Film

The Year in Jewish Culture

The top 10 moments (in no particular order) of 2010 in arts and letters.

Staff Writer
01/14/2011

PETER BEINART FIGHTS FOR LIBERAL ZIONISM

As the former editor of The New Republic, a liberal magazine, but one with a strong pro-Israel bent, Peter Beinart shocked Jews of all stripes when he published a scathing critique of the organized Jewish community in May in The New York Review of Books. Beinart, 39, argued that groups from AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, to the Anti-Defamation League have failed to make Zionism an attractive ideal for young American Jews, who are mostly liberal.

Barney's Version: Aaron Herman Interviews Paul Giamatti

The film is based on Jewish author, Mordecai Richler's prize-winning comic novel, Barney's Version. It is the warm, wise, and witty story of Barney Panofsky (played by Paul Giamatti), a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. 

Jewish Film Fest’s ‘Open Destiny’

Grace Paley documentary and Eran Riklis film top series at JCC and Walter Reade.

01/12/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

In one of her short stories, Grace Paley writes, “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.” Such a splendid statement, the quotation turns up twice in Lilly Rivlin’s splendid new documentary on Paley’s life and work, “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts,” which plays in this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival. The sentiment behind the sentence is so open-handed and wholehearted that it could be applied to the best films in the festival, including Rivlin’s own offering.

Grace Paley and friends outside a draft board office during the Vietnam War in scene from “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts.”

‘Vir Bist Du, Romeo?’

‘Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish’ features a cast of young dropouts from New York’s chasidic community.

01/11/2011
Special to The Jewish Week

He was a Satmar dropout, a street kid getting by on credit card and airport baggage claim scams. She was a prodigal daughter, also from a Satmar family, knocking around as a student in Europe and Israel, asking the questions and plying the lifestyle no good chasidic girl should.

Lazer Weiss and Melissa Weisz in Yiddish retelling of star-crossed lovers tale.

The Art Of The Meal

01/04/2011
Editorial Assistant

What is the perfect dish to enjoy while watching a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? It must be a pastry marrying a saffron- and rosewater-scented kataifi base (a Turkish delicacy) topped with a New York-style cheesecake.

Dessert and dialogue: A film of conflict will be the backdrop for a pastry uniting two cultures.

The Life And Times Of The Jewish Artist

Four NY Jewish Film Festival works explore tensions in the creative life.

01/04/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

The price one pays for being an artist is frequently sizeable. The call to the arts is often rooted in alienation and a sense of difference. To follow that path is to risk ostracism and penury. And other than your fellow artists, who else will understand your choices?

Alma (Barbara Romaner) and Gustav Mahler (Johannes Silberschneider) in scene from “Mahler on the Couch.”

Jewish Filmmakers Do Well in Golden Globe Nominations

12/27/2010

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Jewish actors, directors and screenwriters scored well in nominations for the 2011 Golden Globe Awards, auguring well for the upcoming Oscar picks.

Two top favorites for best motion picture honors, “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network,” announced earlier this month, led the field with seven and six Golden Globe nods respectively.

Of Rabbits And Mourning

Two short documentaries about German history complement each other surprisingly well.

12/08/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Sometimes all it takes to make a short film work is a strong central metaphor. Consider the fascinating pairing of short documentaries about German history, “Rabbit a la Berlin” and “Loss,” opening at Film Forum on Dec. 8. Each is structured around a single overriding conceit and both rise or fall on the strength of that spine. Happily, both films are pretty effective and as a pair they complement one another surprisingly well despite a wild disparity in tone.

Rabbit a la Berlin

Sleepless In Seattle

Documentary explores the manic life of
Steven Jesse Bernstein, father of ‘grunge’ and outsider artist.

12/07/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Steven Jesse Bernstein only lived 40 years, but to judge from the new documentary about him, “I Am Secretly an Important Man,” which opens on Dec. 15, his four decades were a whirlwind that encompassed enough writing, performing, sex, drugs and alcohol for a small army, and ended with an inexplicable but unsurprising suicide. That makes it all the more surprising that his advice to other poets, performance artists, musicians and, most of all, to himself was six simple words: “Just go and do your job.”

Bernstein, above, who eventually settled in Seattle, as pursued by demons.

Israeli Lebanon War Movie Wins European Film Award

12/06/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- An Israeli war movie about the First Lebanon War won two awards at the European Film Awards.

"Lebanon," based on director Samuel Maoz' memories as a tank gunner during the war, won the discovery award for the director and an award for cinematography at the awards ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia, on Saturday.

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