Back With a Vengeance (?)

Okay, I'm not going to make any absurd promises about keeping up with this thing -- as you well know, those are futile. But I will make something more of an effort. Lots of goodies to offer you in this posting, at any rate.

First, my review of the new Woody Allen, for Jewish Week. The film is dire and in some ways, although it is better than Cassandra's Dream, it is successful in the most uninteresting manner, a clumsy recycling of old themes, characters, attitudes.

Second, allow me to direct your attention to a review by the estimable Donald Richie of a new English version of a key Japanese monograph on Kenji Mizoguchi, of whom we have spoken in the past.

One of the nicer surprises of last winter, a documentary about a dying Yiddish theater (is there any other kind?), has resurfaced in Queens. Yiddish Theater: A Love Story, directed by Dan Katzir, is playing at the North Shore Towers Cinema (270-10 Grand Central Pkwy., Floral Park). For information, phone 718-229-7702. My review of the film can be found here.

Finally, to end on a somber note, the great Manny Farber passed away earlier this week. Farber, who was 91, was one of our great film critics, a radical thinker who influenced so many of us. I never had the pleasure of meeting Farber, but I did have the rather unusual experience of passing along to him my take on the 1974 or '75 New York Film Festival; I was visiting Greg Ford when his telephone rang, it was Farber on the line and I ended up relaying my quick impressions of the films that had been screened already from Greg to Farber. Well, as Odets writes in The Big Knife, we all need a cause to touch greatness, and that must have been my moment. The best introduction to Farber is to read his writing and look at his paintings. However, for a quick-and-dirty take, you ought to check out the obit posted at GreenCine Daily.