Jewish Cinema: Polish humor in Polanski’s “Pirates”

Roman Polanski's 1986 movie "Pirates" is only available on DVD in Europe.

Roman Polanski’s 1986 movie “Pirates” is only available on DVD in Europe.


Roman Polanski’s 1986 movie “Pirates” is generally considered to be a great director’s least regarded film – the one that comes in dead last when his directorial output is ranked from best to worst.
Having received some of the most razor-slashing and hostile reviews of any Polanski movie back in 1986, and being a box office flop as well, “Pirates” is one of only two Polanski movies that has not been released on DVD in the United States (the other being his 1973 movie, “What?”, which was also a comedy), although it did get released on VHS back in the 1980s.
Films that earn reputations as cinematic misfires (bombs) are sometimes worth a second look decades later, to see how they’ve aged. After having watched “Pirates” on a recent afternoon, it was easy to spot some of the film’s virtues: the spectacular beauty of the locations in Tunisia where the movie was filmed; the rousing score by the first-rate French composer Phillippe Sarde (who did similarly excellent scores for Polanski’s “The Tenant” and “Tess”); the costumes by Anthony Powell that earned “Pirates” an Academy Award nomination; and an underrated comedic lead performance by Walter Matthau, aided by Damien Thomas as his chief rival and Roy Kinnear in a hilarious cameo. Read more »

Wanted: “monogomous” couples for a possible reality show

Kassting Inc. is looking for couples for a possible reality series.

Kassting Inc. is looking for couples for a possible reality series.


It sounds like the kind of ad that gets listed by an eccentric – not to mention decidedly kinky – individual on one of those swinging singles websites: the tag line sums it up: “Are you in a monogamous relationship?”
Okay, let’s say you are. What’s it to you?
The ad comes not from an erotic dating site, though, but from Rebecca Greenberg, who is definitely eager to have couples email her at rebecca@kasstinginc.com if they are available.
She’s not looking to spice things up in the bedroom, though, but rather to find couples who would enjoy some national television exposure.
“I am currently casting couples for a new reality series,” Greenberg notes in her email. “Perhaps you or someone you know wants to be on TV and would be interested in applying!” Read more »

“Bloody Rabbit” explores the modern day rise in anti-Semitism

"Bloody Rabbit" follows one man's terrifying journey from hopelessness to a new start -- in a world spinning out of control.

“Bloody Rabbit” follows one man’s terrifying journey from hopelessness to a new start — in a world spinning out of control.

ORLANDO — The Great Recession brought terrible hardship to millions of people, and R.T. Robeson is no exception.
The Orlando man thought he had it all by his late 40s, but the recession took everything he had — his job, his savings, his home, car, even his cat. As he struggles to find employment, he also tries desperately to hold onto his dignity.
Things eventually turn around for Robeson: he finds a new, lower paying job, and a tiny apartment that is affordable on his new salary. But something else has changed. In a society that has seen its wealth and opportunities wiped away, there are some who look for scapegoats. In the minds of the most twisted among them, those scapegoats are easy to find.
Freeline Productions’ novel “Bloody Rabbit” explores the rise of anti-Semitism following a devastating economic crash — seen through the eyes of a man who now finds himself being targeted, and stalked, by someone who believes one specific group can be blamed for this ongoing economic misery: the Jews. Read more »

Jewish Cinema: “Before the Fall”

The 2004 German film "Before the Fall" is set in an elite high school academy -- with a devious mission.

The 2004 German film “Before the Fall” is set in an elite high school academy — with a devious mission.


“Before The Fall” is a Holocaust film – even though there are no scenes set in a World War II concentration camp.
The 2004 German film is set during the war in 1942, but there are no scenes on the battlefield. Jews are never mentioned in this movie, which takes place inside an elite high school, located in a castle on a mountain in the regional government of Allenstein (territory that is today part of the Polish Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.) We follow a group of teenage boys attending the all-male school.
“Before the Fall,” which was written and directed by Dennis Gansel, seems more like a German version of “Dead Poet’s Society” than a movie like “Schindler’s List.” But make no mistake, this is a movie about the Holocaust, and a deeply disturbing one, despite the fact that it offers a mostly casually-paced, quiet storyline.
The movie is about Friedrich Weimer, a small town teenager whose father is a blue-collar factory worker. Friedrich would seem to be headed for the same path in life, when he gets a lucky break. He demonstrates great skill and promise as a boxer, and gets noticed one day by a boxing instructor at the National Political Academy, the high school that trains teenage boys in the creed of the Nazi Party – and literally serves as their entryway into the Nazi elite. It’s a highly prestigious school, and for a working class boy like Friedrich, it seems like an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to aim for something better. Read more »

Lakeland man secretly recorded female tenant, sheriff says

Armando Perez is now in the Orange County Jail, facing 15 counts of video voyeurism.

Armando Perez is now in the Orange County Jail, facing 15 counts of video voyeurism.

LAKELAND – Imagine you’re in comfortably situated in your bedroom. You turn on the television and click a button on the remote. Then something surprising happens – actually, it’s startling, and shocking. What you see on that television set is … yourself.
There you are, watching a live video image of yourself in your bedroom. And it dawns on you then: there’s a camera hidden somewhere in your room … and it’s watching you.
If it sounds like a scene from a dark and paranoid television show like “The X-Files” or “Twin Peaks,” it was actually the scary reality this week for one woman in Lakeland, and it led to the arrest of the man who had been secretly recording the 23-year-old woman without her knowledge — or permission. Read more »

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