Since my copy of “101 Things to do before you die” is packed away somewhere, I think it would be best to do different genres of the movies instead of whatever it is that they listed. I pretty much watch Jewish, science fiction, vampires, and that is about it. Surprisingly it is hard to find a list of top 100 Jewish films that are actually Jewish or a top list of vampire films that are actually vampires (not to mention the serious questionable taste of Twilight fans which messes with the results).
I did luckily find a list of 50 films which actually appear to be Jewish! Actually it is 51 films as there is a tie for one of the places. So that is the list I am using for Jewish films. I am of course going to break this into sections. The number will be the number that is used on the list.
1) The Chosen
This is a movie that is apparently very popular around Hanukkah time. It’s a little slow in comparison to what I am used to, but the jist is there are two very different Jews here, one Hasidic and one more secular and their friendship. In fact, I still do not understand what denomination the secular one is. Officially he is supposed to be Modern Orthodox, but the way the character is portrayed strikes me as much more secular. The one thing I tend to remember the most is how the Hasidic boy is so technically brilliant. I always remember the discussion when they are discussing memorizing Talmud, which I have always felt very unusual for the more secular character to do, it seems that is the one nod to Modern Orthodoxy. In general I respect the film for being like this, some times it is very hard to become friends with people outside your denomination.
The always popular Fiddler on the Roof. Really one cannot go wrong with this movie. It is such a classic in every way even to the point that it will drive you crazy after a while since it is… well… everywhere. Now the thing is this represents only the experience of a certain type of Jew and not every Jew everywhere. Still great movie and it’s a must see because if you don’t, everyone will ask what is wrong with you for not having seen the movie.
I was expecting this to be more depressing given what my mother said about the movie. At least a good bit of lives were saved. Of course, he is listed as saving over a thousand Jews. How if there were only 800 on the list? Were a quarter of the women pregnant? I don’t know, but I do know that Neeson did a wonderful job portraying Schindler. It took me a while to realize that it was the same actor as in Kinsey!
I never considered this a Jewish film, but probably because I never saw it before. I see completely how this can be a Jewish film given he was supposed to be a cantor so I understand a little bit.
6) Annie Hall
This took me several attempts to get through and it was pretty stupid as the partner said it was. I am unsure what this was supposed to tell me about Jewish culture that I didn’t already know. I know the stereotype of neurotic Jewish boys and Jewish American Princesses. I get it. I want to like this guy’s stuff but I just don’t.
7) Funny Girl
It’s not high on my list of things to watch again.
Another very common required for conversion movie… Seems like another Jewish movie with a Christ theme to me. It didn’t do much for me one way or the other. But it is common.
10 (tie)) The Ten Commandments(1956)
This was very long, but it is a classic movie. I felt like I was wandering through the desert waiting for it to end. It was four hours long during a time when most movies were only an hour and a half! I recommend watching the first five commandments and then go for the other five. 🙂
Another very typical love story. Not sure what the big deal is about it.
12) The Golem
I don’t have the best attention span for silent movies, but it is very interesting and I would certainly like to see more movies like this as I really like folklore of all types. If that is an interest of yours, I think you should watch it.
18) Blazing Saddles
I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan. No matter what type of movie he makes, there is always a very Jewish sense of humour behind it. If I could state there was one comedian who just shows what a Jewish sense of humour is, this would be the guy. Almost any Brooks film or production could have been on this list.