Anton Yelchin is on a roll.
His film, “5 to 7,” opened April 3, and another, “Broken Horses,” opened April 10. The 26-year-old started acting when he was just 9 years old. He’s appeared in over 40 films plus assorted TV shows since then. But stardom — at least in the traditional sense — has eluded him.
“I don’t really know what that means,” he said on the phone from Los Angeles. “If you define being a star as meaning work comes easily to you, you’re offered more opportunities, that’s definitely true for more successful actors and that’s nice.”
“But stardom is such a vague term. In the classic Hollywood period there were truly movie stars. The idea of a star mythologizes their existence in the sense that they are far away and unavailable. That was the myth of the classic Hollywood studio system to create these identities. But today where everyone has an Instagram account and every bit of information is available online, the idea of a ‘star,’ I don’t think about it.”
I suggest that he might in fact be avoiding it purposefully. He’s had big roles in big films: playing Chekov in the two most recent “Star Trek” movies and Kyle Reese in “Terminator Salvation.” These parts almost certainly put him on the frontal lobes of directors and audiences.
Harold Holzer’s having a big year. “Lincoln and the Jews,” a new exhibition he helped assemble, is on through June 7 at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan. His book “Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion” (Simon & Schuster) just won the $50,000 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, awarded annually to a scholarly work on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era. And Holzer himself shook up the art world by announcing his retirement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he’s been a highly respected public affairs official for 23 years. The Forward talked with Holzer about the New York Historical Society show — and Lincoln’s unusual affinity for Jews, who made up a tiny American minority in his lifetime.
The exhibition gathers original documents, artifacts, photos, and Lincoln’s own writings, many from the private Shapell Manuscript Foundation, which collects original manuscripts and historical documents related to both Jewish and American life. “This show is not just for Jewish visitors,” Holzer said. “I don’t think we’ll get the chance to see this much treasury in one place again, if ever.”
Michael Kaminer: Was there anything that surprised you — one of the world’s foremost Lincoln scholars — as “Lincoln and the Jews” came together?
Miss Lasko-Gross’s shrewd, poignant “Henni” (Z2 Comics) arrives at a charged moment for cartoons and religion. In the graphic novel — a marked departure from Lasko-Gross’ acclaimed autobiographical comics “Escape from ‘Special’” and “A Mess of Everything” — the female lead abandons her village in a quest for knowledge. The blind followers, cynical leaders, and “disruptors” she meets along the way enact a sly parable for the chains of religious absolutism — and the book sounds a call to reject mindless submission to dogma of any kind.
Lasko-Gross’s painterly style and unflinching eye make “Henni” as hard-hitting as it is heartrending. And like all of her work, it avoids easy answers to complex questions. The artist spoke to the Forward from her home and studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Full Disclosure: Lasko-Gross is one of the artists in “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women,” the traveling exhibition which I curated, and the Forward sponsored.
Michael Kaminer: Resistance to religion is at the center of “Henni”; has the Charlie Hebdo attack galvanized your feelings around the message and the medium?
In Quebec, the term “two solitudes” once described icy/cozy relations between the English and French. But in Maxime Giroux’s sublime “Felix and Meira,” which closes out this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, the phrase seems apt for the Hasidim and hipsters of Montreal’s happening Mile End neighborhood, coexisting without actually engaging.
The film’s title characters cross those lines — and many more — in Giroux’s wintry film, whose acute sense of place registers as strongly as his finely drawn characters. Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize Hadas Yaron, who plays the rebellious Orthodox wife Meira; in Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void,” another frum drama, she played another Orthodox woman facing difficult choices.
“Felix and Meira” won Best Canadian Feature honors at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival; it opens wide in May. The Forward caught up with director Giroux as he shuttled between meetings in Old Montreal.
Michael Kaminer: What kind of research did you do in Montreal’s Orthodox community, which seems highly insular?
Two’s company. Three’s a crowd.
That aphorism is at the center of Susanna Fogel’s debut as a movie-hyphenate. She both co-wrote (with Joni Lefkowitz) and directed “Life Partners,” which opened this month to much critical praise.
The movie is about two women, Paige (Gillian Jacobs) and Sasha (Leighton Meester), co-dependent friends since childhood, and what happens to their relationship when one falls in love. Cinema buffs may see similarities to the 1996 indie “Walking and Talking” (which inspired Fogel and Lefkowitz), but there is a key difference.
Here Sasha is gay. In many ways the relationship between these two women mirrors the one between Fogel and Lefkowitz, almost. In the film, Paige meets Tim (Adam Brody), a dermatologist who momentarily disrupts the ladies’ relationship. In real life it was Lefkowitz who found love and Fogel who was on the outside looking in.
She spoke to the Forward about finding success as a writer and being a neurotic Jew.
Curt Schleier: How did the two of you meet?
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