Late Summer Blues

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Late Summer Blues (Blooz La’Chofesh HaGadol) – Israeli cult-hit – is a 1987 Israeli film directed by Renen Schorr. It is a story about a group of Israeli teens in their last summer before army service.

They all experience different conflicts about joining the army. One of them cannot join the army because he is diabetic. One of them does not want to join the army because he is a pacifist. Another is conflicted between joining an elite group in the army like his older brothers and joining the army band like his new girlfriend. A fourth is excited to train to be a paratrooper when he is killed in training.  As a result of his death, his friends change their high-school graduation play, and launch a protest musical.

New York Times: “The film has the episodic structure and small scale of cinema verite, and the narrative frame of a home movie. Each major character has a section named for him. Yossi, known as Joe, is inducted into the Army even before the graduation ceremonies take place; he writes in his diary that he regrets he has not had time to ”get a driver’s license or sleep with a girl.” Three weeks later, he is dead, killed in an accident during training.

Arileh spray paints ”Stop the War of Attrition” on every wall he can find. Mossi, the musician, decides they should dedicate the graduation play to Yossi. ”A protest show! It’ll be terrific!” he says, and the movie audience is forced to sit through a song and dance number that owes everything to ”Hair.” Margo, an aspiring film maker and a diabetic who is exempt from the draft, wanders through ”Late Summer Blues” filming his friends. There is too little difference between his home movies, inserted throughout, and the rest of the film.

When Margo looks back three years and says in the final scene, ”I can’t believe that’s how we were – so stupid, so beautiful, so pure,” he offers the perspective that should have informed the film all along. Without it, Yossi’s diary is merely familiar and banal, Arileh’s rebellion seems anachronistic and Mossi’s show naive (…).

The single triumph of  ”Late Summer Blues” is its acting, most by students and amateurs, who are so realistic that the film often feels like a documentary about ingenuous young people.”

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