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Reviews for November 28th, 2008


Directed by Yair Hochner.

In Hebrew with subtitles.Omer (Tomer Ilan), a Tel Aviv librarian about to turn 30, begins a relationship with Ronen (Guy Zo-Aretz), a journalist interviewing an author who claims to have been abducted by aliens that communicate with her. Danny (Yiftach Mizrahi), Omer’s ex-boyfriend who’s also dancer who has lots of sexual energy, still has feelings for Omer. Meanwhile, Omer’s lesbian sister, Shirley (Lucy Dubinchik), has fallen out of love with her older girlfriend (Liat Ekta) and would prefer to travel overseas alone. In yet another subplot, a young dance student hits on Danny. The screenplay by writer/director has some witty dialogue and interesting characters, but its dramatic tensions gradually wane because too many characters overstuff the convoluted plot which makes it messy and occasionally confusing. Any one of the subplots could have been fleshed out into a separate film, especially the subplot about the author abducted by aliens who takes Ronen and Danny to a meeting for alien abductees. Other scenes feel campy such as when actor Noam Huberman briefly shows up in drag as Danny’s mother, Shoshana. It would have been wiser had writer/director Yair Hochner not gyrated so often between so many genres and focused just on the film’s dramatic and romantic elements or at least taken the comedy further. On a positive note, he includes some stylish cinematography and imaginative editing, especially during the first 5 minutes where he effectively uses split screens during the raunchy sex scenes. Antarctica could have been more refreshing and engrossing with a more focused screenplay, but at least it manages to be mildly engaging to watch. Number of times I checked my watch: 3.
Released by Regent Releasing/Here! Films. Opens at the Quad Cinema.

Rome & Jewel

Directed by Charles T. Kanganis.

In Los Angeles, Rome (Nate Parker), an African American teen, falls in love with Jewel (Lindsey Haun), a 16-year-old from a wealthy family, who also happens to be the mayor’s (John Rubinstein) daughter. Despite that Rome’s father (Cleavant Derricks), a preacher, prohibits him from seeing Jewel, he continues to serenade her, which puts his life in danger. What sounds like it could have been a refreshing and captivating homage to William Shakespeare’s classic story, Romeo & Juliet, instead becomes contrived and often bland. None of the lively hip hop musical numbers generate much in terms of emotion and come across as corny. On top of that, Rome and Jewel have virtually no chemistry together, so you won’t really care what happens to either of them as the plot progresses. On a positive note, writer/director Charles T. Kanganis moves the film at a brisk pace and includes decent camerawork that isn’t nauseating or pretentious. If only the screenplay were less stilted and the musical numbers less intrusive and awkward, Rome & Jewel would have been a much more moving and compelling remake rather than one that often falls flat in terms of drama and romance.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4.
Released by Emerging Pictures. Opens at the IFC Center.

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