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Gett: The The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Roni and Shlomi Elkabetz, 2014)

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Gett is the end of a series of films about the failed marriage of the Amsalems. In To Take A Wife (2004) and 7 Days (2008), Viviane is already desperate to leave their marriage, which has grown cold over differences in observance of Jewish law, tradition, and Elisha’s efforts to conserve his Moroccan heritage. These films are all dense with conversation and cultural detail, often moving so quickly between Elisha’s Arabic, French, and Hebrew that it is easy to miss the cultural drama between feminism and Israeli orthodoxy playing out in the background.

A “gett” is a document that signifies a legally effective consent in Jewish law. Without a get, the husband and wife may not remarry, and the individual rights of a wife are still bound to law applicable to married women. And a get can only ever be offered by the husband. The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is Viviane’s attempt to require her husband to initiate these divorce proceedings, as she cannot simply leave him with her rights (including the right to remarry) intact.

The entire film takes place in a small courtroom. Over many years, Viviane returns to this courtroom with her lawyer to face the three judges that can, if sufficient reason is provided, force Elisha to sign a document of divorce. Sometimes Elisha comes, and sometimes he does not. Given the law’s clear advantage toward the husband, the inner absurdities of the process and... Read More

Mad Men (Season 7, Ep. 10) – Don’s Augustinian Forecast

These last two episodes of Mad Men have felt either disproportionate or clumsy. This is, I think, because life is both disproportionate and clumsy. It is common for critics to excuse the shortcomings of TV shows with this same logic. A script takes a left turn into fan service, or really fumbles some aspect of a series closure, and it gets written off as an effect of the same vicissitude we encounter every day in real life (such as the end of Lost).... Read More

Mad Men (Season 7, Ep. 8) – Don’s Religious Vocabulary

Playing off Mad Men as a series of object lessons in modernity is like shooting fish in a barrel. Time and time again, the show has justified the utility of its repetition of Don’s moods and fantasies as an evocation of this era. Around him play out the little dramas of an ad agency and its growing wealth. But it has always been clear that whatever transpires in these last few episodes of its run, Mad Men is a work of art extensive in detail... Read More

Filmwell Recommends – Streaming in April

This is a booming month for a few streaming services, as there are a lot of titles/series from 2014 finally making their way onto our devices. And Fandor has an incredible line-up in store. If you have ever wanted to join or start their trial, this is the month. Otherwise, here are a bunch of good titles up for streaming at Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Fandor in April, 2015. — Movies The Ascent (Fandor) L’Atalante (Fandor) The Babadook (Netflix... Read More