To prepare you for 21st year of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, completely virtual-for-the-first time as you’ve never seen before, we bring you 21 previews spotlighting the breath of films offered for your home viewing. The films, which represent more than half of those in the AJFF lineup Feb. 17-28, include classics, intimate family dramas, upbeat comedy and historic documentaries. Sit back and relax as the AJFF brings us together through film.
Even if you already saw “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” I invite you to come back. This story will touch that spot in your heart where your Bubbie and Zayde, your grandparents, your parents’ parents and the heroic Greatest Generation live.
The movie is not only highly entertaining, but it is also funny and insightful; the kind of story everyone can relate to, but with a special resonance for Jews in America.
The story, based on a play by the same name by the prolific playwright Neil Simon, takes place during the Great Depression, just a few years before the beginning of World War II, an important period in the history of the country and of the Jewish people.
The film adaptation came out in 1986, after the play’s acclaimed three-year run on Broadway, where it won multiple Tony awards.
Many of Neil Simon’s memories are reflected through his work, especially in the story of his alter ego, Eugene. The story is largely autobiographical and suffused with humor. We get to know Eugene during his coming-of-age years, when he and his family, Polish-American Jews, lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood in a crowded home in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. We see Eugene as he struggles to deal with his complicated family, his sexual awakening and self-discovery.
This film helped me laugh at a time when I needed it.
The movie was directed by Eugene Saks and it features, among others Blythe Danner – now perhaps better known as Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother – as Kate, the mother, Jonathan Silver as Eugene, and Jack Jerome as the family patriarch.