Amazon Holiday

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Band's Visit

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: A small orchestra, made up of Egyptian police officers, gets lost in Israel on their way to a concert, and its members spend the night amongst small town Israelis, who don't quite know what to make of them.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: (Warning-- the answer to this question is not in English, so don't be alarmed if you can't read, spell or pronounce any of the words... In fact, why don't you just skip ahead.) Sasson Gabai, Saleh Bakri, Ronit Elkabetz, Khalifa Natour, Shlomi Avraham, Rubi Moskovitz.

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketProceed with Caution. If you have a personal appreciation for independent film, you will enjoy the subtlety and nuance in this methodical and stylized film.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: A lot is said in the glances between the dialogue, and a lot of the English dialogue is said completely wrong. Between the two, the movie provides laughs of all sizes.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: No, but it does get very odd in parts.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: It swept the Israeli Film Academy Awards, winning 8 of them, including all the big ones. It won Cannes' Un Certain Regard award, and the director has won every festival he has been to, around the world. In the US, it's nominated for a Spirit Award, for Best Foreign Film. But it was disqualified from the category at the Oscars for having too much English... Although I'm still not sure that jumbled mess qualifies as English.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: There are a lot of really interesting performances, in particular, Sasson Gabai, who represses his emotions beautifully in his effort to set a good example, as the leader of the band. Meanwhile, Saleh Bakri is sexy as the band's Casanova and upstart. And Ronit Elkabetz is charismatic, as the Israeli hostess who tries to seduce the band leader. Unfortunately, in parts, her performance felt like it was trying too hard.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: Eran Kolirin creates highly stylized, picturesque stills from the opening shot through the end. His framing is particularly easy on the eyes. But at times he prioritizes style over substance, holding unnaturally long on a shot for the sole purpose of creating a still image. There is one time in particular, where stopping the actors' movement to hold on a framed image is so forced, that you leave the theater still wondering how he justified it to himself.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: Very small. Sometimes charming. But it leaves you wishing it had given you just a little bit more.

Q: Is there anything else worth mentioning about the movie?

A: Most of the movie is in Israeli and Arabic, with a smattering of scenes in English, which also require (and have) subtitles.

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