Jews in the News: Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman and Nate Ebner

At the Movies: Joaquin and Natalie

Opening “wide” on Friday, Oct. 4 are “The Joker” and “Lucy in the Sky.” Joker stars JOAQUIN PHOENIX, 44, as the iconic nemesis of “Batman.” However, this is only at the edges a Batman-related film. Rather, it is a Scorsese-like portrait of how a troubled “normal” man becomes a nihilistic criminal. As the film opens, the (future) Joker is simply Arthur Fleck, a guy who works as a clown-by-day and tries, during the evening, to make it as a stand-up comedian. Suffice it to say that his stand-up career doesn’t work out and one very bad decision sets into motion Fleck’s embrace of the Joker persona.

Advance reviews are mostly good-- with Phoenix’s performance being particularly praised (probable Oscar-nom). The film was directed by, and co-written by TODD PHILLIPS, 48 (the “Hangover” movies). It was co-written by STEVE SILVER, 55. The supporting cast includes MARC MARON, 55, as Fleck’s agent.

“Lucy in the Sky” stars NATALIE PORTMAN, 38, as Lucy Cola, an astronaut who begins an intense love affair with Mark, another astronaut (Jon Hamm) shortly after returning from a long space flight. The flight, itself, left her somewhat unmoored from reality and she loses touch with her family. Her downward spiral escalates when Mark takes up with an astronaut trainee. NICK OFFERMAN, 49, has a supporting role as a physician. Sad to say, advance reviews are mostly negative.

So Many Jews! Try It! And Why You Should Like Ms. Paltrow

The entire first season of the Netflix satirical comedy series “The Politician” was released on Sept. 27 (a 2nd season is already ordered). Broadway star BEN PLATT, 25 (“Dear Evan Hansen”) stars as Payton Hobart, a wealthy resident of Santa Barbara. Each season will revolve around another political race Payton is in and the first season is about a high school election. The cast includes GWYNETH PALTROW, 46, as Payton’s mother. The supporting cast includes ZOEY DEUTCH, 24, and BOB BALABAN, 74. BETTE MIDLER, 73, and JUDITH LIGHT, 74, make guest appearances. The series was co-created by BRAD FALCHUK, 48, who Paltrow married last year.

Gwyneth Paltrow can sometimes be a bit hard to like. I get it. She’s beautiful, can sing, can act, and was born into a Hollywood top-tier family. To have that many gifts just doesn’t seem fair. Plus, I share the wide-spread opinion that some of the stuff she sells on her Goop website is way overpriced new age chazerai (junk).

However, my respect for Paltrow shot-up in the last month following the publication of “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement.”  It chronicles how two New York Times reporters, JODI KANTOR, 44, and Megan Twohey, helped bring the HARVEY WEINSTEIN sexual harassment story to light. In the book, and in interviews, they say that Paltrow was the first actress to tell them her harassment story. They asked her to contact other actresses and ask them to tell their stories, too. Paltrow asked “everyone” if she should do this—and they all said, "No, it would hurt your career." But she decided to ignore this advice, made calls, and got many other women to speak to Kantor and Twohey.

Jews on the Gridiron

The following players were on an NFL team roster as of Sept. 20. All have at least one Jewish parent and were raised Jewish or secular. This item was written with the assistance of Jewish Sports Review magazine.

JORDAN DANGERFIELD, 28, safety, Pittsburgh. After a season-ending injury in 2017, he was healthy all last year. Dangerfield is of Ethiopian Jewish background. My guess is that he is the only Ethiopian Jew in American professional sports; NATE EBNER, 30, New England. Ebner is an invaluable special teams player. He was injured in 2017, but returned strong in 2018; ANTHONY FIRKSER, 24, tight end, Tennessee. He played basketball at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. He graduated from Harvard in 2017 with a mathematics degree. In 2018, he joined the Titans and in mid-season was promoted from the practice squad to the “regular” team; ALEXANDER “Ali” MARPET, 26, outside guard, Tampa Bay. In 2018, Marpet started all 16 games and was rewarded with a five year, 55M dollar contract extension; JOSH ROSEN, 22, quarterback, Miami. Rosen had a rough rookie year (2018) with a lousy Arizona team and was traded during the off-season; and Julian Edelman, (star) receiver, New England. I will cover Edelman’s complex Jewish background in a future article or long column item.


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