A Grunt’s-Eye-View Of Modern Combat

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

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

Inside A Sonderkommando’s Shoes

‘Son of Saul’ places the audience ‘in the middle of the killing machine’; Nuremberg documentary, ‘The Memory of Justice,’ restored after 40 years.

Special To The Jewish Week

Death may not be, to borrow Paul Celan’s famous construction, “a master from Germany,” but for Jewish filmmakers of a certain age, the ashen shadow of the crematoria is never far away. More than other filmmakers, perhaps, they are acutely aware that close behind them are the beating wings of the angel of death.

Geza Röhrig as Auschwitz Sonderkommando Saul Ausländer in “Son of Saul.” Courtesy of N.Y. Film Festival

Yiddish Still Alive In Cinema

Rich film offerings at Kulturfest.

Special To The Jewish Week

The Kulturfest calendar is happily overflowing with opportunities to enjoy Yiddish-language film. Not surprisingly, there are numerous documentary bows to the dear departed Yiddish theater of Second Avenue and several films about the legacy of Sholem Aleichem. There is a sprinkling of silent films, including Edward Sloman’s 1925 epic of assimilation vs. identity, “His People,” and “The Yellow Ticket” (1918), distinguished chiefly by Pola Negri’s star turn and Alicia Svigals’ splendid new score.

Scene from Samy Szlingerbaum’s 1980 “Brussels-Transit.”

Of Cows And The Conflict

Two documentaries at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival move through the minefields of Israel and the West Bank.

Special To The Jewish Week

A Palestinian classroom and an Israeli one at the center of “This Is My Land." Courtesy of Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Matters Of Identity, Mideast Style

The opening and closing night offerings in the Israel Film Center Festival deal with a similar theme in very different ways.

Special To The Jewish Week

In the turbulence of the contemporary Middle East, a little thing like personal identity is fragile, evanescent and in jeopardy. That would seem to be the message of the opening and closing night films on display at this year’s weeklong Israel Film Center Festival, which begins June 4.

Director Eran Riklis, whose new film is “A Borrowed Identity.”    Courtesy of Israel Film Center

A Measure Of Mercy

‘The Farewell Party’ casts a compassionate and respectful eye on the indignities of Alzheimer’s.

Special To The Jewish Week

The Disease-of-the-Week movie tends to be a cheap and easy way for artists to assert their virtues. Who could possibly take offense at a film, or for that matter a charity fundraising pitch, that denounces cancer or heart disease? As long as no one raises questions about the environmental, economic or socio-political bases of diseases, as long as we all agree to talk only about “innocent” victims of illness, nobody will complain.

Aliza Rozen as Yana, Levana Finkelshtein as Levana, Ze’ev Revah as Yehezkel, Ilan Dar as Dr. Daniel and Rafael Tabor as Raffi.

Taking His Shots

Argentine-Jewish director Martin Rejtman on comedy, the New Argentine Cinema and fiction writing.

Special To The Jewish Week

It was a situation out of one of his films.

Martín Rejtman sat down to answer questions for an e-mail interview while he waited for his plane from Hong Kong to New York in the departure lounge Sunday. Then his computer seized up. Eventually he found himself working on a communal machine in the departure lounge, typing hurriedly as the time for boarding approached.

Martin Rejtman’s films are characterized by taciturn, deadpan humor. Courtesy of Cinema Tropical

To Ban Or Not To Ban Nazi Films?

Felix Moeller’s ‘Forbidden Films’ raises that thorny question.

Special To The Jewish Week

During the Nazi era, the German film industry produced over 1,200 feature films. After the war, some 300 of them were banned by the Allied occupying forces. Today, 40 of those films are still banned in Germany. The only permitted screenings of them take place in scholarly settings, and unauthorized showings are punishable by law.

Scene from Gustav Ucicky’s Nazi propaganda film “Homecoming,” in “Forbidden Films.”  Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Sins Of The Fathers

Tribeca documentary looks at complicated Nazi family legacies; plus, riding the Empire Builder across the Great Plains with Albert Maysles.

Special To The Jewish Week

Although Robert DeNiro, who was one of its founders, recently disclosed that he thought the Tribeca Film Festival would be a one-shot deal, the event has hung on and grown every year. This year’s festival, currently running all over lower Manhattan, is no exception, with several new sidebar events focusing on new media.

Horst von Wachter, Philippe Sands (back to camera) and Niklas Frank at the site of a mass murder of Jews by Nazis. Tribeca Film

Love Across A Jewish Divide

Maxime Giroux’s quietly powerful ‘Felix and Meira.’

Special To The Jewish Week

We live in an age of bombast, pointless excess and noise. If you don’t find enough of those elements in the political culture, check out your local multiplex. One result of the rule of cacophony in 21st-century America is that quiet, contemplative work frequently gets lost, overwhelmed in the marketplace by flash.

Meira and her husband Shulem (Luzer Twersky). Courtesy of Metafilms
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