Image courtesy of Dragoman Films
There’s something familiar about “Kaddish for a Friend,” the coming of age/unlikely friendship tale screening at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Indeed, Berlin-born director Leo Kashin’s full-length debut reeks of “Karate Kid,” Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” and any number of movies from the “young fish out of water befriends a crusty old guy from a different culture” genre. But the film has so much spunk and earnestness that familiarity takes on a quality of warmth, rather than of staleness. To put it another way, it’s like watching a really well done adaptation of a Shakespeare comedy as a high school flick, only this time, “The Karate Kid” is the source text.
“2 night” is a rich, complex film based on two simple premises. The first is the sheer impossibility of finding a parking space in Tel Aviv at 2 a.m. on a weekend. The second is an experiment in dating without pretense: What if, when two people embarked on a relationship, they showed their true colors immediately? Would it speed up the voyage to deeper intimacy, or send the two lovers running and screaming in opposite directions?
Can a murderer be someone with no literal blood on his hands? Someone who never gave a direct order to kill? In the case of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader who organized the transport of millions of Jews to death camps during the Holocaust, the answer was a resounding, unanimous “yes.” After years in hiding, Eichmann was caught in 1961 and put on trial in Jerusalem, where he was sentenced to death and hanged for his role in the Shoah. The affair is well documented in Hannah Arendt’s controversial, landmark book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem.”
There is exactly one perceptive sentence of dialogue in “Chasing Heaven,” now playing through August 26 at CSV Flamboyan as part of the 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival. It comes rather late in the proceedings, when the two main characters, in grudging collaboration on a rewrite of a very familiar-sounding piece of iconic theater, come to an impasse over whether or not to cut a villain dubbed Trout Bait from the revised version. One argues that Trout Bait is a racist and offensive portrayal of Blackness: a lying, gambling boozer. The other points out that, while Trout Bait may be all of those things, the show can’t afford to lose him because “he moves the work along and he gets to sing a lot of great stuff.”
Underneath its colorful shell of swashbuckling pirate adventures, boyish hi-jinx, and clock-eating crocodiles, Peter Pan’s story is terribly sad. Sure, he gets to play and have fun forever, but by refusing to grow up he loses all of his friends and the girl he loves; he is forced to watch through the window as the people he holds dear grow old without him — a fate arguably worse than the death he so deeply fears.
“Courage is sometimes no more than an outburst of great despair.”
The craft of acting, like writing, is a very difficult thing to talk about without sounding like a dallying idiot. Perversely, it’s also one of the hardest topics to stop talking about once you’ve started, since it’s rife with irresolvable quandaries about “intent,” “truth,” and the nature of Little Red Riding Hood’s relationship with her mother. Like all shop talk, it’s a conversation that gets tiresome very quickly for the non-actors in the room.
There are upwards of 180,000 women incarcerated in U.S prisons today. Of those, an estimated 80% are victims of rape, assault, incest, and other forms of sexual and domestic violence. Considering what a closeted problem this sort of abuse is in many communities, it wouldn’t be shocking if the true percentage were actually higher. Responding to that overwhelming statistic, California passed a law in 2002 to allow the reopening of cases of convicted domestic abuse victims, with the circumstances of their suffering allowable as evidence. The California law was the first, and is still the only, one of its kind in the United States.