Our Guide to the 27th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival

Our film critics review Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown, The Guys Next Door, and Body and Soul: An American Bridge playing at this year’s festival.

From now through May 28, the Washington Jewish Film Festival celebrates its 27th annual iteration, with dozens of films from around the world. Our film critics viewed a small sampling of the films being shown this year. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, click here. Check back for more in the coming days.

The comedy of Jerry Lewis feels terribly out of place today. There is no veneer of irony or insights into the human condition. Just a lot of funny faces and pratfalls. Then again, Lewis wasn’t taken seriously even in his time, an injustice that The Man Behind the Clown intends to correct. Through old clips and new interviews with luminaries like Martin Scorsese and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, the documentary builds a case that Lewis deserves to be considered a serious artist. If you’re not a fan of his comedy, The Man Behind the Clown is unlikely to change that, but it might make you appreciate what Lewis reveals about the country that produced him. “Americans love Jerry Lewis,” says Rosenbaum, “and don’t want to admit it.” We can disagree on the first part, but the gulf between his immense popularity and the dismissive critical attitude is worth exploring. At a scant 60 minutes, The Man Behind the Clown never gets totally under his skin, but it uncovers new layers of a man who, as he has aged, is remembered more for his prickly disposition than his remarkable body of work. —Noah Gittell

Read more at Washington City Paper.