Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every week, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Reveal: Eytan Fox Film Festival
We need to talk about Eytan Fox, the classy, firey queer auteur who might just be the greatest of all Israeli directors working today. This weekend, Fox releases his latest film, the romantic drama Sublet, in the United States. As such, we’ve decided to do something a little different at the Weekend Binge this week. Rather than offer up a series to consume, we’re opting to recommend five titles that demonstrate Fox’s remarkable artistic gifts and range as a filmmaker.
Fox’s films very often deal with Israeli identity, meditating on the long-running conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as themes of masculinity, age, and gay life. To watch his films is to explore the man himself and, we contend, explore deeper moral and ethical questions that exist within us all.
Ergo, in honor of the fantastic Mr. Fox, we present herein the five essential Eytan Fox films, all suitable for a binge this weekend.
Yossi & Jagger
Fox rocketed onto the international cinematic scene with this drama about two Israeli soldiers that fall in love. Yossi (Ohad Knoller) commands a troop stationed at the Israeli-Lebanese border. While on duty, he meets a subordinate officer Lior (Yehuda Levi), and sparks begin to fly. The couple must keep their relationship secret to avoid any backlash among their ranks and must face the possibility of mortality as tensions with Lebanon grow.
Streams on Amazon.
Walk on Water
Anyone else here starved for seeing a secret agent adventure with an openly-gay character? Fox did what Hollywood still is scared to do back in 2004 with this film. It follows Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), a Mossad agent, on the trail of an escaped Nazi war criminal. When Eyal finally finds the criminal’s grandson, Axel (Knut Berger) an unlikely friendship takes root between the pair despite Eyal’s disgust with Axel’s homosexuality. Then Axel’s grandfather appears, and Eyal must make a choice between dispensing justice and protecting his friend.
Streams on Kanopy.
Fox returned to romance with this 2006 drama about an Israeli and Palestinian gay couple. Noam (Ohad Knoller) and Asharaf (Joe Sweid) have a chance meeting at a tragic event and feel a magnetic attraction toward one another. When Asharaf returns Noam’s passport, sparks fly, and the two begin a torrid affair. As they do, violence breaks out in Tel Aviv, threatening more than just their romance. Fox has declared The Bubble his most autobiographical work, inspired in large part by a relationship he had with a Palestinian soldier. It shows: The Bubble pours grief and joy onto its audience…kind of like a man pouring his heart out to a friend.
Streams on Amazon & YouTube.
Fox returned to familiar territory with this sequel to Yossi & Jagger from 2012. Yossi catches up with the title character more than ten years after the events of the original film. Yossi, now a cardiologist, remains closeted and suppresses his grief over the events of the previous movie. Suddenly, it all starts to catch up to him. Haunting memories begin to interfere with Yossi’s professional and personal life as he begins to unravel, unable to run from his past any longer. The movie earned positive reviews for its mix of humor and drama and for the lead performance by Ohad Knoller, who reprises his role here.
Streams on Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.
Openly gay actors John Benjamin Hickey and Niv Nissim star in Fox’s latest film, a romantic drama about an unlikey love affair. Michael, a middle-aged, gay travel writer comes to Tel Aviv to rent an apartment from Tomer (Niv Nissim), a handsome, hard-partying gay 20-something. Tomer begins to play tour guide for Michael, and an odd relationship develops. Michael finds Tomer’s youthful rejection of labels and promiscuity captivating, while Tomer comes to respect the older generation’s fight for equality. Ultimately, the film is the story of two people carrying intense pain, and how their bond allows them to confront their demons. Fox also uses the relationship as a kind of reconciliation between different generations of LGBTQ people, resulting in a sexy, deeply moving story of love.
In theatres June 11.