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Footnote (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 16, 2012 by  



Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote” is indeed bittersweet, thought provoking and for the most part, clever and compelling.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Footnote Partnership LLP. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Footnote (Hearat Shulayim)

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 143 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Defiition (widescreen 2:35:1), Hebrew, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG (For Thematic Elements, Brief Nudity, Language and Smoking)

Release Date: July 24, 2012

Directed by Joseph Cedar

Written by Joseph Cedar

Produced by Joseph Cedar, Leon Edery, Moshe Edery, David Mandil

Executive Producer: Michal Graidy

Line Producer: Tamir Kfir

Music by Amit Poznansky

Cinematography by Yaron Scharf

Edited by Einat Glaser-Zarhin

Casting by Hila Yuval

Production Design by Arad Sawat

Starring:

Lior Ashkenazi as Uriel shkolnik

Yuval Scharf as Noa the Reporter

Shlom Bar-Aba as Eliezer Shkolnik

Alma Zack as Dikla Shkolnik

Albert Lluz as Dvir Oded

Edna Blilious as The Costume Designer Lady

Aliza Rosen as Yehudit

Nevo Kimchi as Fingeroot

Idit Tepersen as Sara Foddor

FOOTNOTE is the tale of a great rivalry between a father and son, two eccentric professors, who both dedicated their lives to work in Talmudic Studies. The father, Eliezer, is a stubborn purist who fears the establishment and has never been recognized for his work. His son, Uriel, is an up-and-coming star in the field, who appears to feed on accolades, endlessly seeking recognition.Then one day, the tables turn. When Eliezer learns that he is to be awarded the Israel Prize, the most valuable honor for scholarship in the country, his vanity and desperate need for validation are exposed. His son, Uriel, is thrilled to see his father’s achievements finally recognized but, in a darkly funny twist, is forced to choose between the advancement of his own career and his father’s. Will he sabotage his father’s glory?

In 2011, director/writer Joseph Cedar (“Ha-Hesder”, “Campfire”, “Beaufort”) released his film “Footnote” starring Lior Ashkenazi and Shlomo Bar-Aba.

A film about a troubled family relationship between father and son who both teach at the Talmud department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  A school which Joseph Cedar studied philosophy and history before graduating New York University’s film school.

The film would win the “Best Screenplay Award” at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, win nine prizes at the 2011 Ophir Awards and would become the official entry from Israel for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

And now “Footnote” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in July 2012.

Critically praised for its smart and clever plot, “Footnote” is a film that revolves around two scholars that teach at the Talmud department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  The older Eliezer Shkolnik (as portrayed by Shlomo Bar-Aba) is a man who is not sociable to people, nor with his family.   Eliezer is a stubborn man who doesn’t practice conservative Jewish traditions and his research revolves around older Talmudic passages (Jerusalem Talmud is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd century Mishnah/Jewish oral tradition compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th and 5th century.), teaches one class a year in which only one student attends.

Around Eliezer’s colleagues, his work is unpopular, not recognized and despite a lifetime of research, he has not been recognized.

Unlike his youngest son Uriel (as portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi) who is popular and an elected member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.  Uriel is a conservative Jew that uses modern interpretations of the Talmudic passages and has received recognition among his peers, modern interpretations that his father does not believe in.

And so, there is a bit of an egoist take between father and son relationship.  While Eliezer seems to have contempt towards his son, but tries to keep it with himself (although, you can tell he is soured by his son’s accolades), Uriel still credits his father for getting him into the field and despite their relationship, he does care for him.

And for both men, to be recognized by being awarded the Israel Prize is the greatest accomplishment.

One day, Eliezer receives a phone call from the administrative assistant of the Minister of Education and learns that he was elected for the year’s laureate of the Israel Prize.  Suffice to say, Eliezer is on “Cloud Nine” because his lifetime work is finally being recognized.  And Uriel and the family are proud of him.

But Uriel would be called into an urgent meeting with the Israel Prize committee.  It appears that because both are older Shkolniks, the administrative assistant accidentally called the wrong man.  An innocent error but Uriel knows that taking away that prize would devastate his father.  Uriel tries to reason with the Israel Prize committee by asking if he can just give his prize to his father and make it a secret, but it leads to a confrontation between Uriel and Professor Yehuda Grossman (as portrayed by Micah Lewensohn).

It appears that Grossman published similar results of his father’s lifetime work and received the credit for it.  And the only thing that Eliezer had received was just a footnote reference.  Uriel then goes on the verbal attack of how Grossman has been trying to block his father’s work and anyone working with his father out of spite.  Which leads to a major fracas as Uriel unleashes his anger by punching Grossman in the nose.

But Uriel must tell his father the truth that he received the prize accidentally and it was meant for him, but instead, he sees his father celebrating the accomplishment with his colleagues and is unable to tell his father the truth.

Will Uriel destroy his father’s dream but yet accomplishing his dream of winning the Israel Prize?

VIDEO:

“Footnote” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 Aspect Ratio).  Picture quality for “Footnote” is excellent with amazing detail and clarity, especially of the closeups of the cast, the use of colors and the really good positioning of characters and lighting, “Footnote” looks great on Blu-ray!

During my viewing, I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding.  If anything, “Footnote” is another film from Sony Pictures Classics that looks awesome on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Footnote” is presented in Hebrew, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film is primarily dialogue driven.  There are moments of crowd ambiance through the surround channels, but for the most part, this film is dialogue and music and is center-channel and front channel driven and lossless audio is crystal clear!

Subtitles are in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Footnote” comes with the following special features:

  • Behind the Scenes of Joseph Cedar’s Film: Footnote – (24:00)  Featuring the making of “Footnote” with behind-the-scenes footage.
  • An Evening with Joseph Cedar – (9:35) A live Q&A with director/writer Joseph Cedar.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:58) Theatrical trailer for “Footnote”.

“Footnote” is a very smart and clever film.  And the film no doubt spotlights on the conundrum between father and son and problem of father receiving an award meant for the son, and the son having to break the news to him.

Director and writer Joseph Cedar manages to take these two individuals, who are literally complete opposites but yet are blood related and gives us somewhat of a comedic take, especially when revolving around Eliezer.  A Narcissistic individual that seems very bitter that his son has achieved grand success for his type of research, that goes everything against what Eliezer believes in.

But where the film becomes quite exciting is to see Uriel, a man who has accomplished so much but a man who cares for his father, despite the father not exactly doing the same for him.  Uriel defends his father against his rival but at the same time, the more he looks into his father’s work, he realizes that his work is not that good and therefore, his peers have not supported him.

While Uriel has received many accolades for his work, his father has nothing but a footnote.   And the film revolves around this problematic situation of how Uriel will respond to the error of his father being given the Israel Prize.  A prize that Uriel and his father have both dreamed of having.

But it’s a double-edge sword with an unfortunate twist which may leave those viewing this film, fulfilled or unfulfilled, depending on which character you sympathize for.

I enjoyed “Footnote” because of Joseph Cedar’s clever and really smart writing.  The film does showcase how things are behind-the-scenes among scholars, especially when it comes to voting for a prize of who is worthy, who isn’t and blocking individuals from awards due to spite.

While the film does feature Talmudic teachings, one is not expected to be an erudite to comprehend Jewish culture, if anything, anyone can understand strained relations between father and son but also the importance of family.

While the acting by Lior Ashkenzi and Shlomo Bar-Aba are wonderful, it’s the attention to detail of Joseph Cedar’s screenplay that captivates your attention.  Cedar is specific on details and to help balance the film is the cinematography of  Yaron Scharf.  Scharf was able to capture the conflict and together, both men achieve efficacy because it is a film that not only is a comedy, but spotlights on conflict and an intriguing twist, that spotlights on the conflict.

Without spoiling the ending of the film, the ending of the film will surely leave viewers feeling content or disappointed.

Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote” is indeed bittersweet, thought provoking and for the most part, clever and compelling.  Recommended!






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