The daring of ‘The Great Dictator’ and how it speaks to us through the years.
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.
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.
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.
Three suburban spiritual leaders strike out on big questions in new Coen Brothers satire.
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.
Louis Kahn, one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, died of a heart attack, alone and without ID, in the men’s room at Penn Station in 1974 at the age of 73. Ever since then his son, Nathaniel, who was 11 at the time, has sought to better understand the highly talented and deeply complex man who hardly acknowledged his illegitimate offspring.
Even before its Dec. 23 release, Steven Spielberg's movie, "Munich," which Time magazine calls his "secret masterpiece," is creating angst among some Jewish leaders.
"After 'Schindler's List,' he became the darling of the Jews," said one leader. "We're afraid that he is now trying to balance the act. He may be trying to show that although he is pro-Jewish, he is not pro-Israel. This may be his anti-'Schindler's List.'"
Tony Kushner, one of the screenplay writers for Steven Spielberg's "Munich," explained this week why he portrayed Mossad agents as having regrets and doubts about tracking down and killing the Palestinians who planned the murder of 11 Olympic Israeli athletes in 1972.
"I've never killed anyone, but my instincts as a person and a playwright ... suggest that people in general don't kill without feeling torn up about it," he wrote last Sunday in the Los Angeles Times.
As Congress debates health care reform and frets about the special interests that want to make it a lot less than genuine reform, maybe it’s a good time for lawmakers to take a good look at how Israel delivers medical services.
Talking Points Memo’s Jo-Ann Mort does here. While Mort is no fan of Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinians, she thinks its health care system has ours beat by a country mile.