In short: it’s about the breakout of a new and fatal disease in a contemporary setting, and the struggle of the authorities to stop the spread, find the cure and save humanity.

Good Stuff: the story moves along at a good pace and does not drag. There are many interested parties and viewpoints, so its involving and quite engrossing, especially the hunt for the source. And there are one or two subtle (and not so subtle) undercurrents, For example, Jude Law’s pretty solid performance as the internet anti-authority figure, is loaded with nuggets. Also, while the film shows a society (really just the USA) under strain and, at times, cracking, there’s no dwelling on it, and there isn’t a ton of over the top and unnecessary, vicariously violent entertainment. Laurence Fishburne is terrific; just right for the role and the atmosphere the film is trying to deliver.

The Not So Good Stuff:Matt Damon delivers a workmanlike performance; probably the best that could be done with the role as scripted. Elliot Gould: why? Perhaps just to deliver this (admittedly excellent) line: “Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.” Also, it felt that there were some inconsistencies in the portrayal of the breakdown of society, or at least a part of it. For example, everyone’s IPhone kept working. Handy that.

Query: Contagion or Andromeda Strain?

The Ides of March

In short: a story of political power and corruptibility, set in contemporary USA during the race for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination.

Good Stuff: class performances by George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The script is tight – unsurprisingly, as it is based on a play – and though the action is almost non existent, the film does not drag. The political maneuvering is bloody and believable.

The Not So Good Stuff: not much happens.

Query: was The Seduction of Joe Tynan better?

Come home Gilad

In the midst of all the media coverage of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, I saw this piece on the CIF Watch site, and thought it worthy of highlighting:

I live little more than 1 km away from the Gilad Shalit tent on Azza (Gaza) Street in Jerusalem, and routinely walk by Gilad’s father, Noam, on my way to work.

As the tent is open and Noam is often there and open to visitors, I’ve often considered introducing myself and expressing my support.

However, there was something about it which didn’t quite seem right. Who was I, I’ve thought, as a new Oleh (immigrant), to intrude?

How could I, as an American-Israeli, possibly understand his pain?

As a new Israeli, I sincerely try to avoid the hubris of imagining that I could possibly understand the sacrifices of native-born Israelis – those without the privilege of escaping to another nation in times of trouble.

For five years, Noam and his family have been robbed of the joy of celebrating Shabbat, Jewish holidays and festivals, and the ineffable beauty of everyday life, with their son, Gilad.

Unlike the terrorists being held in Israeli jails, Gilad, at the time of his abduction by Hamas, had not committed, nor was contemplating, any actual crime.

Gilad’s five years of captivity in Gaza was, however, a consequence of the moral – and immutable – crime of being an Israeli Jew.

I share the writer’s – Adam Levick – sentiments. I just hope Gilad will, indeed, be home soon.

You know you’re in Israel when…

This year's model

Wednesday night (tonight) is the start of Sukkot. Tuesday was the last day of work before the holiday break. In the lobby outside the work canteen, on most Thursdays or the last working day before holidays, the company allows selected merchants to offer their wares. For example, before Rosh Hashanah, there was a wine merchant, as well as the more usual cake and biscuit stall, plants, flowers and vegetables. (I think the wine merchant loaded the odds against a successful outing by offering too many non-kosher wines and too high prices. But that is another story.) So, this last day before Sukkot, it was the turn of the lulav and etrog sellers. Another first for me, to see people at their lunch break browsing, looking to select a fine set of lulav and etrog. These little moments are magical.

"You can have any color you want, so long as it is yellow."

Chag Sameach to those who celebrate Sukkot. And Happy Shaking!

Games Day – 16 October 2011

Yehuda is hosting the Games Day in Raanana – 40/1 Hachayil St – on Oct 16 (Sunday hol hamoed) from 10 am to 10 pm.

The Raanana group plays all types of board and card games, from classics such as Go, Scrabble, and Bridge, to modern day European and American games such as Puerto Rico, Settlers of Catan, and Twilight Imperium III, as well as war games. We teach new games to people of all ages, so don’t be afraid to come if you don’t already know the games.

You must have curiosity, good manners (no throwing tantrums, or game pieces), and a modicum of intellect. Children must be under adult supervision at all times.

Please bring store bought snacks only, to share, or some money to cover Yehuda’s expenses (10 NIS will do).

The Raanana game group meets almost every Tues, year round, from 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm.

For more information, call 0545-987034.