Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
Before the “Night at the Museum” and “Meet the Parents” franchises made Ben Stiller one of the biggest comic superstars of his generation, the actor played the dramatic lead in a riveting independent film, “Permanent Midnight,” based on Jerry Stahl’s memoir of battling drug addiction while working as a television writer. At the time, Stiller told me he was drawn to “Permanent Midnight” because, like Stahl, he considered himself “funny and Jewish and not particularly confident or comfortable” in his own skin. He added that he felt “somewhat of an outcast in the WASP culture;” and that he has felt pressured to assimilate not because he is self-hating, but because he hates when people typecast him.
A dozen years later, the now 44-year-old Stiller has made another independent film in which he plays an even more prickly dramatic lead, awash in midlife crisis. Stiller portrays the eponymous anti-hero in Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg,” which opens March 19 and revolves around a fortyish misanthrope who is “a potentially repellent walking contradiction, an emotional porcupine who uses what he perceives as brutal honesty in order to perpetuate a big lie, that is, that he doesn’t really need anybody else,” the Hollywood Reporter said.
Having failed to make something of himself while his friends have developed successful careers and families, Roger Greenberg has left New York to house sit for his well-to-do brother in Los Angeles, where he is attempting to recuperate from a nervous breakdown. There he chances to meet his brother’s twentysomething assistant, Florence Marr (Greta Gerwig), who turns out to be relationship material, in part because she is so passive she is able to absorb all of Greenberg’s abusive behavior and deflected self-loathing.
The depth of his self-hatred apparently extends to his Jewish background, as evidenced when Greenberg is persuaded to attend a Bel Air bar-be-queue where he meets up with some old Jewish friends. These men are comfortably chatting about whether anyone has been to so-and-so’s seder; various Jewish connections, and what constitutes a “Jewish” gesture (“You’re doing this,” one of them says to Greenberg, miming his effusive hand gesticulations). “I’m half [Jewish],” Greenberg says. “You look full,” a friend replies. The appalled Greenberg has as much disdain for this Tribal schmoozing as he professes for his wealthy friends whom, in his opinion, have abandoned creativity in order to become successful. “Most people think I look Italian,” he says, sulkily. “My mother is actually Protestant, so I’m not Jewish at all.”
Stiller’s own mother, the actress Anne Meara, converted to Judaism upon marrying fellow actor Jerry Stiller; Ben Stiller unabashedly identifies with the Tribe and also has mined his background to comic effect (during his stint as a presenter at the 2010 Academy Awards, he peppered his “Avatar” spoof with Hebrew). In “Meet the Parents” and its sequel, “Meet the Fockers,” Stiller plays a nebbishy Jewish nurse who is continually humiliated by his WASP father-in-law (Robert De Niro), a former CIA agent. The third installment in the franchise, “Little Fockers,” will hit theaters Dec. 22, with a screenplay by Stiller’s longtime in-house writer, John Hamburg.
“The non-Jewish characters in the films are not anti-Semitic,” Hamburg told me last year. “But there is the sense that Ben feels out of place among WASPS and also because he is a man who is not a doctor, but a nurse, which creates a kind of stigma.”
At the time of the interview in March 2009, Hamburg said he was “doing his own take” on an existing script for “Little Fockers.” So how will the fictional interfaith couple raise their children? “When you have a couple of kids – when you have twins – and you have a Jewish dad and a non-Jewish mom, you’ve gotta make some compromises,” Hamburg said. He wasn’t telling whether only one of the children will have a bris.
“Greenberg” is the latest film by Noah Baumbach, who specializes in difficult and despairing characters and who received an Oscar nomination for his excellent 2005 drama “The Squid and the Whale.” In a Journal interview, Baumbach said the title of “Squid” alludes to “The Clash of the Titans” diorama at Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural History; but it also becomes a metaphor for the battle between a confused Jewish teenager and his hypercritical, intellectual father (Jeff Daniels). The characters were inspired by Baumbach’s life with his own parents, both lauded writers, in Brooklyn in the 1980s. The filmmaker said that even though his mother is Protestant, he identified as Jewish because he felt a connection with the People of the Book. He wrote “Greenberg” with his wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh, who also stars in the movie. Baumbach and Leigh are expecting their first child this month.
Our story on Noah Baumbach
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March 15, 2010 | 1:37 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Wow, Mick Jagger is so jealous right now.
I can’t decide if Adam Lambert should be called Lady Magaga —to evoke some strange lovechild of Madonna’s goth phase and Lady Gaga’s propensity for wearing sharp objects—or if he should just be Lady McLambert. Either way, it’s quite a costume. The new drag.
March 11, 2010 | 12:04 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
When I first heard that actor Corey Haim died of a prescription drug overdose this morning, I was struck with sadness. And then five minutes later, utter frustration: another young talent self medicates his way through Hollywoodland and winds up “accidentally” killing himself.
Another Heath Ledger. Another John Belushi. Another Marilyn Monroe. (To warp through a history of Hollywood’s most famous overdoses, check out this slideshow from the L.A. Times). For Hollywood’s lost souls, drug overdoses are the slow, inevitable exit of choice; candy coating for a broken heart. Part of me wished Haim could have been more creative; if he was so intent on losing himself, couldn’t he have turned to, like, Scientology? Biologically, he was Jewish, which may be the saddest part of this equation: Did he even know about the life sustaining riches of his own tradition?
According to a 1984 edition of The Montreal Gazette, Haim won his breakthrough role in the film “Firstborn” at age 12, two months before his Bar Mitzvah. Timing, as they say, is everything. And Haim would later fixate on his Jewish manhood. His sense of humor - and self-delusion - about his own Jewishness is apparent in a funny 2007 interview he gave with co-star Corey Feldman to Entertainment Weekly just before they launched their eight-episode A&E reality show, “The Two Coreys.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What would you like to see each other do next professionally?
COREY FELDMAN: I think we should have Corey Haim reprise the role of Al Pacino in Scarface.
COREY HAIM: [In accent] Are you talkin’ to me, man? Hey, how ‘bout I go back outside and come back in? How ‘bout that, okay?
FELDMAN: You see what I’m saying.
I see what you’re saying.
HAIM: What you talking about man? Say hello to my little friend! Say HELLO to my little friend!
FELDMAN: And he’s talking about his male anatomy at that point, but, uh, it makes it different.
HAIM: Not so little, yeah. I’ve gotta wrap ‘em five times, yeah. A little wrap tuck, yeah. [Both laugh]
FELDMAN: You know what they say about those Jews.
HAIM: Oh god, come on, kid. You’re Jewish, too.
FELDMAN: I know.
HAIM: What a dick. You realize you just bagged on yourself.
FELDMAN: No, it’s a compliment. It’s a compliment. I’m talking about girth. Anyway… [Both laugh]
Haim’s death is hitting the 80s generation hard. He was one of us; we grew up watching him grow up, and now we’re left to face our own mortality. Absent a meaningful context, life can seem almost too fragile. I mean, wasn’t it enough to see a 42-year-old Molly Ringwald at the Oscars? Isn’t she supposed to stay sixteen forever? The strange thing is, people do stay forever young in Hollywood; frozen in time, on film. And Hollywood’s obsession with youth makes it hard for kids to grow up. As a teenager, Haim had reached the pinnacle; he was an 80s idol with the world at his feet. He had every bit of promise, but no sense of purpose. How can you grow up like that?
Like many others before him, Haim was a child star who became a lost adult soul. And because he lacked inner resources, he went the way of many stars whose flames burn fast and bright, and then burn out.
March 8, 2010 | 5:24 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Julie Gruenbaum Fax finds the Hebrew in Na’vi with this fun spin on Ben Stiller’s Oscar “Avatar” spoof. And by the way, this was probably the Sascha Baron Cohen toned-down, Jewed-up replacement skit. James Cameron couldn’t possibly be offended; unless he knows Hebrew.
Somewhere between the hisses and tongue clicks, Ben Stiller threw some Hebrew into his Avatar spoof at last night’s academy awards when he presented the award for Best Makeup. Decked out in Na’vi blue-face and cat eyes, complete with tail and braids, Stiller seemed to offer a Seder preview.
“Pesach,” he hissed, then trilled and elongated his rrrs in “borei perrrrrri” before busting out with “hagafen.”
“Pesach” is Hebrew for Passover, and “borei peri hagafen” blesses the fruit of the vine in the blessing over wine.
Stiller followed his Na’vi tirade by saying, “that means, ‘this seemed like a better idea in rehearsal.’ It was between this and the Nazi uniform, but the show seemed a little Hitler heavy,” he said, referring to the nominations for WW II fantasy movie “Inglourious Basterds.”
Maybe Stiller, who is Jewish and often plays Jews, was channeling a prophetic impulse in his Na’vi rant? (Get it? Na’vi is Hebrew for prophet?)
March 8, 2010 | 2:56 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
At the official Oscar party for the Israeli foreign film nominee “Ajami,” the tension between art and politics threatened to overwhelm the night. And rather than celebrate a win for the third consecutive Israeli film to be nominated for an Oscar, private sighs of relief followed the film’s loss to Argentina.
Mixed feelings about the already controversial film were intensified after “Ajami” co-director, Skandar Copti gave a polarizing interview to Israel’s Channel 2 TV hours before the Oscar telecast. In the interview, he denounced his ties to the State of Israel.
“I am not the Israeli national team and I do not represent Israel,” Copti said.
The fallout from Copti’s remarks lingered throughout the evening and divided the mostly Arab-Israeli cast from the rest of the guests in attendance. The Israeli Consulate, who hosted the expensive party at X Bar in Century City, put their best face forward despite the awkward atmosphere, determined to celebrate Israel’s growing inroads in Hollywood.
“Tomorrow no one will remember what [Copti] said,” Consul General of Israel Jacob Dayan said confidently. “They’ll remember that this is an Israeli movie and that it will help make Israel a little stronger by reinforcing the relationship between Israel and Hollywood.”
Shahir Kabaha, one of the film’s stars and an Arab-Muslim resident of the Jaffa neighborhood depicted in the film, relished his moment in the spotlight. The Oscars mark his first visit to both Los Angeles and the United States and multiple camera crews from the Israeli press surrounded him as he gave interviews from the outdoor balcony. For Kabaha, “Ajami” transcends the boundaries of politics to reveal a truth about one slice of Israel.
“I think the film represents human beings,” Kabaha said. “It’s not about Israel; it represents people that are in a bad situation and need help.”
Indeed, the film focuses on the poor and violent underclass that inhabits a religiously and economically mixed neighborhood in Tel Aviv. But while the film portrays Arab Christians, Muslims and Jews engaging in what seems like a gang war, Kabaha said the real neighborhood is more inclusive and that he counts Jews among his friends.
And in fact, “Ajami” itself is the product of an Arab-Jewish partnership.
Copti, who is a Christian Arab, co-directed the film with Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew. But, according to Copti, the collaboration is not suggestive of any broader comity between the two groups. During his Channel 2 interview, Copti said the film is “technically” Israeli because it received state funding, but he denied its figurative connection to Israel.
“I cannot represent a country that does not represent me,” he said.
Even though that statement angered the film’s Israeli supporters – “Ajami” received approximately $500,000 of its budget from the Israel Film Fund and Copti is a graduate of Israel’s Technion in Haifa – some felt the remark was affirming.
“The film represents Israel exactly,” said Israeli-American choreographer Barak Marshall. “It touches on almost all of the issues we face in Israeli society and it shows how broad the public debate is; that someone who is from Israel can negate his very connection to the state shows how wonderfully strong and alive our political culture is.”
For Dayan, art that reflects a dynamic Israeli society and its status as a pluralistic democracy is an essential strength of statehood. But on the other hand, the fact that almost every Israeli film of note eventually gets usurped by politics is frustrating.
Out in the lobby, the stars of the film gathered around a large plasma screen to watch the announcement of the best foreign film Oscar (the party was moved after hotel management discovered that several actors were underage), and there they waited with bated breath.
Katriel Schory, the director of the Israel Film Fund stood out in the crowd, with his white hair and high hopes of taking home the golden statuette. Schory didn’t mind either the director’s scathing comments or the film’s challenging subject matter.
“Everything is okay, it’s perfectly alright,” he said. “[Copti] is entitled to his view. I’m very happy with the film and we stand behind it. In Israel, there are many narratives and this is one of those narratives.”
After “Ajami” lost to Argentina’s “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in their Eyes), those who were embittered by Copti’s remarks quietly delighted in the loss, secretly slapping high five’s and sending exultant text messages. But those associated with the film were visibly disappointed.
“So we lost again,” Dayan said, mildly deflated. “But the fact is, this is our third time in a row in this category and every time we’re there. This helps us better our connection with Hollywood and we have to be there again and again.”
March 7, 2010 | 7:11 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
Actor William Hurt and producer Arthur Cohn of “The Yellow Handkerchief” are both Academy Award winners who are utterly dedicated to their craft. Hurt won an Oscar for his mesmerizing performance in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and received his fourth Oscar nomination for playing a gangster in “A History of Violence” (2005). Cohn (“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” “One Day in September”) has won six Academy Awards, more than any other producer, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The two artists have collaborated for the first time in Cohn’s new film, “The Yellow Handkerchief, in which Hurt plays an ex-con who joins two troubled teenagers (Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne) for a road trip through Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Louisiana.
Hurt has spoken to other publications about the research he undertook for the role, including spending a night in a maximum security prison in Angola, Louisiana. The Journal wanted to know how the veteran actor perceived Cohn, who is as known for his ardent Zionism as he is for his illustrious career. Here are excerpts from Hurt’s emailed response to our questions:
JJ: What did you find unique about working with Arthur Cohn as a producer?
WH: I really have never met a producer like him. It is impossible to describe him in any complete way. Yes, he does have [a] contentious side and can be brutally (wonderfully, refreshingly)… direct, but in the simplest way I can now muster, my condensation of his inestimable value is that he “stands his ground.” And he stands it right in front of you, unlike many producers who are somehow never there when they might be taken to task. Many of that job description have an astonishing knack for disappearing just exactly at the moment when frustration ripens into the courage to confront them about anything that might smack of lack on their part. But this man literally stands on the film set, quietly, attentively, in his light gray suit and yellow tie, a Swiss patrician, if you will, hour after sweltering hour in the endless, thick Louisiana heat… committing himself to a spiritual and physical loyalty to the work at hand.
JJ: Arthur Cohn’s attention to detail on a film is legendary. Can you give me an example that impressed you on the set?
WH: The number of instances is innumerable. His stamina is as deservedly legendary as his concentration. There was one night, for example, when we were filming very, very late on a back road in Louisiana not far from the outer parameters of Angola Prison. The scene involved a car accident when a deer leaps in front of the headlights and Eddie Redmayne’s character, slightly distracted, cannot react in time to avoid hitting it. [Hurt describes extreme technical difficulties with the scene]…We had finally decided to try to go for it all in a wide, detail-masking “master” and forget the close-ups, a real abdication per the script as written.
Arthur steps forward and in his exotic thick Swiss-German accent, says, “but this is not the scene, no?” And he furrows his brow at me and Eddie and [director of photography] Chris [Menges], with a face only he can make, a kind of intense, innocent yearning, a quest-full face, [that] says, “is it?” We had been stymied for an hour, already, and every one of us was upset. “No,” Chris said, “but we can’t think of anything else.” Now, Chris Menges is simply one of the greatest cinematographers in the world, a master, and also another wonderfully honest, immensely considerate man. For him to say what he did was equivalent to Samson with his beard in full bloom saying, “These pillars are too much to handle.” For my personal buck, if Chris says it, it’s true. But Arthur said, with all that famous, bona fide yearning earnestness (and the accent, and the suit, and the tie), “but then, don’t we have to keep trying?”
He didn’t yell and he didn’t get upset (though he can, on occasion), and we just stood there, together, in a short but seemingly long, excruciating moment of loving, humiliated togetherness, all hanging our heads in silent communion against the challenge. Then, after that, we got started with the “what ifs this and what ifs that,” and we found a solution. He didn’t barge in and he didn’t meddle in our territory as artists; he just kept at it when we thought we couldn’t.
March 5, 2010 | 12:48 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
In the eyes of Jewish audiences, “Inglourious Basterds” has become the most important movie of the year—whether it wins the Oscar or not.
Beyond Tarantino’s inventive and satiating revenge fantasy, “Basterds” is a departure from a Holocaust genre that mired Jews in helplessness and victimhood. And as a result, Tarantino has helped establish a new cinematic Jewish identity. By looking at World War II reflexively, Tarantino has used the reality of modern Jewish power—embodied in the American Jewish community and the State of Israel—to solidify the archetype of the strong, empowered Jew. In bringing these ideas to the fore, “Basterds” offers modern Jews a chance to avenge the blood of their ancestors and reclaim their sense of communal power.
Check out my cover story on the cultural significance of the film as described by the director, the stars, rabbis and Holocaust scholars:
Two days after this year’s Oscar nominations were announced, Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” — a film about a band of Jews who kill Nazis — screened for an audience of Holocaust survivors.
It was at the Museum of Tolerance, and the director himself sat quietly in the third row. This was probably his thousandth screening, and on this night he seemed more interested in the crowd than in his film.
Tarantino watched as 300 Jews sat transfixed, eyes wide and jaws gaping, as Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) whipped out his Bowie knife and began carving a swastika into a Nazi’s forehead. There was a collective gasp and a few “ohs,” but no one turned away. This was too good, watching Nazis get scalped, brutalized and beaten; this is what should have happened, the audience seemed to be thinking; this is what the Nazis deserved. It wasn’t hard to sense the visceral reactions that scene provoked, especially among those who had been victimized by real Nazis: relief, revenge, disgust, pleasure. And the awkward bursts of nervous laughter. “Basterds” drew out long-buried emotions that suddenly became raw and immediate.
By imagining an alternate ending to World War II, in which Jews incinerate Hitler along with all of the Nazi high command, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has done more than craft the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy; he has effectively penetrated the Jewish psyche and given vent to a deep-seated Jewish rage — a rage that has been stewing through the generations since the Holocaust. There remains so much unresolved fury at Hitler’s crime that the primal urge for wish fulfillment “Basterds” satisfies is welcome, even craved, because by some small measure it evens the score - if only in fantasy - with the murderers of 6 million Jews. And in Tarantino’s world, the only morality is the morality of vengeance, so audiences are forgiven their sadistic side. Besides, what Jew is going to have any compunction about killing Hitler?
After the article appeared in this week’s issue, The Journal received two more responses to the movie, deeply felt and worth reprinting here. The first is from Sgt. Benjamin Anthony (Res.), who runs the organization Our Soldiers Speak. During his military service Anthony carried out missions and operations both within and beyond Israel’s borders, specialising as a heavy machine gunner.
Sgt. Anthony is the founder of the Israel Advocacy group Our Soldiers Speak - www.oursoldiersspeak.org - which works to bring the apolitical truth from Israel’s battlefields to the people of Diaspora. He has lectured at college campuses throughout the US and Great Britain with the aim of engaging in dialogue with all who are willing to grant him and his message audience. Here’s what he wrote:
It is a rare thing indeed to witness the confluence of awful reality with redemptive celluloid fantasy; yet that is precisely what I experienced when viewing Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds.’
His opening scene adheres to a narrative we have heard many times, and must continue to hear as often as is necessary, lest we forget. We must not tire of it.
Beginning with a serious and sinister portrayal of the callous acts of Colonel Hans Landa, Tarantino showed the viewer the murder of Jews who sheltered beneath floor boards. He outlined just how bereft of mercy that period was.
I am certain though, that even Tarantino’s masterful attempt to recreate on film what actually took place in reality will always be limited to being just that – an attempt. For such acts of evil cannot be encapsulated. That’s what I have been told time and again by the survivors with whom I have met and spoken. Some things are beyond even the realm of the movie world to harness or portray.
In that sense, Tarantino did what others have done before him and, I hope will continue to do; he tried. He tried his very best and as far as that scene is concerned, I felt he did so honestly, earnestly and brilliantly.
My interest though was piqued not by the movie’s opening, but by its climax. That for me was what went beyond anything I had viewed until that point.
How fantastic it was to see the demise of Adolph Hitler and his henchmen in the movie theatre at the hands of the gun toting ‘Basterds.’
How utterly refreshing a cinematic notion - to see the Jews fighting back and not merely resisting, but emerging with their mission accomplished, stopping evil in its tracks.
How thoroughly inspiring to see a unit dispatched to decapitate the proverbial snake of Nazi tyranny led by the brash Aldo, supported by Donny the Bear Jew Donovitz.
It was exhilarating and in my opinion, by not trivializing the horrific acts of Landa at the movie’s outset, Tarantino earned himself the right to delve into an alternative narrative; to portray it as only he could, to embellish as only he does. It is obviously a mere fantasy, but what a fantasy to indulge!
And yet, for me, the success of the Basterds was at once triumphant and tragic. For Hitler did not meet his demise in a movie theatre, nor did his henchmen. They were not stopped in their tracks, at least not soon enough.
Nor was there a band of ‘Basterds’ dispatched by the Americans to make its way across Europe in order to crush the Nazi party’s leaders.
If there was, they certainly never managed to accomplish their goals.
In truth, the free world stood by, and it stood by for far too long as the body count of innocents rapidly accrued into the millions.
Yes, tragically, the ‘Basterds’ were a mere figment of Tarantino’s imagination. And so, continuing in that vein, I thought that if he was entitled to imagine, then perhaps I am as well.
I wondered whether during that blackest of times, the Jews of that day ever dared to conceive that a militia might be dispatched by the US to destroy the Nazi party from the top down. My answer, a question; why not?
Why should they not have believed in such a possibility? Unlikely as it may have been, surely it was more likely a concept than the alternative - namely that the world would do precisely nothing.
Yet no such cadre came.
And so, once the movie had concluded, once the adrenalin within me had subsided, my questions left me with a feeling of emptiness and abandonment. I felt wounded by the reality that innocents had been forsaken. In short, the fantasy of Basterds could not endure. History’s harsh reality came crashing back to me and the feel-good ending gave way to a feeling of dejection - at least until I convinced myself to imagine for just a while longer, during the car-ride home. Seeking to return to the euphoria I felt in the theatre I confined my wondering to a path that would lead to optimism.
I wondered again about the Jews of Europe. Had they dared to believe in something far less likely than anything I had just viewed?
Did those Jews ever conceive that salvation would come from within the bosom of a people so persecuted, tortured, brutalised and ignored?
My answer is no. They cannot have done so – at least not from a platform of evidence, reality or reasonability.
Did the Jews of Poland, of Austria, of Germany and of France ever imagine a time – a mere three years after the atrocities of the Holocaust - where soldiers with names such as Pfefferman, not Aldo, would be lieutenants charged with defending against those who assail the Jewish people?
I doubt it.
Could the Jews of that blackened era ever have thought that those who lived on would know of a body of defenders who at its helm has Captains carrying names such as Horowitz, Commanders named Rosenbaum, and strategists called Schwartzman - victims none of them, heroes all?
It is very unlikely.
Could those whose families had perished ever have rationally dreamed of a time when those who ply the traditional trades of law, medicine, accountancy and finance would equally wield the tools of their own defence and determination ready to answer the call to arms whenever it is sounded, each one of them carrying a creed in their heart that beats to the rhythm of ‘Never Again?’
I cannot believe that they did. Such concepts would at best be the figments of a wild imagination. Perhaps one employed to escape the most sinister of realities – a reality in which hope seemed not to exist.
And yet, those unimagined fantasies were given their genesis in 1948 with the establishment of the modern State of Israel. They have morphed and taken shape. They are precisely the realities that prevail today and they exist in the form of Israel and her soldiers.
They are the extant result of actual events. They are not fantasy, merely fantastic! And, for as long as their existence continues we will never again be required to imagine a source from where the salvation of the Jewish People will spring. We will never need to construct a hope that is founded on the readiness of others to protect us. We have been provided with the answer; and that is to look always within ourselves.
And so, as I arrived at my home, I was left with the following thought; Yes, it is a rare thing indeed to see the confluence of awful reality with redemptive fantasy as I had seen in the movie theatre that night; but it is rarer still to have a living, breathing example of a reality that transcends even fantasy and is beyond its realms to harness or to envision.
That is what Inglorious Basterds gave me cause to see.
The protectors of Israel, though once unimaginable are a reality today. Israel is a reality today. Such realities were brought about not by the imagination, but by true heroes and pioneers.
I thank G-d for that.
Mr. Tarantino’s movie reaffirmed my pride in those who defend the people of Israel and the values we all hold dear. His movie, intentionally or otherwise, underlined why they are so needed and why abstract concepts such as fantasy and hope must never be the only courses upon which we we embark when working to ensure our own survival.
In helping me to remember that, I, as one Jew, as one individual whose grandparents fled the Holocaust, as one man who has served in the company of the soldiers of the IDF, as one sergeant from the line, I am grateful for this film and what it unearthed within me.
It led me to understand that just once in a while, reality can indeed transcend even fantasy - and on the odd occasion that it does, such a reality must at all times be protected for it is nothing short of being actually and factually glorious.
March 4, 2010 | 4:38 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Sascha Baron Cohen likes to play naughty.
Remember his little butt-in-your-face trick with Eminem at the MTV Awards last year? It caused a sensation when the disgruntled “8 Mile” star stormed out of the ceremony. But in the end, it turned out to be a big ploy. A little jab at homophobia all in good fun.
Of course the Oscars are too stiff for Baron Cohen’s unbridled insolence.
According to reports, Baron Cohen was scheduled to present an award during the upcoming ceremony but his plans to play a small practical joke on James Cameron, who apparently, has no sense of humor, got him barred from the telecast. (Anyone who read the New Yorker profile of Cameron last Fall learned that his ego is every bit as big as his box office, so no wonder).
The producers of movie’s biggest night ended up cutting the “Borat” and “Bruno” star from the presenters list because they know they can’t control him. So out of boring old fashioned deference to the self-declared “king of the world”—or at least of Hollywood—(at least, right now) the producers scrapped Cohen from the presenter list in order to prevent him from offending the “Avatar” director.
Read more from the Daily Mail:
Sacha Baron Cohen has been dropped as a presenter at the Oscars, allegedly over fears he may drive Avatar director James Cameron to storm out of the ceremony.
The Borat star, who had been invited to introduce one of the awards, planned to poke fun at the film by dressing up as one of its characters - a blue-skinned, female Na’vi - and revealing to the audience that ‘she’ was pregnant with Cameron’s love child.
But sources say that fears over Cameron’s reaction led show producer Bill Mechanic to axe the sketch and order Baron Cohen, 38, to be dumped from his first ever Oscars appearance.
‘Let’s just say that Cameron isn’t known to be, shall we say, “self-deprecating”,’ said a show insider.
As an Oscar nominee, Cameron, 55, will be sitting in the front row of Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre during the show this weekend.
Baron Cohen’s spokesman Matt Labov confirmed that the Ali G actor was no longer part of the Oscars.
‘I hate to use the term, because it’s so ubiquitous, but there were “creative differences”,’ he said.
‘Nothing acrimonious, but both sides felt that since they couldn’t agree, [Cohen] might as well remain in London.’