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  • David Geffen:  prickly and terse about his Judaism

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    July 23, 2012 | 4:01 pm

    David Geffen, the notoriously press shy billionaire Hollywood mogul, stared at me as if I had asked him to yank out a tooth.  The setting was PBS’ summer 2012 press tour on July 22, where he was promoting the American Masters documentary, “Inventing David Geffen.” I queried how...

  • A meditation on the Bulgaria and Colorado tragedies

    July 20, 2012 | 10:56 am

    Dear friends and colleagues,

    The month of Av has come upon us in a manner true to historical form. Mishenikhnas Av, m’ma’atin b’simha… When the month of Av begins, we are told, we are instructed to diminish our joy. Sadly, a week of violence and tragedy all over the world...

  • A (Slightly) Lighter Shade of Dark with ‘Dark Horse’

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    July 18, 2012 | 5:29 pm

    The last time I interviewed Todd Solondz—one of independent cinema’s most acidic provocateurs—he joked that his agents were thrilled with his black comedy “Dark Horse” “because there’s no child molestation, masturbation or rape in it.”

    “I was being a little bit flip,” Solondz said...

  • Andrew Garfield:  The Jewish Spidey [SLIDESHOW]

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    July 2, 2012 | 5:49 pm

    While watching “The Amazing Spider-Man,” I was struck by how much Andrew Garfield-as-Spidey – or rather, his alter-ego, Peter Parker – reminded me of the kind of gangly geeky-cute guys you’d develop a crush on at Jewish summer camp. 

    And that casting perhaps makes sense,...

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  • Israel’s ‘Matchmaker’ now at your service

    By  Tom Tugend

    July 1, 2012 | 3:30 pm

    Neil Friedman, the head man at Menemsha Films, e-mailed a reminder that “The Matchmaker,” one of Israel’s quirkiest and most memorable films, is now playing at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, Fallbrook 7 in West Hills and Town Center in Encino.

    Whatever images come to...

  • ‘The Exorcist’ at the Geffen: No green vomit, but plenty of evil

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    June 27, 2012 | 3:19 pm

    William Peter Blatty was a Georgetown University student in August 1949 when he came across a front-page story in the Washington Post titled “Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip.” Blatty, a devout Catholic, was fascinated by the accounts of the...

  • With great power comes ... guilt!

    June 20, 2012 | 3:03 pm

    My “Spidey Sense” is tingling! Almost half a century after the comic book superhero Spider-Man was conceived by Jewish writer Stan Lee, a Jewish actor named Andrew Garfield will don the red and blue Spandex for the forthcoming cinematic reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.

    As...

  • Alex Kurztman gets personal in ‘People Like Us’

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    June 20, 2012 | 12:04 pm

    Alex Kurtzman is one of Hollywood’s go-to scribes for science fiction and superhero fare. Along with his writing partner, Roberto Orci, he’s penned blockbusters like “Transformers,” a couple of “Star Trek” films, one of them upcoming, and “Mission Impossible III.” His office suite on...

  • ‘That’s My Boy’ reviews:  They could have been worse

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    June 17, 2012 | 9:05 pm

    Adam Sandler’s raunch-fest “That’s My Boy” hit theaters in time for Father’s Day, starring Jewish icons Sandler and Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) as the reconciling father and son. And not unexpectedly, critics aren’t exactly embracing the film, while...

  • Adam Shankman melds worry with chutzpah in ‘Rock of Ages’

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    June 13, 2012 | 1:35 pm

    Five years ago, at Sadie Sandler’s first birthday party, at the estate of her father, Adam Sandler, filmmaker Adam Shankman was sitting in a plastic toddler’s chair when he was startled by another guest who sat down beside him.

    “He said, ‘Hi, I’m Tom Cruise,’ and I freaked out,”...

  • U.N.ME makes you laugh, then cry

    June 5, 2012 | 11:28 am

    A picture of a burned Israeli bus appears among images of world terrorist attacks; a newspaper headline on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map briefly crosses the screen. Those are the few fleeting references indirectly addressing Israel in...

  • “Yankles” aim for homerun

    By  Tom Tugend

    June 2, 2012 | 1:26 pm

    One of the most reliable movie plots has a bunch of losers (klutzes/ Dead End Kids/ prisoners) straighten out and fly right under the inspirational guidance of a gruff but kind-hearted (priest/teacher/prison warden).

    In a kosher variation of this theme, “The Yankles” features a...

  • ‘The Dictator’ reviews are in, and the verdict is…

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    May 17, 2012 | 10:04 am

    The reviews are in for Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator,” ladies and gentlemen, and while there are pans and mixed notices, a number of the some 20 top critics I perused had good things to say about Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest spoof—mostly praising his social satire or crass...

  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a Must See

    By Ilana Angel

    May 16, 2012 | 8:45 am

    I am not a film critic.  I am however a film lover and see quite a few movies.  I love escaping for a couple of hours into another world and getting wrapped up in a story.  I can think of a few good movies I’ve seen recently, but none that I felt the need to write about here, until...

  • ‘The Dictator’: Top Jewish moments

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    May 11, 2012 | 8:18 am

    However the reviews may fall for “The Dictator,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s first scripted film, the comedy certainly offers some bits for The Tribe – – mostly skewing anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist sentiments—and with plenty of Hebrew and Yiddish words peppered into his...

  • Polanski to make film on Dreyfus Affair

    May 10, 2012 | 1:59 pm

    Polish director Roman Polanski’s next film will be a political thriller based on the Dreyfus Affair.

    The acclaimed director announced Wednesday that the new film, titled “D,” will reunite the team that produced his award-winning film “Ghost Writer.”

    Alfred Dreyfus was a French...

  • Meet the filmmakers of the French megahit “The Intouchables” [VIDEO]

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    May 3, 2012 | 12:21 pm

    These are heady times for the French-Jewish filmmakers Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.  Harvey Weinstein snatched up the rights to their French-language odd couple dramedy, “The Intouchables,” following The Weinstein Company’s penchant for purchasing Gallic fare such as the...

  • Jason Segel on the universe—and ‘The Five Year Engagement’

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    April 24, 2012 | 11:25 am

    Not long ago I interviewed Jason Segel (“The Muppets”) about his Duplass brothers film, “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” when he also talked about his views on life, God, the universe and – oh yes – his new film “The Five Year Engagement,” which opens April 27.  This new comedy...

  • After Mel Gibson-Joe Eszterhas spat, Hollywood Jews standing by Gibson on ‘Judah Maccabee’

    April 23, 2012 | 2:17 pm

    Jews run Hollywood, the old cliche goes.

    So an outsider might find it strange that one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, Warner Bros., agreed to make a movie about one of the Jewish world’s greatest heroes with a star known for going on anti-Semitic tirades.

    And when the plans to...

  • About a dog, lost and found

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    April 22, 2012 | 12:53 pm

    My 7-year-old son’s room is covered with posters from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” The Empire Strikes Back” and other “Star Wars” films, and I myself have enjoyed the zeitgeist-y films “The Big Chill,” “Grand Canyon” and the “Accidental Tourist.”  So I was eager...

  • The Endless Madness of Mel

    By Danielle Berrin

    April 18, 2012 | 12:23 pm

    Mel Gibson makes a strong case for the return of a Hollywood blacklist.

    Not what bears the name today, an insider online database of coveted unproduced screenplays, but the blacklist as it was mid-20th century, a politically charged ignominious register of the do-not-employ....

  • [UPDATE] Gibson’s Maccabee film on hold; screenwriter calls Mel “Jew-hater,” Gibson responds

    April 11, 2012 | 4:49 pm

    It looks like Mel Gibson will not be making his controversial Maccabee revolt movie any time soon.  According to The Wrap, Warner Bros. didn’t care for the script screenwriter Joe Eszterhas delivered in February and has put the project on hold: “Warner’s has since passed on it,...

  • An indelible film, ‘Shoah’ also reflects an extraordinary artist

    By Rabbi David Wolpe

    April 11, 2012 | 1:30 pm

    Surely the most unpromising premise for a film ever conceived is this: Nine and one half hours of people speaking in languages you do not understand about mass murder.  Yet “Shoah” offers an experience unlike any other film, and its creator has written a memoir introducing us to...

  • The battle to get ‘Bully’ seen by those who need it most

    By Danielle Berrin

    March 21, 2012 | 1:06 pm

    At Sioux City Middle School in Iowa, 12-year-old Alex Libby is the odd-man-out. Seen by his peers as different, he has golden hair, gentle eyes, a wide, flat nose and permanently puckered lips. Together, they might seem to express something both pouty and vulnerable, sweet and sad....

  • Q&A with an expert on bullying

    By Danielle Berrin

    March 21, 2012 | 1:00 pm

    Ron Avi Astor, the Richard M. and Ann L. Thor Professor in Urban Social Development at USC, has been studying the epidemiology of school violence for nearly 30 years. In 1997, he moved his family to Jerusalem for one year to run the first-ever large-scale comprehensive school...

  • Muslims and Jews vs. Nazis in French film

    By  Tom Tugend

    March 19, 2012 | 11:54 am

    Anytime Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and fellow Holocaust-deniers would like to relax at a movie, we would recommend the French film “Free Men” (Les Hommes Libres).

    A screening might also be useful for both Arabs and Jews, who are convinced that the two Semitic tribes...

  • Paul Weitz on dads, De Niro and “Being Flynn”

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    March 5, 2012 | 2:18 pm

    Father figures emerge prominently in the films of Paul Weitz—as do complex relationships between fathers and sons.  The last time I spoke with the convivial filmmaker was regarding “About a Boy”, the 2003 film Weitz made with his brother, Chris Weitz (“A Better Life”), about a...

  • Two Jews on Film: ‘Project X’ review [VIDEO]

    March 2, 2012 | 11:42 am

    Three high school seniors throw a birthday party that spirals out of control and their lives will never be the same.

    Okay, right off the bat, I have to say that ‘Project X’ directed by Nima Nourizadeh, written by Matt Drake and Michael Baldwin is crazy hysterical, outrageous fun...

  • ‘Footnote’ falls, continuing Israel’s Oscar drought

    February 26, 2012 | 10:12 pm

    “Footnote” failed to win Israel’s first Academy Award, coming up short in the best foreign-language film category.

    The film, directed and written by Joseph Cedar, was beaten out by the Iranian entry, “A Separation” by Asghar Farhadi, at the annual Oscars ceremony on Sunday night...

  • Two Jews on Film: ‘Wanderlust’ review [VIDEO]

    February 23, 2012 | 11:00 am

    Things aren’t going well for married couple Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd).

    HBO has rejected Linda’s documentary on penguins suffering from testicular cancer. They felt it wasn’t sexy or violent enough…And…George’s company has just been raided by the FBI. Oh…he’s...

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