Review: Harry Brown

By Gerald Aaron, November 12, 2009

After Hollywood turkeys like Swarm and the toothless Jaws 4, it is a pleasure to see Michael Caine acting brilliantly in this low-budget, high impact thriller. He plays a pensioner in a south London estate terrorised by thugs who turns vigilante to avenge the murder of a friend. First-time feature director Daniel Barber drives his all-too-credible story with momentum, the young screen thugs are truly scary but it is Caine’s triumph.


Review: Pizza in Auschwitz

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009

Most children are told fairy stories to send them to sleep at bedtime. Miri and Sagi were told scary stories. Stories about their father’s time in the ghettos and concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Poland.

Now the elderly and fierce Dani drags his two grown-up Israeli children, the chain-smoking, petulant Miri and solemn, religious Sagi to retrace his steps to the concentration camps that have haunted him, and them.


Review: Adam Resurrected

By Jenni Frazer, November 11, 2009

Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum is not noted for his deep, insightful interpretations of a role. If anything, Goldblum usually plays Goldblum: a very tall, not unhandsome character actor with a whimsical smile and a predilection to get the girl.

In Adam Resurrected, however, Goldblum is a revelation. As the pre-war cabaret entertainer Adam Stein, the most famous clown in Germany, Goldblum startles and delights; and as the charismatic hero of an Israeli desert institution for mentally damaged Holocaust survivors, one simply cannot take one’s eyes off him.


Review: A Serious Man

By Jenni Frazer, November 9, 2009

The Coen Brothers' latest film, A Serious Man, is their most Jewish, definitely, and among their funniest, undoubtedly. Whether most audiences will understand it is another matter.
The first 15 minutes are, after all, entirely in Yiddish, set in a snowbound shtetl wherein a husband and wife may or may not be entertaining a dybbuk — the fantastically craggy-faced Fyvush Finkel.


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.