Thursday, July 31, 2008

MOVIE: THE BAND'S VISIT



The Band's Visit (Hebrew : Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, ביקור התזמורת) is a 2007 Israeli film from first-time director Eran Kolirin.

When the Ceremonial Police Band of Alexandria, Egypt, journeys to a gig in Israel, they can hardly anticipate getting stuck in a rut. But upon arrival at the Israeli airport, their hosts and transportation fail to show. Trapped in a middle-of-nowhere desert town, the group members try to figure out what to do and where to go.

In desperation, two of the musicians -- conductor Tawfiq (Sasson Gabai) and playboy Haled (Saleh Bakri) -- accept an invitation from sexy café owner Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) to bunk at her residence, and seemingly within no time, the unlikeliest of interracial (Israeli-Palestinian) romances begin to blossom -- not only between Tawfiq and Dina, but between Haled and local wallflower Papi (Shlomi Avraham), whose night together at a roller disco turns into a veritable comedy of errors.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the band members room with local resident Itzik's (Rubi Moscovich) family, which produces overwhelming conflict and innumerable tensions. As the days roll on, the co-mingling of Egyptian bandmembers and Israeli residents imparts each individual with insights into his cultural identity and that of the others.




The Egyptian band in The Band's Visit is probably the most awesome and interesting band I have ever seen. Screw the ones at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and I would have gone to every one of my high school's football games if they were playing there. It's a cool sight to see them walking across the Israeli desert in their bright blue uniforms hearing only the sound of their luggage wheeling on the ground.

The film starts off with plenty of laughs as they are lost in a foreign land and the locals don't know what to think of them. They argue for a while until they finally decide to stay with the nice lady at the cafe for the night. They split into three groups. One goes with the woman to her apartment, one goes with a man who works at the cafe to his apartment and the rest sleep inside the cafe.

Gabai does a great job as the conductor of the band who spends the night with the woman, played by Elkabetz who also does a great job. They don't spend it in the way you might think but they talk. They share personal things that you know they have never told anyone else. The cafe owner reminds the conductor of his wife.

The three band members staying at the young man's apartment realize that they are not so welcomed by his wife and parents. Although the dad tries to liven things up with talk of music. One of the band members talks with the young man and they both share insights on life with each other in a way that is very sweet.

There are some funny moments in between all this drama. When the playboy band member goes into town with another young man from the cafe who is on a blind date with a young woman who he seems not to be attracted to. He confesses however in the playboy that he really is, he just doesn't know how to talk to her. In a cute and funny scene, the playboy shows him physically what to do while both are sitting right next to the girl. He also explains to the young man what sex is like in Arabic and you don't know what he is saying but you have an idea.

The remaining band members at the cafe never talk. They seem to never sleep either. They just play their music. The final scene of the film, when the band reaches their destination and plays their music to a crowd of people is made more awesome because of everything that has come before it. Before the ending you never hear the whole band play together and when they do, knowing what you know about certain characters, it makes the music have a whole new meaning.

The Band's Visit: 8 out of 10

The DVD contains photos and a making-of featurette. Interesting to know is that even though it is a foreign film, it was not eligible for an Oscar because more than 50% of the film is in english.


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