Ziggy Gruber, Jerry Stiller, Alan Dershowitz, Freddie Klein, Dennis Howard, Jay Parker
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Erik Greenberg Anjou
Cohen Media Group
It may very well be to the credit of Deli Man director Erik Greenberg Anjou that I found myself contemplating my most recent visit to Indy's most famous deli, Shapiro's, as I was winding down my time with his 91-minute feature documentary being given a limited nationwide release by indie distributor Cohen Media Group. While there's really no comparisons to speak of, I think it was simply the affection with which Anjou presents both the historical and more personal material to be found in Deli Man.
if you were to go into Shapiro's, there's a pretty good chance you would find yourself coming face-to-face with the incredible foods, the Shapiro family, and the establishment's history that is radiated even in their most recent location that happens to be located inside a shopping mall.
Deli Man, the third film in Anjou's trilogy of films about Jewish culture that also includes A Cantor's Tale and The Klezmatics - On Holy Ground, is largely centered around Ziggy Gruber, a third-generation deli man who currently operates one of the country's top delis, Houston's Kenny and Ziggy's. Ziggy is an infectious character, a Yiddish-speaking French trained chef whose deli has been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" and in numerous other publications. While Anjou wraps the film around Ziggy, Deli Man is far more than simply a personal story, a fact that occasionally works against it. Deli Man also tells the story of the immigration of Jews into and across America, a movement that began with the building of culturally identifiable neigbhorhoods and would become handed down generations of wealth and tradition.
Deli Man also tours through some of the nation's most famous delis including Carnegie, Katz's, 2nd Avenue Deli, Langer's and more while featuring a wealth of known and familiar faces talking about their own treasured deli memories including the likes of Jerry Stiller, Freddie Klein, Larry King, Dennis Howard and others.
Deli Man is in many ways much like that neighborhood deli that you've come to know and love, simple and comfortable and incredibly familiar. While those familiar with delis may very well chuckle with revelations about Yiddishisms and light humor, for the most part Deli Man is the kind of film where you simply sit back and allow yourself to relax and enjoy its 91-minute running time getting to know Ziggy and Anjou's cast of players here while immersing yourself in familiar yet enjoyable Jewish culture.
Deli Man opens in Indianapolis on 3/20 at Landmark's Keystone Arts on Indy's Northside. While its most obvious appeal will be to Indy's abundant Jewish community, its affectionate and spirited charm will likely be embraced by others who decide to give this slight yet enjoyable documentary a chance.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic