Film

When Personal And Global History Collide

Common threads in Israel Film Center Festival and annual German series.

06/10/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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At first glance the second annual Israel Film Center Festival and the newest version of Kino! Festival of New German Films would seem an unlikely pairing of events. Even granting the long and complicated history of Jews and Germans, there have been years in which these two events have had little, if anything, in common. But this year, they not only overlap one another thematically and on the calendar, with both running June 12-19, they even share a film.

Scene from Nadiv Lapid’s “Policeman,” part of Israel Film Center Festival.  Courtesy of Israel Film Center

Seniors In The Promised Land

David Gaynes’ ‘Next Year Jerusalem’ chronicles the journey to Israel of eight residents of a Connecticut nursing home.

05/20/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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 “Next Year Jerusalem” is something of an oddity. The non-fiction film, which opened May 16, is a gentle film, almost placid in its understated serenity, a quiet portrait of a group of eight residents of the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, Conn., who undertake a weeklong tour of Israel. As a subject for a feature film, this excursion is almost as improbable as the trip it documents.

Residents of a Connecticut nursing home tour Israel in "Next Year Jerusalem." Courtesy of First Run Features

What American Dream?

James Gray returns to themes of acculturation in ‘The Immigrant,’ this time drawing on his grandparents’ experiences.

05/13/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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James Gray announces his intentions boldly with the very first image of his new film, “The Immigrant,” which opens theatrically on May 16. As you might expect from the title, the first shot of the film is of the Statue of Liberty. But Gray stands the cliché on its head, showing us not the iconic picture of welcome but the back of the statue.

Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard in “The Immigrant.” Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

“Neighbors,” Soulmates And Israel

Seth Rogen discusses new film, solves Mideast conflict.

05/13/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent
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Seth Rogen is known as a regular guy, but he hasn’t had a regular career. The 32-year-old actor, writer and director from Vancouver has starred in such films as “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Pineapple Express.” He joined pals Jonah Hill and James Franco in “This Is the End.” In his new film, “Neighbors,” he plays a married man who has to deal with the antics of a fraternity that moved in next door. In a phone interview, Rogen spoke about his bar-mitzvah attire, his one experience with anti-Semitism, and a circumstance in which he might actually save Justin Bieber’s life.

Seth Rogen gets down in “Neighbors.” Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

‘Ida’ Takes Polish Filmmaker Back Home

Pawel Pawlikowski tells the story of a nun who discovers her Jewish roots.

05/06/2014
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Lodz, the Polish city in which Pawel Pawlikowski has set his latest film, “Ida,” has a long and checkered past in both Polish and Jewish history. It is, Pawlikowski says, “a peculiar place.”

Agata Trzebuchowska as the young nun in “Ida.” Courtesy of Music Box Films

Israeli Films Continue To Challenge National Policies

Critical portrayals of Jerusalem are increasingly popular, at home and abroad.

05/06/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Every spring, as Israel Independence Day nears, I receive many requests from institutions seeking to screen a film that celebrates Israel. They’re not looking for one with a complicated or progressive view of Israel; they’re looking for a new, good old-fashioned, unquestionably Zionist film. As director of the Israel Film Center at The JCC in Manhattan, I try to see all the quality Israeli films, and every year I have a hard time finding such films to celebrate Israel Independence Day.

Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir,” a critical look at Israel’s 1982 War in Lebanon. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic

‘Ida’ Takes Polish Filmmaker Back Home

Pawlikowski tells the story of a nun who discovers her Jewish roots.

04/30/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Lodz, the Polish city in which Pawel Pawlikowski has set his latest film, “Ida,” has a long and checkered past in both Polish and Jewish history. It is, Pawlikowski says, “a peculiar place.”

"Ida" director Pawel Pawlikowski. Courtesy of Movie Box Films

Talking ‘Fading Gigolo’ With John Turturro

Veteran actor dishes on what it was like to direct Woody Allen.

04/25/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent
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John Turturro – not a Jew – has portrayed a number of memorable Jewish characters. In his latest film, “Fading Gigolo,” which he wrote, directed, and stars in, he plays a male prostitute named Fioravante who pretends to be a Sephardi Jew who comes into contact with the Satmar sect. He sat down to talk about what it was like to direct Woody Allen, whether Liev Schreiber’s payess in the film were real and why his sex scenes in the film weren’t as glamorous as you might think.

What's it like to direct the ultimate director's director? Jojo Whilden/Millennium Entertainment

A Young Girl In Mengele’s Grip

Growth-hormone experiments take on a sinister cast in Lucia Puenzo’s ‘The German Doctor.’

04/24/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Lucia Puenzo’s first feature film, “XXY,” served notice that another important voice was emerging from the New Argentine Cinema. Her third film, “The German Doctor,” which opens Friday, April 25, suggests that Puenzo’s voice has matured rapidly. Her artistic growth, no doubt, has been fueled by her multiplicity of activities. In a period of only 10 years, she has written and published five novels (including “Wakolda,” the basis for the new film), three feature films, three shorts and two TV mini-series. Granta chose her as one of the 20 best young Hispanophone novelists a couple of years ago and, although the competition is formidable, I suspect she will soon be recognized as one of Argentina’s most promising younger filmmakers as well.

Alex Brendumuhl as Josef Mengele and Florencia Bado as Lilith in "The German Doctor." Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

From Sontag To ‘The Newburgh Sting’

Two documentaries at Tribeca continue HBO’s reputation for adventurous filmmaking.

04/23/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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It’s no secret that in recent years HBO Documentary Films has become one of the most reliable sources of funding and/or broadcasting for adventurous non-fiction filmmaking. But it’s worth restating that fact when two of its newest productions are on display in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. (One hastens to add that Tribeca is, among the major American film festivals, one of the most prolific and creative programmers of documentary films.)

Susan Sontag in Nancy Kates’ “Regarding Susan Sontag.”  Dominique Nabokov
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