Celebrity Jews: Van Gogh, Fantastic Beasts, Coen Bros & More
AT THE MOVIES
Opens/starts streaming Nov. 16: The artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, 67, is the director and co-screenwriter of At Eternity’s Gate, a biopic about the final days of Vincent Van Gogh. French Jewish actor Matheiu Amalric (Munich), 53, has a major supporting role as Dr. Paul Gaudet, a physician who treated Van Gogh during the artist’s last months. Gaudet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second film in the Fantastic Beasts film series. Like the first film, Crimes was written by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter). The movie begins with the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escaping captivity. He then starts to enlist followers who will help him raise wizards, like himself, above all non-magical beings. Will our hero, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), an introverted British wizard, be able to stop Grindelwald again?
Newt’s allies include Tina and Queenie Goldstein, American “good” wizards (Rowling has hinted they are Jewish). Dan Fogler, 42, plays Jacob Kowalski, a “good” WWI American vet who is sweet on Queenie (again, hints that he is Jewish). Meanwhile, Ezra Miller, 26, reprises his big role as bad guy Credence Barebone. Also co-starring is Zoe Kravitz, 29. She plays Leta Lestrange, who Scamander was sweet on before she betrayed him.
I think it’s important to note that J.K. Rowling, who isn’t Jewish, has been a vocal opponent of the BDS movement and, via social media, has taken on those on the British Left who have crossed the line that separates legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.
Matthew Heinemann, 54, an acclaimed and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, makes his debut as a feature film director with A Private War. It tells the story of Marie Colvin (1956-2012), an American journalist who covered some of the hottest war zones in the world and was almost certainly murdered on the orders of the current Syrian regime. Rosamund Pike stars as Colvin.
The Coen brothers’ original film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will be released on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 16. Six different tales from the Old West are told. The first story co-stars Tim Blake Nelson, 54, and David Krumholtz, 40. James Franco, 40, stars in the second story and our Canadian landsman, Saul Rubinek, 70, stars in the sixth story.
A COUPLE MORE PITTSBURGH NOTES
On Oct. 29, Jeff Goldblum, 66, posted to Instagram a photo of a statement he handwrote on a plain piece of white paper. It said: “I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Near Squirrel Hill. These events are devastating. And infuriating. I send my love and deepest sympathies to everybody who’s grieving. What can we do that’s positive, active? I just made a gift to HIAS. Perhaps that. And vote. I’m searching.”
I’ve often credited Jewish Sports Review magazine in this column. It’s the best source on Jewish athletes, including ones from the Detroit area, and a labor-of-love put together by two guys. One of those guys is my friend Shel Wallman. He wrote me this week to tell me that the mother of one of his long-time subscribers was killed in the shooting. It’s a small Jewish world and sometimes a very sad one.