Anyone who loved Last Tango in Paris will like “Last Hora in Jerusalem,” or so hope the makers of Love Life, which shows Nov. 7 at 7:30pm in San Jose at Camera 12 as part of the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival. In Love Life, German director Maria Schrader, who played “Jaguar” in Aimee and Jaguar, recounts the affair of Ya’ara (Neta Garty, the Natalie Portman type). She meets Arie (Rade Serbedzija); the elder man is grand-mannered in that silver-haired Eurostud style that’s supposed to liquidate provincials.
An excerpt from Zaruva Shalev’s source novel, posted on Amazon.com, runs, “I felt suffocated next to her and I said, I have to go, and she exclaimed, not yet, trying to keep me with her like she tried to keep him, stay with me until he goes, and I asked, why, and she shrugged her shoulders in a childish gesture, I don’t know.” I dunno either. It’s either underadapted or adapted from a novel that was underrefined from real-life experience.
Let’s be fair: get past a heroine so passive-aggressive it’s amazing she can exhale; see past the very-young-girl method of viewing parents (mom’s a bitch, dad’s an invertebrate)—and if one does, there’s some savory angst here. The movie depicts people who feel that they are provincials, English speakers in a Hebrew land, chip-shouldered because they aren’t Paris dwellers like the grand Arie.
The angst expands to the Holy Land itself; apart from its sepulchers, in Schrader’s lens, Jerusalem appears badly built, full of chafing people, surrounded by a desert so bare it looks like marauders looted the rocks.
On Nov. 10 at 7:30pm at Camera 7 in Campbell, the festival screens Gut Shabbes, Vietnam, which documents a pair of emissaries sent to run a Chabad house in Ho Chi Minh City and to provide religious services and kosher food to the Jews there. “Vietnam is a hot bed of sins, a lion’s den,” warns their rabbi. Menachem and Racheli Hartman and their baby, Levy, try to adjust to a place where there initially don’t seem to be enough Jews to make a quorum.
Happily, missionaries never change; the couple’s attitude toward the Vietnamese would do credit to a censorious Scots minister sent to British East Africa When one sees just one demand of the ultra-Orthodox faith—don’t dress your children in prints of unclean animals like bears, as in teddy bears—the five interviewees in the second half of the program, Leaving the Fold, don’t have to persuade us much why they’ve left Orthodoxy. It’s one thing to pass up on torrid affairs and Vietnamese shellfish; it’s another to live in a culture where women—such as the tender-voiced Basya Schechter, interviewed here—aren’t supposed to sing in public.
Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival
Runs through Nov. 13 at Camera Cinemas and other locations
But tickets now