Many Israelis are living their lives right now as if the number of minutes they spend watching the news will have a direct impact on ending the war as soon as possible. If that were true, we would have won already. 

While I am something of a news junkie myself – I used to be a news editor and a news reporter – there are times when you know enough facts for the moment. Not that you should forget the war – as if any of us could – but there are moments when it is worthwhile to do something else, to turn off the news, “to take a break and not think,” as Arik Einstein sang in “Pesek Zman.” People talk about comfort food, here are some suggestions for comfort viewing. 

It can be nice during a time like this to watch Israeli movies that show life here when we are not at war. Hot and Yes both have VOD libraries that feature many Israeli titles. Those with access to Amazon Prime in the US or Europe can also stream many Israeli movies. 

Israeli offerings on streaming and VOD

Netflix has many Israeli titles available here and these include The Band’s Visit, Eran Kolirin’s 2007 movie about an Egyptian police orchestra that gets stuck in a small town in the Negev and has to spend the night there. It’s a sweet story of people who learn during the course of the visit that they all share a deeper bond than they would ever have imagined, full of deeply felt emotion and comic moments. 

It became a multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and I think that’s because it’s a fish-out-of-water story that can speak to everyone. It features wonderful performances by an ensemble cast that includes the late Ronit Elkabetz (in one of her best performances), Sasson Gabay, and Saleh Bakri, all three of whom won Ophir Awards. 

‘THE GREAT Seduction.’ (credit: Juan Rosas/Netflix)

Another movie available here on Netflix that could be fun is Reshef Levi’s Hunting Elephants, a caper comedy set in Jerusalem about a boy whose grandfather and his cronies get together to rob a bank. It stars Gabay again, as well as Moni Moshonov and Patrick Stewart – yes, that Patrick Stewart. 

Tel Aviv Stories, which was directed by Ayelet Menahemi, whose latest film, Seven Blessings, just won the Ophir Award, is three separate short films about women in Tel Aviv: a stylist for commercials with a chaotic love life; a poet who has just been dumped by her husband; and a policewoman fighting to get a divorce from a husband who won’t grant it.

Rama Burshtein’s two movies, both set in the ultra-Orthodox world, are on Netflix: Fill the Void, a drama about a young woman who must find a way to go on with her life after her sister dies suddenly, and The Wedding Plan, a comedy about a newly religious woman who is determined to find a groom in three weeks after her fiancé jilts her. 

IF YOU are ready to see a movie about a different Israeli war, try Avi Nesher’s Image of Victory, also on Netflix. It tells the story of Kibbutz Nitzanim during the War of Independence when it was besieged by the Egyptian army. It’s a story that may be too close to home for some right now, but I think it’s a beautiful film. 

Unfortunately, it only has Hebrew titles and part of it, about an Egyptian reporter tasked with making a propaganda film about the war, is in Arabic. One of its stars, Yadin Gellman, was just wounded fighting in the south last week, but is reportedly on the mend. 

If you’d prefer to see a movie set abroad, I recommend The Great Seduction on Netflix. It’s one of those gentle, small-town comedies like Local Hero, Waking Ned Devine, and many others. 

Also reminiscent of the television show, Northern Exposure, The Great Seduction is about a Mexican fishing village that has seen better days and wants to attract a big employer. But the company will only open a branch there if there is a doctor in the town. Led by a fiercely loyal local son, the townspeople get the government to send them a doctor for one month, and they do everything possible to make him fall in love with the place, including pretending to have an American football league, where the helmets are made out of watermelons. 

If you have access to Apple TV+, you can rent or buy a great many very recent films. If you missed Barbie and want to see what the fuss was all about, you can buy it there now and it will be available to rent in two weeks, when it will also be available on Yes. Hot Cinema 1 and Hot VOD are showing the new version of West Side Story, which features some good performances, even if most agree it doesn’t measure up to the original. 

Apple TV+ has a good selection of classic old movies, and I would recommend Roman Holiday, with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, and Singin’ in the Rain, with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, if you want pure escapism. 

It’s hard to believe that the comedy, Splash, by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, about a lonely guy who falls in love with a mermaid, is almost 40 years old, and it’s still so much fun. It is available on Disney+, which also has every single season of The Simpsons

Hot and Yes are both showing Nolly, a fact-based comedy series with a bravura performance by Helena Bonham Carter as an aging television star who refuses to be sidelined. If you enjoyed the series, Funny Woman, then this is for you. 

Netflix is still showing The Queen’s Gambit, the story of a female chess genius that helped so many of us get through the early days of the pandemic, as well as GLOW, a show about female wrestlers that is much more engaging than it sounds. 

2023-10-21T00:11:28Z dg43tfdfdgfd