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

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

Right Of Return

The legal saga of a famous work of Nazi-looted art.

Special To The Jewish Week

I am not qualified to comment on which road surface takes one to hell, but I will state unequivocally that the superhighway to mediocre cinema is paved with the noblest of intentions. The more serious the subject, the more earnest the filmmakers, the greater the chance for a cure for insomnia. Solemnity is not, in and of itself, a guarantee of profundity.

Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds star in “Woman in Gold,” about the fight over a famous Klimpt painting.  Robert Viglasky

Getting Beyond The Woody Allen Model

Noah Baumbach’s ambitiously genre-bending ‘While We’re Young.’

Special To The Jewish Week

The central characters in Noah Baumbach’s films have a high degree of tolerance for their own ambivalence and an unsurprising indulgence for their rampant solipsism. In that respect — and the unstated but pervasive Jewishness of the atmosphere surrounding them — they bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Woody Allen’s protagonists. What sets them apart is the fact that Baumbach has a healthy critical distance from them and, while he treats them with a certain affection, he never embraces their self-involvement with the enthusiasm of the Woodman.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a documentary-making couple, free spirits, in film about midlife crises.  Jon Pack, A24

Nurturing Poetry In A Prose World

Nadav Lapid’s ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ serves up some tough lessons about Israeli culture.

Special To The Jewish Week

Nadav Lapid’s first feature film, “Policeman,” was a startling, terse essay in futility, pitting a group of obsessive anti-terrorist cops against a no-less committed and equally out-of-control radical cell in a showdown that underlined the absurdity of empty, self-aggrandizing gestures. His new film, “The Kindergarten Teacher,” playing in this year’s New Directors/New Films series opening this week, would at first glance seem to be as utterly unlike that debut as could be possibly imagined.

Nira (Sarit Larry), who plays an Israeli kindergarten teacher. Courtesy of New Directors/New Films

Sephardic Culture, Through The Generations

Three diverse films at annual festival worthy of theatrical releases.

Special To The Jewish Week

It is an absurd mistake to think there is such a thing as “Sephardic” culture. On the contrary, there are many Sephardic cultures, almost as distinct from one another as fingerprints, certainly as different as the similarly variegated Ashkenazi cultures.

Daniel Gad as Kabi in Nissim Dayan’s “The Dove Flyer.”  Courtesy of Sephardic Film Festival

The Meat Of A Documentary

Ziggy Gruber, to the slicer born (so to speak), is the juicy center of ‘Deli Man.’

Special To The Jewish Week

Just because a film is a documentary, it is not without need of a structure, a narrative line to help make clear what is at stake in the story it tells. Consequently, almost every documentarian ponders the same question at the outset of a new project:

Ziggy Gruber, New York-born deli man in Houston, in scene from  “Deli Man.”  Cohen Media Group

The Kings Of The B Movies

Documentary tells the story of Hollywood’s Go-Go Boys, Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus.

Special To The Jewish Week

The 1980s were arguably the worst decade in American film history. So if I tell you that there are not one but two new documentaries about Cannon Films, the schlocky ’80s film production company led by Israeli cousins Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus, you probably will shake your head and ask why. I would have thought even one film about those two characters would have been excessive, but after seeing “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films,” a new film by Australian film maven Mark Hartley, I have to admit that it was worth a couple hours of my time.

Catherine Mary Stewart in the disco-rock opera “The Apple,” one of the films by Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus. Film Comment

What Lies Beneath

Damián Szifron’s Oscar-nominated ‘Wild Tales’ exposes dangers lurking in modern-day Buenos Aires.

Special To The Jewish Week

A Jewish filmmaker working in Buenos Aires can be forgiven if he is a bit paranoid. Given ongoing events in Argentina, culminating in the ongoing investigation of the death of Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor in the AMIA bombing case, you would have to be insane not to be suspicious.

In a scene from “Wild Tales,” Erica Rivas realizes that her husband is not what she imagined. Sony Pictures Classics
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