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Reviews for January 12th, 2018 br>
Documentary Round-Up

      My Coffee With Jewish Friends, directed by Manfred Kirchheimer, is a mostly scattershot documentary that centers around the broad topic of the meaning of Judaism and a variety of related sub-topics ranging from antisemitism to whether or not God exists to the occupied territories in Israel and the rights of Palestinians. Each of those topics could have easily been explored in a separate documentary with much more insight and analysis. Kirchheimer uses a rather casual approach which includes lots of talking heads from people young and old, but none of them are experts on the topic. An elderly couple with opposing viewpoints makes for a briefly engaging moment because it creates much-needed friction and debate. More scenes with them would have enriched the film. By the end, there are so many perspectives and comments from the interviewees with view little analysis and focus that the doc bites much more than it can chew. The director hits the nail on the head at the end when, just like the grandfather in Moonstruck, he says that he's confused by everything he had heard. Audiences would most likely concur with him. To be fair, the film's topics are filled with a lot of gray area and no answers, but there's nearly enough revelatory insights. Religulous did a much better job at tackling hot button, complex issues in an entertaining and illuminating way. Stylistically, there's nothing about how My Coffee With Jewish Friends is shot that makes it a must-see on the big screen---it's just a series of amateurishly-shot talking heads---so nothing at all would be lost by seeing it on the small screen. It would probably be more fitting as introductory, supplemental material to a much more insightful and well-made doc, In the Land of Pomegranates, which is also playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

The Insult

Directed by Ziad Doueiri


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Cohen Media Group.
Opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Quad Cinema.

Paddington 2

Directed by Paul King


Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Daniela Thomas


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Music Box Films.
Opens at IFC Center.
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