Film

Film Of Cantors’ Poland Trip Goes Flat

‘100 Voices: A Journey Home’ offers little historical context.

09/16/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

I feel utterly certain that the new documentary “100 Voices: A Journey Home” is the most exasperating film I will see in 2010. The film, which documents the concert tour of a hundred members of the Cantorial Assembly to Poland, dashes all over the place, offering quick histories of the American cantorate, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, the Yiddish theater, and the personal stories of several cantors and musicians whose families survived the Shoah.

“100 Voices: A Journey Home”

Being Ruth Gruber

The pioneering, nonagenarian Jewish journalist is a perfect documentary subject; fortunately, the film landed the perfect director as well.

09/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Ruth Gruber, the subject of a wonderfully economical and crisp documentary, "Ahead of Time," is a magnificent one-of-a-kind figure in 20th-century Jewish history. Gruber is the product of, she recounts with a grin, "a shtetl called Brooklyn. … Everybody there was Jewish." She was a prodigy who entered New York University at 15 and earned a doctorate from the University of Cologne at 20. But the attractions of the academy couldn't compete with the turmoil of worldwide economic depression, the New Deal at home and the rise of Fascism in Europe.

Ruth Gruber

New Holocaust Film: Recycling History

Long avoiding Shoah films because of her personal connection, Yael Hersonki was compelled to analyze ghetto images used by Nazis in “A Film Unfinished.”

08/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

It’s a rather odd admission for a director whose first feature film is a ground-breaking documentary about the Holocaust, but growing up in Israel, Yael Hersonski avoided films about the Shoah and memorial sites like Yad Vashem. She had a much more vivid reminder of the events at home.

Israeli filmmaker Yael Hersonki used footage from unfinished Nazi propaganda to show life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Mississippi’s Burning Questions

In “Neshoba,” Micki Dickoff paints a vivid picture of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, and justice still unserved.

08/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In 1964 when she was only 17, Micki Dickoff asked her father if she could go to Mississippi to work with the volunteers  of  Freedom Summer, registering black voters. Her father, a Mississippi native, refused to allow her to go. His was the only Jewish family in a small Mississippi town, and he feared what she would find there. Not long after, his worst fears were confirmed when three of the volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by local Klansmen, all of them deputy sheriffs of Neshoba County. 

After 50 years, Edward Ray Killen, a former KKK member, remains unrepentant for his role in the murder of three young activists,

Hate-Group Members In Love

Danish film ‘Brotherhood’ explores an unlikely romance between gay neo-Nazis.

08/04/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

 There have been many films that explore the pathology and sociology of fascist movements. It’s a subject perhaps better suited to documentary than to fiction simply because the issues are a bit too complex, the strands of race, ethnicity, class and “tribal” allegiance too densely interwoven for dramatization within the allotted time of a conventional feature film.

Danish film ‘Brotherhood’

Samuel Maoz’s 20 Years’ War

As ‘Lebanon’ opens theatrically, the director reflects on his war experience and what it took to turn it into a film.

08/03/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Samuel Maoz was only 20 years old when the first Lebanon War broke out. He was a gunner in a tank crew and at 6:15 a.m. on the morning of June 6, 1982, he killed a man for the first time in his life.

“It was a release to make the film,” Maoz says.

Chaplin’s Splendid Audacity

The daring of ‘The Great Dictator’ and how it speaks to us through the years.

07/27/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

I believe it was William L. Shirer who said that if someone had pulled down Adolf Hitler’s pants in public in 1923 he never would have become Reichschancellor. Ridicule, in the right hands, is a powerful weapon. That was probably what was going through Charles Chaplin’s mind when he began work on “The Great Dictator” in 1938. 

Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel: Taking on Hitler was an act of cinematic boldness.

Return to Kew Gardens

04/17/2009
Editorial Intern

It took filmmaker Robert H. Lieberman 50 years to return to his hometown neighborhood of Kew Gardens. But when he finally did, he found that his old friends and classmates — who were raised in the shadow of the Shoah — had grown up to make big contributions to American society.

This Jewish Hero’s A Joke

06/04/2008
Assistant Managing Editor
Tired of hunting down Arab terrorists, a burnt-out Israeli agent dreams of a normal life and goes to America to find it. But his past, and the seemingly interminable conflict, are never far behind. We’ve seen this plot before, in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 “Munich,” and perhaps some Israeli films.

No Country For Old (Or Young) Rabbis

Three suburban spiritual leaders strike out on big questions in new Coen Brothers satire.

09/30/2009
Staff Writer

Michael Stuhlberg as the Job-like Larry Gopnik in “A Serious Man.”At the center of Joel and Ethan Coen’s new film, “A Serious Man,” which opens on Friday, is a very weighty matter. A Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, faces a string of woes — his wife leaves him for a colleague; he accidentally kills that colleague in a car crash; his brother shows up, homeless, looking for a place to stay; and so on. Why him? To answer the question, the Coen’s send Larry to three rabbis, each one promising the answer to his eternal question.

That quest for enlightenment is a bit what it’s like interviewing the Coens. A brigade of publicists courts you weeks in advance, each new e-mail enticing you for the next: the first one promises you the interview;
the second that the interview will be in person. In subsequent e-mails you learn the day, time, place, and finally receive one last note: arrive early, you have only 15 minutes.

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