Eurovison fans will find this Israeli comedy to be sheer cinematic joy. Not only is it a hilariously astute satire of the music competition, but it's also packed with deeper political meaning. And the music makes us want to dance. It's also a refreshing shift for filmmaker Eytan Fox, whose previous films like The Bubble and Yossi dealt with much darker themes.
In the latest UniverSong contest, Israel came in dead last. So of course everyone thinks they could do better next year. When a group of friends improvise a song to cheer up their recently single cupcake-baker pal Anat (Anat Waxman), the idea gains traction. Schoolteacher Ofer (Ofer Shechter) leads the charge, but lawyer Yael (Yael Bar Zohar) and politician Dana (Dana Ivgy) feel that such silly competitions will belittle their careers. Blogger Keren (Keren Berger) thinks she has no talent, while musician Efrat (Efrat Dor) thinks he's above this kind of silly pop. But the real challenge for this group is to perform the song their way, because the powers that be want them to fit into the usual mould.
Fox further complicates everything with romantic entanglements for all six characters, each of which adds to the central theme about overcoming fear to do the right thing. For example, Ofer's boyfriend (Alon Levi) is too famous to come out as gay, while Yael is having a fling with her boss (Lior Ashkenazi). And while all of these storylines make the film feel a bit overcrowded, they're easily kept apart because Fox colour-codes the entire movie, giving each character his or her own hue, like Teletubbies.
Continue reading: Cupcakes Review
Three cool kids share a Tel Aviv apartment and try to make their way in the world. Soft-spoken Noam (Ohad Knoller) works in a record store while his gay friend Yali (Alon Friedmann) manages a café. Noam has a second job as a weekend national guard soldier who monitors border crossings into Palestinian territories. Director Eytan Fox has no problem showing the petty humiliations the Palestinians must suffer as they try to move through territory they consider their own. Naturally they resent living their lives at the point of an Israeli gun. Noam doesn't much like the whole situation either.
Continue reading: The Bubble Review