Woody Allen

A Rivers Runs Through It

06/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In what must be one of the most peculiar assertions ever made by a major philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead once told an interlocutor that his only problem with the Jews was their lack of humor. Lack of humor?! Must have been those Anglo-Jewish academics he hung out with.

The Facebook Haggadah 2.0

After the success of his 2009 Facebook Haggadah, I predicted that Carl Elkin would say "Next Year on Twitter." Apparently, that prediction didn't come to be.

Stiller Waters Run Deep

In ‘Greenberg,’ Ben Stiller veers from the typical Jewish neurotic role.

03/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Roger Greenberg, the eponymous hero of Noah Baumbach’s new film, “Greenberg,” is a direct descendant of all those solipsistic, narcissistic, inconsiderate neurotics embodied by Woody Allen and, most recently, Larry David. At 40, he is a twitching bundle of nerves, barely suppressed anger and tightly held grudges going back to his college days. And he is unmistakably Jewish, although, as he dryly notes, “my mother is a Protestant, so I don’t even count.”

Character rather than caricature: Stiller as  Roger Goldberg.

Dark Humor

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

 Earlier this year, New York magazine ran a cover story announcing the death of Jewish humor. “Twilight of the Tummlers” was a profile of Woody Allen and Larry David, tied to the movie “Whatever

Works,” but it was also a prediction that their particular brand of bleak, self-lacerating comedy was not long for this world.

PHOTO: AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE: French refugee children, Portugal, 1941.

Two From The ‘60s

03/01/2002
Staff Writer

In an inspired piece of programming, two neglected comedies will be screened back-to-back this Saturday at the American Museum of the Moving Image.

Both “Bye Bye Braverman” and “The Plot Against Harry” capture an unusual slice of Jewish life in outer-borough New York in the late 1960s, yet are largely unknown, overshadowed by the comedy of Woody Allen and the urban dramas of Martin Scorcese.

Bar Mitzvahs Are for Remembering

02/17/2010
Editor and Publisher

On the Thursday night before my Shabbat bar mitzvah all those years ago in Annapolis, Md., it snowed, heavily and unexpectedly. More than 20 inches by the next morning.

As a result, almost all of the out-of-town guests, including close relatives, couldn’t get there; my parents had to pay for dozens of guests who never made it to the luncheon at a local hotel; and an elderly congregant attempting to walk to shul for the occasion fell and broke her leg — a fact she reminded me of for years, every time I saw her.

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Calling All Jewish Superheroes

05/24/2002
Special To The Jewish Week

I recently experienced the Hollywood blockbuster "Spider-Man," and was delighted to see mild-mannered Queens high school student Peter Parker turn himself into a crime-fighting superhero. Jews invented the modern superhero 60 years ago, developing the concept of a well-intentioned but unempowered person transformed through accident into a powerhouse. Their creations (Superman, Spiderman and the like) are descendents of the golem, which was created to protect Jews from pogroms.

Assimilation And Its Discontents

02/24/2006
Special To The Jewish Week

It sounds strange now, in the post-Soon-Yi era, but Woody Allen's classic films of the 1970s and especially the 1980s made him one of American cinema's most important moral voices. Behind the neurotic shtick and the clumsy narcissism, Allen in films such as "Zelig," "Broadway Danny Rose" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" created comic-tragic dramas highlighting the need for personal responsibility, the value of intense self-reflections, and the danger of veering from a moral compass, however personally defined.

Woody And Dylan: The Jewish Chameleons

04/23/2008
Special To The Jewish Week

He’s a real nowhere man,

Sitting in his nowhere land,

Making all his nowhere plans

for nobody.

                          — The Beatles

String Theory: Purim gets the puppet treatment

02/13/2009
Special To The Jewish Week
Of all the holidays in the Jewish calendar, Purim is the most theatrical. Throughout the ages, Jewish communities worldwide have naturally performed the story in different ways, in accordance with their own native theatrical traditions. In 18th-century Prague, since itinerant puppeteers provided much of the entertainment seen by the common people, a marionette version of “Queen Esther” was one of the hits of the day.
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