Over the last week I’ve watched three films I would not find anywhere else. All were worth my time with two so well done and engaging that I HIGHLY recommend them. I want to remind others that the films are not always about Jews but feature them)
First up is: “The Midnight Orchestra” The summary is: “After leaving Morocco as a child amidst racial tensions spurred by the Yom Kippur War, the son of a once famous Jewish musician returns to his home country to bury his father” . The lead character (Michael) is a major stock broker in New York and when he lands in Morocco for the funeral, he encounters a really funny taxi driver (named Ali played by Aziz Dadas – a REALLY funny guy). The two make an “odd couple” as Michael learns that members of his father’s old orchestra are still in the town but each has had a poor life. How Michael – with Ali’s help – reunite the musicians is the plot. BTW did I mention that Michael is an atheist? The film is from 2015 and is in Arabic, French and some English. Subtitles were easy to read.
Next up was “Fever of Dawn” a gem I’m sure you won’t find elsewhere. The 2016 film from Hungary (in Hungarian with easy to read subtitles has this simple plot: It’s 1945 – after the war – and a 25-year old former soldier is in a care facility in Sweden where his doctor says an illness (not bodily damage from the war) has left him with six months to live. In a rush to find a woman to marry he sends the same handwritten letter of introduction to 137 women in a women’s care center. ONE replies and they start a correspondence. I would tell you any more but the lead actors are great. The film is told as a “memory” by one of the characters (no spoilers) and the beginning is in color but the memory scenes are in crisp Black and white. Again, the issue of religion comes up only briefly. It’s a story about history (Sweden housing Hungarian Jews) and, again, atheism. I think this film will capture you. It did me.
Lastly is “Once in A Lifetime” a French film (105 minutes) from 2014. It’s another BOTS (Based on a True Story) film in which a dedicated teacher (in this case a female Social Studies high school teacher) in an urban city with a diverse student body of mostly minority students, who sets out on a project to get them to work together (and win an educational contest). Yes, think of films like “Mr. Holland’s Opus” or “To Sir With Love” or “The Blackboard Jungle”. Here the teacher wants to have the students understand the Concentration Camps and the Holocaust. You sort of know where it’ll end but want to be there for the journey. Personally I felt the dozen or so out-of-control students changed way to quickly to be totally believable. Stay around as the credits roll to see the actual students this film was based on.
Well there you have it. I encourage others to share brief comments on films they’ve seen. They don’t all have to be positive (just honest opinions). There seem to be nearly 1,000 films or episodes on Chaiflicks and I’d like to know what others think. Okay now back to “Check Out”. (What you haven’t see that yet? What are you waiting for?) Happy (secular) New Year!