Jews are getting a lot of attention in the movies. From Jonathan Kesselman's Hebrew Hammer (the Jewsploitation parody of Shaft) to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (a different, scary and less parodic kind of Jewsploitation), everyone wants a piece of the chosen people. Kansas Citians wanting to see a wide range of movies spotlighting many facets of Jewish culture should check out the Kansas City Jewish Film Festival this week. The selection ranges from a documentary about a Swedish Jewish Nintendo champion to a movie about Joe Lieberman's failed presidential campaign.
The comedy that intrigues us the most (not that Joe Lieberman is a joke, mind you) is The Burial Society. It's like an Orthodox Jewish version of the HBO series Six Feet Under, and it's been compared to early Coen brothers films, too, which makes sense. The humor is subtler and inspires mostly chuckles rather than fits of laughter, but it has that same crisp sense of timing and cinematography.
The movie chronicles the adventures of a loan broker named Sheldon who hides from mob bosses by joining the Chevrah Kadisha -- a burial society made up of altekakers who care for the dead and dying according to Jewish beliefs. In the words of John Goodman's character from the Coens' The Big Lebowski, they're "shomer fucking shabbos." See it at the Glenwood Arts Theatre (9575 Metcalf in Overland Park) at 8:45 p.m. For information, call 913-327-8000.-- Gina Kaufmann
In the annals of music fandom, LP collectors are the most maniacal of all. They fill their homes with large, heavy stacks of vinyl, having pored through record guides and forgotten crates in every yard sale and church basement around. Their tunnel vision is awe-inspiring. If you want to get a closer look at these specimens in their natural habitat, this weekend's record show in the bingo alley at the Fairway North Shopping Center (47th Street and Mission Road in Kansas City, Kansas) should be a gold mine. Admission costs $2. For information, call 913-492-1058.-- Christopher Sebela
With the bootlegged Grey Album's mash-up of Jay-Z's Black Album and the self-titled Beatles record known universally as the White Album, the Beatles have once again resurfaced without ever really leaving. Michael Jackson may own the publishing rights to most of the Beatles' recorded catalog, but Yoko Ono still has most of John Lennon's original drawings and lyric sheets. With excellent timing, The Art of John Lennon comes to Crown Center (2450 Grand Boulevard) Friday morning. The free exhibit includes more than 100 serigraphs, signed lithographs, song lyrics and original drawings by the late songwriter. Surprisingly, the art is available for purchase. For details, call 816-274-8444.-- Michael Vennard
The Israeli military allows gays to serve, but that doesn't stop soldiers from being homophobic. That's the context of Etayn Fox's Yossi and Jagger, playing Tuesday in the Jewish Film Festival at the Rio, 81st Street and Metcalf in Overland Park. The film's chief asset -- besides actor Yehuda Levi, who should be in the running for Sexiest Man Alive -- is the unforced ease with which the actors express affection in an environment that mandates discretion. There's no sappy buildup; they've been in love since well before their first romp tells us so. Both actors are subtle, especially in a scene in which their peers dis "Tel Aviv faggots." Out of range, Jagger queens it up -- to Yossi's discomfort. The film shames American military officials and filmmakers alike.-- Steve Walker