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Film

Happy Times

Michael Mayer, the director of Happy Times, an extremely dark Israeli comedy, hews to an incredibly pessimistic view of mankind. His quirky feature film, now available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform, implicitly subscribes to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ grim maxim that human beings are “nasty, brutish and short.” Mayer zeroes in on Israeli expatriates who meet […]

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Film

Budapest Noir

A locomotive belching white smoke pulls into a train station in Budapest carrying the decorated coffin of Gyula Gombos, the prime minister of Hungary from 1932 until his death four years later. An honor guard and a solemn crowd greet the train. So begins Eva Gardos’ Budapest Noir, a moody, fast-moving Hungarian-language film with English subtitles […]

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Film

Time Of Favor

Israel is plagued by the curse of extremist Orthodox rabbis who reject the authority of the government and egg on their malleable followers to disobey the law and take matters into their own hands. This disturbing phenomenon is mostly associated with far right-wing Israeli settlers in the West Bank who fervently support Israel’s occupation and […]

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Film

Where Life Begins

Stephane Freiss’ deeply atmospheric movie, Where Life Begins, unfolds on an idyllic farm in southern Italy divorced from contemporary ills and troubles. Yet it is precisely here, amid gently rolling hills, gnarled olive trees, a lush citron grove and a bleating herd of sheep, that unpleasant truths emerge. This Italian and French co-production, presented by […]

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Film

Anti-Semitism: 2000 Years Of History

Jonathan Hayoun’s four-part documentary about the world’s longest hatred, Anti-Semitism: 2000 Years Of History, is an edifying survey of a mutating pathological phenomenon that shows no signs of abating. Now available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform, this nearly four-hour French production, with English subtitles, is panoramic in scope and substance. The narrative is supplemented by […]

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Film

Moon In The 12th House

Two estranged sisters strive to reconcile in Dorit Hakim’s spare and moody movie, Moon in the 12th House, which is now available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform. It unfolds over several weeks at two locales in Israel — a nightclub in Tel Aviv and a pastoral moshav. Lenny (Yaara Pelzig) has become her father’s primary […]

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Film

Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children

Until it was unceremoniously closed in 2009, the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, Ontario, was essentially a grim warehouse for developmentally disabled youth. Barri Cohen’s half-brothers, Alfred and Louis, lived and died there under abysmal conditions. Her heart-wrenching documentary, Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children, which opens in Toronto on September 16, sheds light on an institution […]

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Film

Wolves Of War

Giles Alderson’s British thriller, Wolves of War, is thoroughly formulaic. Scheduled to be released on VOD and digital platforms on September 13, it takes place in Germany in 1945 during the dying days of World War II. The plot could not be more straightforward. British commandos are parachuted over Bavaria to rescue an American scientist […]

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Film

Gut Shabbes Vietnam

Ido and Yael Zand’s “fish-out-of-water” documentary, Gut Shabbes Vietnam, is captivatingly intriguing and appealing. Now available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform, which specializes in Jewish and Israeli topics, it is mostly set in Ho Chi Minh City, which, until Vietnam’s unification in 1975, was known as Saigon. The film opens in 2006 in Jerusalem as […]

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Film

Carl Laemmle: A Hollywood Movie Pioneer

Carl Laemmle was truly one of the pioneers of the Hollywood movie industry. He founded and managed Universal Studios, which would be the biggest film producer in the United States. And he launched the careers of, among others, the director John Ford and the actress Mary Pickford. This German Jewish immigrant is profiled in James […]