The Arts

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

Beefing Up The Backstory Of ‘An American In Paris’

Creators of revival seeking to convey the emotional toll of the occupation and the Holocaust.

03/24/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

For Broadway producer Stuart Oken, there are few career moments as transformative as receiving an invitation from the Gershwin family. A lifelong fan of Gershwin’s standards and symphonic works, Oken jumped at the opportunity for a meeting where he was asked to adapt the 1951 film, “An American in Paris,” into a Broadway musical. However, as a producer specifically of new musicals, Oken was hesitant about developing a show that “felt like a revival”; in other words, that it felt old. Adding to that was the film’s vague storyline and tenuous historical context.

The cast of “An American in Paris.” The new script is rewritten “as a more complex narrative.” Angela Sterling

Getting Beyond The Woody Allen Model

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

03/24/2015
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

Two Brothers, One Bomb

03/17/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

While Iran’s nuclear ambitions weighed heavily on the minds of many Israeli voters as they went to the polls this week, a play opened in New York that asks whether or not two wealthy Jewish brothers from the Upper West Side should have invented the atom bomb in the first place. Jack Karp’s new drama, “Irreversible,” centers on J. Robert Oppenheimer (Jordan Kaplan) and his younger brother, Frank (Josh Doucette) who beat out the Nazis in the race to build the atom bomb only to be staggered by its power of destruction and to oppose the creation of the even more powerful hydrogen bomb. The play, which is directed by Melanie Moyer Williams, runs through March 29 at the 14th Street Y.

Jordan Kaplan, Amelia Matthews and Josh Doucette in “Irreversible.” Bruce Cohen

‘With Malice Toward None’

Exhibit at New-York Historical Society reveals rich relationship between Abraham Lincoln and the Jews.

03/17/2015
Culture Editor

On June 2, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln issued a parole pass to Charles Jonas, a Confederate prisoner of war, to return to Illinois to see his father on his deathbed. The soldier arrived in Quincy just in time to see his father, Abraham Jonas, still alive.

Lincoln’s letter to Secretary of War Stanton on behalf C.M. Levy, who applied for the position of quartermaster.

Nurturing Poetry In A Prose World

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

03/17/2015
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

KulturfestNYC Is Folksbiene’s ‘Gift To The City’

Yiddish theater marks 100th anniversary with international Jewish performing arts festival, set for June.

03/10/2015
Culture Editor

It’s like the Summer Olympics of Yiddish, without the competition.

In a week of back-to-back performances, Yiddish will be heard in multi-accented songs, shouts and whispers on stages throughout the city, when the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene presents KulturfestNYC, an ambitious celebration of its 100th anniversary being billed as a major international Jewish performing arts festival.

The Folksbiene’s Bryna Wasserman, left, and Zalmen Mlotek, right, with lyricist Sheldon Harnick. Michael Priest

The Handwriting On The Wall

03/10/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Hindsight may be 20-20, but for the Jewish Berliners in Iddo Netanyahu’s Off-Broadway play, “A Happy End,” set just after the fateful 1932 elections that solidified the power of the Third Reich, the decision about whether or not to leave Germany is both irrevocable and monumental. As a Jewish physicist and his wife, Mark Erdmann (Curzon Dobell) and Leah (Carmit Levite), struggle with the prospect of giving up the life that they know in exchange for a safe haven abroad, they are forced to confront their Jewish identity in ways that they had never anticipated. The production, which is currently in previews, runs through March 29 at the Abingdon Theatre Company in Midtown.

Cast of “A Happy End,” with playwright Iddo Netanyahu, seated at left.  Nicole Rollo

Sephardic Culture, Through The Generations

Three diverse films at annual festival worthy of theatrical releases.

03/10/2015
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

Curb Your Expectations

Larry David’s ‘Fish in the Dark’ doesn’t move swimmingly along.

03/10/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

A swaggering, self-centered, utterly unsympathetic “hero.” An awkward social situation in which said character displays how greedy, grasping and manipulative he can be. A series of comic reversals in which the character receives his comeuppance and must decide whether or not to repair the relationships he has so heedlessly destroyed.

Rosie Perez and Larry David in “Fish in the Dark,” David’s play about death and dysfunctional family dynamics. Joan Marcus
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