This is a movie that can be toasted with L’Chaim!
Cupcakes is a welcome reprieve from Israeli movies about the Holocaust and terrorism. It is a fabulous sugar rush of saturated colors, a celebration of life, and it asks us to reconsider what it really means to win.
Anat (Anat Waxman- all the principals share their first names with their characters) has neglected her husband by spending too much time in her successful bakery.
He walks out on her, breaking her heart. Fortunately, she has a supportive and diverse group of friends to help soothe her broken heart.
The best medicine for a broken heart is distraction, and there’s no better distraction than the UniverSong Contest, a thinly veiled version of the Eurovision Song Contest.
While watching the competition, her friend Efrat (Efrat Dor) improvises a song for her friend. Ofer (Ofer Schecter, her gay best friend who teaches in drag at the daycare center where he works- how cool is that?) records the song on his phone and submits it for consideration for the next UniverSong competition.
With the help of his boyfriend Asi’s (Alon Levi- one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen onscreen) rich, controlling parents, they are off to Paris as Israel’s official entry.
When Ofer walks down the hall of Israel’s entries, he pauses on the poster of Mike Brant, the Israeli singer who became a pop superstar in France in the early 1970s.
The poster says he was the winner of the Grand Prix de la Chanson in 1969. There is no such contest, and the year is incorrect.
It was in 1970 that Brant became famous when he won the Grand Prix at the Midem Music Festival, a boring industry showcase not nearly as fun or important as Eurovision, with this song, his biggest hit, “Laisse-moi t’aimer.” (He never competed at Eurovision)
Here’s a clip:
Brant was a pop sensation in Europe and Israel in the 1970s. But for his lack of fame and one year, he would enjoy membership in the accursed”27 Club.” He had battled depression all his life, but his ineffectiveness to be taken seriously as a singer, a restraint mitigated by his controlling and deceitful manager prompted him to take his life by defenestration at the age of 28.
Alain Goldman, producer of La Vie En Rose, is currently bringing his life story to the screen.
The Eurovision Song Contest is the best sporting event outside of the World Cup that the U.S. ignores, to its detriment.
A celebration of kitsch and a soft pitch for political barbs, it’s honestly more fun to watch than the Oscars.
Here’s Scootch competing for Great Britain in 2007:
Here’s a look at how crazy Eurovision can get:
Verka Serduchka, Dancing Lasha Tumbai, Ukraine 2007
For the winners, it can be a launching pad to superstardom: Abba won in 1974 and Celine Dion, representing Switzerland, won in 1988.
For the song that wins, its country gets to host the competition the following year. As for the loser, that country is barred from the competition for two years.
Here’s the wink that brought Greece down before the euro:
Singer (sic) Michalis Ratkintzis became a national embarrassment and was shunned whenever he appeared in public.
It’s not a coincidence that there is a singer named Dana in the group.
Israel won the 1998 Eurovision contest grâce à Dana International, the first transgender artist to win. Here’s a clip of the winning tune, Diva:
The animateur (host) of the UniverSong Contest is played by French actor Edouard Baer, a propos of nothing I could find while researching this movie.
Go treat yourself with some Cupcakes!
Israel, 2013, 92 min., Hebrew, French & English
Friday, November 21st at 2:10pm & Sunday, November 23rd at 9:15pm at Plaza Frontenac