fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Making Trouble

I went to the closing event of the Northern Virginia International Film Festival. There were a couple of movies earlier in the festival I'd have liked to have seen, but that didn't work with my schedule. From a few conversations, I'm particularly sorry to have missed "Orthodox Stance" which is about a Russian-born Jewish boxer who becomes increasingly religious.

Anyway, the event tonight was at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and started with a pretty nice deli dinner. Most of the conversation over dinner was about movies, hence my comment above. That was followed by some thanks to the film festival committee (fortunately, not too tedious) and a half hour of live entertainment by a comedienne named Lisa Davis. I wasn't particularly impressed by her. Her best joke was about stepchildren being like a boob job because both are hard to raise and people always ask if they're really yours.

Fortunately, the film (which was the reason I'd gone to the event) was worth sitting through that for. It was a documentary called "Making Trouble" and deals with 6 of the most famous Jewish women in show business. The stories of Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, and Wendy Wasserstein are interspersed with four current Jewish comediennes sitting in Katz's deli and talking about comedy. Katz's is famous for their slogan "send a salami to your boy in the Army." Jackie Hoffman had a great joke that the modern version is "send a bissel snack to your boy in Iraq." (The other three women are Judy Gold, Cory Kahaney, and Jessica Kirson, by the way.)

The film was very well done, though not as humorous as one might expect given the subjects. Molly Picon was the only one whose life was free of personal tragedy, although several of the people who performed with her in "Yidl Mit'n Fiddle" were killed in the Holocaust. (She was born in the U.S., but the film was made in pre-war Warsaw. It is, by the way, generally considered to be the best Yiddish film of all time.) Incidentally, I hadn't realized that she wrote the lyrics to the title song of that film (and to several other well-known Yiddish songs, such as "Oy, Mama, Bin Ich Farliebt."

Fanny Brice is, of course, well known because of the play and movie "Funny Girl." That isn't very accurate as biography, but she did have three troubled marriages. And a botched nose job.

Sophie Tucker was rejected by her family (and the Hartford, CT Jewish community) because of her openness about sex. Joan Rivers lost her husband to suicide. And both Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein died young of cancer. By the way, I also hadn't realized that Wasserstein's Tony award (in 1989) for The Heidi Chronicles was the first to an American woman playwright.

At any rate, the film is well worth looking for, as it makes the rounds of Jewish film festivals. (It's been at a few documentary festivals, too.) I just wish I hadn't had to sit through an unfunny (and, by the way, un-Jewish) stand-up comic to get to see it.
Tags: movies

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