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

Chanukah And Heresy

12/16/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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While Chanukah marks the military victory of Mattathias and his five sons over the Seleucid (Syrian Greek) monarchy, it also represents the ascendancy of the Maccabees over their fellow Jews who had become infatuated with Hellenistic culture.

Freedom Has Its Costs

Ridley Scott’s theologically tentative and sluggish ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings.’

12/16/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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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

When Basketball Was Jewish

Dolph Schayes and the NBA during a more innocent time.

12/16/2014
Staff Writer
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In the early days of professional basketball in this country, the sport was largely a city game, played by upwardly mobile athletes from working-class families — often with immigrant roots — who used their shooting and defensive skills as their ticket to a better life.

Dolph Schayes: An NBA Hall of Farmer with Bronx roots, he settled in Syracuse after starring for its basketball team.  Wikimedia

Unlikely Steps To ‘The Nutcracker’

Two of Gelsey Kirkland’s dancers — one from an Israeli moshav, the other from Alaska — have choreographed ballet lives for themselves.

12/09/2014
Culture Editor
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This season in New York City, several productions of “The Nutcracker” ballet are being staged around town, with angels, toy soldiers, Spanish dancers and fanciful figures bringing the classic story to life. One production features a muscular and lithe Israeli in the role of the prince and a poised young Jewish woman from Alaska as the female lead, Marie, the little girl who dreams herself into other kingdoms.

Erez Ben-Zion Milatin: Indirect path to the stage. Igor Siggul/VAM Productions

‘Soul Doctor’ Redux

Retooled production of Carlebach musical plays down the counterculture rabbi’s biography in favor of his songs.

12/09/2014
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If anyone saw himself as a fixer, it was Shlomo Carlebach. With the extraordinary power of his original melodies, the wonder-working rabbi traveled around the world beginning in the 1960s, helping Jews who were suffering from drug abuse, loneliness and alienation from Jewish life. Ironically, “Soul Doctor,” the musical about Carlebach’s life and career, has itself been in need of repair. After a highly publicized flop at the Circle in the Square on Broadway last year, the musical returns, Off-Broadway this time, in its 11th incarnation. And now, the creative team believes, the musical has finally found its voice. The retooled show, which is currently in previews, opens this Sunday at the Actors’ Temple Theatre in Midtown.

Josh Nelson as Shlomo Carlebach with his so-called Holy Beggars. Carol Rosegg

An Edgy ‘Hannah’ Finally Makes It To N.Y.

Modernist opera on a Chanukah theme has been a long time coming.

12/02/2014
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He has waited almost 35 years to see it on a New York stage, but Leonard Lehrman is remarkably sanguine as the two semi-staged performances of his opera “Hannah” are approaching.

Poster for Leonard Lehrman and Orel Odinov Protopopescu’s “Hannah.”

A New York Chanukah

12/02/2014
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Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, seems tailor-made for a city known for its luminous skyscrapers that glitter and sparkle in the night. For Sean Hartley, the creator of the Chanukah-themed children’s show, “Latkes and Applesauce,” the winter holiday can inspire a new generation of Jewish New Yorkers to connect to their heritage. His show runs for one performance only on Dec. 14 at the Merkin Concert Hall on the Upper West Side.

Scene from Sean Hartley’s children’s show, “Latkes and Applesauce.”  Joan Jastrebski

‘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

A Flood Of Anxiety

11/26/2014
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Growing up may be especially difficult these days, but it was probably never a piece of cake. For Mir’l, an adolescent orphan girl in Peretz Hirshbein’s harrowing early-20th-century Yiddish play, “On the Other Side of the River,” (Oyf Yener Zayt Taykh), coming of age means coping with death, natural disaster and sexual violence. Little wonder that she dreams of love and a better life, even in the midst of utter chaos and confusion. The play begins previews this weekend in Soho.

David Greenspan and Jane Cortney in Peretz Hirshbein’s “On the Other Side of the River.” Hunter Canning
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