Date for your diary! The @ukjewishfilm Festival comes to town next month! #jewishfilmfestival #film

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 21.15.30

If you’re not catching the #LFF London Film Festival next month then fear not, only a few short weeks later will be the 17th annual UK Jewish Film Festival. This years festival will feature screenings of over 70 films and other special events across five cities – London, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – over the course of 19 days from 31st October 2013.

From gala premieres to documentaries about the Jewish culture, here’s a few of our highlights which look like ones not to miss! 

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 21.09.17

Joe Papp in Five Acts

A riveting portrait of a transformative figure in the New York theatre scene, Joe Papp – a poor, tough, Jewish kid from Brooklyn – who created Central Park’s free Shakespeare In The Park Festival, which launched the careers of everyone from Meryl Streep to Kevin Kline, all of whom feature here.

This radical and tumultuous personality introduced colour-blind casting, nurtured emerging playwrights, fostered countercultural plays like Hair, and revolutionized commercial theatre with the Broadway smash hit A Chorus Line, as well as founding the Public Theatre.

Packed with testimonials from Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, James Earl Jones and Meryl Streep – and framed by Kevin Kline’s exquisite monologues.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 21.08.05

Hava Nagila (The Movie) 

Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Regina Spektor and more. Hava Nagila (The Movie) is a documentary romp through the history, mystery and meaning of the great Jewish standard.

The film follows the ubiquitous party song on its fascinating journey from Ukraine and Israel to the Catskils, Hollywood and the world, using the song as a springboard to explore Jewish history and identity and to spotlight the cross-cultural connections that can only be achieved through music.

High on fun and entertainment, Hava Nagila (The Movie) is also surprisingly profound, tapping into universal themes about the importance of joy, the power of music and the resilient spirit of a people.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 21.15.06


Funny, clever and abrasive New York comedy from a young director tipped as the next Woody Allen, starring the inimitable Brian Cox CBE.

Blumenthal is a comedy about a family in motion. The severely constipated Saul Blumenthal desperately wants to go. His brother Harold the famous playwright (whom Saul believes plagiarised his life), has just gone. Saul’s wife Cheryl fears she’s a has-been and considers cosmetic surgery whilst Ethan, the main protagonist, is on a duel-pronged journey to find a soulmate and Harold’s lifetime achievement award, as a form of recompense for his father…

Welcome to the world of American Modern Day ‘Jewrosis’!

You can book your tickets via the Film Festival website  but don’t leave it too late or you’ll miss out on all of these fantastic films. 


Keep the Summer going with @fordhambeersuk American Craft Beers! #beer #drinks #summer

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.19.46

So just when we thought the Summer was beginning to say adieu and we were starting to unbox our Autumn fashion, there’s word that yet another heat wave is on the horizon! So to celebrate we thought it’s a perfect opportunity to open some bottles of beer – delicious American craft beer to be exact!

Whilst the sun shines on this side of the pond, having a taste of these lovely beers will bring back memories of holidays abroad (particularly to the US) or if you’ve never been it will probably bring to life your imagination as to what this land across the Atlantic might just be like!

Now for some history!

Fordham Beers originated in Maryland in 1703, formed to serve a new colony in need of good beer (aren’t we all!) the brewery was reborn in 1995 with a similar purpose and passion. In 1989 Fordham Beers opened its doors to the Old Dominion Brewing Company founded by beer enthusiast Jerry Bailey and the two breweries live side by side in Delaware.

Here’s some of the Dominion beers we tasted and reviewed:

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.14.59

The Beach House Pilsner

At a very affordable £1.95* per bottle we found this to be a perfect Summer lager. It has a good happy flavour with a refreshing and crisp taste. You can put the ciders to one side and lap this up next to the BBQ on a lovely Summer evening.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.15.31

Hop Mountain

Apparently this little number is becoming the UK’s favourite out of the selection, and its not hard to see why. At a competitive £2.15* it’s a rich red ale with strong hop character and a medium bodied dry finish…perfect to cool you down on a hot summer night or after something a little bit spicy!

Now if its not all about the alcoholic beers for you , never fear, Dominion Sodas provide the perfect family summer drink too… 

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.21.59Creamy Orange Soda

Now this really will bring back childhood memories… a modern take on a traditional American orange soda – creamy is the key word as you cut out the fizz and enjoy a very sweet easy to drink soda for only £1.95*

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.22.20

Black Cherry Soda

You can mix this number with a spirit of choice, but if you’re sticking to its traditional format you may feel that you’ll need an ice cube or two to help dilute its slightly over powering taste. Those without a sweet tooth need not apply! But for those with no trips to the dentist coming up, treat yourself for only £1.95*

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 12.22.41

Ginger Ale

We Brits just love a good old Ginger Ale, and with some very strong competitors out there like Crabbies, the market is a pretty tough place. This version is mostly for those who like a slightly lighter version of the popular drink, with a combination of ginger and citrus, you’ll either bask in its subtle taste or need to try something a little stronger.

So more choice for you all as we see the Summer continue to shine, so stay refreshed, stay merry and drink responsibly.

*prices shown are a guide and based on retail sales. Prices may vary by outlet and will be higher in pubs and restaurants.

** Fordham and Dominion beers are available at selected bars and restaurants across the UK including:

– In London: Electric Diner in Notting Hill; Beard to Tail in Hoxton;  Jetlag Bar in Fitzrovia; The English Pig in Westminster; The Diner in Soho; Bodean’s in Fulham; All Star Lanes in Brick Lane

-Outside London: Gordon Bennett in Surbiton, Surrey; The Brewery Tap in Brighton; Jake’s Place in Edinburgh; Colston Yard in Bristol; Chicago Rib Shack in Southampton.

#Horror fans are you ready for The Collection? – Out on DVD 29th April #scarycollection #review

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 12.52.30

Anyone keen for a bit of blood, guts and gore? Well, this may be the perfect present for you. Out on DVD on the 29th April is The Collection. A splatter-fest from the makers of Saw IV, V, VI and 3D, this is the sequel to the terrifying The Collector and is great, great fun!

Here’s what it’s all about:

When Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) is talked into attending an underground warehouse party with her friends, she finds herself caught in a nightmarish trap where the revelers are mowed, sliced and crushed to death by a macabre series of contraptions operated by a masked psychopath. When the grisly massacre is over, Elena is the only survivor. But before she can escape, she is locked in a trunk and transported to an unknown location.

Fortunately for Elena, one man – Arkin (Josh Stewart) knows exactly where she’s headed, having just escaped from there with his life and sanityScreen Shot 2013-04-23 at 12.52.07 barely intact. Going back is the last thing on Arkins mind, but Elena’s wealthy father (Christopher McDonald) hires a crack team of mercenaries to force Arkin to lead them to the killers lair. But even these hardened warriors are not prepared for what they encounter: an abandoned hotel turned torture chamber, rigged with deadly traps and filled with mangled corpses.

What is great about this film is that its all about the action. There is no significant backstory build up, the film centres upon one night and where it leads. Bar a quick flashback to open the film, we pretty much start with Elena being stood up by her boyfriend and immediately tempted to put her studying to one side and head out with her group of friends. By heading straight into an action packed start, we’re faced with a roller coaster ride, which makes the film sail through without you even stopping to take a breath.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a solid leading lady in The Collection, smart, vulnerable and likeable, she seems less superficial than her group of friends who we meet at the beginning of the film, and her tomboyish look and nature makes her incredibly relatable and likeable to the audience watching – she is in no way a damsel in distress. What we don’t see with her are those moments where you want to shout at the TV screen “don’t go in there” because you know what’s going to happen. Instead we see her making decisions, which probably wouldn’t be too dis-similar to those the audience would make if they were ever placed in this gruesome situation – which in comparison to other horror leading ladies, is a relief!

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 12.44.55The entrance of our villain – The Collector himself, immediately reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera – a masked man stood above a room full of people, watching and ready to strike. Quite fittingly you see him descend on a room of club revelers as they are ripped apart by perhaps his largest contraption (something along the lines of a room sized lawn mower blade!) Not a pretty way to go! But you immediately get the sense that this is a calculated, clever human being with a disturbingly sadistic mind, who thinks three steps ahead.

With this, you have the beauty and the beast combination, which makes horror films like The Collection so engaging to watch. The audience is kept wondering why Elena is spared, and just when you think you’ve worked it out, another gory surprise is just around the corner.

The supporting cast, comprising of Arkin and the team sent in to save Elena throws another element into the mix. For us skeptical Brits, the team is essentially a hammed up stereotypical American pseudo SWAT team who use their brawn over brains and their single mindedness provides the very subtle comedic undertones to this film. Arkin on the other hand proves himself to be the redeeming protagonist in The Collection. An ex-con who was missing for months in The Collectors capture and like Wentworth Miller in Prison Break is the key to getting the girl and getting out. Like Elena, his character is sympathetic to watch and suitably underplayed, particularly in relation to “the team.” Arkin is resourceful, careful and believable which makes him yet another engaging character to watch.Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 12.44.39

The Collection isn’t the greatest horror movie of all time, and certainly isn’t on the scale of the Saw films. However, you can’t deny that for what it is, its most certainly well shot, watchable and lots of good fun. We would have loved to have had a few more jumpy moments, but at least we could still go to bed that evening not worrying that some lunatic hasn’t rigged it to swallow us up whole! If you like blood, guts and gore in films, this is definitely a keeper for your ‘collection,’ and in any way it’s certainly worth a watch.

3.5 stars