Wednesday, February 4, 2009

3 films and a bunch of books

It's film and book time. I recommend three recently seen movies:

Encounter Point
Whether you're on the Peace Train, or you're still on the platform mulling it over, you can't fail to be touched by this trilingual film (English / Hebrew / Arabic, with the two languages not being spoken at any given moment subtitled). It's a documentary about Semites on both sides of the divide bereaved by the Pali-Israeli conflict.

Everyone interviewed (it's a documentary) deserves a Peace Prize: the Pali who did time in an Israeli prison for a security offense, for adopting and trying to spread non-violence; the former (Orthodox) settler who moved inside the Green Line; and the rest of the bereaved parents who tirelessly lecture around Israel about giving the other side a chance. Left an imprint on my soul.

Sweet Mud Adadmáh Meshugá'at

Controversial film about a pre-decollectivized kibbutz circa 1970. Why controversial? Because everyone who's seen it feels compelled to either attack or defend the authenticity of the depiction of the kibbutz. I find it interesting that whereas many viewers have commented on the "beautiful scenery", I actually found the set to be drab and colorless – reflecting the spartanlike atmosphere of the kibbutz.

There's no doubt that kibbutzim are presented negatively; it's as if the director created a composite of Awful Stuff That Occurred on Kibbutzim. What bothers me is that so much of the Awful Stuff is so often attributed to the institution known as lináh meshutèfet [children's communal dorms]. Supposing there had been lináh meshutèfet, yet those caring for the children had been warm, caring, and had a sense of humor? I believe that if any or all of the Awful Stuff did occur (and I believe it did), it had more to do with the rigid ideological mindset and less to do with where the kids were housed / slept.

As a side note, I also find it interesting that two films that deal with kibbutz (this one and Mivtzah Savta) both have scenes about kibbutz kids stealing food. We've also had incidences of this type on my kibbutz, and it leads me to think that, as opposed to all the hand-wringing and wear-did-we-go-wrong-ing, it's a rite of passage in all institutional settings, including boarding schools. I'd be interested in hearing from readers who attended the latter about this phenomenon.

Odd Girl Out
Moms should watch this with their adolescent daughters. It's somewhere between Mean Girls and Thirteen in presenting the issue of relational violence, a term coined by the author of the book on which Odd Girls Out is based. I say just call a spade a spade: It's bullying, even though it's moved from the blacktop to the desktop.

Even though there's a happy ending, the film doesn't sugar-coat its subject. As a mom, I can vouch for the authenticity of the mother-daughter scenes and for the mom's despair and helplessness. As for the daughter, you want to jump out of your seat and shake her, but that's due to the fine acting and the film's succeeding in drawing in and involving the viewer. Recommended.

And now for books:
If you're interested in reading the books I've reviewed at Amazon, don't be deterred by the most recent, which is actually a product review of a dog brush. Just keep scrolling down…

1 comment:

  1. The communal baby house was settled by almost all kibbutzim by the early 1970s. Also, Degania (1909) never had such. Why did Degania B do it? The CBH failed, not because the ladies working with the children were not kind or capable, but because they were not the mothers. Mothering is the most basic and natural human drive, although there are anomalies.

    Read The Bookseller of Kabul; you will appreciate it, even if there are editorial errors. I read for Recording For the Blind & Dyslectic and find many instances of poor editing.