Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 8:14 pm 
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A vivid look at Israel's current generation of late-twenties, early-thirties urban slackers.

The focus is on Yishai (Yakir Portal), a jazz pianist who now lives in Paris (with classical chops, which he shows off) who suddenly turns up back in his native Tel Aviv, reconnecting with his middle-class parents who live there, his leftist dad (Alon Olearchik) and young-looking, loving mother (Anat Atzmon), and with his slacker younger brother Omer (Yuval Oron). The two tall, long-faced young men look almost like twins. They both play basketball, party, drink, smoke, listen to recorded music, make out with women who leave early, party all night. What's up? Directors Asher and Lapid seem more into atmosphere than story. They know their milieu, the film is appropriately cast, the sometimes shaky handheld camera is fluid. Tech specs are minimal, story arc rambling; this will appeal to those whom it's about, and may leave others cold. It is not a happy picture of the coming generation of Israeli adults.

Yishai's situation back in Paris remains rather mysterious. He has a group and gigs waiting for him thre. He talks to a bandmate, a girlfriend or ex, not exactly saying where he is. What there is comes through the interaction of Yeshai and Omer. The parents are concerned that Omer has dropped out of university, which he says is a bunch of has-been oldsters (he seems not to have connected with the students). His pals are partly musicians too, so Yishai connects with them; he also connects with women he knows, and an old girlfriend, who is free and horny, but has a horrible roommate she has gotten stuck with who plays his music so loud they can't have sex. They drive to a bad part of town; she rejects his suggestion of a hotel room as too expensive. But their effort at car sex is thwarted by a creepy peeper.

In one scene Yishai has persuaded Omer to come to have dinner at their parents' with some older adults. A hot debate over politics breaks out: this is no easygoing social event. Omer gets into a verbal fight with their parents and leaves before their mother brings desert, but we see them driving together next; another party.

Yishai interacts with Omer's mates, one of whom is on the verge of a breakup. There is a fight over a new leather sofa. Yishai proposes that Omer come to Paris with him and share his flat, saying he can stay a long time, it will be easy to get a job, it will be great. Omer suggests to a girl at a party that she go to Guatemala with him. She says she can't: she's just gotten a job.

At the end of this film there is some suspense because the brothers seem so impulsive and lacking in interiority or clear committment we do not know if Omer will go to Paris or Yishai, who has said his return flight is tomorrow, will for some reason decide to stay in Tel Aviv and give up the life in Paris he keeps saying is fine (maybe it isn't?). At the end, Omer drives Yishai to the station at 6 a.m. to catch the train to the airport. We leave them sitting there by the track as the train is apparently about to arrive. The uncertainty remains, though this is hardly a storytelling coup. Yair Asher and Itamar Lapid seem even at the end ready to tell a story but not to have begun it yet. It's in the station, but the train hasn't come yet. Nadav Lapid or Samuel Maoz these directors are not. But they presumably represent a younger generation and will have new things to say.

Take the 'A' Train, 103 mins., debuted at Jerusalem Aug. 2021 (nominated for a best feature award). Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival of July 15-Aug. 7, 2022.

Friday July 29, 2022
8:45 p .m.
Albany Twin, Albany CA

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