Jews in the News: Jeffrey Tambor, Rachel Weisz and Christopher Guest

At the Movies/Movie News

“The Accountant” is a thriller starring Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, a math savant with Asperger’s syndrome (he has trouble relating to people). Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, Wolff works as a freelance accountant for criminal organizations, like the Mafia. A criminal investigator for the Treasury Dept. (J.K. Simmons) is hot on Wolff’s trail.

Wolff decides to take a legitimate client—a high tech company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a multi-million dollar discrepancy. As Wolff unwinds this company’s books, people start to die.

JON BERNTHAL, 40, and “Emmy-darling” JEFFREY TAMBOR, 72, have large supporting roles. Bernthal plays “Brax,” a mercenary for hire and Tambor plays Francis Silverberg, a veteran Mafia accountant who is Affleck’s mentor.

“Denial”, about how historian DEBORAH LIPSTADT, 69, successfully defended herself in a British court from a civil suit claiming she defamed Hitler-apologist David Irving, opens on Oct. 14. Because this film, starring RACHEL WEISZ, 46, will be very well-covered in general and Jewish media articles, I won’t but mention it here. However, I will note that Weisz has just signed to star in the upcoming film, "Disobedience,” based on a novel by NAOMI ALDERMAN, 40, a British writer. Weisz plays an English Jewish woman, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, who has fled her religious background and moved to the States. She returns home for her estranged father’s funeral, meets up with two old friends, and disrupts their traditionally Jewish lives. Rachel McAdams co-stars.

Should Be Fun/Nobel Connection

CHRISTOPHER GUEST, 68, is the master of “the mockumentary”. He co-wrote “This is Spinal Tap”. He co-wrote and directed “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” and “A Mighty Wind.” “Mascots,” his new film, follows several people who play sports team mascots as they compete for honors (“The Gold Fluffy Award”) at the (fictional) World Mascot Association.  (“Mascots” opens in a few theaters on Oct. 13 and begins streaming on Netflix that day, too).

BOB BALABAN, 71, who usually plays Jewish characters in Guest films, seems to be playing another Jew---“Sol Lumpkin.” Another Guest-film regular, HARRY SHEARER, 72, plays the competition announcer. Shearer’s first big role (he was a child actor) came in the 1953 film, “The Robe.” I remembered Shearer’s early role when I learned, last week, that the co-winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics, MICHAEL KOSTERLITZ, 73, is the nephew of the late HENRY KOSTER, the Oscar-nominated director of “The Robe.” Both Henry and his brilliant bio-chemist brother, HANS KOSTERLITZ (Michael’s father), fled Nazi Germany. Hans is credited with being one of the key discovers of endorphins (natural pain killers). Michael, whose work is harder to summarize, is a professor of physics at Brown University.

Two Jewish Vets and another Showbiz Connection

If you’re like me, you like to know about interesting Jewish candidates before election day and look, now-and-then, at how they’re doing in the polls. Let’s call Missouri, this year, “5 Stars-of David, super interesting.” (The on-line NY Times and RealClearPolitics have daily updated charts of the polling on Senate/Governor races.)

Running as the Republican nominee for Missouri governor is ERIC GRIETANS, 42.  Here’s but a few of the highlights of his incredible resume—this St. Louis native was a Rhodes Scholar; has a Ph.D. in development studies; became a Navy Seal after getting his doctorate; led raids on Al-Qaeda cells; got the Bronze star and Purple Heart; founded “The Mission Continues”, a vets group-- and he’s written three books, one of which is a memoir about his Seal service.

While Missouri is trending GOP in recent elections, as I write this, Greitans’ Democratic opponent is doing better than expected and the race is neck-and-neck.  Meanwhile, another tribe member, Democrat JASON KANDER, 35, is also doing much better than expected in his attempt to oust GOP Senator Roy Blunt. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, Kander did a tour of duty in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant. Subsequently, he served in the Missouri legislature and as Missouri’s Sec. of State.

He believes in background gun checks and countered Blount’s criticism of his position by posting a video in which he took apart and assembled a rifle, blindfolded. The race is virtually tied in the latest polls.

Kander has known his wife, DIANA KAGAN, 34, since grade school. They reunited at Georgetown Law and married in 2003. A highly successful start-up expert, Kagan is the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Jason’s great uncle is JOHN KANDER, 89, the music composer and co-lyricist of many hits, including “Chicago”, “Cabaret,” and “New York, New York.”


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