences between Ekberg and Morra.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio

Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

New audio commentary by Italian genre film connoisseurs Adrian J. Smith and David Flint

Beyond Convent Walls, a new video essay on nunsploitation and Killer Nun by critic Kat Ellinger

Starry Eyes, a new interview with director Giulio Berruti

Cut and Noise, a new interview with editor Mario Giacco

Our Mother of Hell, a new interview with actress Ileana Fraia

Original Italian and international theatrical trailers

  Image gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Daryl Joyce

  FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Andreas Ehrenreich and Roberto Curti, original reviews

“JIRGA”— Return to Afghanistan

“JIRGA”

Return to Afghanistan

Amos Lassen

Mike Wheeler (Sam Smith) goes to Afghanistan with a money belt secreted around his body. He’s off to make amends for what happened in a raid. The film looks at atonement and guilt – the religious allusions of which aren’t lost by director Benjamin Gilmour especially with the scene of Wheeler roaming through the desert at one point.

Gilmour makes good use of the landscape, even finding a way to incorporate a pink flamingo paddle boat into proceedings that contrasts nicely with the stark arid deserts all around. At one point we see Wheeler say,

“Forgiveness is better than revenge” and this provides the internal conflict with a human face as the guilt becomes evident. There’s a sense here that this is about giving voice to the human side of conflict. The power and the rawness of the eventual meeting between Wheeler and the family he’s wronged may ache with reality, but by resisting a desire to overplay it, Gilmour and Smith make the film something a little different. “Jirga” achieves more than you’d expect with an almost spiritual level of commitment and debate all round. 

“Jirga” is a to film with hyper-intense and a sense of ‘nearness’. Closer to a documentary, visually, than to a considered story producer and star Smith, along with his director, were forced to shoot the film entirely in secret, on location starting in Jalalabad, after funding fell through and threats of ISIS and Taliban observation on themselves and their — very much political — film became clear. The easy rapport between the subjects and the camera suggest Gilmour’s masterful ability to make extremely risky, quick-fry shooting work. On his journey for, if not forgiveness, than the rightful consequence of his actions, Wheeler, and therefore we, encounter much of the spectrum of human feeling.

Delivering its indictment of imperialism, terror, and war not in sermon, but in the sensitive and  touching detailing of the people who survive after the brunt of it, this is a very special film. As Wheeler has learned the hard way: no one, no matter who they are or where they stand, can be denied their humanity. At least not when you’re up this close. The title refers to the Pashtun village justice system, wherein a group of village or tribal elders convene a meeting to decide by consensus matters affecting their constituents, particularly matters of war. 

Hiring a taxi in Kabul driven by an affable music-loving man (Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad), Wheeler asks him to take him south. The driver says it’s too dangerous but he will take him as far as the tourist area of Bamiyan. Once there, the ex-soldier offers him hundreds of US dollars to transport him further and the driver very reluctantly agrees but, along the way, Wheeler has to bolt into the desert at a Taliban roadblock. Collapsing from lack of water, he falls into the hands of the Taliban and awakes, shackled, in a cave. His captors are perplexed by his desire to seek forgiveness but decide to guide him to the vicinity of the village and leave him there to face the judgement of the Jirga, who will ultimately decide his fate under their law.

This is an intensely personal journey, both for the director and Sam Smith. They were relying on Gilmour’s contacts to get them into the dangerous areas in which they wanted to shoot the film. The director explains that, once, “The police warned us they suspected militants, possibly ISIS, had been watching us and had planted IEDs at our shoot location. On one occasion we were told it would be too risky to return to a cave location, so we had to complete ten scenes in just three hours.” The script ably captures the complexity of the veteran’s situation while at the same time it succeeds in showing how things work in Afghanistan, a country not fully understood by the Western world. The concentration is  on a man’s mission to seek redemption for a situation that haunts him and Gilmour says that these feelings aren’t uncommon in returned servicemen and women. “The motives for Mike’s return were inspired by the lingering sense of responsibility experienced by army veterans, from conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Timor-Leste. In my research I came across the stories of a number of Australian SAS veterans who had returned to Afghanistan, as civilians, to help rebuild villages damaged in conflict,” he says. 

There’s another motivation at play in the making of the film, too. Jirga is also meant to give the audience a new perspective on the lives of ordinary Afghan Muslims. Most westerners understand that Afghanistan is only as a war zone. Of course, there’s active warfare in some provinces, but the country also boasts gorgeous natural landscapes and a rich culture of music and poetry. These aspects are so often overlooked yet so close to the hearts of Afghans. We get a new perspective on the lives of ordinary Afghan Muslims. The film doesn’t pretend to provide easy answers to the conflict in Afghanistan but instead offers an insight into the character and motives of those we view as the enemy and the struggles of Afghans.

“BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?”— Twelve Years of American History

“BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?”

Twelve Years of American History

Amos Lassen

“Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” chronicles twelve years of American history— from the Wall Street crash to Pearl Harbor. It juxtaposes contemporary news and documentary footage with extracts from Hollywood classics such as “Golddiggers”, “Lady Killer and Wild Boys of the Road” and others and director Philippe Mora gives us an immediate, intricate and evocative scrapbook of the 1930’s. There  are several uncanny echoes of some of today’s preoccupations: strikers at Ford’s, mass unemployment, breadlines, vigilante gangs and failing fortunes… We have two heroes emerge: James Cagney, “the rough diamond, hood-with-a-heart-of-gold star of the Movies, the little man who won’t be beaten”, and Franklin D. Roosevelt himself: :tough yet benign, stepping into the breach with confidence and determination, yet imperceptibly crumpling under the weight of responsibility as he leads America through her most difficult years until the final humiliation of Pearl Harbor.”

The film is filled wirh songs and images that stick in the mind as we see fortunes dwindle, the small man’s savings disappear, the banks go bust; men lose their jobs and join the breadlines to the haunting title song of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”. Hollywood offers an escape from reality withthe Golden Years of Bogart, Cooper and Dietrich. We see Gable and Vivien Leigh at the screen test of “Gone with the Wind”; George Raft dancing the tango with Carole Lombard; Shirley Temple’s dimples and Chaplin jokes while Busby Berkeley who fills the screen with his extravaganzas as the marathon dancers stumble on.

The idea for the film about the Depression was a good one: a feature-length montage of the central images of the Depression? We have from King Kong to Franklin Delano Roosevelt with songs and production numbers from the great 1930s musicals and newsreel footage of the rioting strikers at Ford, and animated sequences, and Will Rogers kidding FDR and Rudy Vallee singing the title song.

The movie’s method seems to be ironic juxtaposition. With a production number like “We’re in the Money,” we’re supposed to get the message and we do but it appears a bit too often. For moviegoers who didn’t grow up during the Depression or aren’t terribly familiar with its greater or lesser personalities, the movies  does not offer much help. It’s just a series of images. 

We get a great deal more of Roosevelt than we really need, and James Cooney is also used as a motif throughout the film – turning up with one-liners taken out of context and they do not always work.

 

“’LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE”— Preparing for World War III

“’LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE”

Preparing for World War III

Amos Lassen

At the end of WWII, Sir Eric Hazarias (Lionel Atwill in his final performance) sets the wheel in motion for WWIII. He begins his search for Meteorium 245, the only practical defense against the atomic bomb and this takes him to mythical Pendrang. Trying to obstruct his sinister plan to rule the world are Rod Stanton (Russell Hayden), United Peace Foundation investigator, Tal Shan (Keye Luke), Pendrang native, and Marjorie Elmore (Jane Adams), the daughter of scientist Dr. Elmore (John Eldredge) and unwilling assistant to Sir Eric.

Hazarias comes across as a power-mad Englishman who is attempting to rule the world in this 13 chapter Universal serial. Hazarias (Atwill) is searching the mountains of Himalaya for Metorium 245, the only known antidote to the Bomb. About halfway through the serial, we meet nefarious Malborn (John Mylong), “the power in back of Sir Eric.” Atwill was dying of bronchial cancer (he died April 22, 1946) and had to be replaced. Bits of dialogue filmed earlier were inserted, and actor George Sorel  doubled Atwill in other scenes. In an economy move,  stock footage from Columbia’s earlier “Lost Horizon” was used.

It all begins when an agent from the United Peace Foundation is sent to the isolated province of Pendrang to find out if a man named Geoffrey Wood  (believed deceased) is really a warmonger known as Sir Eric Hazarias. This turns out to be true, and Hazarias is in Pendrang to try to locate a rare element that will allow him to create a defense to the atomic bomb, a device that would give any nation the power to take over the world.

Despite the fact that the main bad guy is supposed to be Sir Eric Hazarias, he claims that his secretary Malborn is the actual leader and brains behind the outfit. We get 13 thrilling chapters.

Despite the title, there is no ‘Lost City of the Jungle’ at all, merely a series of underground caves that contain a few artefacts of a mysterious, ancient civilization. Atwill and his cohorts are after ‘Meteorium’ which they can use as the basis of a new mega-weapon to be sold on the international market. This can be obtained from a magical rock that fell from the sky long ago and was kept by this extinct tribe in their secret temple. Exposure to the rock causes instant incineration, unless one wears the special robes of the priests of this long dead empire. Pendrang is ruled by casino owner Indra (Helen Bennett). Hazarias fakes his own death and shows up in Pendrang and begins a search for Meteorium, under the guise of seeking the lost city of Pendrang. On his trail is the United Peace Foundation who have come to unmask London as Hazarias and put a stop to his evil schemes.

Chapter titles are:

  1. Himalaya Horror
  2. The Death Flood
  3. Wave Length for Doom
  4. The Pit of Pendrang
  5. Fiery Danger
  6. Death’s Shining Face
  7. Speedboat Missing
  8. Fire Jet Torture
  9. Zalabor Death Watch
  10. Booby Trap Rendezvous
  11. Pendrang Guillotine
  12. Jungle Smash-up
  13. Atomic Vengeance

“INCITEMENT”— Radicalization

“INCITEMENT”

Radicalization

Amos Lassen

Yigal Amir becomes increasingly concerned about the prospect of peace in Israel and subsequently prepares to take drastic action. Filmmaker Yaron Zilberman brings us a slow-moving narrative that details Amir’s growing radicalization, with the single-minded focus on Amir’s crumbling mental state  that pave the way for several impressively gripping sequences. Zilberman effectively weaves in the real-life elements of the story that builds to a tremendously tense finale.

Yehuda Nahari portrays Yigal Amir in this movie about the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as viewed through the eyes of his killer. “Incitement” won Best Picture at the 2019 Ophir Awards on Sunday night and  drew immediate criticism from Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev who said it libeled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I Understand that the Best Picture winner at the Ophir Awards is traditionally sent on to compete as Israel’s entry for Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars. Regev stated that there was “no place” in Israel for such a film and charging that it maligned Netanyahu, who has been accused of incitement in the lead-up to the November 4, 1995, murder. “There is no place for a film that tries to understand [Amir] or his motivations, or to hint or accuse others of being behind his heinous act.” Regev took umbrage at the way that Netanyahu was portrayed.

Netanyahu has repeatedly been accused of whipping up hatred in the run-up to the killing. Rabin was murdered  by Amir, an extremist, ultra-nationalist Jew who was opposed to the Oslo Accords and the handing over of control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians as part of the landmark peace agreement.

In the weeks leading up to the assassination, Netanyahu, then head of the opposition, and other senior Likud members attended a right-wing political rally in Jerusalem where protesters branded Rabin a “traitor,” “murderer” and “Nazi” for signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians earlier that year.

This film is the first time that the events play out in a narrative feature.  This is a psychological thriller that asks questions including how did this society push one man down this path?  Yigal Amir was an ultra-nationalist.  In the film, we get an idea that he believes writings in the Talmud give him the right to murder the Prime Minister.  Amir views Rabin as a traitor because of the Oslo Accords.  The Accords were controversial given that it meant Israel would be withdrawing from land.  One can understand as to why this didn’t sit well with some of the population.  We see people calling for Rabin’s head during the protests.

Amir seeks counsel from various Orthodox rabbis but what really drives him over the top is when religious extremist Baruch Goldstein committed the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.  There were 29 people killed and another 125 wounded.

Director Yaron Zilberman uses archival footage wisely and is not afraid to blame Israeli society.  Most notably, there are clips featuring Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and it is no secret that Netanyahu opposed the peace process.  We see that over the following two-plus decades since the assassination,  Israel is nowhere closer to peace.  The society around Amir drove him down a path that is seemingly unfathomable for any Orthodox Jew. A turning point comes following the massacre in Hebron.  Amir wants to start his own militia that will take over when the IDF abandons checkpoints under the Oslo Accords.  Basically, his actions drive his own loved ones away from him. “Incitement” seeks to examine why Amir acted as he did.

“THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GRINDR”— A Sex Ed Lesson

“THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GRINDR”

A Sex Ed Lesson

Amos Lassen

When I was a high student there was no such thing as sex ed and most of us learned about sex from friends or from library books we kept hidden under our beds. We certainly did not learn about the circumstances that lead to sex.

 “The Grass is Always Grindr” is feature length version of a web series that explores the challenging area of the culture around sex and more specifically about the culture around the chemsex scene, consent, and HIV. It brings together drama, education, and observation.

Adam (Taofique Folarin) is a boxer with HIV who learns to deal with the stigma of the disease and gets control over how he and others see himself. Joe (Denholm Spurr) goes out of control on chemsex and learns the hard way about harm reduction. There is a strong public health message here but there are also deliberate contrivances of situation, dialogue and plot.

Adam and Joe are a totally mismatched couple but the performances of the actors make us cheer them on. Folarin’s confidence and Spurr’s run from intimacy make you want to  both hug them and slap them. Jean Paul, the drug dealer is the devil in disguise. I love a film that both entertains and educates and that is just what happens here.