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Elektra Boogaloo

Episode 176 - The Jazz Singer: LIVE!

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I'm a non-Jewish person who lives in a part of the country with practically no Jewish people. I have no idea what a cantor is apparently. So, what exactly is a cantor? Because I was not picturing literally at all anyone whose 9-5 job is music related. I assumed it was, I don't know, assistant to the rabbi type position.

 

A Cantor would basically be the equivalent of a church's music director. His family has been doing it for (I think) five generations. That dude's whole life is music. He's also the "assistant Cantor" which means he makes essentially nothing (hence him living at home). I imagine it's a fulfilling job if it's your calling, but infinitely frustrating if you're being forced to do it against your will.

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This film was even nominated for three Golden Globes such as Best Original Song for "Love on the Rocks", Best Supporting Actress for Lucie Arnaz and Best Actor for Neil Diamond! Luckily it didn't win either but it's also one of the first films that help inspired the Razzies to be created. Diamond took home the first ever Worst Actor trophy while Laurence Olivier won the first ever Worst Supporting Actor award.

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Blast, do you know if the original Jazz Singer was well-received because I thought it was. But then I read your post comparing it to Birth of a Nation and I know that was a huge blockbuster and it was only later that people saw how problematic it was. I guess I thought the original Jazz Singer was still respected with an asterisk?

 

(Although if it was respected except for the minstrel stuff why make that the one "homage"? Why not do a cover of one that music or have a photo of him somewhere?)

 

I guess I can't figure out why Diamond didn't just write a new musical if he wrote the songs?

 

Why did you do this to is, Neil Diamond?

 

The movie was a tremendous hit for a then-struggling Warner Bros. It really only contains two sections of sound dialogue and music: the famous "You ain't heard anything yet" line, and a scene between Jolson and the actress playing his on-screen mother. When Jolson's voice came over the screen in these two sections, it's reported that audiences were on their feet, applauding.

 

This was around the time when several studios were experimenting with adapting sound to their films, and outfitting their theaters with costly sound systems, so sound wasn't necessarily a new concept by the time The Jazz Singer was released (The Lumière Brothers first experimented with sound recording technology for film which Thomas Edison soon capitalized on, introducing the concept of syncing film with recorded discs early on, which never took off). But The Jazz Singer was the first film to capitalize on the emerging technology by doing it so dynamically.

 

But of course there is the use of blackface, which has definitely not aged well and overshadows the achievements in sound this film should otherwise be celebrated for.

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Diamond is pretty low energy, but I felt that was him a) not being an actor and b ) his character feeling the crush of responsibility.

Which begs the question, is it possible that both can be true? In order to portray the weight of crushing responsibility, wouldn't one have to be a good actor?

 

I had this thought about it earlier ... you know how in pro wrestling, The Undertaker is supposed to be undead, and everybody knows he's not, and nobody is really buying it, but everyone has to play along, so while the Undertaker just stands there, everybody else whimpers and cowers and acts all a-fool? That's the sort of level I think this movie is on. You've got people with real bonafide acting chops ... Lawrence Olivier, the progeny of Arnaz and Ball, and Ernie Freaking Hudson playing off of a guy who is not used to being on screen. So Neil Diamond's totally understating everything while they're all going off the top rope. Lawrence Olivier obviously felt like he had to carry every scene he was in, and Arnaz was hamming it up, too.

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Does anybody know which Jewish denomination/religious movement the Rabinovitches belonged to?

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A Cantor would be basically the equivalent of a church's music director. His family has been doing it for (I think) five generations. That dude's whole life is music. He's also the "assistant Cantor" which means he makes essentially nothing (hence him living at home). I imagine it's a fulfilling job if it's your calling, but infinitely frustrating if you're being forced to do it against your will.

Are cantors common in even small synagogue? Or are these limited mostly to big places?

 

The churches I went to as a kid were fairly small. A place where the "music director" is anything other than a musically inclined church member volunteering to lead choir practice is alien to me.

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...and Arnaz was hamming it up, too.

 

This reminds me of the ham scene! Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall the gang discussing this on the podcast. Molly serves a dinner of ham, like a cartoonish big ham, for just 2 people and then Neil Diamond and Molly have an entire conversion with only facial expressions. He's all "I can't eat this pork product, I'm Jewish" and Molly's like "whoooooops!" But by this point they've shacked up, right? Are you saying that Neil Diamond didn't know that Molly was cooking an entire ham? I suppose he could've just come home to a ham dinner, but wouldn't he have seen a giant ham in the fridge before this?

 

I would also like to ask if it's normal to have an enormous ham and then just a side salad of lettuce and cherry tomatoes for dinner? I love ham as much as the next person, but don't people usually serve other side dishes with a ham?

 

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Are cantors common in even small synagogue? Or are these limited mostly to big places?

 

The churches I went to as a kid were fairly small. A place where the "music director" is anything other than a musically inclined church member volunteering to lead choir practice is alien to me.

 

Ha! That's funny as I've never attended a church that didn't employ a full time music director. All the churches I've been to have been mid-sized, so I assume it would be similar for synagogues. If it's within their budget, and they wish to have one, then they'd have a full time Cantor.

 

Here's a bit of info I found online from a year ago regarding the shortage of Cantor's in the Atlanta area. It does say that it's unusual not to have a Cantor onstaff, but not totally unheard of. It also gives a little more information regarding the duties of a professional Cantor.

 

http://atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com/where-have-all-the-cantors-gone/

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Probably should've been called The "Jazz" Singer. The quotes make all the difference. Just like it should've been The "Karate" Kid for the Kung Fu remake. Or, you know, just not made. Both work.

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I would argue that this movie is ultimately not about his rise to be a successful/popular musician at all. That seems to be a foregone conclusion and as it was pointed out on the podcast - there are pretty much zero hurdles to make his "dream" come true. He gives it a small effort and he succeeds because of course he will.

This movie is really about his journey to do a wife upgrade.

Besides bar brawls over blackface, pretty much every obstacle in the movie is about his love life.

Before he goes and after he is in LA, Rivka and his father argue about his leaving and how long he is going to be gone ("A husband should be with his wife!") Then there's the scene where he and Rivka break up and then the scene with his father meeting Molly for the first time.

The biggest - MOST RIDICULOUS - conflict that "sends him to Loredo" is on the surface about his recording session, but is actually him being upset over his dad's reaction to meeting Molly.

Also -Molly is the FIRST WOMAN he meets in LA. He is so desperate to wife swap that he's like "YEP YOU'LL DO."

This is not about his rise to fame - oh no... this is really about a 39 year old man going through a midlife crisis.

 

This is so true. It doesn't feel like "forbidden" love like the Second Opinion claimed. It was more like he couldn't be bothered to fuck anyone but the most convenient lady.

 

Also, I know very little about Neil Diamond so I can't contribute to the "is this accurate" debate, but I did Google him when the movie was assigned and saw he did break up with his childhood sweetheart first wife for an assistant who became his second wife. (Not his last.)

 

Oh this reminds me-can we talk about the baby?

 

I would love to know what the filmmakers THINK the timeline of this movie is. Because no one acts like Neil Diamond has been away that long when he comes back from Texas. But that baby was, I think, like six months old? (Could definitely hold it's own head up.)

 

So Molly carried the child for nine months and then raised it along for like six more and she isn't PISSED at all??

 

Like oh the man is back so I better cater to his whims now. Ugh.

 

ETA:

Luckily it didn't win either but it's also one of the first films that help inspired the Razzies to be created. Diamond took home the first ever Worst Actor trophy while Laurence Olivier won the first ever Worst Supporting Actor award. [/Quote]

So that means this came out the same year as CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC? Odd. They are two musical bio pics, I guess, but they seem so different.

 

Maybe just because Steve Guttenberg expends more energy in the opening roller skate scene than Diamond does the whole movie?

 

Also should someone who has a Razzie be able to have acting awards named after them? (See: the Olivier)

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Oh this reminds me-can we talk about the baby?

 

I would love to know what the filmmakers THINK the timeline of this movie is. Because no one acts like Neil Diamond has been away that long when he comes back from Texas. But that baby was, I think, like six months old? (Could definitely hold it's own head up.)

 

So Molly carried the child for nine months and then raised it along for like six more and she isn't PISSED at all??

 

Like oh the man is back so I better cater to his while now. Ugh.

Yes! If that baby is 6 months old (I think it could even be older) then she has just gotten through a whole bunch of HARD SHIT - pregnancy, labor and delivery, the first fragile months, no sleep, etc.- presumably on her own. I would be pissed AF to see that guy waltzing back in now, and all FOR WHAT? Because his musicians weren't up to his ridiculous and sudden inexplicably high standards?? or that he got caught with his extra-marital girlfriend by his dad?? Regardless - neither is an appropriate reason to go all "walk the earth like Caine" on everyone.

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Oh this reminds me-can we talk about the baby?

 

I would love to know what the filmmakers THINK the timeline of this movie is. Because no one acts like Neil Diamond has been away that long when he comes back from Texas. But that baby was, I think, like six months old? (Could definitely hold it's own head up.)

 

So Molly carried the child for nine months and then raised it along for like six more and she isn't PISSED at all??

 

Like oh the man is back so I better cater to his whims now. Ugh.

 

Speaking of the baby, I feel like Bubba must have been there for Molly during her pregnancy and after the birth of the child. So much that Molly named her baby after Bubba's favorite musician, Charlie Parker. (Or so I imagine)

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A Cantor would basically be the equivalent of a church's music director. His family has been doing it for (I think) five generations. That dude's whole life is music. He's also the "assistant Cantor" which means he makes essentially nothing (hence him living at home). I imagine it's a fulfilling job if it's your calling, but infinitely frustrating if you're being forced to do it against your will.

 

As the long article you linked alludes to, the profession of being a cantor is not what it used to be - most people are cantorial soloists, not fully ordained cantors. These days it probably is more like a music director, who leads the choir (if there is one) and congregation in the different prayers.

 

A true cantor in the old tradition was a religious leader on par with being a rabbi. But in addition to having complete knowledge of Judaism, you had to be trained to a) have an amazing voice, B) know all the tunes and "trope" (musical symbols and patterns) for each holiday and portion of the service, and c) be able to improvise. The cantor's job was to elevate the congregation's spiritual experience, to actual bring his listeners to a state of ecstasy and closer communion with God.

 

Of course none of these demands are explored in the movie, because everything just comes easy to Neil Diamond. The higher stakes of the 1927 "The Jazz Singer" are discussed in this thread, but there are also other examples in the "conflicted cantor" genre that sound like they're probably more dramatic than the 1980 film.

 

The 1937 Yiddish film The Cantor's Son, "marks the screen debut of singer and cantor Moishe Oysher. In his book on Yiddish cinema Bridge of Light, critic J. Hoberman calls The Cantor’s Son an "anti-Jazz Singer," further remarking that the film's story parallels Oysher's own struggle to reconcile his cantorial calling with a career in show business. Like his film character, Oysher, born in Bessarabia the son and grandson of cantors, was both a matinee idol and a celebrated cantor." The conflict revolves around whether Oysher is going to stay in America or return to his European homeland.

http://www.jewishfilm.org/Catalogue/films/CantorsSon.htm

 

Oysher also starred in the 1940 Yiddish film Overture to Glory, in which he plays a character based on the real-life "Cantor from Vilna", Yoel David Loewenstein (1816-1850). Loewenstein was a prodigy whose voice was first noticed when he was only 11, and was then called upon to take over from his father, who died when the boy was only 14. One of the requirements to become a cantor was to be married and have a household; one had to become a Balebes (Yiddish for household owner) or a Balebessl – a small household owner. Since he was a sought-after cantor at such an early age, that meant he had to get married at age fourteen.

Ten years after becoming a cantor, at age 23, he fell in love with opera, and decided to become an opera star (the equivalent of popular secular music back then). Like Neil Diamond and Jess Robin, he fell in love with a gentile woman (a singer and daughter of a Polish aristocrat). As the article below states, "In the mental derangement which followed, he abandoned his musical career, left his wife and children, and became a ‘Baal T’shuva’ (penitant). It was then customary for people who wished to atone for their sins to become wanderers, walking from community to community in silence...Finally, his family traced him, and placed him in an asylum in Warsaw, where he died in 1850, at the tragically early age of thirty-four." In the movie version he collapses and dies on the bimah (podium) as he is singing the Kol Nidre prayer.

https://geoffreyshisler.com/biographies-2/yoel-dovid-lowenstein/

 

Since the movie was based on a 1908 play, perhaps the original Jazz Singer film was based loosely on the life of Der Vilner Balebessl?

 

Anyway, both of these Yiddish versions take a decidedly negative view of American assimilation and decide that the protagonist is either better off back at "home" in the old country, or dead. The 1980 Neil Diamond film gets to have it both ways (American and Jewish), as he sings for a stadium crowd wearing a sparkly suit, complete with a glittery white scarf that acts as a superficial homage to the prayer shawl he wore at the beginning.

 

A couple more Jewy things:

 

As the 2nd Opinion reviewer pointed out, that wasn't a Passover seder in the Jess and Molly sex montage; it was Shabbat (the Sabbath). Maybe they were observing the very dubious but popular commandment among Jews: "It's a double mitzvah on Shabbat".

 

The prayer Diamond sings at the end of the film is Kol Nidre - "All Vows". It is the most serious prayer sung on the holiest night of the Jewish calendar year. On behalf of the congregation, the cantor declares that all vows made in vain are hereby null and void; that way no one will be held to promises they can't keep in the coming new year. This is appropriate for Jess, since he has been making empty vows for the entire movie. "Don't worry, I'll be back in a couple weeks." "It will all be fine."

 

And for something completely non-Jewy:

Jess gave Molly an ultimatum: ditch the boyfriend in the boat, don't go to Acapulco with Tommy, go out with me.

But Tommy corrects them and reminds Molly that they're just going to Catalina.

So what happens next - Molly goes out for a romantic day trip with Tommy to Catalina, and then dumps him when they get home that night and starts dating Jess then next day? What did Molly say to Jess - "Okay, I choose you, but starting tomorrow??"

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Yes! If that baby is 6 months old (I think it could even be older) then she has just gotten through a whole bunch of HARD SHIT - pregnancy, labor and delivery, the first fragile months, no sleep, etc.- presumably on her own. I would be pissed AF to see that guy waltzing back in now, and all FOR WHAT? Because his musicians weren't up to his ridiculous and sudden inexplicably high standards?? or that he got caught with his extra-marital girlfriend by his dad?? Regardless - neither is an appropriate reason to go all "walk the earth like Caine" on everyone.

Also she was his manager so she would have been out of work when he left? How did she survive? I definitely would not have dealt with him on a professional level ever again.

 

 

Speaking of the baby, I feel like Bubba must have been there for Molly during her pregnancy and after the birth of the child. So much that Molly named her baby after Bubba's favorite musician, Charlie Parker. (Or so I imagine)

I believe this because Bubba looks out for Jess so much. I think he might just go around saving wayward white people.

 

How awesome would it be if the baby had been mixed?

 

 

 

The 1937 Yiddish film The Cantor's Son, "marks the screen debut of singer and cantor Moishe Oysher. In his book on Yiddish cinema Bridge of Light, critic J. Hoberman calls The Cantor’s Son an "anti-Jazz Singer," further remarking that the film's story parallels Oysher's own struggle to reconcile his cantorial calling with a career in show business. Like his film character, Oysher, born in Bessarabia the son and grandson of cantors, was both a matinee idol and a celebrated cantor." The conflict revolves around whether Oysher is going to stay in America or return to his European homeland.

http://www.jewishfilm.org/Catalogue/films/CantorsSon.htm

 

Oysher also starred in the 1940 Yiddish film Overture to Glory, in which he plays a character based on the real-life "Cantor from Vilna", Yoel David Loewenstein (1816-1850). Loewenstein was a prodigy whose voice was first noticed when he was only 11, and was then called upon to take over from his father, who died when the boy was only 14. One of the requirements to become a cantor was to be married and have a household; one had to become a Balebes (Yiddish for household owner) or a Balebessl – a small household owner. Since he was a sought-after cantor at such an early age, that meant he had to get married at age fourteen.

Ten years after becoming a cantor, at age 23, he fell in love with opera, and decided to become an opera star (the equivalent of popular secular music back then). Like Neil Diamond and Jess Robin, he fell in love with a gentile woman (a singer and daughter of a Polish aristocrat). As the article below states, "In the mental derangement which followed, he abandoned his musical career, left his wife and children, and became a ‘Baal T’shuva’ (penitant). It was then customary for people who wished to atone for their sins to become wanderers, walking from community to community in silence...Finally, his family traced him, and placed him in an asylum in Warsaw, where he died in 1850, at the tragically early age of thirty-four." In the movie version he collapses and dies on the bimah (podium) as he is singing the Kol Nidre prayer.

https://geoffreyshisler.com/biographies-2/yoel-dovid-lowenstein/

 

Since the movie was based on a 1908 play, perhaps the original Jazz Singer film was based loosely on the life of Der Vilner Balebessl?

 

Anyway, both of these Yiddish versions take a decidedly negative view of American assimilation and decide that the protagonist is either better off back at "home" in the old country, or dead. The 1980 Neil Diamond film gets to have it both ways (American and Jewish), as he sings for a stadium crowd wearing a sparkly suit, complete with a glittery white scarf that acts as a superficial homage to the prayer shawl he wore at the beginng

 

I am relieved to hear people can think of better stories of Jewish identity. Because I worried that maybe Diamond was connected to the Jolson movie (even though it does not hold up) because there was so little portrayals of Jewishness on film.

 

I mean, we joke about lots of Jews in entertainment but we rarely see movies with Jewish characters.

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Oh this reminds me-can we talk about the baby?

 

I would love to know what the filmmakers THINK the timeline of this movie is. Because no one acts like Neil Diamond has been away that long when he comes back from Texas. But that baby was, I think, like six months old? (Could definitely hold it's own head up.)

 

So Molly carried the child for nine months and then raised it along for like six more and she isn't PISSED at all??

I think I hear my cue...

 

There was talk about the confusing timeline but it is actually pretty straight forward. So when Neil Diamond leaves New York he's initially headed to LA for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks he gets a call for a gig which is week away, and that gig gets him the opening act which is another week away. So when his wife shows up he has been gone almost exactly a month. They break up that night, and the next day goes and confesses his love to Molly. They start dating and making an album. After three dates, four recording sessions, and a weird dinner they become sexually active. When his father arrives he states that he's been gone three months, which means that Jess and Molly were only dating for two months and sexual active for a month and a half in which she got pregnant. Seemingly the next day he storms off and runs away. After he returns Molly goes to carjack the producer again at which time the producer states Jess's record went gold "a year ago." Clearly they couldn't record anything new after Jess left so mixing, printing, release and sales, say one month after he storms out. That means he was on the road for about 13 months. If we further assume the baby was delivered as expected, by the time he returned that baby would be between 5 1/2 to 7 months old.

 

So you were dead on!

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So he spent three months in LA and a year in TX? Why not make a movie about that? I mean I would think he'd be more of a fish out of water in TX than LA? (Assuming fewer Jewish people in Laredo, feel free to correct me.)

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When Jess performs in blackface at a black club he wears his Star of David necklace, and yet when he's performing in Texan bars he does not. Read into that what you will.

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Also -Molly is the FIRST WOMAN he meets in LA. He is so desperate to wife swap that he's like "YEP YOU'LL DO."

This is not about his rise to fame - oh no... this is really about a 39 year old man going through a midlife crisis.

This is so true. It doesn't feel like "forbidden" love like the Second Opinion claimed. It was more like he couldn't be bothered to fuck anyone but the most convenient lady.

 

Also, I know very little about Neil Diamond so I can't contribute to the "is this accurate" debate, but I did Google him when the movie was assigned and saw he did break up with his childhood sweetheart first wife for an assistant who became his second wife. (Not his last.)

 

Sorry (again), I don't really want to be this movie's great defender, but I just wanted to give my two cents on these statements.

 

It's not that Molly is the first woman he meets in LA, it's that she's the first person (outside of Bubba) to not only believe in him, but actually encourage his talent. After a day, Molly gets fired from a job she's had for a decade (and worked tirelessly to get) because she believes in him so hard. Rivka can't even leave New York for two weeks to give him a chance to pursue his lifelong dream. That's fucked up. No one should ever be with someone who holds them as an emotional hostage. Your S.O. should believe in you. If they don't, and they are actively trying to sabotage your dreams, then you should leave them.

 

And just because a marriage doesn't work out doesn't necessarily mean that either person is "bad" and I don’t feel like divorce necessarily represents a moral failure. We don't know the whole story behind Jess and Rivka's married life, but I would suspect - if not "arranged" exactly - I'm sure it was...encouraged by their parents. And as miserable as Jess is, he never once cheats on Rivka. He doesn't "fuck the most convenient lady." He turns Molly down - repeatedly. Would it have been better had he slept with a ton of groupies first? The relationships between Rivka and Molly are supposed to be analogous to his feelings about being a Cantor and a pop star. One represents tradition, while the other offers freedom. It is all about that push and pull. No one is "bad " in this scenario.

 

 

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We were all so distracted by Neil Diamond in blackface we failed to see what was really going on in the club scene. The guys brought Jess over and told him they needed him to join them because they had an agent coming in and the agent was told they were a quartet and not a trio. If they couldn't tell the agent the truth couldn't they just lie and say the forth member fell ill or something? The agent might understand and come to another one of their gigs. If they thought that wouldn't happen and this was their only chance how did they expect the agent to react when they meet again and their lead singer suddenly changes to a different person with a different voice? Probably not great, so why not just explain the situation? Or if they needed Jess there because none of them could play guitar or sing lead vocals without throwing off the harmony why not just tell him that? Jess is a musician he'd understand. Why the lying and deception?

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LOL at Cameron H defending this movie. Is it because you like how the white guy wasn't allowed in the Black club? (I forget which episode Paul called you a segregation fan in. Haha.)

 

I agree with you that I saw Molly appreciate his talent but I never saw him be, like, appreciative or surprised or moved by that. Maybe Diamond was trying to say Molly got him so much better than Rivka but we never see what Rivka WANTS from him. I mean we know she doesn't like LA but she never, like, pleads to have kids or whatever.

 

So like I saw why Molly was initially attracted to him (though I continue to be baffled as to why she stayed with him) but I didn't see why he liked her.

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LOL at Cameron H defending this movie. Is it because you like how the white guy wasn't allowed in the Black club? (I forget which episode Paul called you a segregation fan in. Haha.)

 

I agree with you that I saw Molly appreciate his talent but I never saw him be, like, appreciative or surprised or moved by that. Maybe Diamond was trying to say Molly got him so much better than Rivka but we never see what Rivka WANTS from him. I mean we know she doesn't like LA but she never, like, pleads to have kids or whatever.

 

So like I saw why Molly was initially attracted to him (though I continue to be baffled as to why she stayed with him) but I didn't see why he liked her.

 

*sigh* It was the mini after Bratz.. lol

 

Yeah, I don’t know why I’m defending this movie so hard. It’s not that good. And I get all of your complaints. I don’t know, I guess I’m just feeling very contrary this week. Lol

 

With that being said...

 

I think Rivka does want kids with him. Again, I’m not trying to say she’s a “bad” person, but they both definitely want different things. She wants to be married to the Cantor and teach at the shul; he wants to write “jazz” or “rock” music. I think she wants him to give up on secular music and settle down. I think this is the point of the scene where he rebuffs her advances. It’s not that he’s just being mopey. He knows that she’s thinking about children, while he’s afraid having kids will tie him down. Molly believes in him right from the start and that’s what he’s attracted to.

 

I think it’s all a big metaphor. Jess has a lot of sincere affection for Rivka/his faith, but his passion is for Molly/superstardom.

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Ha! That's funny as I've never attended a church that didn't employ a full time music director. All the churches I've been to have been mid-sized, so I assume it would be similar for synagogues. If it's within their budget, and they wish to have one, then they'd have a full time Cantor.

 

I have a friend who was a canter at his temple in town, but it wasn't his job ... he did it because he was the rabbi's son. His temple was clearly much smaller than the fully packed New York synagogue, however.

 

Speaking of the baby, I feel like Bubba must have been there for Molly during her pregnancy and after the birth of the child. So much that Molly named her baby after Bubba's favorite musician, Charlie Parker. (Or so I imagine)

 

WHY ISN'T THIS MOVIE ABOUT MOLLY AND BUBBA?

 

I think I hear my cue...

 

There was talk about the confusing timeline but it is actually pretty straight forward. So when Neil Diamond leaves New York he's initially headed to LA for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks he gets a call for a gig which is week away, and that gig gets him the opening act which is another week away. So when his wife shows up he has been gone almost exactly a month. They break up that night, and the next day goes and confesses his love to Molly. They start dating and making an album. After three dates, four recording sessions, and a weird dinner they become sexually active. When his father arrives he states that he's been gone three months, which means that Jess and Molly were only dating for two months and sexual active for a month and a half in which she got pregnant. Seemingly the next day he storms off and runs away. After he returns Molly goes to carjack the producer again at which time the producer states Jess's record went gold "a year ago." Clearly they couldn't record anything new after Jess left so mixing, printing, release and sales, say one month after he storms out. That means he was on the road for about 13 months. If we further assume the baby was delivered as expected, by the time he returned that baby would be between 5 1/2 to 7 months old.

 

So you were dead on!

 

Nice work, Cam! That's a solid timeline.

 

I know there are some parents on this board ... remember those first six months? The total mind-fucking conflict of loving and bonding and tending this new life who is also keeping you awake all night, shitting every where, and being a total chore? I'm trying to decide where I'd be emotionally if, after being on my own for basically my whole pregnancy and then raising this child on my own for half a year, I turn around during a nice quiet moment alone with my child on the beach to see the guy whose slack I'd been taking up for over a year.

 

Now, I know Cameron's going to point out that he didn't know that he was a deadbeat during the whole time he was being a total deadbeat... but notice how he acts when Bubba gives him the photo of the kid -- as though he were down the hall at the hospital on the day of delivery. There was no, "Holy shit, she was pregnant and I've been playing honky tonk music in Laredo for the last year?!?" There was no heavy realization of what Bubba just laid on him ... he laughs and hugs, and then he just shows back up and everything's fine, and he's barely been inconvenienced at all.

 

I gotta say ... I think I'd yell.

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By the way, I guess it never dawned on me while I was watching the first time but ... he's from New York? I forgot that immediately because the way he talks about home being such a dead end for him.

 

So this guy has been ho-humming around for two decades, cantering for a huge synagogue and writing songs for other musicians, and if we're conceding that he was probably also gigging and recording and hustling as a guy trying to make it in the business, but he never really had the chance to really go for it and achieve the kind of success that he does in the movie just because he's in New York and not LA?

 

No ... not at all. 20 years of hard work and dreaming gets you nothing in New York? New York's no less a music town than LA. If he was a guy with any real ambition to make it, he would've made something of himself.

 

Once again, this movie should really be about a secret relationship between Molly and Bubba who are brought together by serendipity in the form of a semi-talented but hapless musician, through whom they build both a career in the music industry and a family. Their mutual interests in keeping both her man and his friend afloat lead them to realizing the love shared between them.

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Rivka can't even leave New York for two weeks to give him a chance to pursue his lifelong dream. That's fucked up. No one should ever be with someone who holds them as an emotional hostage. Your S.O. should believe in you. If they don't, and they are actively trying to sabotage your dreams, then you should leave them.

 

Yeah I agree with you on the "your SO should believe in you thing," but I have to point out that Rivka and Jess's father were right. They didn't want him to go to LA out of a fear that he would never come back and Rivka was wary of Molly because she thinks there might be something going on with between her and her husband... which is exactly what happens.

Isn't her skepticism valid if it is actually an accurate prediction of future behavior?

 

 

I think Rivka does want kids with him. Again, I’m not trying to say she’s a “bad” person, but they both definitely want different things. She wants to be married to the Cantor and teach at the shul; he wants to write “jazz” or “rock” music. I think she wants him to give up on secular music and settle down. I think this is the point of the scene where he rebuffs her advances. It’s not that he’s just being mopey. He knows that she’s thinking about children, while he’s afraid having kids will tie him down. Molly believes in him right from the start and that’s what he’s attracted to.

 

I think we kind of agree on this (for different reasons) and I'm just being a bit of a contrarian myself, but I think he's trying to escape his life/wife by any means possible. Yes, he knows if he gets Rivka pregnant that it would complicate everything in his life... the life he is determined to leave behind ASAPMF.

 

But that aside, you're right about Molly - she believes in him and is light and funny in contrast to Rivka who is very serious and cold. I guess I'm just not sure that makes amends for up and leaving his childhood sweetheart after a month in LA. Does that make him a bad person?

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probably not - Douche bag though? Yeah!

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Speaking of the baby, I feel like Bubba must have been there for Molly during her pregnancy and after the birth of the child. So much that Molly named her baby after Bubba's favorite musician, Charlie Parker. (Or so I imagine)

 

YES! Bubba asks Molly if she has any Charlie Parker at the Banjo/Robert E Lee party and she's like "Totally brah!" and then they bond over the record. That's the beginning of their beautiful lovestory and THAT'S why they named their son Charlie Parker.

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