AT THE MOVIES
Leap!, an animated film, opens on Friday, Aug. 25. Félicie (Elle Fanning) leaves an orphanage for Paris hoping to become a dancer. She’s joined by her best friend, Victor (Nat Wolff, 22), an orphan who wants to be a famous inventor. Félicie has to pretend to come from a rich family to get into a top ballet school and is helped by a mysterious mentor (singer Carly Rae Jepson). Mel Brooks, 91, voices the head of the orphanage.
ON CHARLOTTESVILLE AND MORE
Musicians Regina Spektor and Pink (AKA Alecia Moore), both 37, issued moving statements right after the Charlottesville riot and the death of Heather Heyer last Saturday. Both happened to be playing Berlin. Pink, whose mother is Jewish, said, “It’s incredible to watch Neo-Nazis march in 2017, while I, a Jewish woman, headline a show in Berlin where tunnels [to my auditorium’s stage] were built by him [Hitler] … My heart aches for the amount of hatred in the world.” Spektor, a child refugee from the Soviet Union, said on Facebook, “I am in Berlin where after a dark history, it is illegal to be a Nazi or say hate speech. I never dreamed [when I became a U.S. citizen that] the hate speeches and the normalizing of institutionalized prejudice would be falling over the land in such a short time. The haters coming out of the shadows and being empowered.” Also, the day after the riot, Charlottesville’s mayor Michael Signer, 44, was widely quoted when he said on Meet the Press: “When you dance with the devil, the devil changes you. And I think they made a choice in that [Trump] campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people’s prejudices, to go to the gutter.” He was deluged with anti-Semitic hate mail right after this statement.
The “Twittersphere” exploded after President Trump’s news conference on Monday, Aug.13, in which he said, again, “both sides” were at fault: Neo-Nazis and their ilk and anti-bigotry protesters. Here are some tweets from Jewish celebs: Albert Brooks, 70: “Don’t blame Donald Trump. He just found out yesterday the Nazis lost World War II”; B.J. Novak: “I guess I’m a genius because I actually had a bad feeling about this guy quite a while ago”; Josh Gad, 36: “Sound the alarm. This country is on fire. And the arsonist is the President”; Chelsea Handler, 42: “It is time for all the generals that Trump has appointed to declare him unfit for office. He is unfit and unstable. This is madness”; Judd Apatow, 49: “He has such passion for all of the evil corrupt people on this planet. Never any rage at the murderers. No compassion”; Emmy Rossum, 30: “Who exactly are you condemning? Call it what it is. Nazi. KKK”; Barbra Streisand, 75: “W/o a prepared statement, this Pres says what he really believes: Equating neo-Nazis to those protecting civil rights is disgraceful & crazy”; and Danny Zuker, 53: “Yes Hitler was bad but those Jews did some stuff, too. Blame to go around on both sides. I’m sorry how many sides are there? There’s only ONE side that is full of hate, bigotry and fear. Horrible speech, who r u trying to protect?” Also, on Tuesday, Aug. 14, four members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued statements condemning racism, including Gen. David Goldfine, 57, the head of the Air Force and a decorated combat pilot.
THE MOST IMPORTANT ECLIPSE
While we are still in the “grip” of the Aug. 21 “eclipse fever,” I thought I’d mention the 2008 HBO film Einstein and Eddington. The film, despite many historical inaccuracies, really captures the importance of Arthur Eddington’s eclipse photographs. The film begins in 1919, but quickly flashes back to 1914 as WWI has begun. That year, Albert Einstein moved from Zurich to Berlin to take a highly prestigious professorship. Almost at the same time, Eddington, an English Quaker and an astronomer, was named the director of Cambridge University’s Observatory. As the film (correctly) depicts, both Einstein and Eddington resisted the rampant nationalism that engulfed Europe during WWI. In 1919, a total eclipse in Africa provided Eddington with the special conditions he needed to photograph the bending of starlight by the gravitational pull of the sun, as Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted. Eddington’s photos made Einstein instantly famous worldwide. See it on HBO or on YouTube (search: Einstein and Eddington English subtitles. Ignore other YouTube videos of similar name).
Nate Bloom COLUMNIST