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August 11, 2013 – 10:07 am5 Comments

From the editor and Fred Levit.

stephanie banister2Shavua tov.

This week, along with our picks, we’re also very fortunate to have movie reviews by Fred Levit who offers us a critique of a classic Jewish themed movie as well as a review of a recent release.

. Lord! The top story at Heeb this Sunday contains an edited Youtube clip of our very own Stephanie Banister – One Nation’s resident Middle East expert. What was hilarious when passed between Aussies, is somehow less funny when it goes international.

. The history of Jewish/African American legal cooperation goes beyond the pursuit of civil rights. Did you know rappers love Jewish lawyers? Start watching for the cognitive dissonance, keep watching for Action Bronson’s nipples. (via Hipster Jew)

. Read Katie Halper’s reminiscence of the Jewish summer camp that sparked a Rush Limbaugh tirade.

. Read about the sociolinguistic examination of the – very distinct – varieties of Orthodox speech patterns. Read about how Ba’alei Tshuva are likely to remain identifiable as not frum from birth.

. For a fascinating insight into the workings of the IDF’s Territory PR, read former Judea/Samaria Division’s Army Spokesman, Barak Raz.

. Lord, again! The cost! The drama! The sparkle suit!  They say that in matters Jewish communal, Australia’s ten years behind the USA. If this is the case, we give you a glimpse into the future of our bar mitzvahs. I wonder what his haftarah was like.

. The Sydney Jewish Writers Festival have relaunched their blog.This week’s entry is about Mossad expert, Michael Bar-Zohar. Next week examines the difference between porn, erotica and erotic romance.

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Reviews by Fred Levit

MUSIC BOX” (1989)

In the vast array of documents outlining Jewish suffering during the Second World War, rarely has there been a focus on those who grow up knowing little about their relatives and their harrowing past. Such is the scope of this riveting and disturbing film about a Hungarian family in 1980s Chicago when their world is turned upside down after a shocking accusation of war crimes pits its patriarch (Armin Mueller-Stahl) into a down-ward spiral of public shame and humiliation, threatening to tear his family apart – unless his daughter, Legal attorney Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange in an Academy Award nominated performance) can do anything about it in her bid to prove his innocence. But despite her proud heritage, blind trust and love for the father she had worshiped her whole life, Ann’s reluctant investigation into his past draws her closer and closer into a nightmarish world she only read about in history books – one which tests her humanity and faith in justice to the bitter core. In one of the most engaging performances of her career, Jessica Lange (Blue Sky, Postman Always Rings Twice) takes us on a transatlantic journey from the shores of the American dream to the murky blood stained streets of Budapest, unravelling her mysterious father’s past, meeting survivors who claim to have been victims of his unimaginable evil and torn between their testimonies and his unshakable claim to innocence. German veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl (The Power of One, Shine)is unforgettable as the Hungarian ‘bookkeeper’ in a complex character study that showcases his enormous range to communicate emotion both through his trademark husky voice to his weatherbeaten baby blues that speak volumes and retaining an air of perpetual mystery.

This is a film you will not want to miss. For one, it is a nail-biting court-room drama, a backdrop to the many twist and turns uncovered by a grieving daughter and the voices of the dead that surround her. Secondly and more importantly, it reminds us that evil is not hereditary, but something that is honed.

MUD” (2013)

In the midst of the sheer overwhelming quantity of mediocre action films and CGI extraveganzas, one cannot thank Director Jeff Nichols enough for writing and producing perhaps the most original and totally engrossing character ensemble films in the last decade. First billed Matthew McConaughey in one of his most real and honest performances sets the stage for a small tale of true undying romance in the face of certain death seemingly just around every corner. But at the helm of this wider story, is the much smaller coming of age tale of two 14 year-old boys Ellis and Neckbone (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland respectively) and their fateful meeting with Mud (McConaughey) on an island in the middle of the Mississippi river, Arkansas when exploring with their fishing boat and walking into its supposedly unoccupied interior.

What is he doing there? Why does he wear torn jeans and a dirty shirt? It becomes clear to the boys after many visits to the island that Mud is running away from somebody on the mainland and that he hasn’t been home in a very long time, but when he reveals to them his gun and he requests them to bring him food from town, they begin to suspect that perhaps he is not what he appears to be, particularly because the authorities have posted his face all over the state in their endeavors to find him.

However, a bond develops between Mud and Ellis (Tye Sheridan in a breakthrough Oscar worthy performance) when Mud’s childhood sweetheart Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) becomes the films focus and the two boys become inevitably involved in both their lives, influencing Ellis’ own adolescent desires and love.

This film is truly a deep and vibrant character study made immensely intriguing by the tour de force performances of its leads and particularly by the supporting cast that includes Sam Sheppard, Joe Don Baker and Michael Shannon. Again, it is a simply story about love, but it resonates so wonderfully with its audience because of its size and personality, completely driven by its rich characters, fantastic performances and particularly its unique and masterful patient direction.

 

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