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July 31, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 31, 2009 In new TarantirLo film, Jews exact revenge on Nazis By Simcha Weinstein filmwill debut, with Hitler in the big screen personified "The Hebrew Hammer" who dreams of becoming a NEW YORK (JTA)--Add acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino to the long list of filmmakers who can't resist making their own World War II fantasy-action flick. Tarantino's latest release is "Inglourious Basterds"-- and yes, the misspelling is intentional. Inspired by a schlocky 1970s Italian"macaroni com- bat" action picture of the same name, the movie is Tarantino's homage to the "misfits on a mission" movies of old, like "The Dirty Dozen." His heroes are a Jewish- American revenge squad wreaking havoc throughout German-occupied France who not only kill but scalp their Nazi targets. In a parallel storyline, a beautiful young Jewish wom- an whose family was slaugh- tered by the SS somehow takes over the Paris cinema where Goebbel's latest propaganda Judd Apatow By Naomi Pfefferman Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles In a pivotal scene in Judd Apatow's new film, "Funny People," a come@ star bat- tling leukemia orders his assistant, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), to sit beside his bed and talk him to sleep. The ill star, George Simmons (Adam Sandler) teases, "Wright? That's not your real name. You're hiding some Judaism." "I don't think I can hide that. My face is circumcised," Ira replies, before revealing that his real surname was, in fact, Weiner, which caused him to suffer merciless play- ground teasing as a child. As the conversation deep- ens, each man tells of the childhood traumas that led him to become a comedian. Ira remembers his parents' bitter divorce, and George recounts physical abuse that forced him to "bring out 'the funny,'" bonding these two disparate funny people--the damaged, possibly dying, older come- attendance. She plans to trap the audience of high-ranking Nazis inside and burn the building to the ground. "My name is Shoshanna Dreyfus," she announces, "and this is the face of Jewish vengeance." At the news conference fol- lowing the film's debut, one journalist asks if"Inglourious Basterds" is a"Jewish revenge fantasy." Eli Roth, one of Tarantino's "basterds" and also director of the "Hostel" horror mov- ies, said the notion of Jews getting even with Hitler was "kosher porn." "It's something I dreamed since I was a kid," Roth said. In the movie, Roth gets to live out his childhood fantasy: He plays the baseball bat- swinging "Bear Jew," who some of the film's Nazis believe is really a vengeful golem. The concept of the film challenges the stereotype of wimpy Jewish males on by Woody Allen back in the 1960s. It's a stock character that still makes appear- ances, notably in the film comedies of Ben Stiller and TV shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm." I for one am tired of it. In a world in which Jews are under constant threat, is "wimpy" really the image we want to convey? The 21st century iteration retains traces of nebbishness, but also displays an edgy attitude reminiscent of the scruffy, hyper, cocky Jewish characters Richard Dreyfus specialized in during the 1970s. Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill are three of the stars in Jewish director )udd Apatow's constellation who seem to be channeling -Dreyfus' satirical outlook and boundless energy in Apatow films such as "The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad." (2003), starring Adam Gold- berg, paved the way for a new kind of swaggering Jewish hero on film. He's sexy because he's Jewish, not in spite of it. The movie plays with Af- rican-American and Jewish cultural touchstones: The Hammer drives a pimped-out white Cadillac with Magen David headlights; his license plate reads"L'Chaim'; and his fuzzy dice are dreidels. After saving some Jewish children from older Christian bullies, he tells them solemn- ly, "Stay Jewish." The result is the first"Jewsploitation" film. More swaggering Hebrew heroes turned up in other comedies like "Hot Rod" (2007), in which Andy Sam- berg stars as an Evel Knievel- inspired stuntman--not ex- actly a profession commonly chosen by Jews. Meanwhile, Adam Sandler starred in "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" (2008), about a former Mossad agent hairdresser. Jews with attitude aren't restricted to comedies, but they aren't seen very often in dramas, either, except in mov- ies such as "Raid on Entebbe," made back in 1977. Recently, however, the character of the armed, defiant Jew has reappeared. Edward Zwick's "Defiance," for example, is about four Jewish brothers from Po- land who escape the Nazis and go on to rescue fellow Jews. (As an English Jew, I have to admit I got consid- erable nachas seeing Daniel Craig--James Bond him- self--kicking Nazi tuchas alongside Liev Schreiber.) And now "Inglourious Basterds" is set to hit the big screens on Aug. 21, and the unabashedly Jewish charac- ters are a major selling and plot point. The movie is sure to inspire a tingle of"what if" wish fulfillment in audiences, Jewish and non-Jewish. What Jm!kes 'Funny People' tick dian and the bright-eyed, struggling younger comic who looks up to him. Like much of Apatow's work, "Funny People" is a raunch fest with sweet un- dertones that explores a male right of passage, reflecting the filmmaker's own life and career. In 1999-2000, TV's "Freaks and Geeks" intro- duced the then-16-year-old Rogen to Hollywood while dissecting some of Apatow's own high school angst;"Unde- clared" (2000-2003) examined the awkward transition to college; the feature film "40 Year OldVirgin" (2005) mused upon the desire for love and sex; and "Knocked Up" (2007) explored the stage of settling down and having children. "Funny People" is about mor- tality, a risky departure for a 41-year-old filmmaker now considered one of Hollywood's top come@ moguls. "I never really set out to have my movies reflect my life, it just seems to work out that way," Apatow said. "It's more like I'll notice, after the fact, that every movie seems to be about some personal problem I have." Now that he is married to actress Leslie Mann, who ap- pears in the film with their two young daughters,Apatow, 41, is pondering weightier issues: "You get to be older, and you worry about getting sick," he said. He has seen a number of friends become ill, and he became fascinated by how each patient responded to his disease. "I assumed that the people who survived would look at their lives completely differently, but some would just kind of plow forward and live exactly the same way, while others seemed to experience a major change in how they felt about their priorities," he said. "But then they would get better, and it would be hard for them to hold onto that feeling, and "Funny People" is an ode to slowly they would slip back standupcomedyandanexplo- into whatever their previous ration of the comic creative neuroses had been." process, which has obsessed Apatowsaidthe filmalso ex- Apatow since growing up in a amines the unusual makeup Jewish home on Long Island. of comedians. As a teenager, he was able to Universal Studios Leslie Mann, Adam Sandier, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana in a scene from "Funny People." Photo by Universal Studios PAGE 13A JeffBalke Quentin Tarantino's new film "Inglourious Basterds," with its misfit squad of Jewish-American heroes, recalls such films as "The Dirty Dozen." Simcha Weinstein is an award-winning author whose latest book is "Shtick Shift: Jewish Humor in the 21st cen- tury" (Barricade Books, 2008). interview his idols, including Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern, for his high school radio station. After dropping out of USC in 1987, he wrote jokes for Funny on page 23A DiSCOVer Senior Rabbi Aaron D. Rubinger & Assistant Rabbi David Kay Beginning Mondays, August 10th 7:00 p.m.--9:15 p.m. sm If you would like to strengthen your Jewish Spirituality or are considering conversion to Judaism this course is for you. This curriculum introduces the essence of Jewish faith, beliefs, customs and traditions from a Conservative perspective and also incorporates the study of Hebrew for synagogue use. Class topics are as follows: • Jewish Views About God & Concept of Mitzvah • The Difference Between Torah, Bible, and Talmud • Jewish View ol the Messiah and the Aterlile • High Holidays: Elul, Rash Hashana, Yam Kippur • The Meaning and Observance ol Shabbot • The True Meaning ol the Dietary Laws • Festivals: Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, Hanukah, Purim & Other Important Jewish Occasions • Jewish History I - Origins ol the Jewish People till Destruction ol 2nd Temple • Jewish History II - Rabbinic Age till Modern Time • Lile Cycle h Brit, Naming, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Weddings • Lile Cycle Ih Divorce, Death and Dying and Rites ol Mourning • What are Tzedakah, Talmud Torah, and Ma'asim Tovim? • Structure & Meaning ol Our Prayer Service • Comparative Judaism: Orthodoxy, Conservative, and Relorm - What does it mean to be Conservative Jews • What Every Jewish Home Should Have: Preparation 1or Conversion Upon completion of this program, those considering conversion must meet traditional requirements. For fees and registration information, please call Susan or email: [&Congregation0000.Ohev00000000 Shalom Member of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism .... 5015 Goddard Avenue * Orlando, FL 32804 * (407)298-4650 Please view our Website: