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Film & DVD

Central Florida Jewish Film Festival expands to three days

Enzian’s 15th annual celebration of Jewish films and culture expands its offerings

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'Aftermath'

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'The Attack'


So why not five stars for this year’s best? Well, the climax is slightly overdone, motivations are not always clear, and, like a lot of genre pieces, there’s a letdown on second viewing, after you’ve discovered the secret. In this respect, Aftermath is a bit of a one-note film – but what a note!

Hava Nagila: The Movie
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

If you think you’ve never heard the song Hava Nagila, you’re wrong. Maybe you’ve never been to a bar mitzvah or a Jewish wedding. Or perhaps you’ve been holed up in a gentile cave your entire life. Trust me: You’ve still heard the tune.

“What’s up with this song?” asks this simple but surprisingly entertaining and thoughtful documentary by Roberta Grossman. “So kitschy, yet so profound. Is Hava Nagila a hundred years old or a thousand? Did someone sit down to write it, or did it come down from Sinai? And what’s the deal with the chair?”

These and a multitude of other questions you never thought to ask are answered by this film, an American-Ukrainian-Israeli production filmed in English and featuring dozens of fascinating historical tidbits and celebrity interviews. Though the analysis of the song itself is intriguing, Hava Nagila: The Movie (4:30 p.m. Monday, Enzian) is at its best when it addresses broader issues such as the Jewish-American migration from the cities to the suburbs, the changing nature of Jewish culture and how, as Harry Belafonte puts it, music allows humanity to “find a place … to reside where there is no fear.”

The Attack
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

It’s not often that a movie makes you rethink something as heinous as a civilian-targeted suicide bombing. Yet The Attack (6:45 p.m. Monday, Enzian) does just that by offering a unique glimpse into extremism.

A multinational production in Hebrew and Arabic, The Attack is the story of Amin (Ali Suliman), a Palestinian living in Israel. Despite his initial prejudices against Israelis, he has assimilated, thanks to his own tolerant nature and his job as a successful surgeon.

“And what you considered your enemy is now lying on your operating table,” Amin tells his colleagues. “Isn’t it the right time to re-examine your own certitudes?”

Yet those certitudes fall apart when his seemingly peace-loving wife is accused of blowing up a Tel Aviv restaurant. Not able to believe that she was capable of such horror, Amin begins a quest for the truth, a search that leads him back to the Palestinian territories and into the heart of terrorism.

As his quest drags on, so does the movie, which becomes a tad tedious. It’s as if the details of the bombing are simply a Hitchcock MacGuffin, a device to move the plot along while focusing on the real meaning, which in this case is the Arab-Israeli conflict and the themes of tolerance, revenge and dignity. Still, on that level, the film has profound moments.

The Attack, directed by Ziad Doueiri, never claims that terrorism is justified, but it does address the issue in an honest and often uncomfortable way – a way you’re unlikely to see elsewhere anytime soon.

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