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April 04, 2013 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-04-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

A scene from

Follow Me: The

Yoni Netanyahu

Story

Boomerang Kid

Benjamin Braddock's spirit resounds
throughout comic Hello.

Michael Fox

Special to the Jewish News

T

Ang

Follow Me tracks Yoni Netanyahu's

journey to Entebbe.

Michael Fox

Special to the Jewish News

T

he unexpectedly lovely documen-
tary Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu
Story reminds us what an unequivo-
cal Israeli hero looks like.
A portrait of the life and times of the only
Israeli casualty of the stunning long-distance
rescue of the Jewish hostages at Entebbe
in 1976, Ari Daniel Pinchot and Jonathan
Gruber's excellent film hearkens to a time
before black and white blurred into a morass
of gray.
Israel owned the moral high ground on the
world stage after the massacre of its athletes
at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and continued
to hold it as PLO operatives and sympathizers
followed that "success" with a wave of inter-
national hijackings and hostage-taking in the
next few years. At home, however, national
morale suffered from the heavy Yom Kippur
War casualties, widely attributed to a lack of
preparedness and poor decision-making.
When Palestinian terrorists seized an Air
France jet en route from Tel Aviv to Paris
and diverted it to Uganda, Israel stuck to its
staunch policy of not negotiating for hos-
tages. Bloodshed on a massive scale appeared
inevitable until the surprise hit-and-run raid
by an elite squad of Israeli soldiers — under
the command of 30-year-old Lt. Col. Yonatan
Netanyahu — saved 100 innocent lives and
gave the nation a huge shot of pride and con-
fidence.
This gripping chronology of events is inter-
cut with Netanyahu's compelling biography,
which is largely unknown even to those with
distinct memories of the exhilarating triumph
at Entebbe. Follow Me is almost entirely in
English and thus seems primarily aimed at
American audiences, although it has no dis-
cernible political agenda.
The eldest of three brothers, Yoni Netanyahu
was born in New York City in 1946 and raised
in the new State of Israel. His father was a pro-
fessor and editor-in-chief of an encyclopedia,
and scholars often visited their home. During
Yoni's adolescence, the family returned to the
States twice for year-plus sojourns to accom-
modate his father's research.
"I yearn for a place that's narrow, hot, filthy:'
a frustrated Yoni wrote from the comfortable

42

April 4 • 2013

Philadelphia suburb where they resided when
he was 16. "A place that's mostly desert and
one can scarcely find on a map of the world"
It's apparent from photographs and the rec-
ollections of his brothers (including Benjamin,
the current prime minister), lovers and fellow
soldiers that Yoni was charismatic, with the
open face and striking good looks of a young
Pierce Brosnan.
He belonged to a generation of youth-
ful nation-builders, and his first allegiance
was to the State of Israel — even if it meant
relinquishing certain goals. Wounded in the
Six-Day War, Yoni married his sweetheart and
moved to Boston to attend Harvard. But the
pull of Israel, and the pull of the army, was so
strong that they returned after just one year.
Yoni somehow finagled his way back into
the military, even though he couldn't bend
or straighten his injured arm, and he was
assigned to a top unit entrusted with risky and
usually top-secret missions. An exceptional
commitment was required, and he willingly
made it even at the cost of his marriage.
There are telltale clues in his letters, and
in his appreciation of poetry, that Netanyahu
was a multidimensional person capable not
just of leadership but reflection. Surprisingly,
Follow Me doesn't accentuate his lost potential
for non-military contributions, nor does it
invite any of the interviewees to contemplate
how this deeply thoughtful, highly educated
Zionist would have dealt with the invasion of
Lebanon or the construction of settlements
on the West Bank.
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story is a
valuable, well-crafted and emotionally reso-
nant addition to the video library of Israeli
history, but it doesn't stray beyond its bound-
aries. The ramifications of these events, and
the ways in which Israel and the world have
changed in the ensuing 35 years, are left to
the viewer to mull.



The JCC's Lenore Marwil Jewish
Film Festival screens Follow Me: The
Yoni Netanyahu Story at the Berman
Center for the Performing Arts in West
Bloomfield at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 14;
at the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint
at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7; and at the
Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor at 5
p.m. Thursday, May 9. www.jccdet.org .

he word "plastics" is
never uttered in the
coming-of-age dramatic
comedy Hello I Must Be Going.
It's kind of a shame, for Sarah
Koskoff's wry, poignant screen-
play evokes The Graduate in so
many other ways.
Both films unfold in Jewish
A scene from Hello 1 Must Be Going
homes headed by self-absorbed
parents and located in upper-
middle-class enclaves. Tellingly, none
though: The couple's 19-year-old son
of the assimilated characters in either
(Christopher Abbott of Girls) comes
movie ever says the "J" word.
on to her.
The two movies begin as glib
Hello I Must Be Going is not exactly
satires of existential angst and excru-
overpopulated with characters so we
ciating comedies of manners before
anticipate that a kiss will turn into
wading into the deeper waters where
a lusty fling and then a full-blown
youthful possibility can easily turn
affair. As we also might expect, Amy's
into compromised adult lives of quiet
excitement over developing an outside
desperation.
activity is tempered by her ambiva-
The main resemblance, though, is
lence about dating a much younger
a central character at loose ends who's
guy and her fear that the revelation of
drawn into an affair that's both poten-
her secret will cost her dad a lucrative
tially scandalous and strangely liberat-
prospect.
ing — and provides the catalyst for
This is the kind of film where
self-discovery and moving forward.
everyone except the love-struck
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half
couple is self-deluded, tone deaf and
Men) plays an ugly duckling who
the object of our derision — until the
became a perfectly attractive woman
final reel, that is, when Amy's parents
yet sees herself as a loser — at least
are cast in a new light that reverses
when we meet her, ensconced in
our sympathies.
her parents' waterfront Connecticut
Lynskey's character, as well as her
manse and numbly accepting a
performance, walks the tightrope
divorce from her Manhattan husband. between likable and annoying. Come
Endearingly mousy and awkward,
to think of it, the same could be said
waking at noon and flopping around
of Dustin Hoffman and Benjamin
in a T-shirt and shorts, the 30-some-
Braddock.
thing Amy is a self-deprecating
Like The Graduate, and unlike so
female response to the shameless,
many contemporary indie movies
selfish man-children that populate so
about attractive young people fretting
many Hollywood movies. Daddy's girl over their love lives and near-term
to the core, Amy nonetheless recog-
futures, Hello I Must Be Going suc-
nizes that something's got to give, but
ceeds in convincing us that the stakes
she has no clue or apparent market-
— namely Amy's self-respect and char-
able skill beyond a master's degree in
acter, though perhaps not a career as
photography (if she were to go back
a gallery-quality photographer — are
and finish her thesis, that is).
real and worth caring about.
Her parents (a relentless and great
The title, incidentally, refers to the
Blythe Danner and a suitably sooth-
immortal song in one of the Marx
ing yet ominous John Rubinstein)
Brothers movies that Amy consoles
are focused on landing a major new
herself with on late-night TV and
client so he can retire from his law
which she and her father watched
practice and they can go "gallivanting
together when she was a child.
around the globe." To them, Amy is
both a concern and a nuisance who's
The JCC's Lenore Marwil
landed on their doorstep when they're
Jewish Film Festival screens
primed to embark on their carefree
Hello I Must Be Going (rated
golden years.
R; strong language and sexual
Amy's parents invite the prospec-
content)
at the Berman Center
tive client and his family over for a
for
the
Performing
Arts in West
casual dinner party, which produces
Bloomfield
at
noon
Sunday,
the movie's most deft and squirm-
April 14. www.jccdet.org .
inducing scene. There's a silver lining
to Amy's inevitable embarrassment,



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