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August 25, 2011 - Image 68

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-08-25

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arts & entertainment

Full Frontal Comedy

Cheeky French screwball comedy
takes on sensitive issues.

Michael Fox
Special to the Jewish News


ith unbridled enthusiasm and
fearless wit, The Names of
Love co-writers Michel Leclerc
(who also directed) and Baya Kasmi cover
France's political-cultural spectrum —
from the Vichy government's deportation
of Parisian Jews in 1942 to contemporary
Arab-Jewish tensions.
Pairing its goring of sacred cows with
over-the-top flaunting of female nudity,
this audacious and entertaining movie
goes so far beyond politically incorrect as
to render the term meaningless.
But its approach isn't cynical or irre-
sponsible. If its goal is to shock, it is to
shock us out of our complacent, passive
acceptance of stereotypes, racism and
The Names of Love is scheduled to open
Friday, Aug. 26, at the Maple Art Theatre in
Bloomfield Township.
Every romantic comedy requires a con-
trived meet-cute, but this one is especially
and cheerfully shameless. A buttoned-
down, middle-age, Jewish environmental
scientist named Arthur Martin (an endear-
ing Jacques Gamblin) is conducting a staid

radio interview when a youthful station vol-
unteer — infuriated by his mealy-mouthed
assessment of the risks of avian flu —
bursts into the studio to ream him out.
This incident impels Arthur to directly
address the camera (that is, the audience)
and begin rattling off his socially inept life
story to this point. An only child, Arthur
was raised by likable yet cautious parents;
his mother's parents were deported and
killed in the Holocaust, although he's
never been told the story.
In fact, the subject was taboo in the
Martin house, even when the rest of
France was finally confronting its dread-
ful history. In a typically daring and
funny flashback, Arthur's father, a French
Catholic veteran of the French-Algerian
war, jumps up to change the channel when
coverage of Klaus Barbie's trial comes
on the TV. What does he find instead? A
Holocaust documentary. Another turn of
the dial and there, thankfully, is an innoc-
uous quiz show.
Except, however, a contestant is giving
a Holocaust-related answer. Holocaust
denial may be eradicated in France, but it's
alive and well in the Martin home.
Inevitably, Arthur and his flamboy-
ant tormentor, whose name is Baya

cross paths
again, with a
more cordial
result. She
invites him
Sara Forestier as Baya and Jacques Gamblin as Arthur in
back to her
The Names of Love
place, an every-
day occurrence
Algerian Arab immigrant father and one-
for her but discombobulating for him.
time radical hippie French mother, she
We're primed for a variation on the old
is as steeped as Arthur in government-
Woody Allen gambit — brainy Jew meets
backed bloodshed and institutional
liberated gentile — but that's way too hack- discrimination. With so much common
neyed for this movie. Liberated, heck; Baya's ground to explore, even if a lot of it is
a caricature of promiscuity who sleeps with marked with landmines, the couple
every conservative she meets to "cure" them embarks on a roller-coaster love affair of
of their wrong-headed political views. (She
unexpected poignancy.
comes on to Arthur because she mistakenly
American moviegoers almost never
thinks he's one of them.)
encounter the mix of unvarnished social
The Names of Love is not the kind of lazy commentary and light-on-its-feet filmmak-
movie that asks us to take on faith what it
ing that distinguishes The Names of Love.
tells us about its characters. So we get an
Don't let this smart, nervy gem slip by.
extended scene of the sexually blase Baya
(a gutsy Sara Forestier, who won the French
The Names of Love is scheduled to
Oscar for Best Actress) walking around
Friday, Aug. 26, at the Maple
Paris nude. Only much later might it occur
in Bloomfield Township.
to you that the sequence is sending up the
with times and
gratuitous nudity in French films.
or go to
Now it's Baya's turn to fill us in on
her autobiography. The daughter of an





Nate Bloom
Special to the Jewish News

New Flicks

If you have seen Taken, the 2008 non-
thriller about a retired CIA-type
agent desperately trying to recover
his kidnapped teenage daughter,
) you have a good idea about what to
expect from Columbiana, which opens
Friday, Aug. 25. Luc Bresso, the direc-
tor of Taken, and its screenwriter,
Robert Mark Kamen, 63, have teamed
again for this film. Kamen is probably
most famous for penning the original
Karate Kid.
Columbiana begins with a young
girl, Cataleya, witnessing the murder
of her parents in Columbia. She is
smuggled into the
United States and
hooks up with her
uncle in Chicago.
Fast-forward to the
present, and the
adult Cataleya (Zoe
Saldana) is working
as a "hit man" for
her uncle while she



44 August 25 e 2011

also hunts down her parents' kill-
ers. The FBI is on her trail, and her
boyfriend, Michael Vartan, 42, only
gradually learns whom he is dating.
Vartan (TV's Hawthorne) is the son of
a Jewish mother.
Our Idiot Brother,
also opening on
Aug. 25, stars Paul
Rudd, 42, as an
idealistic organic
farmer who has just
been released from
jail for selling pot. In
Paul Rudd
succession, each of
his three sisters –
played by Elizabeth Banks, 37, Zooey
Deschanel and Emily Mortimer – take
him into their home. He manages to
upend their lives in interesting and
unexpected ways.
Rashida Jones, 35, has a big part
as the girlfriend of the sister played
by Mortimer. The film is directed by
Jesse Peretz, 43, and was co-written
by him and his sister, Evegenia
Peretz. They are the children of
Martin Peretz, 72, the former pub-
lisher of the New Republic and a
famously strong defender of Israel.

Carlton Comeback

Vanessa Carlton,
who had a big hit
with 2002's "A
Thousand Miles"
from her CD Be
Not Nobody, has
just released her
first new CD since
2007, Rabbits on the
Run, and looks to revive her flagging
career. Carlton, 30, is the daughter
of a non-Jewish father and a Jewish
mother. Last January, famous Russian
Jewish singer-songwriter Regina
Spektor, 31, fell ill just before she was
supposed to perform for a benefit
for San Francisco's Jewish Family
and Children's Services organization.
Carlton stepped in at the last minute
for Spektor and saved the day.

Mazel Toy

Actress Marla Sokoloff, 30, and her
husband, Alec Puro, 36, are expect-
ing their first child. The Jewish
couple married in 2009, with Jake
Paltrow (brother of Gwyneth) acting
as Puro's best man.

Sokoloff has been
acting since she
was a child, with a
big role on TV's Full
House when she was
12. This busy sched-
ule prevented her
from having a bat
Marla Sokoloff
mitzvah, she says.
But, she adds, she
wants to raise her children Jewish and
hopes to have a bat mitzvah some day
(her mother celebrated her bat mitz-
vah at age 40).
Sokoloff has starred on the TV
series The Practice and Big Day and
has kept busy with TV guest shots.
She's also an accomplished musi-
cian. Puro is the drummer for the
well-known arty rock band Deadsy
and, in the last five years, has been
very busy scoring films and docu-
Speaking of babies, Southfield
native and Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit attendee Selma
Blair, 39, and her boyfriend, Jason
Bleick, welcomed their first child,
Arthur Saint Bleick, on July 25 in
Los Angeles. f l

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