The Arts

Fabio Mauri’s Outsider Art

The late Italian’s first N.Y. show reveals a border-crossing artist informed by the Holocaust.

04/01/2015
Culture Editor

In between an experiential installation about walking on the moon and a World War II film screened on a wall of old prison lockers, some very challenging art on the Holocaust is on view this month at Hauser & Wirth, an Upper East Side gallery.

Fabio Mauri’s “On The Liberty,” which illuminates the idea of freedom. Hauser & Wirth

The Sun And Fun Capital Of The World?

Miami Beach in 1972 is the backdrop for Thane Rosenbaum’s antic new Holocaust novel.

04/01/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

In his new novel, “How Sweet It Is!” (Mandel Vilar Press), Thane Rosenbaum rolls back the clock to 1972 and transports us to the less-than-sweet, unglamorous side of Miami Beach. Here, as in his previous works of fiction, Rosenbaum strives to balance moral seriousness with outrageous antic humor as he tries to make sense of what can never make sense: the Holocaust.

In Rosenbaum’s fiction, Jackie Gleason, Meyer Lansky and I.B. Singer collide with a family haunted by the Shoah.

Heidi’s Struggles Still Relevant

03/31/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

When Wendy Wasserstein won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for “The Heidi Chronicles,” her overbearing mother, Lola, is said to have boasted that the prize was a Nobel — even the Pulitzer represented a falling short. Little wonder that the play, which is now back on Broadway, centers on a woman who is deeply conflicted about her own professional success, even as she attempts to balance the competing demands of work and family. Charles Isherwood of the New York Times lauded the revival, which opened in mid-March, as “vibrant,” with a “softly radiant” lead performance by Elizabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) as Heidi.

Elizabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in "The Heidi Chronicles." Joan Marcus

Right Of Return

The legal saga of a famous work of Nazi-looted art.

03/31/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

I am not qualified to comment on which road surface 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

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
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