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

The Holocaust Footage You’ve Never Seen

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

01/27/2015
Special To The Jewish Week
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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.

01/20/2015
Special To The Jewish Week
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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

Israeli Films, Front And Center

The Elkabetzes’ ‘Gett,’ two from Yossi Aviram and the latest Amos Gitai offering show off the country’s cinematic creativity.

01/13/2015
Special To The Jewish Week
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Note: This is the second of three articles on this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

In the first of three articles on this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, now underway at Lincoln Center, the continuing growth of the event was attributed in part to the splendid creative effulgence of the Israeli film industry during the nearly quarter-century of the festival’s existence. This year’s festival, the 24th annual, is an excellent example, with the final film in a splendid trilogy and a debut feature of consummate art and feeling contributed by Israeli filmmakers.

Ronit Elkabetz as Viviane Amsalem in “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,”: Courtesy of Music Box Films DUNE: Filmsdupoisson

‘Family Is Not Only Blood’

Yael Reuveny’s roots journey in her debut documentary ‘Farewell, Herr Schwarz.’

01/07/2015
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Yael Reuveny is at her parents’ home in Israel, visiting family and friends and escaping from the relentlessly Christmas-y atmosphere of her current residence in Berlin.

Yael Reuveny, director of “Farewell Herr Schwarz.” Kino Lorber

A Film Festival’s Growing Reach

From the Israeli air force, to a Houston deli, to I.B. Singer, non-fiction cinema is key to the Jewish Film Festival.

01/06/2015
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Note: This is the first of three articles on this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

As the New York Jewish Film Festival nears the quarter-century mark with its 24th annual edition opening on Wednesday, Jan. 14, the surprise isn’t the event’s longevity. Backed by two formidable New York institutions, The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and located in an urban center that includes a goodly percentage of the world’s Jews, the failure of such a program would be more of a shock.

Scenes from “The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” above, “Above and Beyond,” top right, and “Deli Man,” right.

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.
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