Is the Minions film Jewish? I don’t think so. Sure, one of the three leaders says “Mazal Tov” in this prequel to the Despicable Me series, and villain Scarlett Overkill does seem like a Jewish cousin to me, but …. a Jewish film… I will say negatory.
But there is a lot more to see in theaters this month, including:
IRRATIONAL MAN. Written and directed by Woody Allen. Featuring Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey and Emma Stone. Abe Lucas, a young once-virile, now-impotent professor of Philosophy arrives at a New England college. He has lost his desires until he eavesdrops on a conversation in the booth of a diner. He commits an criminal act (think “Crimes and Misdemeanors”) and regains his writing abilities, passion, and virility. Irrational Man? Eh… give me Rabbi Soloveithik’s “LONELY MAN” instead, in which the male character integrates virile majesty and surrendering to the covenant.
AMY. a documentary on Amy Winehouse. Written and directed by Asif Kapadia. Based on footage and over 100 interviews, Kapadia seeks to create a portrait of the late British singer and indict nearly everyone in her early death in 2011.
A BORROWED IDENTITY. Directed by Eran Riklis. Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom) is a Palestinian living in Israel. He gets accepted to a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem, and, as the only non-Jewish student, attempts to fit in. He falls in love with a Jewish girl, Naomi (Daniel Kitsis), and befriends Jonathan (Michael Moshonov) a teen suffering from muscular dystrophy. As you can guess, Eyad becomes part of the home Jonathan shares with his mother, Edna (Yael Abecassis). Eyad must determine his identity and life. Note: Weren’t the biblical Jonathan and Naomi outsiders? Eyad means “one is gives support and strength” in the Koran. As for Edna…. how about giving pleasure from Eden.
SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL: The best of all JFF’s kicks off July 23 in San Francisco. It was born 35 years ago, in 1980, by Deborah Kaufman, a 25-year-old Bay Area lawyer, and over the past few decades it has been at the forefront of independent Jewish film programming. This year’s festival will award Oscar winning actress Lee Grant (born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal) with a Freedom of Expression award and screen 55 feature-length films. Not a festival to shy away from controversy, it will be the North American premiere venue for “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” which shows atrocities never seen before on film or television.
Other films include “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict;” “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” (about the making of Shoah); “The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films” about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; “Villa Touma” which is presented like a Palestinian version of “Grey Gardens”; “The Armor of Light” about Jewish born Rob Schenck, who grew up to become an Evangelical anti abortion crusader; “The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer” which is an expose on the writer who surrounded himself with young women; “Dough” about an African Muslim immigrant (Jerome Holder) who gets a job at a bakery run by an Orthodox Jew (Jonathan Pryce); and “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem.”
Also at the Fest are: “As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM”; “Raise the Roof” about all those involved with replicating every detail of a synagogue in Poland that was destroyed during the Holocaust; “Mr. Kaplan” in which an elderly Jewish man who fled Poland and settled in Uruguay is convinced that a restaurant owner is a former Nazi leader; “Love & Taxes” based on Josh Kornbluth’s autobiographical solo show; “Rosenwald” which is award wining doc filmmaker Aviva Kempner’s portrait of Julius Rosenwald, the unheralded philanthropist and retailer behind the Sears & Roebuck stores a century ago; “A la vie”, the story of three women, survivors of Auschwitz, having a beach holiday 15 years after the war’s end (stars Julie Depardieu); “Dealing With the Devil”, a doc about the life and crimes of Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was appointed by the Nazis to confiscate and sell “degenerate” art; and “My Shortest Love Affair,” a French film about a woman who gets pregnant in her 40’s and decides to have the baby and marry the father, but finds out the man is a bigger baby than an infant.
This is the closing weekend of the JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL More than 200 films were screened at the festival. The winners have already been announced. Avishai Sivan’s “Tikkun,” a portrait of an ultra-Orthodox man in Jerusalem grappling with questions of faith, won the top prize at the 32nd Jerusalem Film Festival. Best documentary honors went to “Hotline,” directed by Silvina Landsmann. It follows a small NGO dealing with the issue of African migrants and asylum seekers in a very gritty Tel Aviv. The Anat Pirchi Award for best Israeli debut feature went to “Wedding Doll,” directed by Nitzan Gilady. It profiles a young mentally challenged woman who works in a toilet paper factory and finds an unexpected romance. The Fest will officially close on July 19 with an outdoor screening of “The Godfather,” accompanied by live orchestration of the score conducted by Justin Freer.