Culver City Observer -

A Pickle Walks Into A Bar...


Except it wasn't a pickle, it was a writer. And it wasn't a bar, it was a movie theater...but -- there was a pickle.

Well, it wasn't a real pickle: it was a pickle pen: A phallic look-alike with a ball-point pen point sticking out. I walked into a movie lobby...and this guy hands me a pickle pen. Why?

Sheldon Cohn told me he wrote a movie about a pickle. Now I was curious.

"The Pickle Recipe" is a sweet comedy, and hugely funny. A young guy who works as a DJ desperately needs money when his equipment burns in a hilarious domino scene involving fire. He asks his uncle for $20,000, and the uncle agrees, on one condition: that the DJ steals the family treasure, Grandma Rose's world-famous award-winning pickle recipe, which she swears she's taking to the grave.

Grandma Rose may look delicate, but she's flinty, and resistant to manipulation. Not that this stops the grandson from absurdly amusing attempts to steal the recipe. Remember Miranda's housekeeper in "Sex And The City"? That's the grandmother, Lynn Cohen; the shady uncle's played by David Paymar (City Slickers, the hotel inspector in Ocean's Thirteen).

Film festivals are about passion and persuasion. I saw "The Pickle Recipe" at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, whose mission is "to educate and to share stories about the Jewish experience," according to Executive Director, Hilary Helstein.

This film is just a nice story, around themes of family, love, friendship, food. It's a very Jewish story in a cultural sense, not a religious sense (well, there is that one hilarious scene with a Rabbi not a Rabbi, with a secret under his pants).

Set in a milieu of revealing films about the Holocaust and history, this film's a delight. Not that it doesn't contain universal thematic truths of its own. Michael Manasseri's direction is sharp and intelligent, and you won't want to miss Eric Edelstein's manic, gentle acting.

I once asked Akira Kurosawa about problems making the movie "Ran," and he told me it was hard to get the money, then to get the film distributed. Imagine a director of Kurosawa's stature having trouble distributing a film. "The Pickle Recipe" also needs a distributor; I hope they find one so you'll get a chance to see it. You should - it's a winner.

* * *

"Shnei Kuni Lemel (The Flying Matchmaker)" makes you question the values of feminism and political correctness we live with versus what used to be in the shtetls of Eastern Europe. In a charade of mixed identity, Mike Burstyn stars as a young man in love, who's not too liked by the father of his would-be bride. His posing as the doppelganger village idiot is brilliant. It's impressive that this comedy endures, since this film was made 50 years ago (we saw the digitally restored version). Mike Burstyn was there to answer questions, and the cinematographer Adam Greenberg was in the audience. What must they have felt seeing the audience lap up their work from half a century ago? The irony of the matchmaker's daughter dreaming of finding a groom slid easily into the plot; and they all lived happily after.

Monty Hall introduced Mike Burstyn; it was lovely to see two old friends having a grand time.

"Golan: A Farewell to Mr. Cinema" exposed the naked ambition and, to be blunt, balls, of Menaham Golan. In 1986, his Cannon films had so many entries at the Cannes Film Festival that some renamed it the Cannon Film Festival. From that high to a meager apartment in Jaffa, Israel, we get to see a gutsy life taking every advantage of whatever opportunities came his way, which is Menahem's advice to you. Golan's best tip? Not to hesitate, and be able to take chances.

"Showfolk" gives recollections of the glamour of Hollywood by a dozen people, some over 100, most in their 90's, whose jobs made the movie industry work. It's touching to hear them reminisce about the work they used to do and how they got to do it.

"False Flag" was the North American premiere not of a movie, but of a television show. Seen in over 170 countries, it's in development as a series for American TV. Intriguing premise: what if you, an ordinary person, were suddenly hunted as a terrorist, with proof you've conspired as a spy? We got to see two episodes, and everyone watching was burning to see what came next. Co-creator Amit Cohen did a Q&A, along with stars Angel Bonanni and Ania Bukstein. Angel up close has to be one of the best-looking men anyone's ever seen; he was startlingly more attractive than even in the series. Ania (Game of Thrones), 33, looked like a true Hollywood movie star of the 20's as she took questions in a see-through lacy number only part-covered by a silk jacket.

Film festivals are so easy. They give you a relaxed way to see movies you might not ever see otherwise. You get access to the people making movies and a chance to meet a lobby-full of bizarre characters. Check out the LA Jewish Film Festival next time it's here; the choices are likely to surprise and amuse.


©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

You can write to her at:


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