AT THE MOVIES
Opening Dec. 14: The Favourite has received glowing advance reviews and it’s likely that the film and its co-stars will receive Oscar nominations.
In the early 18th century, the frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is the reigning monarch. Her best friend is Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz, 48). Sarah’s husband, John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, is Britain’s top general (and a direct ancestor of Winston). He is fighting the French as the film begins. Anne is weary of the long war, and John depends on Sarah’s friendship with Anne to keep his army in the field. Enter Sarah’s cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone), a woman of aristocratic background whose family is impoverished. Sarah arranges for Abigail to take a position as a palace servant. Abigail skillfully ingratiates herself with Anne and threatens to take Sarah’s place as “the favourite.”
CLINT’S JEWISH CONNECTIONS
Also opening on the 14th is The Mule. Clint Eastwood stars as Earl Stone, a character based on Leo Sharp (1924-2016), a decorated World War II veteran who became a courier for the Sinaloa drug cartel. Sharp was raised in Detroit. After the war, he raised prize-winning flowers on his Michigan City, Ind., farm. However, by 2000, the farm was losing money and Sharp became a drug “mule.” For 10 years, he drove his car, packed with cocaine, from the Mexican border to Detroit.
The film follows Stone (Sharp) transporting cocaine. But as he does, he comes under the scrutiny of a top DEA agent (Bradley Cooper). Stone is aware that he may be arrested or “taken out” by the cartel before, as the film’s publicity says, “He has time to right past wrongs.” The Mule was written by Nick Schenck, who also wrote Gran Torino (2008), another Clint Eastwood (Michigan-set) film about an old guy facing very difficult circumstances.
I wanted to cover this “very” Michigan film. Problem? No Jewish people had an important role in this film. Instead, here’s a short list of some of Eastwood’s Jewish connections: (1) Eastwood is “mostly” a Republican. But he endorsed Dianne Feinstein when she first (1994) ran for the Senate. That first race was tough and Eastwood’s nod helped her. (2) A bio says that Eastwood is hard to reach on the phone. The only calls his secretaries always let though are ones from what Clint calls his “Jewish mafia” (his agent, his accountants and his lawyers); 3) In the 1982 film Firefox, Eastwood played Gant, an American spy who steals a super high-tech Soviet plane. A bio says that Eastwood was pleased that the Soviet dissidents who helped Gant were depicted as Jewish; (4) From 1990 to 1996, Eastwood’s romantic partner was actress Frances Fisher, now 66, whose father was Jewish. Their daughter, Francesca Eastwood, 26, is also an actress; and (5) In 2004, a reporter started to ask Clint about the Oscar chances for Mystic River (2003), a film he directed. He exclaimed: “Kinehora!” Clint then laughed and explained it was a Jewish expression meant to ward off a jinx.