Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brooksfest 2010: Day 3

I know I know, I haven't written since Monday.  But I have a good excuse!  Its tech week/final rehearsal week for the high school variety show (of which I am in charge) and with rehearsals, teaching, and preparing for exam week I've just been swamped and haven't felt like writing when I got home (or in the case of last night, I didn't have time when I got home).  But while the blogging world has been whizzing past me at breakneck speed, Brooksfest 2010 has still been going on and thus it must be given its due. However, before we get into that I'd like to point out (even though none of you can come) that my variety show is tonight.  I'm very excited about it and the kids are too.  Its been a real joy working with them and last night, it finally looked like a real show.  I really think that everyone who comes to see it will be greatly impressed (except maybe those who didn't get in this year, I'm apparently still on several enemies lists for that one).  There was even one kid who never showed up to rehearsals and was cut, and I could have put one of the kids who didn't get in and wanted to be there in his place.  Its too late now though, so next year I'll just have to be more aware of that.  Maybe next year I can even make it a little longer, as it seems to go pretty fast this year.  Hey, I'm still learning afterall (and by that I mean I've never done a variety show before).

Anyhoo, for today's entry I wanted to give a shout to yet another lesser known Brooks film...I know, it seems like I'm never gonna get around to talking about Spaceballs or Young Frankenstein...and one that is one of my all time faves.  This film is notable in that Brooks produces and stars in the film along side real-life wife Anne Bancroft (the only film they did together aside from Silent Movie) and doesn't direct or have a writing credit.  Why is it considered one of his films you ask?  Well, because it was brought about by Brooks who had wanted to make it for years (its a remake of an earlier film with Jack Benny) as a dream project (and the great minds at 20th Century Fox saw fit to include it in the DVD 'Mel Brooks Collection' who are we to argue with their wisdom?). The film was called To Be or Not to Be and is one of the few cases where the original film was not received with general acclaim (causing the remake to be much less maligned in comparison).  The film takes place in Poland during the start of the German occupation of the country during World War II and it is centered around a husband and wife acting team, Frederick and Anna Bronski (Brooks and Bancroft) who are struggling to keep their theater working despite the Nazi interference.  When their lives are threatened, and the lives of their Jewish friends, they must use all of their acting talent to impersonate and bluff the Nazis until they can get to safety.  In several ways, the film is a departure for Brooks in that it features highly serious moments thrown in with the comedy so one might be able to call it a dramady (this, I feel, cements the film in a reality that exists apart from average Brooks fare).  Its also notable as the first film to deal with the idea that homosexuals were persecuted just as much as the Jews in that time (that's where the pink triangle comes from).  I really can't praise the film just need to see it.  Sure, its not for everyone, but then...what Brooks film is?

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