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Arts

The Tragedy and Glory of Nathanael West

Nathanael West (1903-1940) was a promising but under-appreciated novelist during his brief lifetime. His four novels – The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), A Cool Million (1934) and The Day of the Locust (1939) – sold fewer than 5,000 copies, garnered mixed reviews and earned a pittance. Tragically, he did not … Read More

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Arts

Italy and the Holocaust

Fascist Italy, led by Benito Mussolini from 1922 to 1943, was the model of Adolf Hitler’s totalitarian state, as well as Germany’s major European ally before and during World War II. But unlike Hitler, Mussolini was not a rabid antisemite and had Jewish followers and friends. Indeed, Mussolini praised Italian Jews as good citizens and … Read More

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Arts

French culture under Nazi occupation

German armoured divisions rolled into Paris on June 14, 1940, inaugurating  Germany’s four-year occupation of France. An armistice, signed eight days later in a forest clearing near Compiegne, where Germany had officially conceded defeat in World War I, carved up France into a patchwork of zones. Despite France’s ignominious capitulation, theatres, cinemas, opera houses, art … Read More

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Arts

Watermark Is Visually Stunning

The myriad and inventive ways in which human beings interact with water, the planet’s life-sustaining resource, is the subject of Watermark, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Scheduled to open in Toronto on Sept. 27, Watermark, co-directed by Jennifer Baichwall and Edward Burtynsky, is visually stunning. Cinematographer Nicholas de Pencier uses the … Read More

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Arts

Leon Uris Reconfigured Israel’s Image

Leon Uris, a high school dropout, was 34 when he achieved fame. With the publication of his novel, Exodus, he blazed a path to celebrity. Selling more copies than any other American book since Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Exodus, published in 1958, was a world-wide sensation, printed in 50 languages. Exodus, transformed into … Read More

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Arts

Protektor Recreates A Dark Era

Marek Najbrt’s Protektor takes place in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as the Holocaust in Europe unfolds. Framed by the assassination of Nazi overlord Reinhard Heydrich, this Czech feature film will be screened by the Toronto Jewish Film Society on Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue). The … Read More

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Arts

Bollywood’s Untold Story

A century ago this year, Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harsihschandra made history, becoming the first Hindi-language silent movie to be produced in India. It was followed, 18 years years later, by Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie. They set the stage for the Bollywood film industry in India, based largely in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. Bollywood is … Read More

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Arts

Jewish Comedians: End of an Era?

As a boy, Alan Zweig, 60, wondered why virtually every comedian he watched on television, from George Burns to Jack Benny, seemed to be Jewish. It has taken him a long time to figure out the riddle, but now he thinks he has the answer. In his documentary, When Jews Were Funny, whose world premiere … Read More

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Arts

Woman on the Verge of Another Nervous Breakdown

Jasmine French, an attractive and pretentious middle-aged woman with a taste for Hermes accessories,  Chanel jackets and Louis Vuitton luggage, is down on her luck. Her husband, Hal, a shady businessman in the mould of Bernard Madoff, is serving a prison sentence for fraud and who knows what else. The federal government has seized their … Read More

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Arts

The Attack

The Attack is a most unusual movie, unfolding against the backdrop of a Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel and grappling with the complexities of its messy aftermath. Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, and now playing in theatres in Canada and the United States, The Attack is unconventional because  its main protagonists … Read More