NEW YORK — Sir Ridley Scott’s recent dark crime opera “The Counselor” (which was simultaneously brilliant and awful, oddly) was dead on arrival at the box office last week. But the British film director of “Gladiator” and “Alien” is wasting no time jumping back into a commercial prospect — the story of Moses.
Christian Bale will be going up against Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” (and Mel Brooks in “History of the World, Part 1”) for a big budget representation of the man who led the Jews to the Promised Land. The picture will be called “Exodus,” further proof that Hollywood is severely handicapped when it comes to thinking up anything new. Other members of the cast include Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul and Joel Edgerton.
Spy pics from the set leaked onto the Web this week (we won’t link, our lawyers are way too smart to let us do something like that) show Moses armed with an arrow and quiver instead of tablets inscribed with righteousness. Also, a Sphinx. I’m sure it will look much better in the finished movie when released in December of 2014.
Also making news is Lisa Kudrow who recently made the rounds hawking her series “Who Do You Think You Are?” in which genealogists trace the family history of celebrities. (Apparently Paula Deen was a guest in May of 2012. How her publicists and handlers let her do this is beyond me.)
Kudrow, whose Jewish family were victims of the Holocaust, admitted to experiencing anti-Semitism at Vassar College. She also confessed to having nose job surgery in her teens. “I went from, in my mind, hideous, to not hideous,” she stated. As time marches on, we’re hoping Kudrow represents the final generation of Jews who feel the need to alter their appearance in this manner.
Shonda of the Week
It’s not a new story, but the release of the fantastic trailer for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” has us muttering “oy” all over again. Leonardo DiCaprio, charismatic to the nth degree, is playing Jordan Belfort, a man whose exploits are, in no uncertain terms, NOT GOOD FOR THE JEWS.
A boiler room shyster of the 1990s, Belfort’s thieving ways will do nothing to dispel stereotypes about Jewish crooks in suits — an image still fresh in our heads thanks to UberShonda Bernie Madoff. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is probably fantastic (and Jewish-American actor Jonah Hill in a supporting role looks like a scream) but this much-anticipated December release isn’t exactly good PR.
Congratulations, Jordan Belfort. You are, retroactively, our Shonda of the Week.
New From Hollywood
Ender’s Game: Asa Butterfield is Space Harry Potter (basically) in this adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s beloved young adult/sci-fi book. In the future, Earth’s survival will be in the blistered hands of video game-playing children, so maybe give your kids an extra hour on the X-box tonight. Harrison Ford co-stars as the tough military man whose job it is to look glum and belch out turgid political theory. While the movie has some passages that are quite a snooze, the “battle school” sequences (basically Quidditch with lasers) are undeniably entertaining. Teen (half) Jewish-American actress Hailee Steinfeld plays the sharp-shooting Petra Arkanian, the pal to Butterfield’s Ender.
Last Vegas: Jewish-American Michael Douglas joins Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Midwestern half-Jew Kevin Kline in “Last Vegas,” a movie that people will half-watch on a plane. Douglas convinces his old cronies to join him for a bachelor party in Vegas, and some good-natured hi-jinks ensue. There are hemorrhoid jokes and “taking my pills” jokes and jokes about not knowing that 50 Cent is the name of a rapper. Proceed with caution.
Dallas Buyer’s Club: Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of a lifetime as a scuzzy Texas bigot who contracts AIDS in the 1980s. His drive to live sparks an entrepreneurial spirit, quickly finding a market for experimental drugs that aren’t available in the United States. This based-on-a-true-story gives a prominent shout-out to the innovations of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry, with McConaughey making surreptitious visits to the Land of Milk, Honey and Protein-Rich Narcotic Cocktails.
Blue Jasmine: Out-of-the-closet Zionist Woody Allen‘s 45th film as a director (but who’s counting?) is further proof that he shouldn’t think of retiring yet. Flashing backwards and forwards in time (and between New York and San Francisco) Cate Blanchett is fantastic as the hollowed-out socialite ruined by scandal and forced to move in with her working-class sister (Sally Hawkins). While the film has more than its share of funny moments, this is a remarkable and sad character piece — backstory, really, to every cracked individual you meet who seems to have once had their life put together. Look for a short but surprisingly effective supporting role from Andrew Silverstein, who you may remember as Andrew “Dice” Clay.
Don Jon: Who can break a man’s addiction to Internet pornography? Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johannson, that’s who. “Don Jon,” the first film written and directed by Jewish-American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, concerns a North Jersey Italian-American with an immature attitude toward the opposite sex. He’s a good guy, just a little screwed-up (blame the media and the Patriarchy and all sorts of other factors.) When he falls head-over-(high) heels with ScoJo, this doomed love is what leads him on the path to being a responsible adult.
The Fifth Estate: He started as a shyster, then became a pest, then became the new millennium’s advocate for free speech. Benedict Cumberbatch is striking as Julian Assange in this dumbed-down version of the WikiLeaks story. Watch in awe as he dashes off lines of code as techno music plays in various hip, underground settings. Even though we know 99.9% of all Internet innovation was created in Israel, there’s no mention of it in this film.
David and Lisa: This 1962 film, a landmark in American independent cinema, may seem a little dated, but it was quite groundbreaking in its day. It stars Jewish-American Janet Margolin, who never quite became as well-known she deserved to be, as a young woman with multiple personality disorder. She plays opposite Keir Dullea (David Bowman from “2001: A Space Odyssey”) who suffers from haphephobia — the fear of being touched. Ironic, as this is a rather touching film! (Playing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.)