Yesterday morning was about roaming around, picking up the passes and attending the brunch, and then the highly engaging Argo happened at the Chuck Jones at 2 pm. And then it was back to town to try to get into Sony Classics’ Israeli Shin Bet documentary The Gatekeepers…nope. Sold out, locked down. I recounted this yesterday, I know. It’s 7:45 am and the day’s first film — Christian Petzold‘s Barbara — starts in two hours.
We saw three films yesterday and got shut out of a fourth. Two of the films, Argo and The Attack, were quite good, the former more conventionally entertaining and the latter more thoughtful and lamenting.
A pit stop at a cafe happened around 5:30 pm, and then we walked over to the Palm for Sally Potter‘s Ginger and Rosa, which runs only 89 minutes but felt like two hours. Set in 1962 London, it’s not so much about Rosa (Alice Englert) as her best pally Ginger (Elle Fanning, visually luscious with her fair skin and dyed red hair) and states of emotional frustration and entrapment. The action is mainly about Ginger’s soured relationship with her mom (Christina Hendricks) and her comng to know her boho-writer dad (Allesandro Nivola) and an obsession that Ginger and much of the London left has with nuclear proliferation — a big deal at the time but not so much from a 2012 perspective.
I’ve always respected Potter and am fully acknowledging that Ginger and Rosa is a well-made, carefully focused character piece, but I felt trapped — I didn’t want to be there.
One tiny quibble: Nivola wears a five-day unshaven look throughout, and guys simply didn’t do that in 1962. Hip-grubby GQ fashion whiskers didn’t start to happen until the mid ’90s. The only guys who wore beard stubble in 1962 were street winos and those growing a beard.
Next came a 9:45 pm showing of Ziad Doueiri‘s The Attack, which is unmistakably strong and penetrating — perhaps the most eloquent and moving pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli drama I’ve seen since…I can’t remember what but I was thinking back to portions of Costa-Gavras‘ Hanna K at times. There can be no peace between Israelis and Palestinians — the latter have been nudged, barricaded, pushed and shoved out of territory that was once theirs for the last 60-odd years, and the Israelis, once you get past their aggressive dominance, feel they have no choice but to protect themselves from the acts of rage that have resulted from this.
The Attack, based on Yasmin Khadra‘s novel, is about a Tel Aviv-based Israeli-Arab surgeon (Ali Sulaman) whose wife, he gradually comes to learn, had secretly bonded with Palestinian terrorists and finally decided to commit a final act of martyrdom. It’s one of those “I can sense right away what happened but I need to go through denial and then investigate it on a step by step basis” movies about a shell-shocked protagonist, etc. But it’s rendered carefully and completely, and the final 20 minutes or so are quite devastating.
My only beef is that Sulaman reveals himself at the very beginning as a man who despised Israeli authority in his youth, and so it seems curious that his wife wouldn’t have made any attempt to share her growing feelings of loyalty and support for the Palestinian cause.