One Complex Family, One Complex Country

Tomer Heymann looks closely at his own family in ‘The Queen Has No Crown,’ and captures a changing Israeli society too.

Staff Writer

Early in Tomer Heymann’s new documentary, “The Queen Has No Crown,” the director’s twin brother, Erez, stares directly into the camera and says in a low, cold voice: “You’re extinction, that’s what you are. … Biologically, you’re useless.”

The director Tomer Heymann.

From Pebble Seeker To High School Namesake

Staff Writer

 Holocaust survivor and author Marion Blumenthal Lazan spent a few hours in her Long Island home sitting for a portrait by New York photographer Gary Rabenko one recent morning. The author of a 1999 memoir, “Four Perfect Pebbles” (Greenwillow Books) and the subject of a 2001 documentary, “Marion’s Triumph,” Lazan is often in front of a camera.

But the purpose of her latest photo session was unusual: her portrait is to be mounted this month in the front lobby of a high school named for her last year in her German hometown.

A high school in Germany was recently named for Holocaust survivor and author Marion Blumenthal Lazan. Steve Lipman

Out Of Europe

Two new documentaries — one on a Ukrainian writer, the other on a German artist — paint a vivid canvas of World War II and its aftermath.

Special To The Jewish Week

The outsider’s perspective is generally a fresh one, especially if the outsider in question is a great artist. That certainly is the case with two excellent new documentaries that will have their U.S. theatrical premieres at Film Forum in the coming weeks. The translator Svetlana Geier and the painter Anselm Kiefer have unique, unusual viewpoints on the bloody 20th century, and in “The Woman With Five Elephants” and “Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow” those viewpoints are given particularly cogent visual expression.

Svetlana Geier, above, the subject of "The Woman With the 5 Elephants," and Anselm Kiefer,"Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow,"

All The News That’s Fit To Stream

Times documentary ignores some questions about the Gray Lady and its future.

Special To The Jewish Week

With all due respect to the Jewish Week (and all other Jewish newspapers), it is the New York Times — and not the Jewish papers — that is the Jewish community’s newspaper of record. I know this from being a lifelong reader of the Times and I know this from my years as a Times employee.

The Cauldron That Is Hebron

New documentary looks at IDF’s thankless job as buffer between settlers and Palestinians.

Special To The Jewish Week

The first images one sees in the new documentary “This Is My Land ... Hebron” are seemingly familiar ones, young men wearing balaclavas and throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. It is only as the scene continues that one realizes that these young men are also wearing tzitzit and shouting in Hebrew and English. Welcome to Hebron.

Middle men: Scenes from “This Is My Land … Hebron,” with IDF soldiers trying to keep the peace.

Sleepless In Seattle

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

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.

Allen Ginsberg: The Film Version

In dramatizing the beat poet, the experimental ‘Howl’ is a bold attempt to find a visual language for his ‘bop kabbalah’ rhythms.

Special To The Jewish Week

About halfway into “Howl,” the edgy, thoughtful new docudrama by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, you begin to realize that, in his uncanny recreation of Allen Ginsberg’s speech and performance rhythms, James Franco is beginning to edge into an series of incantatory rhythms not unlike that of a chasid in the throes of ecstatic prayer.

Enlightenment on the page: James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in “Howl.”
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