Housekeeping. A Whole Lot of Housekeeping

I've been out of the loop for a while, thanks largely to a kidney stone, a medical procedure and the tedious aftermath. Mind you, I haven't been inactive. In fact, let me quickly fill you in on some of my recent Jewish Week film pieces: my review of Claude Lanzmann's memoir, The Patagonian Hare; a trio of entries from New Directors/New Films; a disappointing documentary about Simone Weil (actually, it's about the filmmaker, which is part of the problem); a workmanlike thriller about Jews and Muslims in Occupied Paris; and a round-up of the recently completed Sephardic Film Festival.


Family and friends have been busy too. The following is an e-mail from Margalit Fox who is, as regular readers know, my wife and a fine writer and reporter at the New York Times:

As many of you know, the New York Times unit of the Newspaper Guild has been locked for the past year in the contract fight of its life. Management's untenable (and thus far intractable) demands include freezing staff pensions at the current level -- in other words, even if my colleagues or I continue to work at the paper another 20 years or more, we will retire with not a dime more accrued in our pension than we have right now. The effect our newsroom's brilliant staff, many of whom routinely risk their lives to provide coverage from far-flung danger zones, would, it goes without saying, be devastating.

I would be so grateful if you could follow the link below to learn more fully about this issue, and disseminate this widely to all the Times readers you know, urging them to do likewise. There is strength in numbers.

With thanks and all best wishes,

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Info <>
Date: Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 2:40 PM
Subject: From the Guild: Volunteer to spread the word #saveourtimes

Today, the Guild released a video asking the public to join us in our campaign to "Save Our Times."

The video marks the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the Guild's contract with The Times and reminds folks that without dedicated staff and excellent journalists, The Times is just white space.

Please help us spread the word by visiting @saveourtimes and writing your messages with the hashtag, #saveourtimes.

Re-tweeting the Guild's message is an easy way to support the fight for a good contract.

If you're new to Twitter, just set up an account, find a bunch of friends on Twitter and visit the Guild's Twitter page @saveourtimes to "re-tweet" messages you like.

If you're not sure how Twitter works, ask a colleague. A list of Times colleagues who are familiar with Twitter can be found at, once you’ve set up your Twitter account. Also, feel free to use your Facebook accounts to post links to our video, and other news about the campaign.

Thanks and stay tuned!

In Solidarity,
The Guild Bargaining Committee


My good friend and colleague Andrew Dickos is the editor of an important new volume of interviews with Abraham Polonsky, the writer-director of Force of Evil, which I consider to be the best first feature by any director (yes, including Citizen Kane and The 400 Blows and Breathless). Polonsky, of course, was blacklisted because of his political beliefs, and the promise of that film would go unrealized until the late 1960s. Andy's book is being published in the fall by University of Mississippi Press, and he will be discussing Polonsky's career as part of a program on the blacklist in Hollywood on KXRA 540-AM in Monterey, CA, on April 5 at noon, EDT. For those of you not in Monterey (which I suspect is almost anyone reading this blog), you can hear the program on-line.

And now the news you've all been waiting for, I'm sure.

The 36th annual meeting of the New York Independent Film Critics Circle took place over a long, long weekend at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino last week. As we do in every year ending in a 2, we voted on our all-time films list, to coincide with the Sight and Sound poll. This year, we really did it up brown, issuing a hundred-best films list. You can see my individual ballot elsewhere on this blog. But you can find the final tally for the group list and the winners of the 2011 Iras posted on the blog of fellow-Ira-voter Michael Giltz, as well as the joint blog of members Aaron Rich and Alex Lewin.

My ten-best list for 2011 (based on a paltry 85 films -- not a good year for me) is as follows:

1. In Darkness – Agnieszka Holland

2. Cave of Forgotten Dreams -- Werner Herzog

3. A Separation – Asghar Farhadi

4. Mysteries of Lisbon – Raul Ruiz

5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Tomas Alfredson

6. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow – Sophie Fiennes

7. Of Gods and Men – Xavier Beauvois

8. Nostalgia for the Light – Patricio Guzman

9. Tuesday, After Christmas – Radu Munteanu

10. A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg

Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Pina (Wim Wenders), Le Havre (Aki Kaurismaki), The Time That Remains (Elia Suleiman), sleep furiously (Gideon Koppel), Project Nim (James Marshall), Shalom Aleichem: Laughter in the Dark (Joseph Dorman), The Artist (Michel Hazanvicius), Khodorkovsky (Cyril Tuschi), Puzzle (Natalia Smirnoff)