Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Secret Lives of Interns: Film Review

A blog by Julia Mazur

As a life long fan of director Barry Levinson, I have always felt a strange connection to his films. I remember at a young age watching Robin Williams, Joan Cusack and LL Cool J in Levinson’s eccentric film Toys…still a favorite of mine today. It was not until my Architecture and Social History of Baltimore class during sophomore year of college that I watched what I feel to be one of Levinson’s best, Liberty Heights. Liberty Heights is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story sprinkled with humor, about a Jewish family, the Kurtzmans, who reside in a suburban neighborhood in Baltimore distinctively known as the “Jewish side”. The opening begins with a scene showing how the community views the Jews that live there, putting them on the same level as dogs. The main character, Ben, faces anti-Semitism and race relations, especially when he befriends Sylvia, and African American student. Meanwhile, Van, Ben’s older brother falls for a girl from the WASP part of town. His mother refers to them as the “other kind”. His father, Nate, owns a burlesque house on the Block while running a number racket. The film closes with the family’s annual visit to view the new Cadillac model and Ben and his friends accepting their Jewish identity. It gives what I feel to be an accurate depiction of Baltimore Jewish life in the 50's. I feel that the experiences of the family can translate to other cities and I know my family can relate to their lives when they lived in Chicago. The film helped me understand their life and their struggles a little better. After watching the film for the first time I felt a sense of pride in my Jewish identity and the Jewish people who had fought for a equal statue of Jews so that I can have the life that I do today.

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