At the Movies
Opening everywhere on Friday, Jan. 10 are “Just Mercy”, “Like a Boss”, and “1917”. “Mercy” tells the true story of Walter McMillian (1941-2001), a black man who lived in a small Alabama town. He was accused of the 1986 murder of a white store clerk during a robbery. He was convicted despite the fact that he had no criminal record and many alibi witnesses, including a police officer. McMillian (who is played by Jamie Foxx) was sent to death row where he remained until 1993. His appeals were handled by Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a famous African American civil rights lawyer. TIM BLAKE NELSON, 55, has a large supporting role as Ralph Myers, a real-life (white) career criminal who claimed that he and McMillian were partners in the store robbery.
“Like a Boss” is a comedy about Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia (TIFFANY HADDISH, 40), two friends who start a beauty company together. They do well for a time, but run into financial trouble. Salma Hayek plays Claire, a rich woman who appears to be a “white knight investor” who will bail the company out. Claire demands that Mel and Mia be tougher in the way they run the company—that they “act like a boss.” ARI GRAYNOR, 36, has a largish supporting role.
“1917”, as I have written before, is an acclaimed film about British soldiers during the First World War. Here’s an interesting post-script: on Dec. 27th it was announced that SAM MENDES, 54, who directed and co-wrote 1917”, would receive a knighthood later this year. He’ll be a “Sir” after a ceremony before the Queen.
TV Catch-Up: Argentina, an African/English Black Jew Plays African-American FBI Agent; More
The six hour docu-series “Nisman: The Prosecutor, The President, and the Spy” began streaming on Netflix on Jan. 1. It’s about ALBERTO NISMAN (1963-2015), an Argentine Jewish prosecutor who investigated the 1994 bombing of AMIA, a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The bombing killed 85 people. It remains the most deadly terrorist attack in Argentine history and the 2nd most deadly terrorist attack in the Western Hemisphere (9/11 in the largest).
It was long suspected that the bombers were Hezbollah operatives working at the direction of Iran. On Jan. 14, 2015 Nisman went on TV to accuse Argentine President Cristina Kirchner of negotiating the impunity of Iranians accused of the AMIA bombing. Four days later, and on the eve of testifying in court, where he promised decisive proof of the collusion, Nisman was found dead in his bathroom with a single shot to the head. The questions were and are: Was it suicide or murder? If it was the latter, who was involved?
“Variety” gave the series a very good review and praised the way its British director, Justin Webster, told the story. Unfortunately (spoiler alert!), Webster did not find some “smoking gun” that solves the case. He lays out the evidence and asks viewers to make up their own mind.
Starting on Jan. 2 on Fox (9PM) was “Deputy”. STEPHEN DORFF, 48, plays Bill Hollister, a deputy who becomes the Chief of the huge Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. when the elected Chief suddenly dies. Hollister is more an old West guy than a modern lawman. Dorff, who identifies as Jewish, is a veteran action film actor (with a very deep voice). Dorff’s late mother wasn’t Jewish. His Jewish father is STEVE DORFF, 70, a successful country music composer who also writes film scores and TV theme songs.
BEX TAYLOR-KLAUS, 25, has a supporting “Deputy” role as Breanna Bishop, a seasoned investigator in the Sheriff's office. While she has many guest and recurring TV roles, this is her first role as a network series regular. She told the “Windy City Times” that “Bex” is short for Rebecca. When asked about her nationality, she replied: “Wow that is difficult. My family is from Spain, Cuba, Israel. The family is Jewish and from all over the place.”
Starting on Jan. 7th was “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS, 10PM). It’s a spin-off of the CBS series, “FBI”, which began in 2018. The five co-stars include ROXY STERNBERG, 30. In 2016, she was profiled in the “London Jewish Chronicle” following her casting in “Emerald City,” an NBC series that only lasted a couple of months. Sternberg is the daughter of a black and Jewish Ugandan mother and an English Jewish father. The Chronicle noted that when she is home in London she teaches Hebrew school classes at her synagogue (she’s fluent in Hebrew).