Dan Friedman

Archive for the ‘Visual Media’ Category

25 Years With Sacha BC

In Comedy, Culture, Films, Visual Media on March 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm

For the loudest person in the room, Sacha Baron Cohen took a while to find his public voice. Or voices.

From the time I met him as a 16 year old, through our college years and while we lived together, Sacha was always the center of attention and always the funniest person around. But people underestimate his commitment to craft: he would write and rewrite jokes on his antique Mac in the basement and spend hours repeating phrases until he had accents and intonations right.

Read more: Forward
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Talking to Nobby From “The Brothers Grimsby”

In Comedy, Culture, Films, Football (Soccer), Visual Media on March 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

I’d arranged to meet Sacha Baron Cohen to discuss his new film “The Brothers Grimsby,” which opens in American theaters on March 11. When I arrived at the back room of the bar to which I’d been directed, though, I was greeted by a tall, slightly pot-bellied man, who looked the spitting image of Liam Gallagher. He was holding a beer in his bandaged right hand, wearing an off-brand number 19 England kit, and appeared not to have washed in a couple of days. He greeted me warmly, thrust a beer in my direction, splashing me slightly, and indicated that we should start the interview.

Read more: 8by8Mag

Jewish Farmers, Revolutionary or Ridiculous?

In Culture, Food, Visual Media on February 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

The unfailing response from people when I tell them I’m going to the Jewish farmers conference here, just outside San Diego, is a smile to see if I’m joking. Then, when it’s clear I’m serious, comes: “I didn’t know that there were any Jewish farmers.”

All the Yiddish That’s Fit To Print, in Northampton, Mass.

In Culture, Interviews, Visual Media on February 20, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Who knew that we loved to listen to the air? Until the death of analogue music we never realized we craved the warmth of vinyl’s atmospheric cracklings, but in 2014 record sales spiked 49%.

And so it is with printing. Once we no longer rely for our news on swathes of newsprint hurtling through factories of machines in Chicago, New Jersey or California, we grow nostalgic. We sit at our silent, infinitely changing computer screens and yearn for the comforting splash of print on plush paper: the reassuring finality of the linotype and its products.

We Are All the “Other” Israel

In Culture, Films, Politics, Visual Media on November 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

At some point in the evolution of American national thought Martin Luther King Jr. went from being a political firebrand to being a national icon. You have to be pretty far outside the mainstream in 2013 to object to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Likewise the Other Israel Film Festival started out as a way to cover those aspects of Israel that mainstream media didn’t talk about, mostly the Arab experience. Watching DAM, the Israeli-Palestinian hip hop group, rap in the auditorium of the JCC in Manhattan on November 10, 2007, felt subversive: What would Michael Steinhardt think?

But no longer.

Umberto Eco on Conspiracies and Novels

In Books, Culture, Interviews, Visual Media on November 24, 2011 at 3:52 am

I couldn’t get that unlit cigar out of my mind. I was in congenial conversation with someone I deeply admired but all I could think of was that mysterious cylinder of tobacco. As he spoke, it was all I could do to concentrate, but unraveling the plot depended upon it; demystifying “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” depended upon it.

Umberto Eco’s latest novel, “The Prague Cemetery,” is a historical novel about a fictitious Captain Simonini who, in recounting his bizarre life, explains how he came to write what we now know as “The Protocols.” Populated by historical characters including, in passing, a M. Froïde from Vienna during his Paris sojourn, the novel covers the expanse of fin-de-siecle Europe. It was a time when, as Eco commented in the elevator to his hotel room, everything that we use now was invented, with the exception of the airplane which had to wait another two years.

I sat down with Eco and a video camera the day before his book was released to try to look past the cigar and find out why he wrote this novel — why now — and whether there was any link between Simonini’s virulent anti-Semitism and his oft-detailed gustatory delight.

Walking the Wire

In Culture, Television, Visual Media on September 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

The American Dream is one of upward mobility, but also sideways movement. The aspiration to greatness comes with a rhetoric of self-sufficiency that causes people to move along and start again, rather than navigating existing structures. Not only was the founding event of the United States a secession, but the most traumatic moment in American history — the Civil War — was also a failed attempt at the same thing. From Woodrow Wilson’s ‘Splendid Isolation’ to the libertarian Tea Party movement, the United States has tended to view government involvement as an intrusion and to laud those who start afresh over those who try to improve what already exists.

Read more: Jewish Quarterly