The Arts

Chess Men: Pulling Out The Biopic Tropes

‘Who Do You Love,’ about the Jewish brothers behind
a legendary R&B label, is pleasant but inconsequential.

04/07/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Is there any genre of film that is as hidebound, as resistant to change as the biopic? Even the good ones stick pretty closely to formula: he/she had a terrible/wonderful childhood, learned a trade/craft/art, wrote/painted/fought many masterpieces and died happy/unfulfilled, but leaving the world a rich legacy of something or other. Add in a struggle for love or acceptance for his/her innovation or a battle with substance abuse and you’ve got a film about the Ritz Brothers or the inventor of Ritz Crackers.
 

Robert Randolph as Bo Diddley in the biopic about record producer Leonard Chess.

‘Bobbie’And ‘Zaide’s’ Triumph, On Canvas

04/07/2010

Young Julie Mauskop first heard stories from “Bobbie” and “Zaide” about their wartime experiences in the Holocaust when she was about 10.
 
Mostly, Toba and Marton Mauskop, who survived Auschwitz, moved to the Ukraine after World War II and immigrated to the United States in 1979, talked about growing up before the Nazis came.
 
“It was really hard for them to talk about” what happened to them during the Shoah, says Mauskop, now 23, living and teaching in Tel Aviv. “They got very upset.”

Artist Julie Mauskop shows her Holocaust survivor grandparents in a series of paintings. Port-Shoah images.

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

04/01/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, “Passover seder”: matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine.  But in “Seder.Table,” a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn’t even show a crumb of food.

“Seder” (1998), below, shows Gur Zeev’s family, but she says the work transcends her own tribe.

Tsuris In Tulsa

Tim Blake Nelson’s quirky version of
a hard-won tikkun olam on view in ‘Leaves of Grass.’

04/01/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Tim Blake Nelson’s new film has a title, “Leaves of Grass,” that has two meanings for its protagonists — it explicitly references both the Walt Whitman magnum opus and marijuana. That’s only appropriate for a film that is structured around doubling, doppelgangers, secret lives and identities.

Richard Dreyfuss in high dudgeon as the Oklahoma drug kingpin Pug Rothbaum.

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

03/29/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, "Passover seder": matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine. But in "Seder.Table," a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn't even show a crumb of food.

"Seder.Table": a body of work that is notably domestic yet still richly varied

Remembering The Forgotten

New Holocaust documentary
highlights the experiences of those
in lesser-known transports.

03/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Lukas Pribyl was looking for his grandfather. He knew the old man had been deported from Czechoslovakia in October 1939. He knew his grandfather had been taken to a camp whose name was all but forgotten, not one of the infamous extermination camps of Poland or the concentration camps for political prisoners like Dachau or Mauthausen. Just a small way station in the hell that was Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, a siding to oblivion where his grandfather died.
 

Young Polish Jews in happier times: An image from Lukas Pribyl’s “Forgotten Transports: To Poland.”

Stiller Waters Run Deep

In ‘Greenberg,’ Ben Stiller veers from the typical Jewish neurotic role.

03/23/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Roger Greenberg, the eponymous hero of Noah Baumbach’s new film, “Greenberg,” is a direct descendant of all those solipsistic, narcissistic, inconsiderate neurotics embodied by Woody Allen and, most recently, Larry David. At 40, he is a twitching bundle of nerves, barely suppressed anger and tightly held grudges going back to his college days. And he is unmistakably Jewish, although, as he dryly notes, “my mother is a Protestant, so I don’t even count.”

Character rather than caricature: Stiller as  Roger Goldberg.

Klezmer’s True North

Remembering the clarinetist who sparked the klez revival.

03/18/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Readers will no doubt recall a long-running advertising campaign for a fur company that posed famous women with the slogan, “What becomes a legend most?” Not, we grant, a campaign you’d be likely to see in these more animal-friendly days, but the question is a good one, “What becomes a legend most?”
 
If the legend is a musician, the answer is simple: play the music. Anything extra is nice, but nearly extraneous.    
 

Joel Rubin, right, pays tribute to Dave Tarras, left, in concert at Museum at Eldridge Street.

Portrait Of A Nazi Serial Killer

‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is an example
of the mystery genre fulfilling the Jewish injunction to remember.

03/18/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

At its heart the mystery genre is about how people deal with past actions. Go all the way back to “Oedipus Rex” and you’ve got a man investigating a crime that happened decades before, and its consequences in the present. It’s a perfect setup for a people whose religion explicitly and repeatedly tells them to remember the past.
 

Niels Arden Oplev’s new “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” has no Jewish characters but a Jewish theme.

Biblical Psychology

02/06/2004
Staff Writer

Ask clinical psychologist Marsha Mirkin, and she’ll tell you that the essential psychology textbook was written more than 3,000 years before the birth of pioneering analyst Sigmund Freud. Freud may have deemed religion “a mass delusion,” but Mirkin contends that the Divine parables of the Torah can provide unrivaled insights into human behavior.

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