“Fifty Shades Of Grey”

OY VEY!!! Did I Miss Something?

Amos Lassen

Some o you have asked about my opinion of the film of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I am not sure that I actually have one because I am not sure that I saw much to review in the film. It really makes no difference what critics or anyone had to say about it, it is going to make money just because of its name. Now I know that I sat down to watch it but I am just not sure of what I saw. Perhaps I was blinded by the hype. What I do know is that it is about a young, naïve virgin named Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who is sent to interview the handsome billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) after her , a journalist, becomes ill. Christian is drawn to Anastasia from the first moment he saw her and goes after her in the only way that he knows how. Christian does not do girlfriends and neither does he have romance or human emotions and he insists that we understand that about him. where he is very adamant that he doesn’t do the girlfriend thing, or romance, or indeed typical human emotions.


Anastasia finds him intriguing probably because he is fabulously wealthy but when she discovers that he is dominant and wants Anastasia to sign her name on a contract that gives him to write to use her in any he wants and as his S&M sexual plaything as well as control nearly every aspect of her life for his own pleasure she is no sure she wants to submit in this way. It was at this point that I began to laugh and could not stop although I must admit that because I did not have to pay to see this film, I came out ahead no matter what. When the film moved from absurdity to serious business (I suppose that is what that is), I found it to be a very disturbing movie.


. Exactly what did Christian do for Anastasia that would make her give up her own freedom for him and ultimately be unhappy to the point of misery? It would be interesting to see how the modern feminist movement reacts to a woman giving up her all for a man who only is concerned about his own sexual pleasure. The idea of using women is all the way through, that women like to be objects just as long as their partner wants to possess but not hurt them. but not hurt them. For a film that claims to be about female sexuality, this is a movie about a man who is concerned only with his own pleasure but if she enjoys it, who is he to begrudge her that? I rest my case.

“RECKLESS”— Gay Ex-Cons



Gay Ex-Cons

Amos Lassen

Two ex-cons kidnap a millionaire’s daughter and hold her for ransom, only to see their scheme go awry when she proves herself to be more cunning than expected. This might sound a little familiar to you if you are an avid filmgoer. Joram Lursen’s “Reckless” is a remake of “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” from 2009 and a thriller in itself. Interestingly enough “Reckless” is a bit more stylish and sexually charge than “Alice Creed”, something that goes the other way with European remakes.


Laura Temming (Sarah Cronis) wakes up to find herself tied to a bed in a sound-insulated vacant apartment. Two masked men take off the clothes from her body, dress her in a tracksuit, and take photos that will be used to obtain ransom money from Laura’s wealthy father. “As the clock ticks, Laura realizes that she may have a relationship with one of the kidnappers that she never expected…and that the two men hold a secret that one could not have expected”. There are twists and turns everywhere in the film and it keeps the audience guessing and on the edge of their seats.

reckless 1a

“Reckless” is the story of two petty criminals, Victor (Tygo Gernandt) and Rico (Marwan Kenzari) who kidnap Laura Temming, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Victor and Rico met in prison and while there they exchanged ideas about how to commit the perfect crime. They settled of kidnapping Laura and holding her hostage. Now out of prison they act on their plan and all goes well at first. They chain Laura to a bed in a flat they selected ahead of time and begin negotiations for her release but they also discover that even though the kidnapping went smoothly there is no guarantee that the negotiations will do the same.

At this point they play a psychological game and interestingly enough Victor and Rico differ as to how to handle the rest of the situation that they have created. Tension begins to grow the two men and between the men and the viewer. What Victor and Rico do agree about is the wealth they think they will get as ransom.


But then things become out of control and we see a breakdown of personalities and while the tension could have been a bit tighter, I was left in the dark as to what was happening. There is not a whole lot of dialogue and body language becomes very important as does watching the eyes of the characters.


The film begins from the points of view of the kidnappers but we also learn a bit from Laura and essentially what we have are the three characters looking at the same situation from different perspectives.


What I have not mentioned is that the film has a gay sub-plot but this is not in any way a typical gay themed film (whatever “typical” is supposed to mean). Our kidnappers became lovers while doing time behind bars together but more than that I will not say except that they think their relationship is a secret.


A crime thriller with a gay sub-plot that I cannot reveal.  As described in the blurb about the film, we see this as a “stylish, sexually charged kidnapping drama from the Netherlands”. Saying anymore would spoil the viewers’ fun.

“I AM FEMEN”— A Revealing Look at Female Activists

i am femen


A Revealing Look at Female Activists

Amos Lassen

Director Alain Margot gives us a look at the “topless female activists who fight corrupt and patriarchal political systems in Kiev and all across Europe as well. These women have used their bodies and their breasts as weapons and protests on the streets of Kiev where the group first began and now they are protesting all over Europe.

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Oxana Shachko, the leader and backbone of the group has always been fascinated by religious artwork and as a teenager, she considered entering a convent and devoting herself to iconography. However, her mother convinced her to change her mind and she now has been using herself, her body and her talents on Femen and has been leading a life of activism. This is her story but she shares it with other brave women who tell their stories as well. These women have put their bodies on the front line in the fight for justice and equality. As one critic put it, “More than just exposing breasts, these women are exposing ideas.”

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The film follows Oxana, as she prepares for protests, speaks about her life before the group, and deals with the repercussions that come from their demonstrating. She is amazingly intelligent, a very talented artist, and exudes passion for her cause. This is not easy since in every group there will be dissension and arguments about the way she handles protests especially going topless to get attention but this does get their message across. Oxana has incredible strength and nothing can hold her back even the fear of arrest or possibly murdered. The protests that she stages are difficult places and to protest there requires courage and strength. Oxana has pure intentions and she says what she thinks as she fights for rights. She is not just fighting for herself but for all people.

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Oxana is twenty-eight-years-old and from a provincial town called Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine. She is the narrator of the film. The film is subtle and has some important things to say about the rights of women. The protests that we see here took place in the Ukraine and in France and we learn that Femen was the result of three woman—Oxana, Anna Hutsol and Alexandra Shevchenko. The organization was founded in 2008 and is now an international women’s movement. The film is, as I said, subtle and fascinating in every aspect.

“SOAKED IN BLEACH”— The Death of Kurt Cobain

soaked in bleach

“Soaked in Bleach”

The Death of Kurt Cobain

Amos Lassen

Director Benjamin Statler says of this new movie, “Soaked in Beach” that “Half of the film is made up of cinematic recreations of private investigator Tom Grant’s investigation in 94′ incorporating actual audio recordings, while the other half of the film is interviews with Tom Grant and some of the world’s top experts in the respective areas of the case. The recreations served the purpose of helping people to see how the investigation actually unfolded and to better appreciate the context of certain situations.  The interviews provide the objective scientific facts involved in the case of Kurt Cobain’s death and back up what Tom Grant has been saying for 20 plus years.”

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Grant was hired by Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love in 1994 to find in 1994 and this was just a few days before his dead body was found at Cobain’s and Love’s home in Seattle. Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide by the police (a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound), but there have been about this for twenty years now and especially so by Grant who conducted his own investigation, Grant was able to determine that there was enough empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred. The film develops as a narrative mystery with cinematic re-creations, interviews with key experts and witnesses and the examination of official artifacts from the 1994 case.

Grant remains convinced that Kurt Cobain was murdered and he admits that he has always been suspicious of Courtney Love and her role in her husband’s death. Because of this gut feeling, Grant made sure to record his conversations with Love.


Those tapes are part of this film. The movie supplements the tapes with talking head interviews and reenactments and like Grant, director Statler goes after Love and attempts to pin a motive on her for possibly being involved in Cobain’s death.

This is a documentary that will most likely re-enliven the debates that have surrounded Cobain’s death and give Love’s enemies reason to despise her. Love and her fans will see this film as heretical, however. The film’s goal is to blow the lid off the lingering conspiracy theory.


First we’re presented with Grant’s back-story as a member of the LA County Sherriff’s Department, a job he left to start his own private investigator firm. We learn that Grant left the department in good standing and had an impeccable record.

A good deal of the evidence the film presents are recorded phone calls between Grant and Love, as well as Love’s entertainment lawyer Rosemary Carroll. However, nobody that is even tangentially related to the case gives any corroboration to whether or not these calls are authentic. any of these recordings’ authenticity. People such as Carroll and Dylan Carlson, a friend of Cobain’s who was also the registered owner of the shotgun that killed Cobain, do not participate in the movie in any manner, even though they’re supposed to be the keys to what really happened. The reenactments give the film with a bit of unintentional humor and make the whole thing look supercilious.

Statler tries to take on the typical counter-arguments to their lies and they speak to Cobain’s friends but there is no evidence that the people we see and hear were ever tied to him. These interviews are used to illustrate that Kurt Cobain was more upbeat than believed. Combined with a couple of interviews from ’93 and ’94, they attempt to prove that Kurt Cobain was not depressed. It makes perfect sense if you believe that somebody who was depressed would never just say they’re fine. There had also been a suicide attempt in Rome months before his death but here we see that is just regarded as an accidental overdose.


So what is the importance of this film? It seems to me that this is simply based on too many false leads but nonetheless it is a fascinating look at the case. Just because the film was made does not mean that all of it is necessarily true.


“Musings On A Young Life” by Beau Breedlove— Learned Life Lessons


Breedlove, Beau. “Musings On A Young Life”, Lulu, 2015.

Learned Life Lessons

Amos Lassen

You might remember the name Beau Breedlove from the Sam Adams political scandal in Portland, Oregon in 2009. However, Beau Breedlove’s role in it is only part of his life that he shares with us in his new intimate biography.

Breedlove was in Salem, Oregon and became a self-taught concert pianist and entrepreneur. He has posed naked for a gay magazine and has opened and closed a dance café. He gives details of his public life that have not been shared before but he will never be forgotten in the scandal that insured that Sam Adams would be a one-term mayor. He writes of personal relationships and his affair with “A-lister”, Reichen Lehmkuhl. Even when writing about end-of-life care giving, he does so with wit, humor, and sincerity. This is the story of a man who has found “purpose and meaning in and from life”.

“CHASING PAVEMENT”— Contrasts and Diversity

chasing pavement poster

“Chasing Pavement”

Contrasts and Diversity

Amos Lassen

I have seen two of Matthew Doyle’s film and I must say that he is a filmmaker that makes us think about what he films. His films represent aspects of society that we do not often think or talk about because they are depressing yet these are important issues. His earlier film “Phantom Images” dealt with the important themes of identity, desire, ageism and communication across generations. Like this film it is short on action and long on ideas.

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Elijah (Remy Mars) is an African American bareback porn star and escort and he decides that the time has come to leave the porn industry. He thinks about the future and about the possibilities of new relationships. We see that the life of a porn stat is a lonely one and that having sex on camera is no substitute for having meaningful sex. “Chasing Pavement” keenly examines both the loneliness and the resiliency of the human condition.


As if he does not have enough on his mind, his roommate full of vengeance leaves the apartment and Elijah decides to rent his extra to Takeshi (Tokio Sasaki), an employee at his favorite takeout palace. Takeshi is a Japanese immigrant who is looking for a new start in the information technology field. He feels completely invisible in the United States (so now we have too lonely people) and becomes obsessed with his extremely visible roommate but that obsession violates the boundaries that brings the two men together for a moment of intimacy that neither will soon forget. Trying to secure a firmer foothold in this country, the shy Takeshi soon finds himself inundated in Elijah’s existence.


Macho Bryson Colon (Antonio Biaggi) is one of Elijah’s escort clients and Elijah surprisingly finds himself drawn to him. Bryson is a man with a troubled past who frequently hires Elijah as an escort, but wants much more. Suddenly Elijah realizes that so does he.


At a dinner party everything seems to come together and secrets are exposed and Elijah realizes the may once again be alone. We see here that sometimes more is expressed in silence than heard in words as if to echo Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence”. What is vocalized is philosophical and again we see the power of silence as it comes between dialogue. Elijah exhibits a sensitivity that is the opposite of what we would expect from someone who has sex on camera for a fee. I think we should also laud Doyle for bringing attention to gay men of color something that we do not see enough of in gay-themed films.


For a movie like this, and by that I mean small-scale, the performances are excellent but I must also comment on Tokio Sasaki who turns in a layered performance that says so much in its quietness. From a character that I had virtually no feeling for, I found myself loving him by the time the film was over. He also is the character who delivers the statement of what Matthew Doyle gives to us—the scariest things in our lives are our own fears, insecurities and dreams.


Here we see the city as a force to be dealt with and not as a nurturer and the film questions “ways of living, breaking down barriers and raising our sites to other ways of living”.

I realize that I have not shared my overall opinion of the film but if you read this carefully you will see that that this is laudatory review. Once again Doyle gives us an excellent film with a lot to think about.

“Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” by Michael B. Oren— The Ambassador’s Memoir


Oren, Michael B. “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide”, Random House, 2015.

The Ambassador’s Memoir

Amos Lassen

It is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper today that does not have Michael Oren’s name in it somewhere. Of course, this has to do with the fact that he was Israel’s ambassador to the United States during a time of transformative change for both America and Israel and I mean specifically because of the violence and upheaval in the Middle East. Oren was active in what was going on and now he gives us a look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region.

Oren was the Israeli ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. He is American born and trained as a historian. He gained the diplomatic post just as Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton came into office. While Oren served, Israel and America wrestled with the Palestinian peace process, the Arab Spring, and existential threats to Israel posed by international terrorism and the Iranian nuclear program. We cannot forget that America’s relationship with Israel began with the presidency of Harry S. Truman but since then the relationship has become strained and both sides now question where it will go. There have been times recently when we thought it was ending then.

Oren’s “Ally” is the story of the American/Israel enduring alliance and of its divides and written from the view of a man who treasures his American identity while he proudly serves the State of Israel that he has come to call home. I am reminded of my situation which is just the opposite—an Israeli citizen and American citizen how calling American home, something I thought I might never do. (However the Israel of today is not the Israel that I went to build and the disillusionment I suffer comes from the reality of the way Israel lives today). No one could have been better suited than Oren to mend and to strengthen the relations between the two countries between the United States and Israel than Michael Oren—he had served as a paratrooper and yet he can discuss Middle East history on TV’s Sunday morning political shows. His story is interwoven into his job as ambassador and it is filled with “behind-the-scenes accounts of fateful meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, high-stakes summits with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and diplomatic crises that intensified the controversy surrounding the world’s most contested strip of land”.

 This is an American story of a young man who refused to relinquish a dream regardless of the obstacles and it is an Israeli story about assuming massive responsibilities— it is a record, a chronicle, and a confession and it is a love story about a man who loves two countries and represents one to the other. Above everything else this is a look at an alliance that was forced out of mutual respect and need and remains important to all sides. These are the first-person observations of a historian who was one of the prime actors during a period of tremendous change and tension in the American-Israel relationship. Oren was at those meetings and he sat in the inner rooms. He know provides us with a record for the future and one that will be used by historians for years to come. Oren has seen history as it is being made and he knows how to write about it. Not only has he seen significant events, he was part of many and he helped shape them.

Many worry about his treatment of President Obama in his text and he is fine with them—he believes that they mean well and he thinks that the amateurism in some of what Obama has done is the result of ideology. Oren reveals the texture of history in the making — and the significance of the events he witnessed and helped shape. The way he sees the players is fascinating and the writing is vibrant, candid and respectful, as it should be.

The case for why the American-Israel alliance is crucial, not only to Israel but equally to the security and well-being of America is a compelling read especially the way Oren traces how the relationship has gone wrong, and how to repair the damage. This is an insider’s story told by one of the main insiders and people have been talking about the book even before it hit the stores. That alone is quite an accomplishment.



“SEVENTEEN”— Too Controversial for PBS



Too Controversial for PBS

Amos Lassen

”From being banned from broadcast on PBS to success on the festival circuit and a theatrical release, even today, it is easy to see why the film was controversial.” “Seventeen” was made as the final film in the “Middletown” series but once finished, it was to be seen until later even after it went on to win the first Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival. 

Directed by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines and produced by Academy Award winner Peter Davis, “Seventeen” is the unvarnished story of a group of seniors in their last year at Muncie’s Southside High School. They are moving toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and sense of urgency. They also learn a great deal about life, both in and out of school, and not what school officials think they are teaching, along the way.


Originally expected to air on PBS, it was not aired because there were concerns by some about some of the film’s content that included interracial romance and vulgar language. When the film was subsequently released theatrically, it was hailed by critics as: “one of the most essential films ever made about American youth” and “An earthy mix of disrespect for authority, foul language, drunkenness, pot-smoking, interracial sex, and just hanging out.” 

IN the 1960’s and 1970’s, American filmmakers, equipped with a new and refined, easily portable camera and sound equipment, a new kind of documentary came into being. It could speak for itself without voice-over narration like older films.

This is considered to be “one of the best and most scarifying reports on American life to be seen on a theater screen since the Maysles brothers’ ”Salesman” and ”Gimme Shelter.”” There was no plan for theatrical distribution; the film was conceived to be broadcast under the collective title of ”Middletown.” Each of the six was made by a different team of filmmakers who set out to explore some aspect of life in Muncie, Indiana which was the place where seminal sociological studies by Robert and Helen Lynd were done.

Five of the Muncie films were presented by the Public Broadcasting Service in March and April 1982. The sixth, ”Seventeen,” was never shown, apparently because PBS and the underwriting sponsor objected to a lot of the content. This would include, I assume, the rough language and also one of the film’s ”narrative” lines about the rather hysterical romance of a 17-year-old white girl named Lynn and a young black man named Robert. ”Seventeen” simply does not observe the niceties of sit-com land where everything comes out happily at the end.

”Seventeen” raw material, that it has been expertly edited by Miss DeMott and Mr. Kreines, who also co- produced, directed, photographed and recorded the footage. What is raw about it is that is does not remain coherent because the filmmakers did not attempted to place some arbitrary order on the events they witnessed.


We meet a small group of white and black teen-agers, the children of working-class parents, and we observe them in their lives in school, at home, boozing, smoking pot, getting fatally smashed up in auto accidents and, at one point, preparing for a neighborhood race war. Lynn, the pretty, tough-talking high school student is at the center of the film and her pleasure principle is measured by the men in her life (and Robert, her black boyfriend).

Lynn’s mother doesn’t disapprove, but she does say that everything Lynn is doing is designed to upset both blacks and whites in their neighborhood. As it turns out, Robert isn’t all that serious anyway, as his black friends, who seem to be about the most decent people in the film, keep telling her.

Things get really nasty when a cross is burned in Lynn’s yard and when Lynn begins getting threatening phone calls, apparently from Robert’s other girlfriends. Lynn’s reaction is that her mother carries a gun that she is not afraid to use and neither is she. The continuity in the film comes from Lynn and her problems but the movie really gets going when we see moments of casual cruelty and emotional confusion – in the uproarious classroom scenes and in a beer party watched over by Lynn’s life-of-the-party mom, who gently strokes the forehead of one drunk young man who is on the verge of vomiting. Some of it is funny, a lot of it is sad, and all of it dramatizes a pervasive aimlessness and ignorance in the culture of the time.

Even though the soundtrack often is unintelligible, and the lack of any special lighting sources sometimes results in very dark images. The total effect, though, is both disturbing and provocative. ”Seventeen” provides no answers or makes, it just records what was seen. judgments.

I am not sure if this is “direct cinema” or “cinema vérité” but I am sure that is powerful and it contains more truth than any fact-filled historical documentary and more human drama than any Hollywood film that we have ever seen.

“Seventeen” was effectively censored by its corporate sponsor, Xerox and this is something that does not happen on “public” television. Finally we can see thanks to Icarus films.

What makes it worth seeing is the incredible, delicate access that the filmmakers negotiated with the people they were filming. Joel Demott and Jeff Kreines, each armed with a one-man-band 16mm camera and tape-recorder rig, would split up; she filmed with the girls, he with the boys. They lived in Muncie for over a year and filmed exclusively hand-held, wide and close, and rarely ever got an establishing shot; they just hung close with the working-class kids of Muncie’s Southside High School.


There are no graphics, no dramatic score, no catchy montages; there’s hardly even a credit roll. The only score is what the kids listen to in their cars request on their local radio station. The film starts unassumingly, at an excruciatingly slow pace, in Ms. Hartley’s loathsome Home-Economics class, much like the start of any day in high school. The story unfolds slowly and grows with powerful momentum into conflict and chaos and never sensationalizes.

The painful scenes of race and class tension and sexual exploits are all too familiar. “Reality” TV does not have even a hint of the authenticity of the film that is a haunting view into the all-too-real world of working-class teenagers, numbing themselves from the ugly adult culture around them—as the filmmakers say in their own press notes, “fighting and fucking” their way through high school.

“The First Tithe” by Israel Eldad— A Dialogue Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy

the firt tithe

Eldad, Israel. “The First Tithe”, (translated by Zev Golan), The Jabotinsky Institute, 2012.

A Dialogue Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy

Amos Lassen

Israel Eldad was one of three members of the Central Command of the Lehi Underground (the Stern Group ). He had managed to escaped from the Nazis and then later from British prison and detention, and hid in underground safe houses as he helped direct the war for Israel’s independence. He was also one of Israel’s leading philosophers and writers until his death in 1996. Former Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir said that

Israel Eldad was the spirit of the Lehi Underground and that his ideological writings laid the foundation stones of the movement for national freedom.

“The First Tithe” takes us into the minds of the Zionist revolutionaries from the secret meetings of the commanders of the Jewish underground planning to expel the British from the Land of Israel in the 1940s to the prison cells where freedom fighters plan to turn their trials into theater and to escape. Lehi was the fiercest Jewish underground army in 2,000 years. Its story is the story of bank robberies, bombings and the assassination of a British cabinet minister. Israel Eldad reveals the history and revolutionary theories behind the blood and fire that created modern Israel and the national spirit that maintains it. To really understand the roots of terror we need to read this book..

Eldad tells the truth here and he includes the positives and the negatives of what Lehi experienced and he does so it great detail. The narrative is both emotional and gripping. The description of Israel from 1940 to 1949 is fascinating and, in no way, resembles the Israel of today.

By readings this we can better understand why Lechi and other Jewish terrorist organizations and then became little more than footnotes in history books. The people that we read about here were dedicated to the land of Israel and did and gave everything to free the land. What we read is mesmerizing whether it be Eldad’s escape from prison, the disbanding of Lehi, the Altalena affair and the loss of Jerusalem in the War of Independence.

Eldad was a far right-wing Zionist who wished to establish a Jewish state from the Nile to the Euphrates and rebuild the Jewish Temple. He was a man of great spirit and expansiveness of soul and he acted on what he believed. Israel Eldad was born Israel Scheib and was one of the three leaders of the Lohamei Herut Israel (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) and in the book it is referred to as the Lehi organization. Founded by Abraham Stern in 1940 Lehi was a far right group ideologically speaking that did much for the independence of Israel. For the first time this memoir has been translated into English and we sense immediately that it was written from the heart and with great passion.

Though this English version of Israel Eldad’s memoir in which he gives us his narrative of his time in the underground starting with his escape from the Nazi’s where he makes it on forged papers to what will become Israel, being arrested by the British and imprisoned as he taught class and his subsequent escape and the interesting remembrance of his time actively evading capture as he worked in the underground. Israel Eldad also lead the Irgun, one of the most radical Zionist groups during the Israeli war for independence. For some who are familiar with this aspect of Israeli history, this might somewhat difficult to understand at first but it all comes together during the course of the book.

Eldad tells his story as he recalls it including the political maneuvering, infighting, and compromise among the various figures and movements in Israel’s resistance and of his hatred of the British Occupiers. When the Jews were fighting the British and Arabs for their freedom and a homeland, the true fighter that brought independence for Israel had to fight some of their own people. We meet the collaborators with the British, the Haganah and its offshoot the Palmach (which became the Israel Defense Forces)which were under the direction of Chaim Weizmann who became Israel’s first president. David Ben Gurion was also a part of this underground group. and active in hunting members of the underground was Ben Gurion.

For me, the most interesting fact to be learned here is that when Israel gained its independence in 1948, the underground who were responsible for gaining that this independence with their blood handed over political power and governance to the very group who was trying to stop this independence and aid the British.

At times some readers will have a hard time distinguishing if the author is a freedom fighter or terrorist; this will depend on your own origins and political points of view. Regardless on where you stand we learn of the moral issues that were involved in making the decisions that were made. Of what we are very certain is Eldad’s resolve and passion for an independent Israel. This book will give you great insight into the thoughts of one of the leaders of the most radical underground group for freedom. You may not agree with all of his politics or methods, but his goal was a free and independent State of Israel that would include Jerusalem.

Through underground resistance, revolutionary activities, and even assassination was born the modern state of Israel or as Eldad called it,” the Kingdom of Israel”.

“THE TRIBE”— Words Not Required

the tribe

“The Tribe” (“Plemya”)

Words Not Required

Amos Lassen

Writer/director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky takes the idea of the silent movie in a fascinating direction, as he displays that words are not required for an audience to connect with a film. We do not need anything, in fact, to inform us of the emotion that is occurring on the screen. “The Tribe” is a very bold piece of experimental filmmaking that manages to succeed in numerous unexpected ways. The movie is entirely in sign language without the use of any subtitles.

Deaf-mute student Sergey (Grigory Fesenko), is a young adult is going to a boarding school. He quickly gets involved with a violent clique, which is headed by a hustler who prostitutes two of his female peers (Yana Novikova and Rosa Babiy). When a terrible accident changes his plans, Sergey takes control and he continues to fight for dominance within the circle. He also to fall in love with one of the girls that he must prostitute out, named Anna.

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When Sergey meets the gang for the first time, he is sure that he is not like any of them but we sense something about him that it is hard to define. Because the film is done in sign language, most of us have no idea yet what is going on and it takes a while until we understand what is happening. I do not mean that negatively but we must pay careful attention here to really understand it all.


What begins as a subtle entrance into a boarding school soon turns into a tense look within the gang, as Sergey continues to fall deeper into the group’s antics. He starts by prostituting the two young women to older truck drivers is only the start, while the gang violently mugs unsuspecting individuals. As Sergey’s confidence continues to grow so does our concern for him and where he seems to be headed. , as does our concern for where he’s headed. The overall tone begins to shift, as the tension continues to build to a point of no return.

Crime is integral to the film but there is also a love story here and there are some very graphic sex scenes and we differing concepts of what sex is from one person to the next. Just as Sergey tries to kiss Anna, she stops him and assumes that he desires the certain aspects of the act that other men have enjoyed, not realizing that Sergey has developed real feelings for her. We see clearly that words aren’t what make a successful love story— it is the chemistry and the power between the two individuals that makes for love. We also see the truth to the adage that action speaks louder than words and that action deafens us.

the tribe 2a

Even with all of the errors in their ways, we still want to see Sergey and Anna them end up together in the end. As their relationship continues to get a little bit more rocky, we get some disturbing sequences . This is most certainly not an upbeat movie and we are aware of the feeling of heartbreak within us.


It seems that the film gets stronger and stronger as the viewers become more and more uneasy. By the time that we reach the end, director Slaboshpitsky maintains a steady hand with impressive restraint. The film unnerves us but does not go over the top. Tension continues to until it simply cannot be any more tense. The narrative power that is difficult to put into words but at some point this stops being just a movie and becomes an experience. We can guess where the plot is going but we are afraid of that. The graphic sex and violence are necessary because they pull us into the world of the gang. The tenseness never stops and builds up to an ending that is shocking to say the least. When the credits start to roll, we find ourselves in total disbelief and we have no idea as to how to react. It is absolutely brilliant.

the tribe1

What is really impressive in the film is the visual design. The camera has a sense of movement that involves the audience, making us feel like one of the members of the gang. Almost every shot is an establishing one, allowing the actors to incorporate genuine energy into their body language when expressing themselves through sign language. Many of the scenes have just a small amount of movement and the long shots and lack of many cuts in the editing room let us to get lost within the world that this film places us in the middle of. There isn’t a music score per se aside from small ambient sounds to drive the power of a sequence.

the tribe2

Miroslav Slaboshpitsky has dared and yet managed to accomplish an intense motion picture that gets under our skin and emotionally affects us. It proves that showing has a much more powerful impact than telling us and this should serve as a model for any film that isn’t willing to trust audiences to have an intelligence. Even though we don’t understand any of the dialogue, Slaboshpitsky utilizes his visual design and the talent of his actors in order to drive many of the plot elements. If the finale doesn’t make your blood run cold, then something is the matter. This is an unnerving, innovative, and wonderfully complex film that perhaps will inspire a new style of filmmaking.