Sparkling Polish Gem at Soho International Film Fest: The Eccentrics (On the Sunny Side of the Street)

Freedom through music
An unobtrusive comedy much better than the simple description in the Soho International Film Festival program at Village East Cinema at 2nd Ave and 12th st, The Eccentrics: On the Sunny Side of the Street is an intelligent Polish mix of amusing social commentary, spy mystery, and political satire which is also a fine philosophical celebration of upbeat, soulful swing as a come together refuge from atrocious politics, in this case the wooden and dangerous absurdities of Communism in the fifties in beleaguered Poland.

This very accomplished film is a delicate, many petaled rose of good humor, satirical intelligence and unexpected takes on what would be in lesser hands a straightforward tale, but after a brief slow start when the underlying deadly seriousness of the Polish war and postwar experience is quickly established, every scene is made interesting by a skilfully provocative script by Wlodzimierz Kowalewski (it’s his original novel) and effortless acting by all.

A wholly interesting and amusing standout shouldn’t be blushing unseen on the festival program at Village East Cinema (189 2nd Avenue), where it will be run once at 8pm-10pm on Tuesday, June 20, and we advise anyone with a taste for worldly wit and emotional teasing of the most sophisticated yet pointed kind, the most achieved in Polish comedy that has been seen in Manhattan for years, should make sure to catch it.

For that will be the only chance here to catch what is the current cap from 2015 to director Janusz Majewski’s body of work which is widely admired in Poland and abroad. The Eccentrics unreels a deadpan saga where every scene is a pleasing turn and interesting surprise, from the unexpected bonding of official and suspect just returned from London exile over a piano which leads to the suspiciously easy recruitment of good players for his big band renditions of American Patrol and many other top tunes, to the romantic denouement where the uphill seduction by our hero of his personally challenging lead singer (“I won’t tell! – the less you know the more you’ll care!” is her reply to his post success inquiry as to her past life) crumbles catastrophically, revealing that it is political machinations behind the scenes which fill the story with intriguing off kilter interruptions.

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BookExpo – Huge Javits Celebration With Latest Troves of Talk Treasure in Hands On Reality Form

Book Expo 2017 May 31 Wed-Jun 2 Fri: Nothing like this huge, multilayered annual celebration of books, the ultimate in handy briefings of the cutting edge on science and current affairs of every field. A great must-go event, bursting with books and book fans of every kind, booksellers, popular authors, and long lines for signed copies of current and future hits.

But key aspect is that it also contains academic press treasure troves of past, present or forthcoming individually polished gems of scholarship and independent research in science and other solid topics, works which unlike the daily or even weekly or monthly media news and talk shows benefit from authors who take personal responsibility for the accuracy and quality of their work, completed outside the confines of government and corporate walls where censors and pr spokesmen prowl.

So get excited about BookExpo coming up fast in NYC at Javits on May 31 Wed to June 2 Fri, its for all those interested in books on paper between hard or soft covers as the last easily available repository of the latest worthwhile information from independent authors that unlike the fleeting smartphone or desktop screen display does not vanish into virtual reality, but remains stationery on the page ready for reference with precise marking or emendation or query in the margin, inside real physical books placed within manual grasp on a nearby bookshelf, or displayed open on the desk next to the working screen, or on the bedside table to stabilise one’s last waking moment before peaceful slumber induced by the restful quiet of the night broken only by the turn of the page, that’s what we are talking about and looking forward to – Manhattan’s greatest annual showplace of ideas!

In our case, our particular interest is the state of the academic publishing industry as part of it gravitates to competing more significantly with the trade press, which renders a lot of deep data more accessible, and in the state of science publishing, especially in the first days of a new era where the new President of the US is apparently happy to remain in total ignorance of what science reveals about the state of the world and its future, and to contradict it whenever it conflicts with his personal interests and profit motive, or his belief in himself as the most admirable human being in the world.

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Pure luck and get paid $1.4 billion?

James Simons, at $1.6 billion, was the nation’s best-paid hedge fund manager last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine. Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

James Simons, at $1.6 billion, was the nation’s best-paid hedge fund manager last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine. Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

No evidence that top hedge fund managers know what they’re doing

Half the most highly paid last year did worse than the market.

One of the most egregious aspects of unrestrained capitalism is the obscene amount of money skimmed by the top club compared with the struggles of those they live off.

Come back Karl Marx all is forgiven!

“Things became so tough last year that big money managers found themselves sitting at the negotiating table with their investors, offering lower fees and better terms for sharing in the returns.

“It’s a moment in time where you’re going to see a cleansing of the hedge fund industry,” said Adam I. Taback, head of global alternative investments at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.”

NYTimes DealBook:

Hedge Fund Managers Don’t Always Beat the Market, but They Still Make Billions
The 25 best-paid managers earned a collective $11 billion in 2016. But some big names, like William A. Ackman and John A. Paulson, did not make the cut.

By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON MAY 16, 2017

Good performance, mediocre results or even downright ugly returns. When it comes to hedge funds, it scarcely matters. Even as some investors begin to sour on these high-priced stock pickers, the top fund managers still haul in enormous paychecks.

The 25 best-paid hedge fund managers earned a collective $11 billion in 2016, according to an annual ranking published on Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine.

Even managers who had a tough year were able to cash in. Nearly half of the top-25 earners made single-digit returns for their investors, a lackluster sum in a year when the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was up 12 percent, accounting for reinvested dividends.

The top earner of 2016 was James Simons, the former code breaker for the National Security Agency and the founder of Renaissance Technologies, who made $1.6 billion. Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates who is best known for his philosophy of “radical transparency,” came in a close second with $1.4 billion. Further down the list was Robert Mercer, the co-chief executive of Renaissance and one of the biggest backers of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, who earned $125 million.

But some of the best-known names in the industry — including William A. Ackman, John A. Paulson and Edward S. Lampert — failed to make the list. Also missing from the list: women.

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As usual at the Times, no comments space offered on a fertile topic!

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Brilliantly smooth dark chocolates at Big Chocolate Show

Chocolate Lovers Find Smooth Dark Amid Choice Array

If perfection is possible in chocolate making it may have been achieved in all but one respect by Christopher Elbow of Kansas City, whose offerings welcomed visitors at the first table at the Big Chocolate Show this weekend in the vast ground floor show space at the Terminal Stores at 11th Ave and 27th St, where Elbow’s glorious pictorial array of delicately hand and air brush painted round and square morsels were lined up in $185 gift boxes or in a parade of three prime selections for visitors to taste and discover the extraordinary delicacy of their supersoft, light cream ganache filled interiors …

Air brushed in beautiful designs this array from Christopher Elbow from Kansas City costs $185 a box but if you have the cash they will transport you to chocolate heaven -unless you are afraid of dyes

…wrapped in variously sourced chocolate otherwise set off by grey French sea salt and enjoy the clarity and brightness of novel flavors ranging from fresh mint, fresh lemon, real bananas to real strawberries climaxing in “lemon marmalade” globes in colored cocoa butter and white chocolate, all succulent enough to persuade the most dedicated high cacao content fanatics to stray from continuing their search for the ideal in the upper percentages of cocoa content, which are too often a little bitter for the rest of the world to wholeheartedly enjoy, possibly enough to prompt such visitors in search of the ideal to turn on their heels right then and go home convinced they have found it…

Moran Etstein of DrizzleNYC concocts chocolate beauties which may be too good to eat straight away

… except perhaps for the small point that their finely varied decoration is not organic, which is a concern of some consumers today, but if so they would have missed other strong rivals for attention at this extensive show, such as the beautifully costumed chocolate torso dolls by Moran Etstein of DrizzleNYC, whose modeling is so lavish and exquisite to the eye that she has packed them in boxes which can be mounted vertically for display if you can’t bear to consume them, which is likely, or the chocolate bars in clean modern design G logo’d covers and the more substantial if less subtle olive oil based quanache of Ron Paprocki ….

Cooking up chocolate bars in a corner of the Gotham kitchen, Ron adds a big G in various forms to his smart cover designs

…who cooks his creations up up in a special corner of the kitchen of the Gotham Bar and Grill just off Union Square at 12E12St, or the 100% cacao bar of Pacari, pure but still astonishingly smooth flavored chocolate…

Pacari is one of the crop of new tree-to-bar makers who prove that even 100% cacao can still taste smooth and mild instead of too bitter

The light roast of the cocoa beans may account for the acceptably palatable choclate that results from Pacari even in the pure cacao bar

… or the very promising Angovi chocolate from the Ecuadorian company formed last year and devoted to making “the best chocolates in the world” by five high school friends from Ecuador, after they had worked in high finance (J.P. Morgan) and in law as well as in their family plantations, ….

If sheer energy and enthusiasm can propel Angovi chocolate to be the “best in the world” then the IncaKaw brothers in arms from Ecuador will do it

whose Chocolate Bianco bar, for example, contains only 35% cacao yet manages to get away with it in the warm splendor of self indulgent comfort that may envelope you as you eat it, but of the five Ecuadorian tree-to-bar entities at the show the very best chocolate seemed to be the range labeled Minka from the Shiwa Urku Community, of which the 43% dark-and-milk was exemplary in achieving a fine sweet milk without a trace of sugary bloating….

Minka is a community chocolate which achieves the ultimate in sweet plus clear basic bean to please all but the dark fanatics

rivaled at the show only by the communal Grenada cocoa farmers’group Jouvay bars, whose name implies the arrival of a new day for chocolate and certainly backed it up ….

Another example of how dark chocolate can still be light and smooth even at the 70% cacao level.

with their 70% cocoa content bar which achieved a fresh and smooth flavor even at that level of advanced darkness, which otherwise so often loses a wide audience because it passes their boundary of bitterness, although aficianados with a yen for urban sophistication which combines chocolate punch with satisfying substance to the level of real food may find exactly what they love from De Martini in their Praline with Barolo purple wrapped shells of dark chocolate with aromatic filling juiced with Barolo, the reigning royal of wines from Piedmont.

Chocolate is a real food with the aroma of Barolo wine in the purple wrappings from Turin’s De Martini

The Big Chocolate Show

VISIT NEW YORK’S LARGEST CHOCOLATE SHOW

Discover a world of chocolate at the Big Chocolate Show, October 8 & 9, 2016 in NYC! Meet the greatest chocolatiers, artisans, chefs and pastry chefs from around the world.
Discover exceptional chocolate creations, attend live demonstrations, take part in a variety of delicious gourmet activities for both adults and children.

West Chelsea / Manhattan
Terminal Stores – The Waterfront NY
269 Eleventh Avenue (B/W 27th & 28th Street)
New York, NY 10001

Press preview is this Friday, October 7th, from noon to 6. You are also welcome to attend the general admissions sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Visit our website for all the info :http://www.thebigchocolateshow.com/

Schedule

Saturday: 9 AM – 1:30 PM / 2:30 PM – 7 PM
Sunday: 9 AM – 1:30 PM / 2:30 PM – 7 PM

Saturday Main Stage Schedule:
10AM White Chocolate, Pecan, Cranberry and Orange Bark with Kathryn Gordon, Institute of Culinary Education
11AM Hand Rolled Chocolate Truffles with Jessie Riley, Institute of Culinary Education and CityTech
12 PM Breakfast Brownies with Sarah Chaminade, Institute of Culinary Education
1 PM Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookie with Penny from Sugar Couture
3:30PM Chocolate Center Piece: Technique and Decoration with Jacques Torres
4:30PM Five Things I Didn’t Know about Chocolate Before I Started Making It with Michael Laiskonis, Institute of Culinary Education
5:30 Bean to Bar Chocolate -Making at Home with Erin Andrews, Indi Chocolate

Sunday Main Stage Schedule:
10AM GF Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce with Michelle Tampakis, Whipped Pastry Boutique
11AM Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse inspired by Hervé This, presented by Tamara Stechmach, pastry instructor
12 PM Bean to Bar Chocolate-Making with Erin Andrews, Indi Chocolate
1PM Vegan Buckeyes with Jen King and Liz Guttman, Liddabit Sweets
3:30PM Hot Chocolate Cheesecake with Melanie Underwood, Institute of Culinary Education
4:30PM Bean to Bar Chocolate-making at Home with Erin Andrews, Indi Chocolate
5:30 PM Holiday Spirits from Marie Brizzard

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The Ruins of Lifta – Poignant Documentary Provokes Intense Discussion of Israel’s Palestinian Wound

Held over at Lincoln Plaza cinema after strong reviews

Rated 100 at Rotten Tomatoes, praise from Times and Voice

Where the Holocaust and the Palestinian Exile meet

After a well attended release in Manhattan, the new documentary The Ruins of Lifta has been held over for another week, which seems especially timely as the funeral of the most arms oriented yet peacemaking president of Israel, Shimon Peres, proceeds.

Here is our review of this remarkable film:

The Ruins of Lifta – Where the Holocaust and Nakba Meet: An unusually rich and understanding exploration of the painful past and threatened future of Lifta, the last ruins standing of the 1948 forced removal of 700,000 Arabs from over 800 villages to make way for an independent Israel, personalized in a moving face-to-face meeting of two good people on either side of al-Nakba (“the catastrophe”)

Sins of the past and present
Deep humanitarianism is the style of this well constructed, caring and penetrating documentary about the two sides of Israel’s first but still festering war atrocity, the Palestinian Nakba (national disaster) of forced exile of 700,000 Arabs from as many as 800 villages in Israel’s 1948 war of independence, with its iron fist policy against return, as New York filmmakers Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky follow Daum in his personal odyssey to escape his Orthodox Jewish family’s one sided views and visit Israel to explore for himself the true character of Palestinians and their experience in the ongoing dispute since 2005 over The Ruins of Lifta, a vivid model of the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since Lifta is the only one of the evacuated Arab villages whose ruins have not yet been replaced with Israeli settlement, whose crumbling walls with stones quarried and built by the hands of its Arab inhabitants and holes blasted in its roofs to prevent return still stand as mute witness to political violence long ago and since which has left so many torn from their ancestral homes and still yearning to go back, a predicament here personalized by Menachem’s meetings with the poetic and dignified Lifta refugee Yacoub Adeh who leads the Palestinian movement to at least preserve Lifta as a memorial and defend it from an Israeli plan to develop the historically significant valley, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, though only if the Israeli government agrees not to develop it, and in the person to person rapprochement Menachem achieves in the moving climax to their film, when he introduces his friend and Holocaust survivor the lively 85 year old Dascha Rittenberg from Manhattan to Jacoub and both clash over whether one great anguish justifies another, but as they tread the paths of Lifta’s ruins together, eventually agree that peace would be served by making Lifta a memorial to a past where many Jews and Arabs once lived in harmony and an inspiration to a shared future, a small but meaningful victory for the notably humane spirit of Daum, whose equally distinguished preceding documentary Hiding and Seeking was on a similar theme of broadening the views of his two sons by taking them to Poland to visit the families of the farmers who hid Jews during World War II at the risk of their own lives, and to see young Christian Poles renovating Jewish cemeteries, both films a gentle but penetratingly effective counter to Israel’s policy of enforced enroachment on Palestinian territory, with yet another expansion in the news this week. – AL

attendnyc-lifta-menachem-faces-yacoub-who-wants-to-save-his-village-as-memorial-or-even-residence-once-again

The Ruins of Lifta will be premiering on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, New York (and in Los Angeles a month later, in Laemmle Theatres on October 28, 2016)

The mega-narratives underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are pitted against each other by a Holocaust survivor and a Nakba refugee who meet in the haunting ruins of Lifta, the only Arab village emptied in 1948 that has not been completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews.

Trailer: The Ruins of Lifta – Trailer


Synopsis

attendnyc-sep-16-16-lifta-less-ruinedLifta is the only Arab village abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that has not been completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews. Its ruins are now threatened by an Israeli development plan that would convert it into an upscale Jewish neighborhood. Discovering that his parents’ Holocaust experiences may have distorted his views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Menachem–the filmmaker and an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn–sets out to establish a personal relationship with a Palestinian. He meets Yacoub, who was expelled from Lifta and now leads the struggle to save the haunting ruins of his village from Israeli plans to build luxury villas on the site. Learning that Lifta was once a place where Jews and Arabs got along, Menachem joins Yacoub’s campaign in the hopes that Lifta can serve as a place of reflection and reconciliation. This sets up a climactic encounter between a Holocaust survivor and a Nakba refugee amidst the ruins of Lifta.

Menachem, Dasha and Yacoub:  Human contact - the only way political narratives and emotions can be brought together in mutual understanding

Menachem, Dasha and Yacoub: Human contact – the only way political narratives and emotions can be brought together in mutual understanding

“Lifta’s Ruins succeeds as a personally honest and politically provocative documentary. It makes me think of the wonderful line that Jean Renoir speaks in his film Rules of the Game, ‘There’s only one terrible thing in this world, that everyone has his reasons.’” – Annette Insdorf, Columbia University Film Professor, author of Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust

“A personal, self-questioning encounter with the myths of history that measures the abyss between Palestinians and Jews, and between the two contending nations and peace; “a site of memory” whose history has for too long been erased; a profoundly searching and moving inquiry into the collective and personal past of Arabs and Jews; an ethical testimony marked by visual beauty and emotional poignancy, and a place where the ongoing tragedy, of Israel/Palestine continues to be reenacted.” – Marc Kaminsky, author of Shadow Traffic

“A painful, powerful and problematic film that dares to go into the ruins of a Palestinian village strategically situated on the road to Jerusalem and the conflicting claims of memories that divide Jews and Palestinians. It boldly believes that the commonality of our collective humanity can heal wounds and bridge divisions, a message that is all the more urgent because it is all the more absent in the world today.” – Michael Berenbaum, author After Tragedy and Triumph

“To the great credit of its creators, The Ruins of Lifta offers no pat dialogue-based solution to the crises of the region.” – George Robinson, The Jewish Week

“A vital study of loss and memory. Grounded in the art of listening, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ builds a powerful, personal, political conversation between Palestinians and Israelis looking to live differently. The result is necessary viewing.” – Diana Clarke, Village Voice

“An achingly poignant documentary that investigates a debate in which dueling narratives collide.” – Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times

Built by the hands of those who lived in Lifta before 1948, many of the houses were substantial investments in time and place whose memories are as real as ever in the minds of those who fled

“By turns inspiring and dispiriting, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ offers a muscular example of the ability of documentaries to make the political intensely personal.” – Ella Taylor, NPR

“To the great credit of its creators, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ offers no pat dialogue-based solution to the crises of the region. Guardedly hopeful.” – George Robinson, The Jewish Week

“Provocative…allows the ambiguity to surface through interviews that reflect a range of heartfelt experiences and interpretations…visually stunning and packs an emotional wallop.” – Simi Horwitz, Film Journal International

Yacoub Odeh, Dasha and Menachem walk the path of peace in the deserted village

Yacoub Odeh, Dasha Rittenberg and Menachem Daum walk the path of peace in the deserted village

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