web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘oscars’

Exclusive: Jews Well-Represented at Academy Awards

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

After some fairly lean Oscar years, full or partial Members of the Tribe scored well at the 86th Academy Awards, though mainly in the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes categories.

Israeli-American producer Arnon Milchan, who is an acknowledged intelligence operative for Israel’s nuclear weapon program, shared in the celebration for best picture winner “12 Years a Slave” as one of the seven listed producers who won a golden statuette on Sunday night.

Woody Allen, a regular non-attending entry at the Oscars, failed to win the original screenplay trophy for his “Blue Jasmine.” However, the honor went to “Her” writer Spike Jonze, born Adam Spiegel and the son of a Jewish father.

Perhaps the most satisfying win of the evening, from a Jewish perspective, went to “The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved My Life.” The short documentary tells the story of 110-year old concert pianist and Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer, who died exactly one week before the award ceremony.

In his acceptance speech, director Malcolm Clarke lauded Herz-Sommer’s “extraordinary capacity for joy and for forgiveness…She taught everyone on my crew to be a little more optimistic and a little bit more happy.”

Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, born Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern, was the anticipated winner in the best cinematography category for his extraordinary work on the space cliffhanger “Gravity.”

Among the five finalists for best foreign-language film honors was the Palestinian entry “Omar,” while Israel’s choice, “Bethlehem,” was eliminated early on.

Both movies pit the Israel security services against Palestinian militants, with “Omar” predictably drawing a highly unflattering portrait of the Israeli agents.

However “Omar,” like Israel’s past 10 nominations, did not garner the top prize, which went to Italy’s “The Great Beauty.”

Editor’s note: What a loss that was! To give you an idea, here’s a segment from a review of Omar by Richard Falk, of all people:

“The wall reinforced by the Israeli security forces, portrayed as cunning and unscrupulous, with an occupiers’ fear and loathing for those who cower under the rigors of occupation, provides an unforgettable visual metaphor that captures the daily ordeal of the Palestinian people. In a subtle touch, the rope used by Omar throughout the film to avoid the checkpoints and overcome the separation of his home from that of Tarek and Nadia also conveys an understanding that the wall is much more about humiliation and land than it is about security.”

Breathtaking.

For the first time in recent memory, the host for the evening, Ellen DeGeneres, did not indulge in any Jewish jokes during the evening. On the other hand, the Academy reversed its long neglect of African-American talent by featuring numerous black entertainers, presenters, award winners and the Academy’s new president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Two widely publicized movies based on the financial shenanigans of real-life Jewish con men, “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” left empty-handed.

In an interesting footnote, Isaacs announced that five billion movie tickets were sold worldwide in 2013.

Oldest Holocaust Survivor Dies at 110

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and concert pianist whose life was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, has died.

Herz-Sommer, who was believed to be the oldest Holocaust survivor and was still playing the piano, died Sunday morning in London.

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” the 38-minute film about her life, is up for best short documentary at the Academy Awards to be handed out next month.

The film showed her indomitable optimism, cheerfulness and vitality despite all the upheavals and horrors she faced in life.

“I know there is bad in the world, but I look for the good,” she told JTA in a brief telephone interview recently, and “music is my life, music is God.”

Trained as a pianist from childhood, Herz-Sommer made her concert debut as a teenager, then married and had a son.

In 1943, however, Herz-Sommer and her husband, Leopold, and their 6-year old son Raphael (Rafi), were transported to the Nazi model concentration camp Theresienstadt. Her husband died in the Nazi camp, but Herz-Sommer became a member of the camp orchestra and gave more than 100 recitals while protecting her son.

Liberated in 1945, Herz-Sommer and her son returned to Prague but four years later left for Israel. There she taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and performed in concerts frequently attended by Golda Meir, while her son became a concert cellist.

After 37 years in Israel she followed her son to London in 1986. She remained in London even after her son died 15 years later at the age of 65.

Oren Says ‘Gatekeepers’ Makes His Job Harder

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Israel’s U.S. ambassador Michael Oren, said the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Gatekeepers” complicates his mission.

The movie compiles interviews with six former leaders of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and records their perceptions of how successive Israeli governments missed opportunities for peace.

“This is a good movie that presents a narrative of 45 years of occupation but is completely devoid of information on Israel’s peace plan offers — (Ehud) Barak’s Camp David attempts, then [Ehud] Olmert, from the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the rocket fire on us,” Oren told Yediot Acharonot’s website in a story posted Sunday. “Whoever views the movie without knowing the background can leave feeling that Israel is to blame and didn’t do a thing.”

Oren said he hesitated to criticize the movie for fear of being attacked as limiting speech freedoms, but added that he felt that Israel was “on the defensive” in its effort to explain its right to exist.

Has American Society Become Insanely Hypersensitive?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Around a year ago, I was lambasted on the blog for calling a girl a “girl” in a post I wrote, instead of calling her a woman, even though the other female readers of this blog freely use the pejorative “girl” for girls of the same age as the one I talked about.

In the comments I exposed that double-standard, but at the time I don’t recall mentioning the insane hypersensitivity and political correctness that drove the response.

This week I watched with amazement two other incidents (not involving me) showcasing more examples of this hypersensitivity and insane political correctness.

In the first case, Dov Hikind dressed up for Purim as a basketball player. A black basketball player, mind you. And for that he’s going to hell and his career is almost certainly damaged.

Because apparently you can dress up as anything on Halloween or Purim, except as a black man (or am I supposed to say African-American).

In the second case, Seth MacFarlane made some amusing jokes about Jews controlling the Hollywood movie industry, during the Oscar ceremonies. As a result, he was attacked for it by the Jewish watchdogs.

What?!  Are you people insane?

A comedian suddenly can’t make jokes about something that is pretty darn near close to true, or certainly used to be.

This hypersensitivity is out of control.

Neither man had any racist intent in their acts or statement. Neither were aware that what they did would be considered racist or insensitive.

And why should they have?

People don’t costume up as Hassidim? As Italian Mafiosos? As Arabs? As Rastafarians? You can get all those costumes in the store.

But a black man is off limits? Or is it that costuming as a black basketball player if off limits because it’s a stereotype. Though what kind of stereotype can it be when 78% of basketball players are black?

And look how many Hollywood producers and actors are Jewish (or of Jewish descent at least). You’ve got to be an idiot to not see that.

But apparently it’s now wrong to point that out. (Unless you’re John Stewart, in which case it’s OK, presumably because he’s Jewish).

What’s next?

Is it going to be racist to point out how many Jewish Nobel prize winners there are? Is that an offensive stereotype too?

It really is time that this hypersensitivity got toned down, and save it for real racism.

Visit The Muqata.

Critics: Joan Should Cry a River over Crude Holocaust Joke

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has castigated comedienne Joan Rivers, whose husband’s family lost many family members in the Holocaust, for a “vulgar and offensive” joke on her show the day after Sunday’s Academy Awards Viewing Party.

After German-born supermodel Heidi Klum arrived at the Oscars in a revealing dress, the New York Daily News reported that Rivers commented, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” Rivers, as usual, laughed at her own so-called joke, and she later refused to apologize after ADL president Abraham Foxman  scolded her, saying, “Of all people, Joan Rivers should know better.”

Rivers didn’t miss a beat and defended herself by replying, “My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz, and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humor.”

Foxman was aghast. “Making it worse, not one of her co-hosts made any effort to respond or to condemn this hideous statement, leaving it hanging out there and giving it added legitimacy through their silence,” he said.

Rivers and the ADL have gone head-to-head in the past. Last fall, The ADL criticized her for angry remark aimed at Costco for refusing to sell her book, “I Hate Everything…Starting With Me,” by declaring, “Germany is where banning books started, and it can start here just as quickly,” she said at the time.

Oscar Who?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I noticed on the internet that the Oscar Awards ceremony is coming up in another few weeks in L.A., and my heart did not jump a bit. I felt no excitement whatever. Not even a small palpitation, or a droplet of sweat on my palm. I couldn’t care in the least. I have no idea what movies have been nominated, or what actors, and I couldn’t care less.

That’s the incredible power of t’shuva, of repentance, of giving up the lie of foreign cultures and returning to our roots. Every cell in my body has changed since becoming religious and moving to Israel. A spiritual overhaul of prayer, Torah study, tears of atonement, and thousands of dunks in the mikvah, has transformed me into a different person, with totally different thoughts, dreams, and aspirations than I had when I was trying to be an American success story in L.A., trying to be as rich, and handsome, and famous, and gentile as all of the Hollywood stars who will flock to the Oscars to be seen on television by the millions.

Thank God, thank God, thank God. Halleluyah that I left Hollywood for Israel. “He has raised me out of the dunghill to sit me with the princes of His people.”

My friends, if you want to save your souls, don’t watch the Oscars. If you want to be a holy Jew, you have to work on it. You can’t have the best of both worlds, as the Modern Orthodox like to believe. Holiness and impurity don’t go together. All of those actresses may look lovely in their sparkling, low-cut gowns, but do you really want to frizzle your brain? When you pollute your eyes with things you shouldn’t see, the soul which is housed in your brain gets polluted as well. When that happens, your spiritual radar gets covered with mud, and, for example, the Land of Israel, becomes just a nice place to visit, like a Disneyland for Jews, and you think you can be just as serious a Jew in Beverly Hills, or Monsey, as you can be in Jerusalem or Hevron.

The eyes are the windows to the soul, and forbidden images, whether we want to face up to it or not, pollute a Jew’s soul with a terrible impurity.

In his book, “Kuntres HaAvodah,” Rebbe Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch, one of the early great rabbis of the Chabad Hassidic movement, writes the following:

“Everyone who is concerned about his soul, not to pollute it, God forbid, should guard over his eyes. And if this is difficult for him, he should endeavor to restrain himself with all of his strength and might. He must take to heart that this matter is instrumental to the well-being of his soul. If he does not guard himself in this matter, then all of his Divine service is accounted as nothing, and all of his achievements are as naught, and his service of God will fall lower and lower….

“Behold, there are people who are far from actually committing evil deeds, God forbid, but their hearts pull them to look and stare at women. They gaze with a seemingly cold detachment, and they do not feel any immediate excitement when they look, but the reason for their being attracted is because they experience an inner pleasure…. This gazing, even with seeming detachment, creates an impression and a great stain on the soul, which will not go away without arousing some actual evil in its wake, God forbid….

“Thus, it is every man’s duty to control himself and to guard over the things he sees. In so doing, he will save himself from evil, and his service of God will find favor. He will bring salvation to his soul, and he will rise higher and higher.” (“Kuntres HaAvodah,” Ch. 2. For an English translation and commentary, see the book, “Love Like Fire and Water,” Moznaim Publishing Corp)

The Nation of Israel is called upon to be a holy Nation. Just as we have to be careful what we eat, we have to be careful what we see. A Jew who prides himself on enjoying the best of both worlds is fooling himself. He may have a good time at the movies, but in doing so, he darkens the light of his soul, whether he feels it or not. So take it from someone who’s been there. When Oscar night arrives, don’t bother to watch. Do your brain a favor and study Torah instead.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/oscar-who/2013/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: