A teenager who lives with his ultra-religious family while devoting time to Torah studies, Mendy (Oren Rehany) loves God with all his heart, but such spiritual leanings have done little to deter the festering sexual urges he finds covert opportunities to self-satisfy. At odds with himself, Mendy is recommended by his Rabbi to visit a prostitute as a means of relieving such wanton and distracting cravings. Following the wise man's advice, he visits a Tel Aviv strip club, where he instantly falls in love with the Russian working girl who services him. Sasha (Tchelet Semel) is a sprightly immigrant beauty jaded beyond her years, and her disreputable profession and brash feistiness positions her character as a counterpoint to Mendy's conservative, subservient mother. Just as Mendy's burgeoning sexuality has no place in orthodox Jewish life, Sasha's status as an immigrant means that she has no hope of assimilating into the orthodox community, leaving her with scant few respectable career prospects. Through a chance encounter, Mendy befriends Mike (Saul Stein), an American ex-war photographer (and one of Sasha's regular customers) who now runs a seedy bar in Jerusalem. Taking to Mike's gregariousness and recognizing an opportunity to better acquaint himself with Sasha, Mendy moves out of his parents' house and surreptitiously takes a bartending job at the genial Yankee's grimy establishment. The bar is home to an assortment of colorful characters - including Mike's shady Palestinian business partner Razi; an elderly drunken professor; and a roguish wild man known as the Exterminator (Arie Moskuna), who lovingly refers to his assault rifle as "my baby" - and this religious, ethnic, and class diversity speaks to the city's, and country's, schizophrenic composition. As a man attempting to reconcile his steadfast religious beliefs with his growing love for both Sasha and forbidden delights (such as drinking, smoking pot, and hanging out with people his family and Rabbi would unflinchingly decry as undesirables), Mendy becomes the embodiment of Israel's schisms. Sasha's accidental shearing of his traditional long sideburns during an impromptu haircut - and Mendy's subsequent inadvertent involvement in Mike and Razi's shifty money-making scheme - only further symbolizes the emotional and spiritual crossroads that Mendy finds himself faced with.
Continue reading: The Holy Land Review
And that's an opportunity missed, since the story - advertised as "based on true events" - holds the potential for a primal battle between man and nature. Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) are a workaholic couple taking time out of their busy lives to vacation in the Bahamas, setting aside their ever-present cell phones and laptops for drinks on the beach and shopping excursions to the local towns. Since both are experienced divers, they head out on a routine voyage to a coral reef, where they're given a half hour to explore the wonders of the deep. When they rise to the surface, however, they discover that their boat is missing; as a result of an incorrect head count, their fellow divers have mistakenly departed without them. Left to fend for themselves against the ocean's hungry indigenous creatures, they begin to drift out into the middle of nowhere and, naturally, into the center of danger.
Continue reading: Open Water Review
How's this for a math problem? A couple goes on a scuba-diving excursion on a boat filled with 18 other enthusiastic divers and a small crew. A crew member is responsible for ticking off on his clipboard divers who have returned from their dive.
One diver forgets his mask and remains on board. One tick. Another diver has trouble equalizing and returns early. Her partner comes along. Two more ticks makes three. The first diver asks if he can borrow a mask, but the crew member won't let him dive without a buddy, so the first and third divers go back in the water.
Here's the problem. The crew member has three ticks on his sheet, and only one diver remains in the boat. As the divers come back up, one by one, the ticks increase until 18 people are on the boat and 20 ticks are on the sheet.
Continue reading: OPEN WATER Review
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