Entertainment :: Movies

Footnote

by Steve Weinstein
Contributor
Friday Aug 3, 2012
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"Footnote" is not only the title but also a subtle dig at the hermetic world of scholars gently satirized in this intelligent, witty but self;-indulgently leisurely Israeli dramady.

The most unexpected scene in "Footnote" actually occurs in one of the two Blu-Ray special feature. "An Evening With Joseph Cedar" is one of those dog-and-pony shows in those cultural outposts like YMCAs, college lecture halls, church basements where earnest filmgoers pepper predictable questions at indie directors.

In this case, the young, attractive, and very, very smart Israeli director reveals that the inspiration for "Footnote" came from a real-life incident involving his father and himself. It’s by far the most noteworthy moment in this and the other add-on, a surprisingly dull "Making Of’-type short.

The film itself winds around its subject and includes several points of view, very much like the subject that absorbs the lives of its characters, the Talmud. This collection of scholarly extracts from Jewish scholars collected over the centuries is notoriously thick, both for its physical weight and the abstruseness of the text.

The love-hate relationship and scholarly rivalry of a father and son, both irascible and thoroughly unlikable in their own quirky ways, fuels the plot of "Footnote." But every character -- outside of the modern media types who seem like visitors from another planet -- is a character.

Cedar has talent to spare, but he could have used a ruthless editor. Scenes drag on, and way too minutes wasted in the kind of pregnant pauses that, in the indie-cinema world, pass for thoughtfulness.

If you have the patience, however, "Footnote" will more than repay you with an intelligent storyline, dialogue and characterizations that, compared to most dumbed-down, seems almost avant-garde.

"Footnote"
$35
www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/bluray

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

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