At the Movies: Something Wild and Something Not Seen
Opening on Friday, Feb. 21 are “Call of the Wild” and “The Invisible Man”. “Call” is based on the famous 1903 novel by Jack London. It’s the story of Buck, a very big dog whose idyllic life in Northern California ends when he is stolen and transported to the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. Buck is mistreated by a series of owners, who have him led a team of sled dogs hauling heavy loads of supplies and, later, the mail. Buck has reached a low point physically when John Thornton (HARRISON FORD, 77) comes into his life. Thornton nurses Buck back to health and they form an inseparable bond. There’s more—but I won’t spoil it for you.
Here’s hoping that the movie is a smash—because it has been a long time since Ford, whose late mother was Jewish, has starred in a hit, big budget film. In the last ten years, he has had big roles in just two (modest budget) films that made substantially more than they cost to make (“42” about Jackie Robinson and “The Age of Adaline,” a romantic fantasy). All the big budget movies (like “Blade Runner: 2049”) that he’s starred in have flopped or broke even.
The film was written by MICHAEL GREEN, 46. This New York native is the son of an Israeli mother and an American Jewish father. He started as a TV writer (“Sex and the City”). In 2018, he was nominated for a screenplay Oscar for “Logan”. “Logan” was based on a Marvel comic and Green also writes for comic books—he pens new adventures of Batman and Superman for DC comics.
By the way, the big-budget film “Birds of Prey”, which is based on DC comics, opened on Feb. 7. Margot Robbie plays Harley Quinn, the central character. In the comics, Quinn is Jewish. In the film, the young Quinn goes to a Catholic school. “Birds” joins a depressingly long line of films and TV shows that erase the Jewish background of literary characters. This is a complex situation whose explanations would span several columns. Here, I’ll just say I’m annoyed and tired of it.
The plot of “The Invisible Man” is a substantial departure from the 1897 novel by H.G. Wells or the famous 1933 “Invisible Man” film. Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, a woman trapped in an abusive marriage to a wealthy and brilliant scientist (British actor OLIVER JACKSON-COHEN, 33). Aided by her sister, Cecilia escapes in the dead of night and goes into hiding. Shortly thereafter, her husband apparently commits suicide. Celicia is convinced his death is a hoax. She desperately tries to convince others that she is being hunted by someone she can’t see.
“High Fidelity” Redux
“High Fidelity” has had several lives. It began as a 1995 novel by the clever Nick Hornby. The central character was Rob, a London record store owner whose girlfriend leaves him as the novel begins. In 2000, it was made into a film (“High Fidelity”), starring John Cusack as Rob, a Chicago record store owner whose girlfriend has just left him. The 2000 film, directed by Brit STEPHEN FREARS, now 78, was a box office hit and got stellar reviews. LISA BONET, now 55, had a big supporting role as a nightclub singer with a great voice who is a potential romantic partner of Rob. Also in an important supporting role was the then-unknown JACK BLACK, now 50, as clerk in Rob’s store who surprises everybody at film’s end when he sings a killer version of “Let’s Get It On”.
The original Hulu series, “High Fidelity”, stars ZOE KRAVITZ, 31, as Rob, a Brooklyn record store owner whose former boyfriend has just returned to New York after a year-away. Kravitz is the real-life daughter of Lisa Bonet.
The 10-episode series was released in its entirety on Feb. 14. Reviews are mostly good, although some say the “Rob” character was written as a very average looking person and it’s hard to view the gorgeous Kravitz as "average”. “They” don’t cast average looking women as Catwoman, and that’s the role you’ll see Bonet play in the upcoming (2021) film “The Batman.”
The supporting “Fidelity” cast includes JUSTIN SILVER, 40ish, as Justin Kitt. The grandson of Holocaust survivors, Silver is a stand-up comedian and a dog trainer. Back in 2012, he was the star of “Dogs in the City,” a reality-TV summer series on CBS. He advised clients about their wayward pooches.