With "Gentleman's Agreement" as his jumping off point, Jamie Kastner asks who's a Jew, and does it matter. He'll answer the question, "Are you Jewish?" with a yes to see how people react. ... See full summary »

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Jamie Kastner ...
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Carol Gould ...
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Richard Ingrams ...
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Michael Sebban ...
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Jalda Rebling ...
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With "Gentleman's Agreement" as his jumping off point, Jamie Kastner asks who's a Jew, and does it matter. He'll answer the question, "Are you Jewish?" with a yes to see how people react. Brooklyn's Hassidic community embraces him and gives him a bar mitzvah. He visits Pat Buchanan who ends their conversation abruptly when Kastner presses Buchanan on whether all Jews are alike. He travels to Israel, London, Paris, Berlin, and Krakow talking to Jews about how they are seen by others and asking non-Jews what they think of Jews. He then goes to Auschwitz where he refuses to be a tourist. He ends the trip at his local bagel shop. Virtually everywhere, he finds irony and prejudice. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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jew | travel | tourist | prejudice | jewish | See All (55) »


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June 2007 (UK)  »

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Jew Like Me  »

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The majority doesn't work but it is sporadically interesting and amusing
16 November 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Canadian Jamie Kastner is often asked if he is Jewish and the question often annoys him as he doesn't understand why it should matter whether he is or not. Inspired by the Gregory Peck film Gentleman's Agreement (in which he pretends to be Jewish in order to explore anti-Semitism), Kastner sets out across the world to explore anti-Semantism himself. His journey takes him to Brooklyn (where he is embraced as a Jew and given his Bar Mitzvah), the US (where he meets politician Pat Buchanan), London (where anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise), Paris (where he starts a fight on the subject) and of course heads to Auschwitz.

Regardless of whether he is Jewish or not, Kastner's film exploring anti-Semitism manages to be clever and yet crass, sensitive and yet overly sarcastic, intelligent yet simplistic and accordingly the final film is a very mixed bag and I'm not entirely sure how I ended up taking it. Kastner approaches the subject with a blundering insensitivity that I found to be quite crass and at times it makes for very weak segments. The best example of this is the interview with Pat Buchanan that really goes nowhere and ends once the politician realises that Kastner has one thing on his agenda and won't stop till he gets a sound bite that backs it up ("you're looking for answers that you're not getting") but yet Kastner still tries to make his exit into some sort of persecution.

Conversely though his simple questions manage to start a fight between some random people on the street by talking about Jews. This moment exposes the problem but sadly he fails to deliver this in the same way when he goes to London and forces a Taxi driver to say what makes him think he is Jewish – the obvious answer of course being "because you're making a film on the subject and you're asking me about Jewish people, not the fact you have curly hair although that is clearly what you are looking for me to say". His sarcasm over Auschwitz is misplaced – yes it is weird that it is a tourist attraction but not as wrong and weird as Kastner suggests with his strong (but yet emotionally cold) reaction.

What he does achieve though is sort of sending out the message that Jews are getting a hard time, although maybe not that hard a time. The contributions are limited and it is only one or two of them that lets Kastner make his point well – the rest of them will win you over if you are already with him but otherwise they fall flat. A mixed film then, that doesn't seem to have the structure that it needs. Interesting and amusing stuff, but only to a point – the majority of the film didn't really do a lot for me.


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