Jews in the News: Natalie Portman, Michael Showalter and Emmanuel Lubezki

At the Movies

Opening Friday, March 11, is “Knight of Cups.” This Terence Malick film, which is labeled as experimental by the director, stars Christian Bale as Rick, a successful, but unhappy screenwriter who finds his only solace in women. NATALIE PORTMAN, 34, stars in one of eight “chapters” in the film. All of the chapters center on one person in Rick’s life and Portman plays a woman who Rick wronged in the past.

Opening the same day is “Hello, My Name is Doris.” It stars Sally Field as Doris, a woman who is smitten with John, her company’s new, much-younger art director. Playing John is MAX GREENFIELD, 35, whose best known as Schmidt on the “The New Girl” TV show.  Doris mines the internet for info on John and finds out who his hip friends are and where they hang-out. She seeks out these friends and they like her. Over time she adopts these friends’ bohemian ways and her personal style loosens up.  But her family and old friends think Doris is making a fool of herself pursing her crush on John. Co-stars include NATASHA LYONNE, 36.

The director is MICHAEL SHOWALTER, 45. He’s best known as a co-star and co-writer of “Wet Hot American Summer” and its recent Netflix “prequel.” A lesser known credit is the film, “The Baxter” (2005), which he directed and starred-in.  This very quirky and uneven romantic comedy didn’t make much money, but it’s worth renting. It’s a send-up of all the romantic comedy clichés about the “right guy” sweeping the girl off her feet at the last minute. Showalter plays a nebbishy nice guy who is dumped by a series of girlfriends for the “right guy.” So I wasn’t surprised that he is helming another film about possibly unrequited love like “Doris.”

 Shortish Oscars Follow-Up

You might have heard Charles Randolph, a co-Oscar winner for his “Big Short” screenplay, say “I love you, Mili” in Hebrew from the Oscars’ stage. He was speaking to his wife, Israeli actress MILI AVITAL, 43. Avital, who dated DAVID SCHWIMMER for a long time, discussed her marriage to Randolph a few years ago. She said he “almost converted” to Judaism, but ultimately he decided not to  because he wasn’t religious and a formal conversion was not for him. However, they agreed to raise their children Jewish and their only child, a son, is being raised Jewish. She added that her husband helps build the family’s sukkah. It’s a similar story with Randolph’s co-Oscar winner, “Big Short” co-writer and director Adam McKay. He is also married to a “showbiz” Jewish woman, director SHIRA PIVEN, 45, the sister of actor JEREMY PIVEN. A few weeks ago, McKay was on “Politically Incorrect” and in response the question, “Are you Jewish?” He said, ‘No, but my wife and my daughters are Jewish.”

You also might have heard best actor winner Leonardo DiCaprio and “Revenant” director Alejandro thank “Chivo” in their speeches. “Chivo” means goat in Spanish and it’s the nickname of “Revenant” cinematographer EMMANUEL LUBEZKI, 51, who won his 3rd consecutive Oscar the same night. He’s the first person to win this Oscar three times in a row.

While he certainly doesn't look goat-like now, Lubezki told the NY Times in 2014 how he got his nickname: "When I was 5 a schoolmate gave it [to me] I guess it was my face looked like a goat, almost every boy in the school had the animal nickname.’” Lubezki, by the way, filmed “Knight of Cups.” So I can almost guarantee you “Knight” will be visually exciting even if the film is “too arty” for most tastes.

Equal Time for Hillary

Recently, I wrote about Donald Trump’s familial Jewish connections. So, I figure it time to write about Hillary’s. Of course, just about everyone knows that her daughter, Chelsea, has been married since 2010 to MARK MEZVINSKY, now 38, an investment banker who is the son of two former House members. They have one child and another is on the way. Speculation is that their children will be raised “both” in a religious sense. Less well known, although I have noted this before, is that Hillary Clinton had a Jewish “half aunt”, the late ADELINE ROSENBERG FRIEDMAN. Hillary was fairly close to Adeline. This aunt was the daughter of Hillary’s paternal grandmother, Dorothy, and her second husband, MAX ROSENBERG, who was Jewish. (Adeline was the half-brother of Hillary’s father). While Dorothy never converted to Judaism, Adeline did convert to Judaism and lived her life as a Jew.


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