Film

A Grunt’s-Eye-View Of Modern Combat

Samuel Fuller’s WWII epic ‘The Big Red One’ raises big moral questions.

09/25/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Lee Marvin in “The Big Red One.” Warner Brothers

Freedom Has Its Costs

Ridley Scott’s theologically tentative and sluggish ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings.’

12/16/2014
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It is unlikely that anyone could have made a satisfying film out of “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the Ridley Scott-directed biblical epic that opened last weekend. The script, by four different writers including Steve Zaillian of “Schindler’s List” fame, is a sluggish, unbalanced mess; the first third of the film is an entertaining irrelevance and the most important part of the story is relegated to the last 10 minutes of a long two-and-a-half hours.

Christian Bale as Moses in “Exodus: God and Kings.” Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

‘Zero Motivation’ Director Surprised By Reaction Here

Talya Lavie’s debut feature about life in the IDF, which opens here this week, has reach far beyond Israel.

12/02/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Comedy is serious business.

Consider the new Israeli film “Zero Motivation,” which has its U.S. theatrical premiere here this week at Film Forum. A debut feature for writer-director Talya Lavie, it focuses on three hapless female members of the Israel Defense Forces stationed in a dead-end army camp in the middle of nowhere. They encounter everything from a glass ceiling for woman officers to sexual frustration, from date rape and the generally vile behavior of their male counterparts to the soul-grinding boredom of utterly pointless office work.

‘Zero Motivation’ writer-director Talya Lavie. Wikimedia Commons

Audiences School ‘The Sturgeon Queens’ Director

Instead of answering questions about her film, documentarian chats about brisket and babka.

11/25/2014
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An independent filmmaker relishes the chance to present a new film to large, live audiences, so I was excited as I set off this year for Jewish Film Festivals and JCCs all over the country with “The Sturgeon Queens,” my documentary about the century-long history of the iconic Lower East Side smoked fish store Russ & Daughters.

Narrators for “The Sturgeon Queens.”  Rich White

Creating An Identity, However Difficult

Three offerings at DOC NYC deal with various searches for Jewishness.

11/11/2014
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The complexities of Jewish identity — what it is, how it is determined/created/lived — lie at the heart of several films at this year’s DOC NYC film festival. Opening on Nov. 13 for its fifth year, DOC NYC offers a dauntingly wide range of non-fiction films, a category that is nearly as protean as Jewishness.

Scene from “Above and Beyond,” about Jewish volunteers in the Israeli air force during the 1948 war.

‘Sweet’ Spots At Other Israel Festival

A documentary about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and a dark comedy about the candy business on tap.

10/28/2014
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Contemplating the eighth edition of the Other Israel Film Festival, which opens Nov. 6, it occurs to me that the event, which underwent a subtle shift in focus a few years ago, has become a richer, more interesting program as a result. While the festival originally sought to showcase films by or about the segments of the Israeli population that were neither Jews nor Palestinians (and hence shunted to the margins of our perception of the country), it now presents the reality of “otherness” in Israeli society.

Scenes from the offbeat dark comedy “Sweets,” about an Arab Christian candy entrepreneur. Courtesy of Other Israel Film Festival

For Young Polish Jews, ‘Return To A New Life’

Adam Zucker’s documentary looks at the rebirth of Jewish life through the lens of four women.

10/21/2014
Staff Writer
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A veteran film editor and director-producer of several documentaries, all of which center on the African-American experience, Adam Zucker won a travel grant to Poland in 2008. He had not been there before, and had only distant family ties to the country.

Scenes from “The Return,” which premieres here this week.

For The Love Of Paris

The fate of the City of Light, and its landmarks, is at stake in ‘Diplomacy.’

10/08/2014
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It is the evening of Aug. 24, 1944, and Allied troops are headed for Occupied Paris. The Wehrmacht, commanded by Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, are IS preparing to dynamite all the bridges in the city except the Pont Neuf, and all the landmarks. All that remains is for the order to be given.

Niels Arestrup as Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz and Andre Dussollier as Consul Raoul Nordling in "Diplomacy." Jerome Prebois

Dancing Towards Remembrance

10/08/2014
Culture Editor
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Seventy years ago this week, four women prisoners took part in an act of heroic resistance at Auschwitz, for which they were later hanged. Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn, and Estera Wajcblum, all Polish Jews, were instrumental in smuggling gunpowder from a munitions factory to leaders of the underground in Birkenau, the adjacent camp. Their co-conspirators managed to blow up a crematorium, damaging it beyond repair so it was never used again.

Part of Jonah Bokaer's dance/film installation that pays tribute to the heroic resistance of four women prisoners at Auschwitz.

Families On The Edge

David Cronenberg and Martin Rejtman’s offerings at the N.Y. Film Festival rhyme with one another in startling ways.

10/01/2014
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Note: This is the second of two articles on this year’s New York Film Festival.

A poker game in progress in Martin Rejtman's "Two Shots Fired."
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