Like a forgettable fizzy drink, Amit Leor's "Cafe Tales" is an amiable distraction that leaves little aftertaste. This comedy about the cockeyed denizens of a backstreet Tel Aviv cafe who team up to save the cafe from the wrecking ball intersperses its hit-and-miss antics with genuine allusions about the precariousness of the Israeli nation.

Like a forgettable fizzy drink, Amit Leor’s “Cafe Tales” is an amiable distraction that leaves little aftertaste. Playing on aud sentiments for underdogs, this comedy about the cockeyed denizens of a backstreet Tel Aviv cafe who team up to save the cafe from the wrecking ball intersperses its hit-and-miss antics with genuine, if obvious, allusions about the precariousness of the Israeli nation. Since it was shot in DigiBeta, blue-collar bohemian entertainment will perform best in vid release, which launched locally in April.

Leah (Elisheva Michaeli) has owned her Braun Cafe since 1959, but the joint’s heyday is long gone, and moneyed interests want to tear the place down to build a big complex. The motley regulars are led by creatively blocked poet Yutz (Moshe Ivgy, narrating verbosely), who finds himself trying to devise some way to stave off the greed merchants. Physically broad comic strokes take over as the cafe customers bicker and join forces, and it all tends to be too much on the bigscreen. Pic was first Israeli production to be shot and screened digitally, bypassing film altogether.

Café Tales

Israel

Production

A Cinephil release (in Israel) of a JCS Prods. presentation in association with ICP. (International sales: Cinephil, Tel Aviv.) Produced by Mosh Danon, Mirit Tuvi. Directed, written by Amit Leor.

Crew

Camera (color, digital video, video projection), Giora Bejach; editor, Arik Lahav-Leibovitz; music, Uri Ophir; sound, David Lis. Reviewed at Israel Film Festival, Los Angeles, May 2, 2004. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Moshe Ivgy, Elisheva Michaeli, Arie Moskona, Tsahi Grad, Tsipor Aisen-Leor, Sharon Reginiano, Gony Arbid, Yossi Toledo.
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