“The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs”: Peter Berger

with a lovely tribute. From 2011, but I just found it via people reminiscing about Berger's life and work: For centuries the Habsburgs cast a gigantic shadow over a large part of Europe. Their empire ended cataclysmically in 1918. The shadow lingered for some decades after that, slowly fading under the blows of later cataclysms. Perhaps the time has now arrived when the shadow will disappear completely. Otto von Habsburg was the eldest son of Charles I, the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian … [Read more...]

99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I read this thing sooner?The novel's delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews in the Alaskan territory. So now … [Read more...]

The Only Song in the World: Short movie notes

In order of when I saw them, so this will get whiplashy.Me Without You: Brutally disappointing. The bait: Two girls forge a best friendship (YES) in the late '70s/early '80s (YES) complete with druggie punk adventures (YES!) and talking about finding their "soulmate" while using their feet to share a cigarette (YES!!!!). One of them is even Jewish!!The switch: Joke's on you, gen-X lesbian, their friendship is holding them back and it falls apart in the face of the obvious imperatives of … [Read more...]

I Revisit Saul Bellow’s “Ravelstein,” A 2000 Novel About Love and Tenderness–And the Coming Crackup of the GOP

here you go: Ravelstein, Saul Bellow’s roman à clef about the last years of philosopher-provocateur Allan Bloom, may be the best post-9/11 novel published in the year 2000.Ravelstein has as many virtues as its subject has grabby, endearing vices. It’s a subtle portrayal of the blurred boundaries between eros, philia, paternal, and filial love. It calls attention to its own provisional nature: “I may return to this subject later,” the narrator says, but “I probably won’t.” It’s a loving portr … [Read more...]

Which Films Show the “10 Obscure Gospel Moments Most Jesus Films Miss”: Peter Chattaway

with some excellent service journalism at Christianity Today:Ten years ago, I compiled a list of my ten favorite Jesus movies for CT. Several new Jesus films have released since then, with more coming out this year: Risen (February 19), The Young Messiah (March 11), and a new version of Ben-Hur (August 12). But I've never felt a need to update the list. The original still holds up pretty well, I believe. That said, while none of the newer films have nudged their way into my all-time top … [Read more...]

It Always Rains on Ben Affleck: Short Movie Reviews

The Leopard: Burt Lancaster is the patriarch of an aristocratic Sicilian family whose role in society is inevitably being usurped by the rising middle class during the period of Italian unification. Directed in sun-soaked autumnal shade and color by Caravaggio--I mean, Visconti.Lancaster is so good at these autumnal roles (The Swimmer) and everything here is gorgeous to look at. My favorite social or psychological note was the complex role played by the Church/the family priest. The … [Read more...]

“Up Close”: Rabbi Ayelet Cohen and Me on The Jewish Channel

interviewalicious!and podcast version etc here … [Read more...]