Category Archives: Films

La Grande Illusion Film Review

Last night I saw the French film La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion), directed by Jean Renoir. The film was produced in 1937, and 75 years later it has come to the big screen again, with an excellent restoration.

The film is in black and white, and is subtitled for the American audience.

Set during World War I, the themes of status and relationships runs throughout the anti-war story line of men trying to escape from their imprisonment. Both sides of war are depicted, with those who have been captured, and those who are captors, demonstrating friendship towards one another within a prison camp environment. Each side (Germans and the French, upper and working class) tries to make the best of their situation through humor, dignity and even empathy.

The film is a bit unusual in the aspect that it portrays male interactions and friendships that cross borders of cultural and social backgrounds. From those born into wealth and the elite, including a Jewish Lieutenant, and to men of the working class, the film is a metaphor for aristocracy and breeding versus the new breed of individuals.

I don’t want to go into the content of the film, as I feel that the film deserves to be viewed, and not read about.

I found La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion) to be a satisfying and complex anti-war film (although some might find it simplistic), and recommend it to everyone.

June 24, 2012 – 4 Tamuz, 5772


Filed under Films, Judaism

Sky Scenics, Senselessness, Shabbat,

It is time for Skywatch Friday! Visit here for more sky views from around the world.

This has been a busy week for me in regards to books.

I finished The No Potato Passover (and made three recipes from the many mouth-watering ones in the book).

I am in the midst of reading Prague: My Long Journey Home, by Charles Ota Heller. Mr. Heller graciously sent me a review copy, and I feel privileged to have received it.

Jewish Travellers in the Middle Ages sounds like an intriguing read. Hmm.

I must see the film Footnote! It comes to a local theater, soon.

Time to Come Clean on Shoah Role: French train company asked to open WWII files

The world is in a state of senseless acts, which evokes pure sadness in me, and words are inadequate in conveying my feelings. There is genocide occurring in African nations. Why? Where is the humanity? The murders of three children and a Rabbi at a Jewish school, was an act of violence that knows no logic. Three innocent children and a Rabbi. Why? It is horrific and mind-boggling to see the events unfold, not only in the Jewish community, but everywhere, worldwide. My prayers go out to all of the victims and their families, no matter where they are located.

I am also stunned and disgusted by the senseless, unfathomable killing of a young man, a 17-year old boy named Trayvon who was walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in Florida from a convenience store after buying Skittles and iced tea. He was unarmed, Black, innocent and died screaming for help before he was murdered by a man who followed him, seemingly fearing for his own (the man’s) life. My heart is filled with deep sadness over this killing, and the murderer is walking free, at the moment, due to a clause in a state law. It is difficult to comprehend the unprovoked act, and as a parent, I find it more than distressing. I can’t begin to imagine how his mother and father feel. My thoughts and prayers go out to the parents of Trayvon Martin, the rest of his family and his friends.

Please take a moment to pray for and/or think of all of the victims of senseless acts, worldwide. Shabbat Shalom.

March 23, 2012 – 29 Adar I, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.


Filed under Films, Judaism, Memoirs, Photography

Jewaicious Film Review – In Darkness

I didn’t think I could see a movie that was more compelling or intense with visuals as Schindler’s List or The Pianist. I was wrong, unfortunately.

In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland is a film that will stay with me, as both Schindler’s List and The Pianist have.

For me, it is one of those films that depicts the Holocaust without mincing words or cutting short the visual impact of the horrific situations that those who were victims experienced.

In Darkness is a true story based on Leopold Socha, who was a sewer worker in Lvov, Poland. He was a small time thief, and a conniver living during World War II, when Lvov was occupied by the Nazis.

The majority of In Darkness takes place in the sewers of Lvov, within the darkness, the stench, the vermin (rats, etc.), and within the confines of a tunnel like atmosphere. This lends to the harsh feeling of the anxiety, emotional suffocation, lack of sunlight and lack of freedom that the Jewish individuals suffered through, in the dire situation they were in.

Leopold Socha starts out by bringing the Jews in the sewers bits of food, and other assorted items, that help them to survive, for money. As the film goes on we begin to see a change in him, and see his attitude towards the Jews slowly begin to change. We see his own journey towards recognition of the Jews as people, much like himself, despite the religious differences between them. We see him begin to understand the humaneness of the situation, and see him comprehend that he holds their lives in his hands.

Once he comes to understand this concept, there is no turning back for him. As far as he was concerned, they were his Jews, and he referred to them as “my Jews”. No matter the expense or the trouble he incurred, he did it willingly, from the moment of understanding until liberation. No more money exchanged hands.

Of course, his life and his family’s life was at risk for his actions. He did jeopardize himself and his family, but felt he had no choice, it was something he had to do, because of his humanistic realizations.

The Jews spent fourteen months within the sewer system, dredged with muck and mire, constant wetness and cramped quarters. Imagine… Once they were liberated, Socha threw them a welcoming party, with cake, etc. He was delighted for them, and treated them like family.

In my opinion, the filming within the sewers fosters and intensifies the focus on his emotional and human awakening. It also magnifies and depicts the dire situation the Jews were in quite dramatically, as we see very little lightness throughout the film.

You can read about Leopold Socha at Yad Vashem. He and his wife have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

In Darkness is not a film for the weak-stomach. But, I highly recommend it. It puts a new light and face on Holocaust survival, and how rescuers played an important role in the lives of some Jews.

February 23, 2012 – 30 Sh’vat, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.


Filed under Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction

Skies and More

The images above were taken at a local park a few months back. They are submitted for Skywatch Friday. Visit Skywatch Friday to see more photos from around the world.

May all your skies bring inner illuminations of serenity. Shabbat Shalom!

My blog features this past week included:

Sunday Scenes 1/15/12

Tuesday’s World

Review – In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery

All Aboard Water Scenes 1/1/12

Review – Man’s Search for Meaning

Other blogs I visit:

Rambling Woods

Ilana Davita

Here in HP – Take a look at Leora’s wonderful cardinal photos and other nature related captures.

Women of the Wall


All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

January 20, 2012 – 25 Tevet, 5772


Filed under Book Reviews, Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Photography

Review – In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery

In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery is a film I will not soon forget. The soundtrack, alone, stirred my heart. The cinematography is stunning, showing the cemetery set within 100 acres of prime forest, within the boundaries of the city of Berlin.

The forest and its life forms, from trees to birds to foxes, to vegetation and to the most minute forms of life, surround the over 115,000 graves. Life thrives within the grave sites, both above and underground in Wiessensee Jewish Cemetery.

The film shows individuals visiting graves, individuals who have traveled far to find the graves of ancestors, students in an art class creating head stone rubbings, bird watchers, and so much more. It also shows how many individuals strive to keep the cemetery from becoming overgrown, which is almost impossible with over 115,000 grave sites. Trees that have fallen are removed from grave sites, some are cut down in order to prevent them from falling on graves or destroying headstones. Headstones are repaired by various organizations. Life in all of its forces continues its stronghold within the cemetery walls in ways I could not imagine. It is a very affecting film.

The 130 year old cemetery has withstood wars, including World War II and the Nazi rule. For some unknown reason, the Nazis left the cemetery alone and untouched. There are theories as to why, but nobody actually knows the true reason. Some feel that the Germans were afraid of a Golem, while others feel they just didn’t get around to removing it. Whatever the reason, the cemetery stands as a testament of history and time. It still accepts those for burial, to this day.

It is not only a film depicting deep Jewish historical value, but also a film that is inspiring, heartfelt, soulful, and one that defines Jewish rituals, values and traditions. In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery is a tribute to those buried there, a tribute to living Jews and to the deceased Jews buried within its walls. It is a tribute to life, and as the title suggests, a tribute to what lies underground. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Visit here, and here, to read about the history of the cemetery.

January 17, 2012 – 22 Tevet, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.


Filed under Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism

Review-Film: A Dangerous Method

The film, A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg, is quite the intense film on many levels. The plot describes the history of psychoanalysis, with facts and documentation that was little known until a few years ago.

Keira Knightly is amazingly brilliant as the real-life Sabrina Spielrein, the daughter of well-off Russian Jews. She is a troubled young woman, who becomes a patient of Carl Jung in 1904. She did quite well under his psychiatric direction, and eventually garnered a degree in psychiatry, due to his helpful influence.

Spielrein was one of Jung’s first patients in which he used an experimental psychoanalytic theory. Through his sessions with her, they became more than doctor and patient. They had a very intense affair, and they both manipulated each other to gain a desired end. This all while she was still his patient. He eventually breaks off their affair, leaving her extremely wounded.

Fast forward and we see Spielrein writing to Sigmund Freud regarding the affair. Freud was a mentor to Jung, and they both collaborated on psychoanalysis and treatment methods. Once learning of the affair, the egos of the two men collide, and each one tries to maintain a sense of control over which is the best mode of treatment. Freud distances himself from Jung, and does not forgive him his trespassing, especially while Spielrein was his patient. He questions his own decision to let Jung continue his psychiatric legacy.

I found the sexual scenes to be disturbing regarding the doctor patient relationship. The manipulations that are bounced back and forth between Spielrein and Jung were overt and aggressive on both their parts. I saw raw emotion emanating from her, and I had a sense of coldness coming from him.

The film sheds new light on the historical significance of psychoanalysis and its forefathers. It was quite a surprise to me, when the long hidden secrets of the relationship between Spielrein and Jung were shown in full force, nothing left unturned before my eyes.

I would recommend A Dangerous Method to all who are interested in psychology, psychoanalysis and its beginnings, and those interested in Jung and Freud. But, on a larger scale I recommend this film for the little know facts regarding Sabina Spielrein and her contribution to the psychoanalytical methods of psychiatry.

There is so much more to A Dangerous Method, than I am writing, but you must see it for yourself and make your own conclusions. It is not a joyful film, but a film that entails the mindsets of three very strong-willed individuals. It is tragic on many levels. David Cronenberg is masterful in his conveyance of the characters and their mindsets.


Filed under Films, Non-Fiction