Bursting with emotion

Posted on 11 Jan 2007 at 5:18pm
By Steve Warren – Contributing Film Critic

Eytan Fox bubbles over with profound message about an affair between two men on opposite sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict

THE BUBBLE

B

Director: Eytan Fox
Cast: Ohad Knoller, Alon Freidman, Daniella Wircer, Yousef Sweid and Zion Baruch
Opens: Oct. 12 at Landmarks Magnolia.
1 hr. 57 min. Not rated.


MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR: During his duty at a military checkpoint Noam (Ohad Knoller, left) develops a dangerous relationship with a closeted Palestinian

Several films have used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to recycle “Romeo and Juliet.” “The Bubble” may be the first with a “Romeo and Romeo” relationship.

This drama by world-class Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox (“Walk on Water,” “Yossi & Jagger”) works extremely well on two levels: the personal and the political. Like “St. Elmo’s Fire” or a Fox soap, “The Bubble” is about the lives and loves of a group of hot twentysomethings.

But Israelis find it hard to ignore politics, and a cross-cultural romance makes it impossible. Besides, most of the characters are already left-leaning anti-war activists, working to produce a “Rave against the Occupation.”

It’s a combustible mix, but Fox and his partner of 18 years, Gal Uchovsky, who co-wrote with him and produced, have combined them effectively, showing the waste of war without taking sides in this particular conflict. Although diehards on both sides will probably disagree.

In a tense, exciting opening scene (which probably belongs in another film), a Muslim woman gives birth at an Israeli checkpoint. This is where we meet Noam (Ohad Knoller), who’s completing his month as a reservist. The checkpoint is also where Noam meets Ashraf (Yousef “Joe” Sweid), a Palestinian traveling with Jihad (Shredy Jabarin), his brother-in-law-to-be.

Back in Tel Aviv, Noam works in The Third Ear, a music store where he tries to interest young Britney fans in classic rock in a “High Fidelity” moment. Noam lives with Yali (Alon Friedmann), a flamboyant gay man who manages a restaurant owned by two women, and Lulu (Daniela Wircer), a straight woman who works in a shop that sells scented soap.

Lulu is dating Sharon (Oded Leopold), the editor of Time Out Tel Aviv. She’s been holding out for three weeks and her roommates tell her that’s long enough. Yali hooks up with Golan (Zohar Liba), who applies for work at the restaurant, but gives the job to Ashraf when Noam wants him to move in.

Neither Lulu nor Yali has much hope of a long term relationship after having sex with their dates, but Noam and Ashraf have a good thing going until Sharon, getting even for Lulu’s angry outburst, outs Ashraf at work, where he’s been masquerading as Israeli. He immediately returns to his family in the occupied territories, where his sister Rana (Ruba Blal) is preparing for her wedding and Jihad, whose name may be too symbolic, is preparing something else.

Noam pursues Ashraf to his home, where being gay is not an option. Jihad is trying to persuade Ashraf to marry his cousin, who looks quite capable of attracting a man on her own. She may suspect Ashraf of being gay, as she encourages him to come to London with her to “escape Jihad and his stupid friends.”

While planning the rave (“We don’t need the territories. We need to dance!”) Lulu is seriously flirted with by Shaul (Zion Baruch), a cute activist.

With a soundtrack of mostly English-language pop (Jeff Buckley, Nada Surf, Belle & Sebastian, Bright Eyes, Bebel Gilberto, etc.), “The Bubble” takes on the aspect of a variety show with a cabaret performance of “The Man I Love” by Ivri Lider and a scene from a stage production of “Bent” with “Walk on Water” star Lior Ashkenazi.

The title “The Bubble” sounds rather frivolous but is not. It refers to a safe haven, or the illusion of one, whether it be a favorite restaurant, home or a loving relationship. In a volatile situation like in Israel these days whatever your bubble is, it’s likely to burst.

That happens in appropriately dramatic fashion in “The Bubble,” emphasizing the fact that the personal is political, yet leaving us with a vestige of hope that the younger generation is more inclined to work for peace than their elders.



DRAG-TACULAR SCREENING

Learning the ins and outs of indie queer filmmaking can be a drag. Just ask Israel Luna.

The Dallas filmmaker recently recruited some our hottest female impersonators for “Fade to Drag,” five shorts that will screen during the Out Takes Dallas film festival (Nov. 2-11)

He’s finished editing them all, and he’s holding a sneak preview shindig on Wednesday at S4′s Granite Room.

Edna Jean Robinson, Dallas Sheraton, Jenna Skyy, Chase Wade, Candi Shell, Persia Ali and Gloria Hole collaborated to teach the skills of editing, taking direction, acting, executive production and special effects makeup.

Daniel A. Kusner

S4/Granite Bar, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. Premiere theme is “Old Hollywood:” dress in black and white.



CHRIS STEELE DID SINGAPORE

After porn star Chris Steele (aka Jan Milstead) left Dallas four years ago, he climbed his way the top of the erotic mountain: a superstar who retired to become a director, producer and eventually serving as the Falcon Studios’ senior director and head of production.

In March, Steele left Falcon and became the head of production for Jet Set Productions.

But on Sept. 29, he made a two-day live appearance at the opening of the Gorgeous Solarium, a tanning salon in Singapore!

Not only was it Steele’s first appearance since 2003, he became the first gay adult video star to appear on the island.

It’s actually quite an impressive feat, because right now it’s still a crime for men to have any sexual contact with other men. Luckily there is a petition circulating for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to abolish 377, a legacy of colonial times. Y’all can hop online and add your two cents.

Daniel A. Kusner

Repeal377a.com/letter/

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 12, 2007

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