IT IS A RITE OF PASSAGE FOR MANY, whether they want to go or not. One goes because it is their son or daughter, niece or nephew, cousin or a friend’s child; there is no getting around it. I do not want to make this sound torturous even though there have been times where it has been painful. The school recital or production is hard to refuse when you are connected to someone who is a participant. It is one of those things you do to support the child; one is not going to see or hear a top notch performance necessarily. I have sat through band recitals where if the program did not list the names of the songs I would have had no idea what the kids were playing. It is just the way the dice fall I guess because I was at a high school talent show that had some wonderful performances. Let me admit however the toughest times for me are when the school is putting on a musical production. I sit in those uncomfortable assembly hall seats at the school, watching the miscues and the forgotten lines, waiting for the one line my relative gets to say in the 2nd half of the play. It is a challenge for me. WATCHING STUDENTS PUT ON A play that I have seen before is harder for me to watch than when they do something I have never seen before. Not knowing what to expect makes the evening at the school performance easier because I am curious about the story. For the productions I have seen more than likely I have seen a professional theater production straight from Broadway. Now granted I will still enjoy the music, even if the school orchestra is not as polished as hired musicians; but that only goes so far before I get antsy in my seat. Not that I would ever make a negative comment to family or friends about the school performance. This is why I refer to it as a rite of passage; it is just one of those things you do because it is polite, supportive and the right thing to do. And it is important to be there for the child to commend and praise them. Regarding everything I just said please disregard it when it comes to the retelling of the biblical story in this action drama. HAVING BEEN TOLD HIS WHOLE life that he was a savior for the Hebrews; Samson, played by Taylor James (Christmas Eve, Justice League), did not want any part of it. All he was interested in was to antagonize the Philistines and be with women. This movie’s cast had Jackson Rathbone (Twilight franchise, The Last Airbender) as Rallah, Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom) as King Balek, Caitlin Leahy (Queen of the South-TV, Black-ish-TV) as Delilah and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher) as Manoah. Being familiar with the story of Samson and Delilah I have to tell you I was not looking forward to this film. I am aware of this movie studio and they did exactly what I expected them to do. They put no thought into the script, the production values or the cast. This picture was so poorly done that I would have preferred sitting through an elementary school production of the story. The acting was atrocious; granted the script was part of the cause. I sat in my seat and as I watched these actors I had to wonder if each one of them was carrying a heavy debt load, causing them to accept their role in this poorly made production. All I can say is I would rather have watched a friend’s daughter cry on stage during their ballet recital than sit through this picture.
1 ½ stars
Begin with several words, string them together and let a story take you away. Let me show you what I mean. I will start with the words room, curtains, breath, light, skin and airplane. Here is the first beginning to the story: The curtains’ shadows looked like they were reaching out to me as I entered into the room. The light behind them blazed in a crimson red; I could feel the heat on my skin. This was my first time here and the air smelled rancid. It was stifling to the point where I felt I was entering into the mouth of an ogre with bad breath. Suddenly the room shook with a roar as if an airplane had just skimmed the roof above me. Maybe what I just wrote was the beginning of a horror story. Same words, but in a different order; let me see what I will get: The curtains gently rippled as a warm breeze passed them into my room. I was stretched out on the sofa, careful not to disturb the creases where the love of my life had sat minutes ago before they had to leave. Their breath still felt like it was lingering around the skin at the back of my neck. Our light conversation had gone into deeper waters with positive results. I agreed to make airplane reservations to fly out and meet their family for the first time. Now this story sounds romantic, doesn’t it? That is the beauty about stories; they can take us to an infinite amount of places. I love the way a story can take me away from my reality and place me into a whole different world. Some people read to learn, others read to escape; it does not make a difference because I feel just the act of reading provides the essential nutrients for the mind to grow. AMOS OZ, played by newcomer Amir Tessler, was always ready to hear a new story until he felt he was living in some of them. With Natalie Portman (Jane Got a Gun, Black Swan) as Fania Oz, Makram Khoury (Munich, The Physician) as Halawant and Ohad Knoller (The Bubble, Munich) as Israel Zarchi; this film festival nominated dramatic biography was based on the bestseller by Amos Oz. Written and directed by Natalie, the story had a darkness to it as it took place during Israel’s formative years. I could see there was something to the story but I don’t think the screenplay conveyed it. There were some good scenes and I could see Natalie had a good eye for directing, but I did not find this picture entertaining. Despite the acting being good, the story telling interesting and the dynamics between the characters having depth; I was not always into the story. Granted I would not consider the subject upbeat but I think if the script was in different hands the results might have been different. Not that I am knocking Natalie’s 1st directorial effort, but maybe she should have focused only on that instead of the screenplay too. There certainly was a story here; I just did not feel satisfied watching it. Hebrew was spoken with English subtitles.
Silence is something I yearn for in a movie theater, not in a relationship. I have always felt silence aka non-communication was a hurtful act. If someone needs to gather their thoughts or calm down before speaking, I totally understand it. However, if a person does not want to talk about an issue, what do you do and where do you go with that? I remember working with an employee a long time ago who by herself was bubbly with an outgoing personality. When she was accompanied by her husband to any of the company events, her eyes looked dead and she was always low key; it was like being with a completely different person. It turned out her husband was always going out with his friends, leaving her home alone. He also was heavily involved with some hobby that kept him out in their garage for hours. It was apparent to me that if the two of them continued the way they were going something was bound to happen to end their marriage. I have seen and been in enough relationships to know people sometimes evolve out of them or worse, go into a relationship thinking they can change the other person. It is tough once a person starts thinking they do not belong or feel they are missing something. I have stated in past reviews that love is a powerful force and even with this film I still stand by my statement. MEIRA, played by Hadas Yaron (Fill the Void, Out of Sight), was a Hasidic Jewish wife and mother who felt lost within their tight knit community. Her husband Shulem, played by Luzer Twersky (Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish, Where is Joel Baum?), did not understand what could possibly be wrong. After bumping into the stranger Felix, played by Martin Dubrevil (7 Days, L’Affaire Dumont), at the bakery one day; Meira started thinking more about her life. This film festival winning dramatic movie was one made up of subtleties. With a quiet slow pace the story took its time to let the scenes soak in. I thought the acting was excellent as the characters evolved with the aid of gentle nuances and gestures. Some viewers may find this romantic film slow going and I have to say it came close to feeling like that for me. However, what kept me involved in the characters was the interesting way their emotions would come out; I think the appropriate term here would be: the way the characters wore their hearts on their sleeves. An interesting thing to note here; I do not suffer from claustrophobia but throughout this movie I felt a heaviness closing in on me at times. I think that says something about the film. There was French, Yiddish, Hebrew and Italian spoken with English subtitles.