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2010 Ophir Awards Race: Moshe Ivgy’s ‘And on the Third Day’ is the Leader of the Pack

Hands down, Ivgy’s And on the Third Day is the best Israeli film of 2010. With several connecting stories of men being cruel towards women (physically, sexually, and psychologically), with a concluding apocalypse, this is a Magnolia-type picture minus the frogs.

After dishing out on some of the possible contenders, here’s my second entry on the race for this year’s Ophir Awards. Here’s an overview of some more films up for awards:

Dani Menkin’s Je t’aime I Love you Terminal
Working with a Before Sunrise/Sunset-like template, this is a tale of two young strangers “forced” to spend a short time with one another. Danny Niv (AKA “Mooki”) is a well known Israeli rapper, who moonlights as an actor (he had a small part in the 2002’s
Broken Wings) and despite his good turn here, he is juxtaposed to a female character that is closer to Sally Hawkins’s character in Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky than Julie Delpy in Linklater’s classic, thus makes this fall into a mouldy sitcom territory. Menkin is best known for his doc
film 39 Pounds of Love, but this attempt into the fiction film realm (see trailer) won’t gain any traction among voters.

Eran Riklis’ The Mission of the Human Resources Man
Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree) has been making films since the 80’s and while his previous pair were critically acclaimed on the international circuit, only The Syrian Bride garnered any kind of local success. His latest film, an adaptation of a book by the same name by A.B. Yehoshua, appears to be a winner. It tells the story of a human resources man in a bakery in Jerusalem who goes out on a journey to Romania to bring the dead body of a Romanian woman who worked in the bakery and died in a suicide attack to her family. Eran Riklis is often referred to as “The Professional”, as his movies are mostly tight and the narrative flows easily, and this is also the case with his new film. It’s an impressive production, a road movie, meticulously shot and beautifully acted by Mark Ivanir as the main lead, with wonderful supporting performances from Gila Almagor (often referred to as “The first lady of Israeli cinema”, playing the Bakery’s manager), Gury Alfi as a reporter, and Rosina Kambus as the Israeli consulate in Romania. But just like in the case of “Revolution 101”, this film seems to be an engaging crowd pleaser that misses an opportunity to provide an afterthought. Expect multiple nominations, but very few (if any) wins. (A photo from the movie:

Avi Nesher’s Once I Was So far, this is the front runner for this year’s awards. Avi Nesher’s two previous films (“Turn Left at the end of the World” and “The Secrets”) were a pair of local box office hits, but were panned by critics and were overlooked by Academy members. Unlike those two, Nesher’s latest appears to be receiving a warm response due in part to the narrative which explores adolescence in Haifa in 1968. A fourteen year-old boy gets acquainted with an older man (Adir Miller), a holocaust survivor, who makes a living as a match maker (and also in illegal card games at night). The match maker becomes a mentor to the teen, who also learns his first lessons in love. It is a tender work of art, beautifully directed and acted, with the help of wonderful music by Philippe Sarde, who also wrote music for Roman Polanski’s “Tess”. It’ll be difficult for anyone else to grab the Best Actor award from Miller, who moonlights as stand-up comedian and who in Nesher’s previous film, tried his luck in a small dramatic part.

Moshe Ivgy’s And on the Third Day
Hands down, Ivgy’s And on the Third Day is the best Israeli film of 2010. With several connecting stories of men being cruel towards women (physically, sexually, and psychologically), with a concluding apocalypse, this is a Magnolia-type picture minus the frogs. Ivgy is an extraordinary actor, who appeared in numerous films and won numerous awards in the course of his three decade career – (he’s also the proud father of Dana Ivgy) makes his directorial debut with the multiple character portrait.
This is a beautifully shot, well-edited debut and demonstrates the filmmaker’s amazing control over a few threads of story lines: There’s a female reporter who investigates a rabbi, who is suspected of not paying taxes. There’s also an investigation of a businessman turning to politics. Both men terrorize the reporter, in an attempt to stop the stories from being published. Her boss (a man, obviously) doesn’t give her the support she needs. Another story line deals with the adventures of a young and innocent girl from the south, who comes to big city Tel Aviv, and in the course of the movie will learn a few painful lessons about machos. A third story line tells of a call girl who takes care of her sick mother while she sells her body to particularly perverse customers (One of the most amazing scenes in the film is a re-creation of a scene from Nagisa Oshima’s “Empire of the senses”). There’s another story of a male dance studio manager who’s constantly testing fresh-meat female dancing girls, and may also be the father of the call girl. And there’s the story of the regular married couple, in which the husband doesn’t seem to give his wife a single moment of tenderness and kindness. Ivgy himself plays the part John C. Reilly had in “Magnolia”. It sometimes takes an actor’s actor to direct premium performances – and all actors do great jobs here, especially Hilla Feldman in a brave performance as the call girl. Feldman will surely be nominated, and the film is bound to be nominated in many other categories. (a picture from the movie:

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