Matthew Rovner


What's Behind Israel's Zombie Outbreak?

By Matthew Rovner

What's Behind Israel's Zombie Outbreak?
Nothing brings people together — or rips them apart — like zombies. In the recent Hollywood blockbuster “World War Z,” Israelis and Palestinians band together against swarming hordes of the undead. But this unlikely coalition is short lived. The noise of their joint celebration attracts thousands of flesh-eaters who hurl themselves over a massive security wall and proceed to devour everyone in sight.Read More


Nukes, Capitalism and Cocktails on the Moon

By Matthew Rovner

Nukes, Capitalism and Cocktails on the Moon
On December 3, 1956, “Night of the Auk” landed on Broadway. An audacious work by Arch Oboler, the play was set aboard the first manned spaceship to return from the moon and was written in blank verse. The talent behind the production was stunning. Sidney Lumet directed, Kermit Bloomgarten (“The Diary of Anne Frank”) produced, and the play starred Christopher Plummer, Claude Rains and Dick York.Read More


Friday Film: Sergei Eisenstein's First Feature

By Matthew Rovner

Friday Film: Sergei Eisenstein's First Feature
On February 13, 1948, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency announced that film director Sergei Eisenstein, “the son of a Jewish merchant,” was dead at the age of 50. Eisenstein’s father was a prosperous German Jew and his mother Russian Orthodox. Eisenstein grew up highly assimilated, though he was aware of his Jewish heritage. He was friendly with Isaac Babel, and he learned to use Yiddish slang and humor. But Eisenstein’s Judaism had always been marginal to his work as an artist. In his first feature, “Strike,” a serious propaganda film, there is humor, although it is influenced more by Charlie Chaplin than Sholom Aleichem.Read More


Friday Film: Selective Memory in East Germany

By Matthew Rovner

Friday Film: Selective Memory in East Germany
The East German anti-Nazi films “The Murderers Are Among Us,” “The Gleiwitz Case,” “I Was Nineteen,” and “Naked Among Wolves” have all been released on DVD before, but now they are being released together in a box set. Naturally, the juxtaposition of the four films invites comparisons. While “Murderers” and “Gleiwitz” are interesting, “Nineteen” and “Wolves” stand out as truly exceptional. Frustratingly, nearly all of the films are scarred by Soviet ideology.Read More


Making a Mess of Comedy

By Matthew Rovner

Making a Mess of Comedy
Comedy, explained Aristotle, has a vague history, because at first no one took it seriously. We cannot know for certain if Aristotle was deadpanning, but his observation would amuse Saul Austerlitz. According to Austerlitz, American film comedy has not been taken seriously, either. In fact, the author quips, it is American film’s “bastard stepchild.” With his latest book “Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy,” Austerlitz gives us a broad survey of the genre, hoping to spark debate.Read More






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