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

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 which 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

The Holocaust Footage You’ve Never Seen

New production on HBO reveals material shot by British army cameramen at Bergen-Belsen.

Special To The Jewish Week

It was a strange interlude in the savagery of war. In early 1945, with the full approval of the German commanders on the ground, a convoy of British soldiers was given free passage under a flag of truce to see the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. The ostensible reason for this unusual event was the Germans’ concern that the typhus rampant in the camp not spread to the neighboring towns when the British troops inevitably pushed through the beleaguered German lines.

One of the cameramen featured in “Night Will Fall.” Imperial War Museums/Courtesy of HBO

A Little Cinematic Home Cooking

Documentaries on Jews in the performing arts and the latest from Daniel Burman.

Special To The Jewish Week

Note: This is the third of three articles on this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

One of the comforting aspects of a film festival designed around a theme is that there will be certain familiar standbys. With the New York Jewish Film Festival, wrapping up its 24th annual event, one is drawn to two regular aspects of home cooking: the presence of a director who can be counted on for a reliably intelligent film, and the inevitable documentaries about Jews in the performing arts.

Sophie Tucker with longtime accompanist Ted Shapiro in “Gay Love.” Menemsha Films
Syndicate content