Moment at the Movies
There are almost as many definitions as there are film watchers. Some insist a Jewish film must have Jewish characters, actors, filmmakers or themes. Others believe a distinctly Jewish sensibility is enough. A film’s “Jewishness” can be over-the-top or subtle or even that impossible-to-define “I know it when I see it.”
Denial is an astonishingly accurate adaptation of the famous 2001 court case Irving vs. Penguin Books Ltd. In this case, renowned historian Deborah Lipstadt stood trial against David Irving, an infamous Holocaust denier. After Lipstadt called Irving a Holocaust denier, falsifier and bigot in her book Denying the Holocaust, Irving accused Lipstadt of libel. This case came to fruition due to the British legal system, which requires those accused of libel to prove their innocence—the opposite of the legal system in the United States. The movie portrays the struggles, and eventual triumphs, of Lipstadt and her legal team in their battle against pure hate.
Although he has authored more than 30 books, Philip Roth’s novels have seldom been adapted into films. But with this month’s release of James Schamus’s Indignation and Ewan McGregor’s adaptation of American Pastoral due out this October, 56 years into his career, Roth is suddenly a hot new trend in film.
Riding this summer’s wave of would-be comic book movie blockbusters is X-Men: First Class, prequel to the X-Men series. Under the guidance of writer Bryan Singer, who returns to the franchise after a two-film hiatus, X-Men: First Class will take viewers back in time and work its way up to 1963, filling in the back story of genetically superior “mutants,” who, like Jews, face discrimination and persecution.
Frederique Cifuentes Morgan, a London-based, Parisian-born filmmaker, in Sudan to make a film about the history of its cinematic industry, was wandering around some familiar haunts in downtown Khartoum one day, when suddenly she noticed something intriguing. There in front of her was an ancient and faded shop-front sign for an optician, with a vast hand-painted eye. Mostly it was written in Arabic; but at the bottom, in old-fashioned English lettering, it proclaimed the founder to be one Maurice Goldenberg – not a typically Sudanese name by any stretch of the imagination.
In Labyrinth of Lies, a young lawyer decides to prosecute Nazi soldiers nearly 20 years after the end of World War II. Moment speaks with the film’s director about how the trials changed present-day Germany.