Review: The Barmitzvah Boy

By Jenni Frazer, November 9, 2009

Adrienne Posta floated downstairs in her pink walkabout hairdryer mobcap, and it was as though the last 33 years had never existed.

To a collective sigh from the audience, Jack Rosenthal's iconic comedy drama, The Barmitzvah Boy, decorated the UK Jewish Film Festival's 13th year like a Black Forest Vacherin.


Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

By Jonathan Foreman, November 5, 2009

It is always a pleasure to watch George Clooney on screen. His charms are those of a man rather than a boy — a rare thing in an era that holds up Orlando Bloom and other androgynous youths as sex symbols. In this, Clooney resembles the masculine stars of Hollywood in its heyday, in particular Clark Gable, though Clooney’s talent for comedy is greater and his approach to it more daring, as he showed most recently in Burn after Reading.


The Coen brothers make their Jewish masterpiece

By Jason Solomons, November 5, 2009

"We’re Jewish film-makers, for sure," admits Joel Coen, one half of the Oscar-winning sibling team whose brand of ironic, darkly eccentric and often violent cinema has dominated independent American film-making for 25 years.

“We’ve never tried to hide that or tip-toe around it,” chips in his brother Ethan, three years his junior. “Hollywood has always been largely Jewish, although made of Jews who wanted to assimilate. As a friend of ours once said: ‘If the movie business wasn’t difficult, God wouldn’t have given it to the Jews.’”


Review: A Matter of Size

By Jenni Frazer, November 3, 2009

For an audience with a ... shall we say, overt appreciation of food and drink, the UK Jewish Film Festival's opening gala film, A Matter of Size, had a certain frisson.

This gentle Israeli comedy is the story of the doleful Herzl, fat since childhood and desperately putting himself through an endless series of dietary hoops in the grim working-class Israeli town of Ramle.


Review: Fantastic Mr Fox

By Jonathan Foreman, October 22, 2009

You could be forgiven for believing that we live in a golden age of animated film. Only two weeks after the release of Disney’s Up, Twentieth Century Fox has brought us Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson’s extraordinary adaptation of the classic children’s story by Roald Dahl.

Visually and technologically the two films could hardly be more different. Where Up achieves its gorgeously shaded effects using the latest computer wizardry, Fantastic Mr Fox is a hand-made labour of love using “stop- motion” techniques and beautifully crafted puppets.


What movie boycott? The Israelis are coming

By Nick Johnstone, October 15, 2009

Israeli films have been showered with international praise over in the past 18 months. Jellyfish, The Band’s Visit, Waltz With Bashir, Beaufort all won prizes or huge acclaim, and most recently, Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon won the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Film festival. So anyone surveying the jam-packed, barmitzvah-themed 13th UK Jewish Film Festival programme, will be casting bets on which of the 15 feature-length and short Israeli films are destined for the big time.


Review: Up

By Jonathan Foreman, October 8, 2009

One of the less enjoyable aspects of reviewing films is having to watch the movies that are made for children today. For the most part they feel like mere products. Even when they are drenched in treacly sentimentality they reek of commercial calculation and cynicism. Sometimes they are made insufferable by condescending efforts of the filmmakers to seem “cool”. Even more irritating is their tendency to follow the tiresome Hollywood convention according to which kids have to be shown as smarter than their parents.


Review: The Invention of Lying

October 1, 2009

Even if you’re not as huge a Ricky Gervais fan as he is himself, this comedy where, as the only person able to lie in a world where everyone tells the truth, he finds fame and fortune and wins Jennifer Garner, is gently amusing if ultimately unmemorable.


Review: District 13: Ultimatum

October 1, 2009

Adrenaline-surging action and gravity-defying stunts are the raison d’etre of writer Luc Besson’s and director Patrick Alessandrin’s exhilarating thriller — a sequel to the acclaimed French actioner Banlieue 13. David Belle and top cop Cyril Raffaelli are unleased against corrupt characters hoping to raze the eponymous racially mixed ghetto to the ground.


Review: The Soloist

By Jonathan Foreman, September 24, 2009

Of all the lionised new British directors who have made it to the international big league in recent years perhaps none may be as overrated as Joe Wright.

He was he who made Atonement, adapted from Ian McEwan’s celebrated novel. His latest effort, The Soloist, is, by contrast, a mostly true story based on a book by Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez.