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Happy Times
Nitra'e Besmachot

Israel / USA / Italy 2019
produced by
Tomer Almagor, Paola Porrini Bisson, Michael Mayer, Gabrielle Almagor (executive), Richard Bisson (executive), Erri De Luca (executive), Guy Ayal (co) for Oh!Pen Productions, M7200 Productions, Urban Tales Productions
directed by Michael Mayer
starring Michael Aloni, Liraz Chamami, Iris Bahr, Alon Pdut, Stéfi Celma, Ido Mor, Guy Adler, Shani Atias, Daniel Lavid, Mike Burstyn, Kevin Thoms, Rigo Obezo, Sophia Santi, Griffin Kramer, Lily Chesla Torres, Jackson Lewis Torres, Mik Sapir-Kastelman
written by Guy Ayal, Michael Mayer, music by Guy Ayal

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Once a year, Sigal (Liraz Chamami) invites her Jewish friends and family over to a Shabbat dinner to her fancy home in the Hollywood Hills. But while these occasions are less than "happy" at the best of times, this year they're under a particularly bad star: It really already starts in the driveway when Michael (Michael Aloni), actor on the verge of a breakthrough, has a a run-in with young but cocky Maor (Daniel Lavid) that almost gets physical. It's also a bit of a scandal that Michael brings his new girlfriend Aliyah (Stéfi Celma), who might be the nicest person and also good-looking without outshining the others, but she's also non-Jewish, and black even, which doesn't sit well with the prejudices of some of those in attendance. In the meantime, one of the guests, Ilan (Guy Adler), tries to get Sigal's husband Yossi (Ido Mor), to invest into one of his projects, and won't just accept that Yossi tells him how hopeless it is, and digs up dirt on Yossi as payback. Dinner itself ends in a fistfight where Michael is knocked out. In the excitement that follows, young Moar manages to catch Sigal alone in the kitchen, and he confesses his love to her, and they start to make out ... and are caught by Yossi, who beats Maor half to death - when Michael arrives on the scene with a gun, wanting his revenge on those who've wronged him. And in the skerfuffle that follows, Moar is accidently shot dead. Everybody's understandably shocked, but only Aliyah wants to call the police, but her phone is crashed. Instead of properly reporting what has been happening, the whole party is busy sweeping the whole affair under the carpet - but that attempt only leads to a freeforall, with Moar not remaining the sole fatality for long. And things don't at all slow down when Yossi's rabbi (Mike Burstyn) shows up, pretty much insisting to be fed ...


Now the first few scenes of Happy Times are deceivingly unpromising (and very probably intentionally so), as they have a soap opera feel to them with only slight satyrical touches and little indication where the film might lead to - and that's really part of the genius of this movie, as at least part of its powerful impact comes from its impact that leads from a bit indistinguishable soap to macabre sitcom to violent and bloody comedy in a narratively logical and even subtle manner, where events really grow out of one another and little seems to happen just on the screenwriter's whim. And add to that a directorial approach really in sync with these narrative tactics, and a strong cast that mostly plays it straight, and you've got yourself a bloody hilarious and hilariously bloody movie.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD