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Eric Kohn

Parsing Tablet's Top 100 Jewish Movies.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • December 9, 2011 7:09 PM
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Today, Tablet magazine published a list of the "100 Greatest Jewish Films," the kind of divisive round-up that will obviously invite scrutiny for its rankings and omissions. So the magazine has the chutzpah to avoid the obvious, giving its number one slot to…"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestial"? Followed by…"Sunset Boulevard"? Wow. Where to begin? Nowhere, really. The list is a terrific read, and definitely includes some viable contenders, especially when you consider the entire idea of Jewishness as an expansive concept. I certainly did when I programmed a weekend film series for Heeb magazine a few years back. It was easy enough to justify "My Mexican Shivah," but "My Mother's Garden" only qualified because its subject, a woman suffering from hoarding disorder, could easily merit description as a nebbish. She wasn't a certifiable member of the tribe. Still, putting "E.T." at the top of the list pushes any kind of boundaries one might impose on a Jewish film list. I love the movie for all the obvious reasons--its magical synthesis of childhood awe, sci-fi creepiness, and suburban iconography. But I'm not totally sold on Jody Rosen's valiant attempt to explain the movie's treatment of "Jewish exilic longing" or that the "unguarded enchantment" of the climax is a particularly Jewish conceit.

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