In Search of Israeli Cuisine
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: Not rated.
Theater: Edina.


In the opening moments of this documentary, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov strides into a Yemenite grill in Tel Aviv, orders a snack and launches into a whirlwind culinary tour of the 17 dishes laid on the counter before him, pointing to each and naming its origin:

“Yemenite, Palestinian, Iraq, Moroccan ... Russian, carrots are from Europe ... This I don’t even know,” he says of one mystery dish, with a pause before rolling on to one of this movie’s driving themes: “How many countries are represented in one place?”

A stunning diversity of flavors and people have converged in the global stew that is Israel, with about 150 cultures represented in a country the size of New Jersey. The country represents a gorgeous feast of source material for filmmaker Roger Sherman (director of the 2010 documentary “The Restaurateur”).

The movie deftly explores the unique forces that have shaped this culinary landscape, from the ebb and flow of political tensions between Arabs and Jews to the competing tensions between Jews themselves who arrived with varied traditions from different corners of the world.

And it shines when tackling the often uncomfortable discussion of what Israelis have absorbed from the Arab cuisines that existed there before creation of the state. In one episode, Solomonov, who was born in Israel, tastes a Palestinian kebab pot pie and then wraps the chef in a brotherly embrace. The look of surprise on the chef’s face is priceless.

The film rambles a bit through its second half. But Sherman couldn’t have found a better guide than the magnetic Solomonov, who owns several Philadelphia restaurants. It will make you hungry as he forages the market stalls and visits kebab houses, home kitchens and stylish restaurants.
Craig LeBan, Philadelphia Inquirer


Your Name
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG; in subtitled Japanese.
Theaters: Arbor Lakes, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie, Lagoon.

What starts out as a “Freaky Friday’’-type body exchange becomes a rumination on time travel, cataclysmic fate, rural-urban dynamics and, of course, a love story in novelist-turned-anime director Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.’’

Mitsuha is a high school girl in a remote village in the mountains. Taki is a high school boy in fast-moving Tokyo. One day, without knowing each other and without knowing why, they wake up in each other’s bodies.

When they awake the next morning, they have switched back, each finding out how the other has embarrassed them the day before. Soon, they begin texting each other, and because this keeps happening — with no rhyme or reason as to why it’s happening or how to stop it — they begin leaving diaries, notes and other helpful tips on how to negotiate their time in their new bodies.

This is all very cute, but Shinkai moves it into bizarre, supernatural directions. It’s difficult to discuss much if it without spoiling the plot twists, but let’s just say that the two of them discover that they exist at different times, too.

Shinkai’s hand-drawn visuals are simply gorgeous. Skies, trains, cityscapes, etc., stand out in bold, vivid colors.
G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle