'A Cantor's Tale'
With its outlandish stories, obsession with masculine ego, and focus on an absurd, forgotten subculture, A Cantor's Tale is the stuff Ben Stiller movies are made of: All that's missing is the part for Owen Wilson. Cantor Jackie Mendelson weaves an outrageous tale of the "old neighborhood," where the most famous guy on the block wasn't Sandy Koufax; it was the neighborhood hazan, a local celebrity of legendary proportions replete with his own entourage and rivals. Mendelson, an outsize personality with a voice (and physique) to rival Pavarotti's, makes a grand tour guide through the Borough Park backstreets he hasn't visited in nearly 40 years, bumping into old friends, taking requests, and bursting into song. A born ham (or whatever the kosher equivalent might be), Cantor Mendelson establishes a tone that blends equal parts warmth and humor: piety one second, one-liners the next. Serious issues are addressedlike the hotly debated rise of female cantorsbut the focus remains squarely on the glory days of the hazanim and their glorious music. The featured performers give soul-stirring renditions of prayers I'd heard hundreds of times in my childhood, but never quite like this. Maybe Jeremy Piven could play the Wilson role.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Scott Adkins Plays a Badass Actually Named ‘Colt McReady’ In the Effective ‘Close Range’
- Meet the Pole Who Tried to Warn the World About the Holocaust in ‘Karski & the Lords...
- Jane Fonda Faced Down the Seventies and a Killer in Pakula’s Masterful ‘Klute’
- He’ll Get Your Head Shaking: Surveying the Start of Chung Mong-hong’s (Likely) Great...