It's no surprise that a serious film about a contested divorce is fraught with emotional turmoil. Still "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" presents an unexpectedly gripping, impossible situation. Viviane, the title character, endures a painful predicament in her bid for divorce because, in Israel, the husband must fully consent before Orthodox rabbis can legalize a marriage's dissolution.
Director Yuval Adler set and shot his film "Bethlehem" on location in that divided city where the central character, Sanfur, gets caught between the Palestinian resistance and his Israeli Secret Service handler Ravi. A quick-tempered Palestinian teenager, Sanfur embodies the fractured identity and impossible conditions of his troubled environment. He literally and figuratively makes himself a target.
Documentaries rank among the best films I see every year, but Israel's "The Gatekeepers" also merits recognition as the most unexpected, even astonishing, for several reasons. First, six former directors of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, granted director Dror Moreh extensive on-camera interviews, interviews, he says, he asked for at least twenty times to secure each.
Sometimes just spending an hour twenty minutes with an appealing character makes for a fine cinematic experience. That's how I felt after watching "Yossi." The title identifies the central character, Dr. Yossi Guttman, a 34-year-old cardiologist in a Tel Aviv hospital who harbors secrets that have taken the joy out of his life.
Father-son conflict has offered archetypal fodder for stories the world over for centuries. Now in Footnote Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar tracks one such father-son rivalry in the lives of two Talmudic scholars at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Brilliantly, he mines layer upon layer of psychological drama, tracking a complex web of moral interrogation embedded in dynamite dialogue exchanges.
Sometimes it's impossible to figure the blind-side hits coming our way. That could be the motto for The Human Resources Manager, both the film and the title character, the Human Resources Manager, who remains otherwise nameless, known only by his business title.