Adina Hoffman

Adina Hoffman is the film critic for The Jerusalem Post and
the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood.

Recent Articles

The Children Are Watching Us

S et among the bleak row houses of Depression-era Liverpool, Stephen Frears's new film, Liam , is yet another sepia-tinted tale of a cute, dimpled Catholic boy (played here by Anthony Burrows) whose diet consists mostly of bread, potatoes, and interminable school sermons that promise only hellfire and damnation. "What does sin do?" his teacher asks in a typical lesson, at once stern and somehow excited. "It drives the nails deeper into the hands of Christ!" She smiles serenely as she offers this warning, and all the boys stare up at her, too credulous to speak. The rhetorical Grand Guignol of a strict Catholic-school education has, of course, provided seriocomic fodder for writers from James Joyce to Frank McCourt; and Frears and his screenwriter, Jimmy McGovern, do a spirited job of thrusting us inside the revved-up religious imagination of their little hero. They let us experience the loopy hyperbole of the schoolmarm's threats from the child's dumbstruck perspective, and the...

Beyond the Multiplex

I n "The Moviegoers," a bleak New Yorker article from a few years back, the film critic David Denby bemoaned both the current state of movie culture and the marginal role of serious criticism in shaping popular taste. According to Denby, the commercialization of the whole enterprise has brought about a brand of slicked-up, dumbed-down cinema that he and his friends would never have stood for as younger, engaged moviegoers. "As I listen to people talk (well, let's say older people)," he wrote, "I get the sense that many moviegoers who loved the French, Italian, Japanese, British and Eastern European films of the Sixties and the American films of the Seventies...have simply stopped going to the movies, or go with limited hopes, with a sickened sense that the house is sliding down the hill and can never be pulled back to the top again." While I am too young to remember the era that Denby describes with such wobbly-voiced longing, I've seen those films and I know what he means. Working as...

Pretty in Pink

I n the black-and-white introduction to Chinese director Zhang Yimou's award-winning film The Road Home, a citified businessman returns, with down parka and four-wheel drive, to the remote mountain village where he grew up. His father has just died, and he has come back to this rural, snowbound enclave to help prepare for the funeral. Devastated by her loss, his mother, Di, is determined to follow the oldest traditions by having her husband's body carried to his grave from the hospital where he died. Superstition says they must show his soul the path home one last time, so he'll never forget. But the young people have all left the village, and no one remains to haul the coffin. Perhaps they could use a tractor? the son tries to bargain with his mother, who is stubborn and won't hear of compromise. No, she insists, he must be carried--on foot. As the mother weaves a special shroud, the son sets about trying to arrange for pallbearers from the next town over. Here he begins to tell the...