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'Bubble'-icious: 21st-Century Fox

March 26, 2009 By:
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On the ... "Bubble."

That is exactly where the Israeli Film Festival of Greater Philadelphia is bringing its viewers March 26 with an evening screening of the foxy Eytan Fox-directed film at Temple University.

A seditious soap opera, "The Bubble" is not your bubba's "Helen Trent." A ménage of trouble arises only when an Israeli soldier brings his new male lover, a Palestinian, into his threesome cohabiting a habitually Tel Aviv life, isolated from the issues on the outside.

Emotional explosions, one comes to understand, are as exacting as those coming from the end of an AK-47.

New York-born, Israeli raised, Fox finds his chickens cooped up in the most bizarre environments, as was evidenced in two of his other hits with American audiences: "Yossi & Jagger" (2002) and "Walk on Water" (2004).

If he walks on the wild side of cinema, it is a walk with a seductive swagger and sweltering sense of sensuality. Fox's pictures are a partnership of parting shots at Israeli society, as well as the hurt of love that is part of one and all.

Co-writing "The Bubble" with his life partner, Gal Uchovsky, Fox muses on his 2006 flick of flickering hopes and flamboyant flame-outs that makes the foreplay of his filmic foursome a fillip on life's expectations.

Hope for the best, expect the worst? Is Israel itself, living in a "Bubble," blithely ignoring outside world opinion at this point?

"In some way, it is," he says. "It is very hard to live in Israel, trying to live a modern Western life, while a nonstop war is going on. While politicians take their time and everything gets complicated, people find other ways to survive; one of them is to block parts of reality and live as if they don't exist.

"And, yes, live in a bubble."

There is no wand to whisk away the troubles, yet Ashraf, the Palestinian in "Bubble," does get "cover" in Tel Aviv, tellingly moving about freely, undetected.

Does one detect a message there?

"I guess," in real life, "a Palestinian can find cover in Tel Aviv, but it won't be easy, and it might get frustrating to hear what people are saying about Arabs when they think they are in a safe environment."

Certainly, the film has been called an Israeli "Romeo and Juliet," yet the Montagues and Capulets didn't have checkpoints to go through.

"We called it like that when we started thinking the film," concedes Fox.

But parting from the original be not so much sweet sorrow as cinematic sensitivity. Wherefor art thou, Ashraf? Not in Verona!

"We understood that going only by the Shakespearean story will limit our perspective."

No limits on what are graphic love scenes. You've got male -- and how do Americans deal with that element of gay transparency in "Bubble"? More tittering here than in Tel Aviv?

"Israelis are more European in that sense than Americans," says the filmmaker.

There was some homeland insecurity about it as well: "Gal's mother thought it was too graphic. But, in general, it was not an obstacle."

A mother's kisses are important to Fox. His mother, the late Sara Kaminker, was a major city planner while living in the United States who brought her sense of emotional bridge-building to Israel.

"She dedicated her life in Israel to try and help build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians," her son says of the woman who "was a great influence" on him.

The city planner is at the soul of the Kaminker Project, which Fox and his brothers have developed "to create a city plan for the village [of Isawiya]; the people there were her friends. She tried all her life to help them get building permissions, but failed."

With the Kaminker Project, her sons are picking up the T-square and attempting to square her wishes with reality.

"It's the best and only way to do something in her memory," says Fox.

Memorable film projects are what Fox and Uchovsky make; their next one is no different.

Hear the horns herald 21st-century Fox: "It will be a movie about the life of a gay Holocaust survivor" -- Gad Beck -- "who managed to live through the war," says the Israeli filmmaker, whose success at courting sexual dynamics proves he might just be able to walk on water -- with or without the natural float of the Dead Sea -- after all. 

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