The Toronto International Film Festival screens many of the finest documentaries of the year, including those that can only be done full justice on the big screen. The Daily presents reviews of three of the most exciting documentaries at the festival.
Still from “When Jews Were Funny”. Courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival.
“When Jews Were Funny”
There’s an interesting film somewhere inside Alan Zweig’s documentary “When Jews Were Funny,” but it has little to do with his thesis statement that Jews make the best comedians and that Jewish comedy is dying as Jewish oppression fades. The film is at its best when it starts to probe at what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century, now that secular Jews are more common than religious ones, Jews aren’t isolated in their own communities, and it’s fairly common for Jews to marry the “goyum”. Will this mean that the younger generation is less Jewish or unable to pass on the traditions? Through interviews with various Jewish comedians about their culture and what is special about Jewish comedy, the film suggests that it might just be the brand of Jewish comedy that keeps the culture alive. Unfortunately, the film gets bogged down by the director’s own personal issues – he’s 61 with a two-year-old daughter from a “gentile” wife and is concerned that his daughter won’t be a real Jew – and with a question that can’t be answered definitively, especially when the subjects interviewed are exclusively Jews, ignoring the broader context of 21st-century comedy.
Spring break might come in the form of your annual trip to Bora Bora, or it might just mean going home to sleep for seven days straight. No matter what your plans, the free time means it’s time to hit the movie theater right when the theater most needs the money. Intermission has the top movies you should check out over the break.
“Warm Bodies” is the latest, and emotionally, the best film in the recent trend, starting with “Shaun of the Dead,” to revive the zombie film for comedic and even rom-com effect. “Zombieland” is its closest predecessor, a film more interested in the eccentricities of the humans battling the zombies–including a couple of kick-ass sisters who excel at scheming–than the zombie battles themselves.
When you freshmen realize the Stanford Calling Center is really just pimping you out, maybe you, too, will have the sense or the entrepreneurial spirit to start your own phone sex line out of Larkin or wherever else it is you live. Write a script about it with your roommate and you’ll be the next Katie Anne Naylon.