The Syrian Bride
This is a beautifully haunting story of an arranged marriage between strangers, a young girl from the Golan Heights and a Syrian actor she has only seen on television. Caught between the two warring factions of Israel and Syria, the families meet at the border to celebrate the marriage and wish their daughter farewell. Once she crosses into Syria she will never be permitted to return.
In this Kafkaesque world of geopolitical realities and human cruelties they
wait, shunted from one bureaucrat to another until the families are told the
bride cannot cross. In the end it is her older sister, who is desperate to pursue
her studies despite her husband's disapproval, who gives her the strength to
leave home. "Syrian Bride" humanizes the conflict between Israel and
Syria through its tender portrait of the people caught in the struggle. 97
min. "Syrian Bride" shows Fri., Apr. 21 at 5 p.m. at Block
The Last Western
Chris Deaux takes an interesting look into an astonishing example of Americana:
Pioneertown. Built on the edge of the Mojave Desert as a set for B-Westerns,
this tiny hamlet of corner saloons and dust streets enjoyed a brief heyday as
a themed resort town where singing cowboys such as Gene Autry and Roy Rodgers
kept homes. Pioneertown quickly fell into decay, and, by the Sixties, had been
taken over by the Hell's Angels. Now in the sunset of its strange existence,
the town is unrecognized by the government and is a home to a variety of misfits,
whom Deaux follows with keen interest. Among these are a grizzled, somewhat
reformed former drug dealer; an irritable aging flower child with a penchant
for knocking off execrable pop songs; and an ancient party girl, originally
the piano player in Pioneertown's saloon, who watches old 8mm films of the town's
heyday, happily pointing out that she was drunk in every shot. 65 min.
"The Last Western" shows Sat., Apr. 22 at 2:45 p.m. at the
Oak St. (Max
Up and Shoot Me
A peculiar Anglo-Czech co-production about a grieving English widower (the dogged
and portly Andy Nyman) and the Prague handyman he enlists to murder him. The
latter role is limned by Czech superstar Karel Roden, best known to American
actors as a villain in films such as "Hellboy." Roden brings a scruffy
melancholy to this role, often gracing the screen with his face partially obscured
by blind-mice sunglasses and a knotted scarf, so that the only feature visible
is a magnificent scowl. First time writer/director Steen Argo paces the film
slowly, so that we're halfway done with the film by the time the actual plot
kicks in. This details the two men's somewhat contrived conflict with a Czech
gangster called The Butcher of Prague, a silent, hulking figure who carries
a small dog with him like a suitcase. At this point, the film's body count starts
to rise in scenes that are, when effective, blackly humorous. 90 min.
"Shut Up and
Shoot Me" shows Mon., Apr. 24 at 5 p.m. at the
This is a good first film by German director/writer Soren Senn. It's a familiar
theme about the limits of good intentions. Katja, a young doctor, finds Saida,
an illegal Algerian immigrant, hiding under a cabinet. She wants to help her.
She feels protective, but by bringing this passionate and simple girl into her
sophisticated and urbane world she runs the risk of shattering the fragile foundations
of her own life. "Kuss Kuss" shows Tue., Apr. 25 at 5 p.m.
Communal living is not for everyone, but "Kibbutz" is a documentary
that offers insight into the lives of those who embrace this unique Israeli
dream. Pioneers, socialists and Utopians started the kibbutz in the 1930s in
Palestine; some survived and some perished. The film is about failure, not because
of dishonesty or the abuse of power, but due simply to the lack of management
skills. Archival flashbacks depict a vigorous and thriving community, while
the present represents a disintegrated one.
Filmed inside a kibbutz, the story begins with a suicide—a man who's just
lost his job working in the orchard hangs himself on one of the fruit trees.
Everyone in the community is deeply shaken, but the film focuses on three elderly
women who describe their lives, their hopes, their regrets and what is happening
in the kibbutz.
The movie depicts an unforgiving, sad, hardscrabble life in which change—not
greed or capitalism—overtakes them. "Kibbutz" helps us understand
their plight. It shows Sun., April 23 at 1 p.m. at the the
ALSO PULSE COVER STORY: "THE
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL"