Beanie Feldstein, Joey Slotnick and Ethan Coen

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.


Wild Comedy Ride, Elvis's Queen, Football Stuff

“Drive-Away Girls” is a mad-cap, “road” comedy that opens in theaters on Feb. 23. Here is the capsule plot: Sukie (BEANIE FELDSTEIN, 30), a police officer and the lesbian girlfriend of Jamie (Margaret Qualley), catches Jamie in bed with another woman. Soon after, Jamie invites herself on a road trip with her friend Marian. Marian reluctantly agrees to stop at every major lesbian bar on the East Coast as they drive from Philadelphia to Florida. During the trip, Jamie gets the pair into many misadventures.

The large supporting cast includes Matt Damon as an evil senator and JOEY SLOTNICK, 55, as one of a pair of bumbling criminals.

The film was directed by ETHAN COEN, 66. Of course, he’s the brother of JOEL COEN, 69, and, for decades the brothers made films together. Around 2018, they decided to make at least some films “alone”. In 2019, Joel directed “The Tragedy of MacBeth” “alone” and “Drive-Away” is Ethan’s first “alone” feature film.

“Drive-Away” was co-written by Coen and his wife, Tricia Cooke. They have an “interesting” marriage. Coen asked her out not long after she got a job editing film (1989) for the brothers. She declined, telling Ethan she was a lesbian. However, they clicked “anyway” and married in 1990. They have two children. During their marriage, they both have had other romantic partners. But their marriage, Cooke says, works for them  and they are close colleagues. (For almost 30 years, Cooke edited Coen brothers’ films).

On Feb. 23, Amazon Prime premieres a comedy stand-up special entitled “Jenny Slate: Seasoned Professional”. SLATE, now 41, began her showbiz career as a stand-up (2008) and has continued doing some stand-up. She also has had a few film roles (“Obvious Child”) and many series’ parts (“Parks and Recreation”, “House of Lies”, “The Kroll Show”).

The bio-pic “Priscilla”, directed by Sophia Coppola, will begin streaming on HBO/Max on Feb. 23. It was under “my radar” when it opened in a few theaters last fall. Mostly very good reviews didn’t move many to see it.

The film begins with the meeting of Priscila Beaulieu, when she was 14, and Elvis was 24 and already a huge star. In 1958, when they met, and flirted, Elvis was in the army and stationed in Germany. Priscilla’s father, Capt. Paul Beaulieu, was a career Air Force officer posted to Germany.  

The film covers her parents’ kind-of-creepy decision to allow Priscilla, then 16, to move into Elvis’s grandmother’s home, very near Elvis’s Memphis home. (Elvis’s promise to marry Priscilla when she turned 18 was a big factor).

They did marry when she was 18  (1967) and exactly 9 months, later, Priscilla gave birth to Elvis’s only child, Lisa Marie.

The film’s last part covers their rocky six-year marriage. It ended with both parties being serially unfaithful  and Elvis far into the bad habits (overeating, drugs) that took his life in 1977.

ARI COHEN, 56, a Canadian actor with few American credits, plays Capt. Beaulieu. Another Canadian actor, DAN ABRAMOVICI, 30ish, plays Jerry Schilling, a close friend of Elvis.  

LARRY GELLER, now 84, is a film character. Geller was Elvis’s hairdresser for decades. He also was his “spiritual advisor’ and a bit mesuggah. He says that he’s responsible for Elvis wearing a “Chai” pendant in the ‘70s.

I won’t get into, here, the widespread, ‘very shaky’ “Elvis has Jewish ancestry” story. I will note that Riley Keough, an up-and-coming actress and the granddaughter of Priscilla and Elvis, has real Jewish ancestry (paternal grandmother was Jewish).

On Feb. 16, Apple+ began streaming a 10-part episode documentary entitled “The Dynasty: New England Patriots”. The publicity release says: “It brings together former quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, along with a wide range of contributors, as they give the definitive story of the team’s remarkable reign.”

As you probably know, Kraft paid for the ads that attacked anti-Semitism and all forms of hate that appeared during this year’s Superbowl broadcast.

But let me end with a happy, “footballish” footnote that proves you can find a Jewish connection to anything. I noticed that K.C. Chiefs’ star Travis Kelce (Taylor Swift’s sweetie) was surrounded by cameras at the end of the Superbowl and he was so happy he sang small parts of two songs:  “Viva Las Vegas” (the theme for the Elvis movie)-and- “You Have to Fight for Your Right to Party”. The former was written by the late, great Doc POMUS (born Jerome Felder) and the late MORT SCHUMAN. “Party” was written by, and performed by, the three (Jewish) Beastie Boys. (Pomus and the Beastie Boys are in the Rock Hall of Fame).


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