Amos Gitai, 1995
<i>Film Comment</i>calls Amos Gitai"Israel's most internationally recognized filmmaker--and its most controversial,"and this nine-film retrospective includes some of his provocative works. Gitai uses both documentary and fictional styles to tell stories of Israeli life and the Jewish Diaspora, frequently daring to speak some unpopular truths. The Wexner Center has shown such recent Gitai films as<i>Kadosh</i>and<i>Kippur,</i>but this series provides an illuminating cross-sampling of his entire career, now entering its third decade.
Set in Tel Aviv and the first in Gitai's trilogy about Israeli cities, Devarim tells the story of three friends trying to cope with the meaninglessness of modern life.
Based on a masterpiece of contemporary Hebrew literature, Yaakov Shabtai's novel Past Continuous, Devarim (Things) tells of three men in their thirties and forties, each disillusioned with life's offerings and left feeling powerless within the context of secular Israeli society.
Caesar (Assi Dayan) is a jaded womanizer who proposes to two women. His roomate, Israel, practices piano with no apparent hope of a career. A lawyer who just lost his father, Goldman (played by Gitai himself) lives a quiet life with his mother, the both of them trying to cope with the loss.
As Chicago Reader critic Fred Camper notes, while "in other films Gitai uses long takes to connect the characters with their social context...here they serve to heighten the characters' isolation. Shown in extreme close-ups or shadowy silhouettes, sometimes obscured by gravestones, they seem incomplete and powerless in this secularized society, unsure what to do with their freedom." (110 mins.)