Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In a Rut

I bore myself to sleep at night
I bore myself in broad daylight coz
I'm Bored...I'm the chairman of the bored

- Iggy Pop, "I'm Bored"

I'm in a rut and I seem to have lost my creative Mojo. It started when my editing deck VCR died and it's continued without abatement since. All the signs are there. I've been wearing the same dour clothes for the last two weeks: black shirt, black pin-striped pants, black shoes (full disclosure: I did change my undergarments every day). I come home and instead of watching the stack of movies I have by the TV, I end up watching news stations like CNN and MSNBC (I should be elated that my p-whipped Democratic Party took back the House and Senate and that Martin O'Malley and Ben Cardin triumphed in Maryland's gubernatorial and Senate races over the GOP deadbeats but I find myself strangely unsatisfied). Then this morning, a black cat crossed my path twice and I managed to drive under a ladder (how much more ominous can it get?). If it's not dark yet, it's certainly getting close.

Deja Vu All Over Again
Sunday night I lacked the energy to get up and change the channel after The Simpsons; the program that followed, American Dad (a Family Guy spinoff) was all about - you guessed it - being in a rut. The husband and wife went out to the same steakhouse every Friday, ordered the same steak, drank the same martinis, then made the same tired sex. For my part, Saturday night I went to the same independent theatre I always frequent to see new films, ate the same dish at the same Korean restaurant I always go to, drank the same beer I always order there, and canoodled with the same partner I always canoodle with (full disclosure: I'm not complaining at all about the latter). In other words, as Ray Davies sang: "Predictable".
Predictable/That's the word of the year
Predictable/All I see, all I hear
Turn on the TV, just sit and stare
Predictable/There's nothing happening there

Yawn Yawn
It didn't help that last night I watched one of the most boring, pointless films ever, Amos Gitai's Yom Yom, supposedly a "comedy" by Israel's preeminent arthouse/festival circuit director. I convinced myself that I was checking it out because I had never seen an Israeli film or a Gitai film, but quite frankly I liked the cover, which featured an attractive brunnette with long legs and a short Audrey Hepburn haircut.

Ya Ya 'Bout Atiya

I later found out her name is Natali Atiya and she is apparently Israel's no. 1 model and what one imdb user called a "would-be actress". She also apparently has no problem with taking her clothes off - which she did in all her handful of scenes in Yom Yom - and displaying her lovely figure (highlighted by what I would call "perfect" breasts - actor Juliano Mer certainly concurs, noshing on her titties in their explicit sex scene like Takeru Kobayashi putting away Nathan's hot dogs - and taut pear-shaped buttocks, marred only by an unfortunate tattoo on her left hiney cheek).

But Natali Atiya was just a bit player whose lusciousness was a mere tease used to spice up the DVD's box cover and the numbingly dull narrative of Gitai's film. Like Seinfeld, it was about nothing. It reminded me of my life, only populated by uglier people (do all Israeli men sport bear rugs on their chests?) - with the notable exception of Ms. Atiya. Actually, I take that back - it made my (predictably routine) life look more exciting, and this is carpe diem, high-risk, edgy Israel we're talking about, where any minute a Scud rocket may land on your house. Maybe that was Gita's point, but if so I'd rather read a review of the film then sit through 105 minutes of Moshe Igvy, supposedly Israel's best actor, moping and whining and fawning over his mother. And throughout the film, women are inexplicably throwing themselves at this little runt - his wife Didi, the family doctor, his mistress Grisha (Ms. Atiya, whom he loses interest in because she talks during their carnal "encounter"). Meanwhile, his best friend Julian Mer has no problem boffing Moshe's castoffs Didi and Grisha (I guess he can zone out their coital chatter). And believe me folks, that's the only "action" in this sleep-inducing non-starter.

Loose Lips Sink Mosha's Hips

My sentiments were shared by "Max from Haifa," a guy from the very seaside city where Yom Yom takes place, whose funny comments on imdb are reprinted below:
I think I'm one of the three people who actually paid to see this movie in the cinema. When I went in, I knew what the hype (as much as there was) told me. That is - Amos Gitai, Israel's most famous director, went and did a film with the Israeli actors elite. That is - Moshe Ivgi (the current godfather of Israeli cinema), Julianno Merr (An actor of epic abilities who was born in the wrong place), and Keren Morr (leading theater actress and T.V. comedy goddess). And we were told this was an intelligent comedy (something almost unheard of in nowadays cinema).

None of that was true. The movie is a series of eight-minute long-shots about the uninteresting life of two childhood friends in down-town Haifa (a harbor city in northern Israel). Mostly they deal with the stagnation of their life, compared to the massive urban development going on around them. Its very artsy, very boring, very unfocused, not intelligent enough to make you think, not touching enough to make you care. too Israeli for an outsider to understand, too pompous for Israelis to like. and of course not funny at all.

So, what good is there in this movie ? a lot of things nobody expected. First of all, Hana Maron, an extremely talented actress who used to be the wunderkind of German cinema before World War Two, simply steals the show, every second she's on it. Its a rare chance to see someone who should have been the European Shirley Temple and could've been the European Bette Davis. Secondly, the film is probably the last documentation of down-town Haifa, a place which used to be the pearl of the eastern mediterranean, and is now bulldozed over. It also has in it the not-so-casual reference to it being the only place where Arabs and Jews coexist and even marry. And third, and that is the reason this movie still gets viewers - Israeli no. 1 model and would-be actress, Natali Atia, in real live sex action with Julianno Merr for eight minutes. It looks like someone must have left the camera there and caught them on film. Considered by many to be the hottest sex scene in Israeli movies ever.


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