Tag: movies

The ageless charm of an Irving Berlin musical

The story has it that when Irving Berlin’s new musical Annie Get Your Gun was being readied for its 1946 Broadway opening with Ethel Merman in the title role, the legendary composer was so nervous about one particular number, There’s No Business Like Show Business, that he was prepared to yank it from the show.…

Close Up: Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille and the Golden Calf, a 508-page hardcover biography by Simon Louvish (Faber & Faber, 2008) covers the life and career of the legendary American film director from his birth in 1881 to his death in 1958, two years after he completed his last and most famous film, The Ten Commandments. DeMille always…

Film: Sister Rose’s Passion

It’s easy to see why this 40-minute documentary was nominated for an Oscar last year (2004): the story of Sister Rose Thering, an 84-year-old Dominican nun from rural Wisconsin who influenced the Vatican to retire its centuries-old bias against Jews, is powerful and compelling. Even as a girl, Sister Rose couldn’t understand how Catholics could…

Film: Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi

Shot in 2002 and released last year, Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi is a charming coming-of-age comedy by Israeli director Shemi Zarhin, who wrote the script in “five unusual days” in 2001. Sixteen-year-old Shlomi Bardayan (Osri Cohen) is an unappreciated pillar of strength whose family leans on him so fully that, except for a wise old grandpa,…

Film: Mendelsohn’s memorable Judy Berlin

It’s hard to convey the essence of Judy Berlin (1999), though not the excited reactions it tends to generate. An American-made black-and-white feature written and directed by Eric Mendelsohn, Judy Berlin focuses on the intertwined lives and aspirations of a curious ensemble of characters (some Jewish) living in a Long Island commuter town called Babylon…

Victoria Day: Celebrated author Bezmozgis writes, directs film

David Bezmozgis, celebrated author of the prize-winning book Natasha and Other Stories, was on skates in North York Centennial Arena recently, along with a camera crew and a group of teenaged actors in skates and hockey uniforms. All were involved in filming a scene from Victoria Day, a feature film that Bezmozgis is directing, based…

Film: Monsieur Batignole

Monsieur Batignole (France 2002) is a simple, deeply satisfying feature film about one man’s efforts, despite his otherwise unheroic life, to rescue three children from the Nazis. Batignole, a middle-class butcher in wartime Paris, hardly seems to care when his upstairs neighbours, the Bernsteins, are deported for being Jewish; after all, it was his own…

Documentary resumes Oslo-era dialogue despite Intifadah

Israeli police officer Benny Herness and Palestinian journalist Adnan Joulani had planned to keep in touch after returning from a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace mission to Japan in 2000 that was the focus of the Israeli documentary film “Sleeping With the Enemy.” But the intifadah erupted a week after the film’s debut and the two lost…

Schmelvis: the ‘King’ as Jewish

Evan Beloff, co-producer of a new documentary that demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that American rock idol Elvis Presley was Jewish according to halakha or Jewish law, was only half-joking when he said that the film uses Elvis “as a metaphor for identity — I think it’s a quest film about Jewish identity.” Titled “Schmelvis:…

House of Sand and Fog’s Vadim Perelman

Vadim Perelman, the Hollywood commercial director who has made a remarkable debut as a feature-film director with the recently-released House of Sand and Fog, grew up in Kiev and immigrated as a teenager with his mother to Edmonton, where he finished high school and attended the University of Alberta. In a recent interview with the…