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Leon's No Newsletter 232 Movie Reviews


I was busy the whole of Succot, from the day before Yom Kippur in fact, the 22nd Sept until the 6th Oct, guiding a wonderful group of pious Dutch Christians, great supporters of Israel's right to exist here.

It was a pretty big sweat for me, not only because it was hot, but because I was attached to them like the head is attached to a donkey. Although I was at their head it felt like I was their tale, and I got hot from dragging and pushing and making sure we saw all the sites, on time and in depth.

I'm always concerned about bringing out new aspects of significance about the sites, which most tourists have never considered. Sure they've heard about places like the Wailing Wall and the City of David, but it's my job to bring home to them new details which they never thought about, like the fact that Jerusalem is the holy city only because the temple stood there. If the temple hadn’t been there then Jerusalem wouldn't be considered holy.

In the days of the temple Jewish law required that all people keep themselves holy, holy people in a holy city. They did this by bathing in special pools known as Mikveh. The temple being destroyed the need for bathing in the Mikveh fell away. I don’t really understand why this custom is continues to this day for women. But that’s the way it is with customs, nobody would dare to change them.

The road leading from the Pool of Siloam to the temple has also been discovered. We walk on it these days on our tours. It’s underground, which adds to the excitement which tourists find in walking the exact road where the priests walked up to the temple, 2000 years ago carrying massive golden bowls of water drawn from the pool of Siloam, while the people stood on either side of this very same road, cheering them on and singing joyful praise to God for the gift of water. My job is to bring all this and much more to life for the tourists.

Guiding on Sukkot was especially difficult because I missed my grandchildren, who had vacations at that time.

But here I was guiding day in and day out, on the bus, off the bus, marching up hills and down dale with a hey ho merry my soul, calling "follow me".

But I don't have any regrets; we visited some great places in addition to the usual sites, we visited the site of Shilo, where the tabernacle had stood for 460 years and we visited Mt. Gerizim, the mountain where the Children of Israel recited the blessings that God would bring upon them if they listened to His word. We visited the tombs of the forefathers in Hebron. It was especially happy there because people had come from all over Israel to celebrate. They had even come from all over the world. We even hiked to the top of the hill where archaeologists had discovered the massive Bronze Age walls of a palace or fortress. (This was the time of father Abraham, who lived in Hebron).

I don’t regard this as proof that Abraham lived there, that’s a matter of belief. One has the privilege of choosing to believe the facts of the story of Abraham in the Bible or not.

Whatever one’s personal beliefs it is clear that the Jews ruled this country for about 1000 years, which means that we are rooted here and it is our responsibility to ensure that the country is properly ruled, for the good of the land and for the good of everyone who lives here. I do not believe that we have a choice whether or not to rule. I believe that the modern State of Israel is doing a marvelous job of ruling the country in justice for all its citizens, despite the shocking, inexplicable opposition of many countries.

I returned to Jerusalem, after dropping off the Dutch group at Ben Gurion Airport and looked into the window of an electronics shop, as I always do and thought about the out of order DVD player on my computer. Should I buy a DVD player for the computer or should I buy a portable one with a screen?

After hallucinating a while about watching DVD’s on the bus, lying in bed, in a café and so on I went for a portable DVD player from a store in Allenby Str. Tel Aviv. Since the Dutch group left I’ve seen about 20 movies. Some were amazing some were mediocre and some were just not interesting for me. Here is my interpretation of some of them:

1.The Invisibles. Mushon Salmona (Hebrew/ English subtitles) מושון סלמונה 2014

The movie shows dramatic and tragic sociological situations, arising out of the difficulties of Bedouin societies in adapting to life in a modern Jewish state, like sons going against their father’s dictates, wanting to marry a Jewish girl, rather than a girl from the tribe, wanting to decide for themselves what to do in life and meeting the demands of bureaucracy. It shows that the Beduin want to be good citizens of Israel; to go to the army, earn an honest living, raise a family and generally be a part of Israeli society. But the bureaucratic obstacles are so great that they fall back on illegal and anti-social behavior.

2. The Buffalo Boy. Minh Nguyen-Vo 2004

This is a Vietnamese Movie about a boy, living in a sea of flood waters. His situation changes according to the alternating dry and wet seasons. His only true friends are the buffalo, who plough his rice field in the dry season and die of hunger in the wet and other people who live in this flooded land. Water dominates everything. People are little specks on the landscape. His life is a constant struggle to keep the buffalo alive and to keep the few friends he meets alive also. The film could be entitled how to keep things alive when everything around you is dying.

3. Tangerines Zaza Urushadze 2013

An amazing movie that shows the absurdity of war in the midst of a beautiful, fertile land. Everything is lush and green but the people are killing each other. Death reigns in the midst of beauty and richness and we ask ourselves how this can be? But once again we are reminded that living in the midst of natural beauty has no effect on the ugly, murderous side of man’s nature. It is a fact; we humans hate each other and invite death even while we’re surrounded by life.

4. Ex Machina Alex Garland 2015

Man finally creates a robot, a beautiful woman, naturally, that can think and act for itself, just like a human being and naturally it uses all the wiles of a woman to trick the unsuspecting male into her trap and help her to reach freedom, out of the control of her creator. This is a pretty good movie, with lots action and mystery.

5. Aloft Claudia Llosa 2014

In this movie snow is the dominant feature, because accidents often happen in the snow, making it an excellent backdrop for the movie’s theme: A man’s life is full of tragic events, which are accidents, partly caused by him, subconsciously and partly by phenomenon outside his control. Sadly people, including him, don’t understand the accidental nature of events and so are moved to self-guilt and to blaming others and so causing much more suffering than the original event. The story is sad, but it’s not a sad movie, because it moves quickly between tragedy and the joys of life. The scenes are well filmed, bringing out the full poignancy of each, making them unforgettable.

6. The Confession Costa-Gavras 1970

This is a historical movie about the need of Communism to constantly carry out purges. It could be called “showing that Communism is pure” at all costs, even at the cost of injustice to individuals in the system. This could be the motto of all totalitarian societies. A democratic society also demands sacrifices of the individual, but in return it protects the individual from injustice and should always be on guard against any encroachment of injustice in the system.

Wishing you a great No Newsday

Yours truly

Leon Gork

#movies #mtgerizim #shilo #cityofdavid

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