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outstanding Israeli character study and family drama “Footnote” (107 min.) is a 2011 movie out of Israel. It brings the rather complicated but intruiging story of a father and son who both are scholars and researchers at the Talmud Department of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. As it happens, the son is actually more successful and the movie starts out with the son’s acceptance speech upon getting elected into the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities. Remarkably, we don’t actually see the son but instead the camera focuses the entire sequence (probably 3-4 min.) only on the father, who seemingly is shell-shocked and/or confused and/or resentful at the ever-growing successes of his son. Then, about 30 min. into the movie, the father gets the call from the Israeli Department of Education that he’d been waiting to get for 20 years: he’s been chosen to receive the prestigious Israeli Prize. Happiness turns to potential disaster when the son gets called by the Israeli Prize Committee the very next day with the bombshell that due to a clerical error, it was he who had been chosen for the Israeli Prize, not his dad!I don’t want to spoil more from the plot, and the movie then really takes off and you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out. The movie offers an excellent character sturdy of both father and son, looking at it from both a generational perspective as well as a scholary difference in how each is doing research.This movie was one of the 5 nominees for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Movie (Iran’s “A Separation” won the Oscar), and rightfully so. This is the complete antitode to Hollywood’s mainstream fare such as “John Carter” or “Wrath of the Titans” in that it is an intellectually challenging movie. The lead performances of Shlomo Bar Aba as the father and Lior Ashkenazi as the son are nothing short of outstanding. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were in the theatre when I saw the movie this weekend here in Cincinnati, giving me hope thia may reach a wider audience. Meanwhile, “Footnote” is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Role Reversal and Time Lapse FOOTNOTE is an appropriately titled sparklingly intelligent and entertaining film written and directed by Joseph Cedar. With a small cast and a focused story this little film form Israel is not only a pleasure to watch as a story performed as shared by brilliant actors, but it is also one of the most visually artistic and creative venture of cinematography to be on the small screen in a long time: the genius cinematographer is Yaron Scharf. Add to this a musical score that enhances every moment of the story – courtesy of composer Amit Poznansky – and the film simply succeeds on every level.In a most ingenious way we are introduced to the two main characters – father and son, both professors in the Talmud department of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The film opens on the confused and somewhat unattached facial expression of the seated father Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba) as he listens to his ebullient son Uriel Shkolnik (Lior Ashkenazi) being inducted into the prestigious Israeli academic union. Uriel’s acceptance speech reflects his childhood when his father informed him upon questioning that he was a `teacher’ – an occupation the young Uriel found embarrassing at the time, but now honors his father for this guidance. After the ceremony we slowly discover that there is a long-standing rivalry between father and son. Uriel has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while Eliezer is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition: his only clam to fame after long years of intensive research is that the man who published his findings mentions Eliezer in a footnote. When it comes times for the Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious national award, to be awarded, a clerical error results in a telephone call informing Eliezer that he has won, while in reality the award was meant for his son Uriel. How this error is resolved open all manner of windows for examining family relationships, fame, pure academia, and forgiveness.The film is an unqualified success. Lior Ashkenazi (so well remembered from `Walk on Water’ and `Late Marriage’ among others) gives a bravura performance and that of Shlomo Ben Aba balances it in quality. The supporting cast is strong. Joseph Cedar has produced a fine film very much enhanced by the brilliance of the cinematography that tells the story as much as the dialogue. Grady Harp, August 12