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Friday's Film Tip: The Flat, by Arnon Goldfinger

Today's film tip, again, is not a freebie. Elektra did a really thorough search, but no joy. If you have Amazon Prime, you can see it there. US Netflix viewers can find it under 'Foreign Films'. And I'll show you a trailer in a minute.

After the response to my last suggestion, I'm a bit reluctant to recommend movies that are less than 80 years old. After all, if I recommend them, I think they have some merit. But just in case somebody else would like this one, too, I'm going to go ahead. I've already recommended this film to colleagues who do history lessons - it has everything a history teacher could want to teach students about how to do historical research: documentation, argumentation, placing events in context, and etc. Nonetheless, it's far from boring. It's an edge-of-your-seat human mystery story.

The film I'm talking about is Arnon Goldfinger's 'The Flat'. Goldfinger lives in Tel Aviv. The film's in English, German, and Hebrew, with appropriate subtitles. Here's the trailer:

The genesis of the film, apparently, was that Goldfinger wanted to document his family's cleanup of his late grandmother's apartment. She'd lived there for about 70 years, and she was 98 when she died. As Goldfinger said, her flat was a little piece of 1930s Berlin, right in Tel Aviv. He didn't know German, and his grandmother didn't like to speak Hebrew, so they conversed in English.

The film begins with the funny things you find in your grandparents' attic: a top hat, gross fox furs, stuff like that. But then the descendants find something surprising: copies of a Nazi periodical called 'Der Angriff'. With an article that mentions the grandparents. It seems they served as guides for the author of the series 'A Nazi Goes to Palestine'. What was this all about? And who were those people in the family photo album? Above all, what really happened to Arnon's great-grandmother? He goes on a journey that takes him to Wuppertal and Berlin.

The answers will surprise you. The story isn't about praise or blame. It's about people, and memory, and why it takes the third generation to ask the questions. Goldfinger's a great interviewer. He's warm and sympathetic.

One piece of evidence they find is a Berlin Stolperstein to Arnon's great-aunt. You remember Stolpersteine? Malabarista told us about them: A57720440 In the end, they decide they might sponsor one of their own.

It seems to me that Arnon Goldfinger brought a great deal of empathy to his project. He is careful of his subjects' feelings. He is not quick to judge. And I think he's brought out a few truths that are not often apparent in the search for historical accuracy. The 'talking heads' aspect is minimal, but the professionals Goldfinger consults have some excellent points to make about the psychology of the individual caught up in the sweep of history.

I recommend the film. If you've got a spare hour and a half, give it a go. And if you like it, too, pass the word.

Thanks for listening.

smiley - dragon

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Latest reply: 12 Hours Ago

I Hate New Computers

Dear Friends,

My beloved computer bit the dust. RIP.

I have a shiny new one, with Windows 8.2. Oh, how I hate it.

I'm still learning how to fight my way through it. I haven't figured all the buttons out yet, or how to keep it from going back to tiny print every time it refreshes the screen.

So if I'm slow in answering for a while, please forgive.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [23]

Latest reply: Last Week

Sunday Movie Recommendation: Perfect Sense

We saw a film today that we really enjoyed. In fact, it moved us to tears. I wouldn't mention it - it's not a freebie - except that I looked it up, and apparently, the critics weren't impressed. Which shows bad taste on their part, and a lack of understanding of what a science fiction film really is.

Oh, and the film grossed about a thousand dollars in the U.S., and about the same in the U.K.

This film's a gem, though. It's 2011'a 'Perfect Sense', written by Kim Aakeson and starring Ewan MacGregor and Eva Green.

I can always tell a good film - it's one that has at least FOUR grant sponsors, like the Irish, Scottish, Danish, and Norwegian film boards. Now, the film's set in Glasgow, so our first reaction was to yell, 'Where are the subtitles?' But we settled down, as it was clear enough. Our next reaction was, 'This is set in GLASGOW. And he's a CHEF? Did we just hear somebody order haggis?' We got over it.

The movie's amazing. I won't say anything about the plot, other than the setup. The hero's a chef, the heroine's an epidemiologist, and all is going well until everybody in the world loses their sense of smell. It gets stranger after that.

This film does what science fiction is supposed to do: moves you on many levels, and makes your think hard about basic ideas. No, sicence fiction is not about space sihps, space food, and space guns fired by space babes. It's about ideas. And this film has a honey of an idea.

For something this low-budget, it's startlingly riveting to watch. Terrific pacing, too. If you can find it - it's on Netflix in the U.S. right now - please give it your attention. At just under 90 minutes, it's the perfect length,

If you do see it, let me know what you think.

smiley - dragon

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Latest reply: Last Week

Friday Freebie Film: The Dark of the Moon (Hillbilly Gothic)

Today's Friday Freebie Film: 'The Dark of the Moon', a spooky tale of love, madness, and hillbilly witches.

A few words about this, masterpiece: it was done back in the black-and-white TV days, when a lot of Broadway actors ended up on TV entertaining the masses. The plays were often quite good. This one, let all be warned, is not of that caliber. But it has an odd charm. Very odd.

The story appears to be based on an 'Appalachian folktale'. This folktale, obviously, was invented in an alternate universe known only to the writers. One in which witches are bubble-headed supernatural beings who age out into Smoky Mountain mist. But until then, the women are awful, and the men - to judge by Tom Tryon - are dishy.

Ah, Tom Tryon. Otherwise known as Thomas Tryon, author of the classic horror novel, 'The Other'. Watching this gives us a clue about why he changed professions - if he got much more of this dialogue, he'd have to realise he could write better.

A brief note on the 'dialect': one suspects the authors of this opus came from New York City. This accent is not found in nature - and 'conjure woman' is more Gullah than Appalachian.

Anyway, don't analyse too much. Just enjoy the mayhem and butchering of 'Barbara Allen'. A folklorist would scream, but it's all good fun. And ladies, the actor is shirtless for much of it.

smiley - dragon

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Latest reply: 3 Weeks Ago

Friday's Freebie Musical Discovery: Abe Burrows:

Today's musical discovery - because I've just stumbled across him, and I'm listening, and wiping the tears out of my eyes - is Mr Abe Burrows, aka Abram Solman Borowitz (1910-1985).

Burrows won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, but I don't think it was for these songs.

Nonetheless, I think you'll enjoy 'The Pansy in My Garden' and 'The Stationery Song', as well as the French parody that had me choking.

A little laughter at the piano, is all it is, but it's fun for young and old, no lie.

So thanks a million to the kind soul who copied his records onto the old interweb. Enjoy.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [11]

Latest reply: 5 Weeks Ago

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