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Home Room (2002)
Surprising in several ways
This film looks like it's going to be a stock, script-o-matic, type thing but manages to take nice twists in plot and dialog along the way, Admittedly, some of it is format but most of it is excellent writing. The best thing is the casting for the principles. The two of them deliver perfect performances. This would not have been easy because of some of the unevenness in the script. In parts, they are called on to do highly cliché lines and tears, which is hard to do without letting that sort of thing spill over into the unexpected and unusual parts of the film. They do this admirably and the film moves nicely. In fact, the somewhat cliché sections help the film by suggesting you relax and go along with a predictable format and then surprises you. There's no "didn't see that coming" ending, but you are kept from knowing the ending anyway until you get there. Highly recommended.
Beg to differ with the festival viewers
Maybe it's the air at film festivals, but I just watched it on DVD last night (it was released at Blockbuster early)and though I was looking forward to it, found it dull, lifeless, bland, and worst of all, wrong.
I should admit I am a college professor and thought I would enjoy a film which was supposed to be a comedy about college professors. This was no _Groves of Academe_ or anything close. In the film, the writing professor urges his students to "write about what you know" (and old and tired chestnut, to be sure, but not bad advice) and yet Mike Million seems to know nothing about the academic life, tenure, publications, etc., and in fact, seems to have learned about academic life from watching television shows about high school teachers (including the faculty lounge, old deans with bow ties, etc.) Then again, I've never taught at Bowdoin or Bryn Mawr, so maybe it's really like that there... but I doubt it.
Not to say there aren't internecine battles and personal squabbles among faculty, there certainly are, but they don't look like this. Admittedly, there are a few chuckles here and there (much of it from an extended gag about Bigfoot) but when the film deliberately tries to be funny (e.g., erotic poetry club) it falls flat. Overall, it has a quiet, dignified tone to it, which may help it appear to be artsy, and the use of beautiful, Hollywood versions of college (all stone buildings and oak paneled interiors) give it a sense of class, I would give it a miss.
Unless herbal erectile pills strike you as absolutely hilarious.
King of the Gypsies (1978)
Worth a look... and a listen.
A great small movie, with a not unusual plot, some nice and some OK acting, very nice direction and photography and most of all, a fantastic soundtrack -- Stephane Grappelli (a gypsy jazz violinist who played with Django Rinehardt) does incredibly fine gypsy style music - worth it for this alone! Also fun to see a young, dishy Susan Sarandon and a very young Eric Roberts in this movie. Judd Hirsh is great playing a counter to his usual sweet image (or gruff old guy a la "I'm not Rappaport"). In this movie, Hirsh is positively evil. A great peek into a unique culture of traveling people who have been vilified and chased all over the world.
Yadon ilaheyya (2002)
An exercise in pseudo-reference
It's not plot driven, OK; it's not a character study, fine; there's no action, alright; there's no point, hmmm...
Maybe it's supposed to represent the boredom and absurdity of living in Palistine and parts of Israel these days in a state of violence, petty disagreements, deep rooted hostility, etc. But mostly it's long, long scenes of nothing happening - or things which look like they're dripping with meaning (a checkpoint tower crashing to the ground, an Arafat balloon floating into Jerusalem, a crouching tiger women deflecting bullets into a halo) but when you try to derive some meaning, there's no there there.
Bonus: you can watch this film in fast forward and it will make absolutely no difference except that it might be slightly less boring.