Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Band's Visit

One of my favorite comedies of recent years is the German film Schulze Gets The Blues. It's not for everyone: It's statically filmed, slow-paced and, naturally, plays a bit on German sensibilities. But it works for me because it taps into the love of music and how it can motivate people to leave their "comfort zone".

The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) is an Israeli film which might seem to have similar premise: An Egyptian police band (classical Arab music) ends up in a small town in Israel by accident, and all kinds of wackiness ensues. Or at least amusing, human episodes.

This film cleaned up at Israeli film award shows.

But, in the end, I have to say, I didn't really get it. It seemed aimless to me. And the idea that people can get along--even Arabs and Jews--strikes me as not all that revolutionary (from the comfort of Hollywood, CA). Where Schulze's slowness was usually a setup for some amusing tableau, like a silent movie, The Band's Visit seemed to let the characters brood for extended periods of time. (Not dissimilar to the movie 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days.)

Unfortunately, I have little insight into what they're thinking.

Ronit Elkabetz was pretty hot, though, and Sasson Gabai brings an odd "warm distance" to his role that makes his character believable.

But I suspect that 80% of this movie's resonance is parochial.

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