AJFF What to Watch in November

10/31/2020

An ambitious original series from Netflix, the return of a screen legend, ten classics of Yiddish cinema restored and more are featured in this month's picks. Film titles are linked with information on where to watch or purchase.

Video on Demand

Big Daddy 
If you need an Adam Sandler fix, then it's time to re-watch this 1999 comedy starring Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart pre-Daily Show, and the rest of Sandler's ensemble in one of the more charming versions Adam Sandler needing to grow up and find love, here under the guise of trying to be a father. You might also note that happily, as McDonald's now serves breakfast all-day, the McDonald's freak-out scene is no longer relevant though no less humorous now as a reminder of the way things used to be. 

The Liberator 
This Netflix WWII animated series debuts on Veteran’s Day, November 11 and is based on the book The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey by Alex Kershaw. The four part series, follows the 157th Infantry Regiment, a national guard unit from Oklahoma, through its fight to liberate Europe, from Italy in 1943 to France and Germany in 1944 and 1945. 

The Life Ahead
Screen icon Sophia Loren is directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti, in this adaptation of Romain Gary's novel, The Life Before Us. The story follows an aging Holocaust survivor who forges a bond with a young immigrant from Senegal who recently robbed her. Newcomer Ibrahima Gueye as the troubled child is already receiving early praise for his performance. 

Saul & Ruby, To Life!
This documentary, featured at the 2020 AJFF, follows an inseparable pair of sprightly Holocaust survivors who bring their tuneful call for peace and healing from assisted living facilities in Florida to the world stage, in this uniquely uplifting tribute to the human spirit. Launching a late-in-life musical career from total obscurity, Saul Dreier was 89 when he picked up drumsticks and founded the Holocaust Survivor Band. Along with accordion player Ruby Sosnowicz, the klezmer duo performed in Jewish community and retirement centers around Florida, laying on the charm with small but enthusiastic audiences. Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning documentarian Tod Lending expertly weaves comedy and tragedy in this charming, poignant and, above all, affirmative celebration of family, friendship, heartache, resilience and hope.

Blu-Ray & DVD

Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something 
Harry Chapin, the Jewish award-winning songwriter behind beloved hits such as ‘Cats in the Cradle’ and ‘Taxi,’ defined his life through storytelling and humanitarian work. In this moving portrait, documentarian Rick Korn chronicles the Long Island icon’s extraordinary journey—from his rise to fame to his tragic, untimely death. Featuring interviews with famous friends and fans—including Billy Joel, Pete Seeger, Pat Benatar, Bruce Springsteen, and many more—the documentary celebrates the legacy of an artist and activist who tirelessly dedicated himself to others, and offers an inspiring call to follow in his footsteps.

The Jewish Soul: Classics of Yiddish Cinema
The ten films included in this set include Yiddish movies that cover a broad range of genres: comedies, soap operas, the supernatural, literary adaptations, musicals, and Lubitsch-style romances. Unified through language, gesture, and a common cultural sensibility, they capture the essence of the Jewish soul. The features in this collection were restored by Lobster Films, the result of an unprecedented collaboration between the Museum of Modern Art, the Deutsche Kinemathek and the Filmoteka Narodowa in Warsaw. Each film has been newly translated by noted Yiddish actor, playwright, and translator Allen Lewis Rickman.