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Movie Review: Lebanon

Alternate Title: Someone Else's Nightmare

Story: I have not felt this claustrophobic in the theater since seeing Das Boot. I could have named this Das Tank as an Alternate Title but it just seemed too obvious.

Samuel Maoz' debut film is a knockout. As both writer and director, this autobiographical film took him 30 years to bring to the screen. His memory is strong and we feel the tension from the opening scene. It is the first day of the Lebanon War, in June 1982. Four twenty something Israeli soldiers are in a tank on what is supposed to be a simple clean up mission but things go terribly wrong.

The entire film takes place in the tight space of this dark, hot, filthy, tank and the viewer gets to watch the outside action through Moaz' eyes as he was the gunner. Through cross hairs we see bits and pieces of the action but the big picture is truly lost. I would imagine that this one idea is the overall theme of Moaz' film. Moaz also manages to stay away from any of the political or moral implications of this war (which many say was Israel's Vietnam). While fighting, a soldier simply does not have the luxury of waxing poetic about the implications of battle.

The acting is top notch. The sounds that the tank creates as it creaks along are spine tingling. This is not an easy film to watch but it is quite a ride. If you have the guts - go for it.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-_kE5QD_W4

.Acting: Yoav Donat as gunner Shmulik is terrific as were all of the actors including: Itay Tiran (Assi), Oshri Cohen (Hertzel), Michael Moshonov (Yigal), Zohar Strauss (Jamil), Dudu Tassa (Syrian Captive), Ashraf Barhom (Phalangist Mother) and Reymonde Amsellem (Lebanese Mother).

Trivia: This film won the top prize in the Venice Film Festival last year.

Predilection: I like Israeli films.

Critters: Oh dear - the animals in this film were casualties of war and very hard to watch. Especially aching was a scene with a dying mule.

Food: Croutons.

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: I cannot recall a soundtrack at all. The sounds of the cranky tank, rockets, guns and screams are my only memory.

Opening Titles: A field filled with flaccid sunflowers. The peace of that reverie is quickly broken as we enter the tank.

Visual Art: There is nothing visually pleasant about the inside of a tank.

Theater Audience: About 20 other people, mostly guys and us. One dude sat in the first row. perhaps he wanted to be inside the tank. Weird.

Weather: Hot, sticky and filthy.

Squirm Scale: 3 - war is hell

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps

Big Screen or Rental: If you want that extra claustrophobic feeling go for the big screen

Length: 90 minutes