Film Movement's November '10 Releases
Jaffa (November 7/10)
Though it boasts an almost unwatchable opening 45 minutes, Jaffa ultimately manages to establish itself as an engaging, sporadically enthralling little drama that benefits substantially from star Dana Ivgy's hypnotic performance. The film follows Ivgy's Mali Wolf, an Israeli, as she carries on an illicit (and secret) relationship with a Palestinian mechanic named Toufik (Mahmud Shalaby), with their happiness inevitably threatened by the increasingly threatening actions of Mali's hot-headed brother, Meir (Ro'i Asaf). Director Keren Yedaya has infused Jaffa with a seriously deliberate pace that is, at the outset, compounded by her emphasis on grating characters, with Asaf's over-the-top turn as Mali's ill-tempered sibling often threatening to negate the film's atmosphere of gritty authenticity (ie he's just unreasonably belligerent). The inclusion of several equally infuriating periphery figures - including Mali's aggressively unlikable mother (Ronit Elkabetz's Ossi) - seemingly cements Jaffa's place as an entirely obnoxious piece of work, yet there's little doubt that things improve substantially following a mid-movie twist that sends the proceedings in an entirely unexpected direction. The film subsequently morphs into an intriguing melodrama revolving primarily around Ivgy's progressively compelling character, although filmmaker Yedaya's slow-moving modus operandi ultimately (and unfortunately) prevents the movie from becoming quite as compelling as she's clearly intended (ie the excessive deliberateness dulls the emotional impact of a few key scenes). Still, Jaffa's impressive turnabout ensures that it remains worth a look - even if that first half is rather disastrous.
Nurse.Fighter.Boy (November 8/10)
A well intentioned but pervasively uneven piece of work, Nurse.Fighter.Boy details the relationships between three characters - Clark Johnson's Silence, Karen LeBlanc's Jude, and Daniel J. Gordon's Ciel - and the turmoil that ensues after Jude reveals that she's suffering from a hereditary blood disease. First-time filmmaker Charles Officer has infused Nurse.Fighter.Boy with an ostentatious and downright pretentious visual style that ultimately hinders the movie's overall success, as it does become clear virtually from the get-go that the director is far more interested in creating (and perpetuating) a poetic atmosphere than in offering up compelling, fully-developed characters. There's little doubt that many of the film's emotional moments are subsequently drained of their effectiveness, which is a shame, certainly, given that Officer and coscreenwriter Ingrid Veninger have packed the proceedings with a number of almost melodramatic episodes designed to tug at the viewer's heartstrings. That being said, Nurse.Fighter.Boy does feature a trio of absolutely spellbinding performances that almost compensate for Officer's intrusive directorial choices - with Johnson's impressively subtle turn standing as an obvious highlight. The end result is a disappointing effort that possesses its share of stirring attributes, admittedly, yet it's clear that the movie would've benefited from a less obtrusive filmmaker behind the camera.