Shalom Life | October 31, 2014

The Last of the Wild Jews

Upcoming Bravo documentary explores Mordecai Richler's influence on the Jewish cultural explosion of the 20th century.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: December 21st, 2010 in Culture » Film » Reviews

The Last of the Wild Jews

The latter portion of 2010 has become decidedly saturated with all things Mordecai Richler. There is the acclaimed biography from Charles Foran, Mordecai: The Life and Times that came out earlier in the fall. Not to mention the much-anticipated screen adaptation of Barney’s Version, opening in theatres December 24th. Now, there is the documentary, Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews, airing on Bravo December 25th. Co-written by Foran, and directed by Quebec filmmaker Francine Pelletier, the hour long film makes a compelling thesis of the idea that Richler was part of a Jewish cultural explosion, both literary and popular culture that transpired for roughly two decades in the 20th century. “He was one of a whole generation of writers – but not just writers, also entertainers – who are sons of immigrants, born here in big North American cities, brought up in the shadow of the Holocaust, and became these natural-born agitators and who wanted desperately to break with the idea of the timid little Jewish boy. Not caring what the goy think, criticizing Jewish culture and having a helluva time. Mordecai was part of that. Once you understood that, I think you understand him better.” Pelletier explained to the Montreal Gazette.

The film examines how Richler was a member of this rebel generation that included Saul Bellow, Norman Mailler, and Philip Roth amongst others, who worked hard, played hard, and rattled as many cages in the process. It can be traced back to Issac Babel (whom Richler idolized, we learn from the film) who chronicled the “wild Jews” (gamblers, con men et al) of Odessa during the Russian Revolution.

Through insightful interviews and anecdotes from those who knew Richler best, the famously contrary writer in public, is revealed to be a shy, reserved, complex individual in private. Margaret Attwood, Jack Rabinovitch (a friend since high school), cartoonist Terry Mosher, Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker and Rex Murphy, all offer their respective insights from Richler’s early days living in London, to his late-career attacks on Québécois nationalism. By far, the most poignant moments come courtesy of Richler’s dignified widow, Florence who divulged that she always understood that his work would come first, and she second. That said the pair were together for four decades.

Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews airs again on Bravo Saturday, December 25 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

Dafy Hagai Challenges Everything You Think You Know About Israeli Girls Dafy Hagai Challenges Everything You Think You Know About Israeli Girls TrendingAmy Winehouse Exhibition Lands in Tel Aviv Amy Winehouse Exhibition Lands in Tel Aviv TrendingDirector Ari Cohen Discusses His Latest Doc, ‘The Family Farm’ Director Ari Cohen Discusses His Latest Doc, ‘The Family Farm’ Trending
 

Lena Dunham and Celebrity BFF’s Raise Awareness For Planned Parenthood

October 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Lena Dunham and Celebrity BFF’s Raise Awareness For Planned Parenthood

The 'Girls' creator has designed a shirt for the women's rights organization

Read More

Seth Rogen Will Play Steve Wozniak in New Steve Jobs Bio Pic

October 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Seth Rogen Will Play Steve Wozniak in New Steve Jobs Bio Pic

Rogen is in negotiations to star as the Apple co-founder alongside Christian Bale

Read More

A New Pee-Wee Herman Movie Has Been Confirmed

October 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
A New Pee-Wee Herman Movie Has Been Confirmed

Paul Reubens told Jimmy Fallon that Judd Apatow will be producing the reboot

Read More

Breakthrough Jew - Joshua Meier

October 30, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Breakthrough Jew - Joshua Meier

18-year-old Meier won the Best in Category Award in cellular and molecular biology at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his work in harnessing the aging process to treat diseases.

Read More

Startup Club: Cat2See

October 30, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Startup Club: Cat2See

The Israeli company has created an app that lets you play with your cats, monitor them, and even feed them when you're not home

Read More

Why the Mastermind Behind Leon Klinghoffer’s Murder Went Free

October 30, 2014 | By Stephen M. Flatow, JNS.org
Why the Mastermind Behind Leon Klinghoffer’s Murder Went Free

Amid the ongoing controversy over the Metropolitan Opera's performance of "The Death of Klinghoffer," little has been said about the Palestinian leader who masterminded the attack in which Klinghoffer was murdered

Read More

This Israeli Prison Hosted a Fashion Show for its Inmates

October 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
This Israeli Prison Hosted a Fashion Show for its Inmates

The Holy Land's only female prison debuted what and what not to wear while incarcerated

Read More

Haaretz Publish Cartoon Depicting Netanyahu as Pilot Behind 9/11 Attacks

October 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Haaretz Publish Cartoon Depicting Netanyahu as Pilot Behind 9/11 Attacks

Twitter responds, naturally, with outrage

Read More

More Headlines