A cursory glance at the section of this site that is dedicated to Icarus Films releases shows that that distributor of mostly foreign films rocks. The bad news is that this post on the Icarus February 23, 2021 DVD release of the 2020 film "Yiddish" shows that even the best among us have a bad day.
The awesome news is that the aptly titled short "Egg Cream" more than makes up for the failings of the feature presentation. The first amusing aspect of this is that the contrasts between the two films illustrates that dessert often is more tasty than the main course. An entertaining "Freaky Friday" element is that the 15-minute "Egg Cream" warrants the roughly hour length of "Yiddish," which would have made for a delightful and informative 15-minute tidbit.
The fault of "Yiddish" equally lies in the stars and in writer/director Nurith Aviv. A lesser flaw is the style and the substance of this documentary not even trying to reflect either the wit or the wisdom of the language around which it is centered. A more positive element is that "Yiddish" contributes to the important campaign to keep lesser-known languages alive.
The seven 20- and early 30-something interviewees each get roughly 10 minutes to share tidbits as to the titular hybrid of Hebrew and German. These not-ready-for-primetime players also discuss the personal importance of Yiddish in their lives.
The best story before giving up on this film was of a Yiddish scholar whose "conversion" leads to bonding with his grandmother; we also hear from a woman whose linguistic studies result in meeting her future husband.
Your not-so-humble reviewer repeatedly yelling "shut up" at the screen during the third interview and adding a word that warrants gargling with body wash during the next one before stopping the film provides a sense of the monotony of the VERY fast-talking and humorless presenters. Better editing of these segments and providing more variety that is the spice of life would have greatly enhanced this documentary.
Moving on, "Egg Cream" by Nora Miller is EVERYTHING that "Yiddish" is not. This begins with "Cream" achieving the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and informative. As indicated above, this film by Nora Miller leaves the audience wanting MUCH more.
Miller opens the film with a charming anecdote about her childhood love of the titular treat that leads to her adult effort to learn more about that beverage. The most amusing reveal is that this taste sensation does not have eggs or cream. (Personal ignorance as to that is behind never trying this drink; this WILL be remedied once it is safe to go back in the water.)
The (perhaps untrue) origin story of egg creams involving opposites is very apt considering the contrasts between "Cream" and "Yiddish." On a more general (pun intended) level, it is amazing to learn how long ago the purported events occurred.
The true delight of "Cream" commences with a trip to a young-at-heart senior who is an expert egg cream maker. His delighting children with both the treat and the story behind it will bring a smile to your face.
We subsequently meet the Jewish owner of a business that sells the titular item; the humor here goes beyond this man being unable to prepare this classic to the guy who is pro not being one of the chosen people.
The bottom line is that "Cream" and its subject provide the joy that both "Yiddish" and its subject should have delivered.