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September 26, 2003 - Image 128

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-26

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Big Screen/Small Screen

`Masked And Anonymous'

"Seinfeld" writer joins Dylan in meeting of great Jewish minds.

guide our lives that we don't quite understand,"
Charles explains.
"God's one of the main characters, actually. The role
of fate, the role of predetermination, karma and after-
steady stream of Jewish writers has worked
life and the Messiah — these are all Jewish concerns.
on sitcoms since the early days of television,
It's a highly religious movie in a lot of ways, but not in
but Larry Charles is one of the few who can
a traditional, Cecil B. DeMille sort of way."
quote Martin Buber.
Jewish influences are not readily apparent in Masked
"I wore tsitsit for a while and I wanted
and Anonymous (Charles
to be a rabbi," confides Charles, best
says they are more explicit
known for his award-winning work as a
in the longer cut of the
writer and producer on Seinfeld and Mad
film, which will no doubt
About You. "I still do, in a weird way. I
surface at some point on a
am, in a weird way, seeking and explor-
DVD aimed at hard-core
Dylan fans), but they
Long fascinated by Jewish philosophy
dominated his discussions
and spirituality, the Brooklyn native
with Dylan.
encountered a kindred spirit a few years
"We would spend a lot
ago in one Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob
of time alone together in
Dylan. Their lengthy but irregular collab-
enclosed rooms while he
oration, stretched out by Dylan's infre-
chain-smoked, talking
quent stops in Los Angeles, has resulted
about all kind of things,"
in a singularly offbeat motion picture,
Charles says. "We are free
Masked and Anonymous.
thinkers, and our interest
The film, directed by Charles and star-
Bob Dylan as Jack Fate in "Masked and in God and our curiosity
ring Dylan, runs Sept. 26-28 at the
and our literary analysis of
Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit
[Him] are all what I
Institute of Arts (unfortunately, the dates
would classify as very
coincide with Rosh Hashanah, but there
Judaic traditions.
is a 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, showing for those who
"We had some talmudic dialogue that allowed us to
observe both days of the Jewish New Year).
explore these questions. When we talked about Martin
Set in the near future in an America that closely
Buber or Maimonides, that helped us deepen a certain
resembles a rundown Latin American dictatorship, the
thought that we were trying to express."
film revolves around a benefit concert staged by a
Such reference points may surprise many Jewish
shady promoter (John Goodman) and starring a leg-
Dylan fans who figured he abandoned Judaism with
endary, reclusive singer named Jack Fate (Dylan).
his high-profile embrace of Christianity in the late '70s
Masked and Anonymous drolly sends up Dylan's per-
sona as revered icon and visionary artist, while drawing and early '80s.
"I think when he was born again he was just expand-
on the eccentric characters and biblical themes that
ing his feeling about religion and God," Charles muses.
have informed his songs.
"In his mind — this is my interpretation — I don't
"It's a lot about destiny, and the serious forces that


Special to the Jewish News


think he saw such a disconnect between his Judaisip
and his Christianity. I think he sees it all as streams
running from the same source.
"His definition of religion, his definition of God, is a
very broad one and encompasses a lot of traditions,
and I don't think they are in conflict with one anoth-
That's how Charles feels, too. While the rigorous
Conservative synagogue in Brighton Beach he
attended as a youngster had an enormous impact on
him, it was his subsequent exposure to "enlightened"
rabbis like Shlomo Carlebach that awakened
Charles' spiritual consciousness.
Intellectualism and comedy may not seem like natu-
ral companions, but Charles combines them with ease.
Asked to ponder the future of Jewish humor, Charles
points to Curb Your Enthusiasm, the HBO series creat-
ed by his Seinfeld cohort Larry David.
"Right now he's mining an area of territory that no
one has ever mined before," Charles declares. "He's
playing the role of an affluent, nouveau riche,
American middle-aged Jew, and you do not see that
character anywhere else."
Charles is developing various projects, while direct-
ing episodes of Curb Your Enthusaism. Although he
never creates overtly Jewish characters, he admits that
he's not surprised when they turn out Jewish.
"My grandfather walked to temple every day and
spoke only Yiddish; I was raised amidst all of this.
That's what you take with you. And inevitably it filters
"What comes out of me is going to have some sort
of a Jewish influence on it."

Masked and Anonymous screens 7 and 9:30
p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 26-28, at the Detroit Film
Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. $5.50-
$6.50. (313) 833-3237.

`Boys of 2nd Street Park

Bittersweet documentary explores the divergent paths taken by a generation of boys
who grew up in New York City in the 1960s.


Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles


fight years ago, public rela-
tions executive Dan Klores
received a distressing tele-
phone call from Steve
Satin, his childhood friend from
Brooklyn's 2nd Street Park. In high



school, Satin had been popular, co-
captain of the basketball team and,
presumably, bound for medical
But his life had unraveled during
years of addiction to cocaine and
heroin, he told Klores.
Although he eventually got
straight, Satin's 5-year-old son died

of leukemia, his second marriage
failed and he found himself homeless
and wandering the streets with a
Eventually, he took refuge in the
Port Authority bus terminal, where
he spent nights moving from bench
to bench so as not to draw police
attention. Three months later he did

draw their attention, for writing bad
checks; he was about to be arrested,
he told Klores.
"So he came to see me and it was
pretty shocking," said the PR execu-
tive, whose tender documentary, The
Boys of 2nd Street Park, revolves
around Satin and their basketball-
playing gang. "He hardly had any

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