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August 22, 2013 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-08-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

YOU ALREADY KNOW YOU'RE GONNA LOVE IT!

leave England before the bombs
started falling. His father and
uncle had mysterious jobs at I.G.
Farben, the German chemical
industry conglomerate, in 1933
and, it is claimed in a book by
the distinguished economic his-
torian Harold James, may have
worked as spies for Hitler and
Nazi Finance Minister Hjalmar
Schacht.
It is alleged that they were
dispatched to wreck the French
economy — one more disturbing
element in Gregory's profoundly
upsetting childhood.
He recalls a typical upper-class
Filmmaker Cindy Kleine with her
Mitteleuropa upbringing in which husband, Andre Gregory
"you never touched your chil-
dren"; it left him starved of human
wise and intuitive when talking
contact. He was raised by a loyal
about theater; and Gregory takes
nanny who remained with the family
to his work with the intensity of a
until his brother Alex was an adult.
shaman in a trance state, albeit as a
His parents were, Gregory says early
somewhat more approachable figure.
in the film, "the kind of people who
Throughout the film, we see
changed their name from Josefowitz
rehearsals of Gregory's production of
to Gregory and 'forgot' to tell the
Shawn's translation-adaptation of The
children they were Jews"
Master Builder. It quickly becomes
At some point, he must have
clear that the late Ibsen play is a sur-
found out for himself because all
prisingly good match for their shared
of Gregory's weddings were Jewish
concerns of family-shattering narcis-
(including the two ceremonies unit-
sism and creative genius.
ing him with Kleine). And, for all of
What is troubling about the film,
his fascination with and dabbling in
though, is the intrusive presence of
other spiritual traditions, he is very
Kleine.
clearly still attached to Judaism quite
Perhaps no filmmaker should be
directly.
allowed to make a film about her
But what of the accusation against
spouse, although it is abundantly
his father and his uncle? Gregory
clear that few people know her sub-
was sufficiently upset by this appar-
ject better. But Kleine just can't resist
ent revelation almost 80 years after
the occasional foolish joke, the inclu-
the fact that it caused him to suffer
sion of her own life experience before
a severe bout of shingles. As he and
she met Gregory and allegedly comic
Kleine agree early in the film, the
asides that add little to our under-
only way to deal with it is to enlist
standing of this man who is at once
their own researchers, whose reports
both remarkably straightforward and
are interspersed through the film.
yet incredibly complicated.
As for Dad, Gregory remembers
The result is a film that is deeply
him as "so absent," a non-presence
felt and genuinely appreciative of its
in the children's lives except for rare
central figure, often revealing and
occasions when the older man's bipo-
surprisingly candid, but disappoint-
lar condition would plunge him into
ing in its final effect. Still, if you have
fond memories of the Malle film, you
black depressions.
On some deep level, as Gregory
will want the update on Andre and
himself points out in the film, his
Wally, and that is certainly worth the
theater work as a director noted in
price of admission.
particular for his nurturing of actors
must be seen as a reaction against
the cold and bizarre treatment he
The Detroit Film Theatre at the
received from his parents.
Detroit Institute of Arts screens
He calls his famous stage version
Andre Gregory: Before & After
of Alice in Wonderland a portrait of
Dinner at 7 p.m. Friday and
his childhood, with its "authoritar-
Saturday, Aug. 23-24; 2 p.m.
ian parents who never give you an
Sunday, Aug. 25; 9:30 p.m. Friday
answer."
and Saturday, Aug. 30-31; and
It is when the subject turns to
4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1. $6.50-
theater that the film is on its surest
$7.50. (313) 833-4005; tickets.
footing. As anyone who has seen My
dia.org .
Dinner with Andre knows, Gregory
and Shawn are a terrific double act,

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August 22 • 2013

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