This week’s movie news is flush with some of our favorite movie Jews. From Shia LeBeouf — Steven Spielberg’s estranged muse — to Darren Aronofsky, whose film “Mother!” has been received with a smattering of boos, we’ve culled the best film stories from Culture and the Shmooze. Read on if you so choose!
1) Jewish characters have experienced a renaissance on British TV
According to the Forward’s Nathan Abrams, Jews have had a rough go of it on British television in recent years. In large part, he writes, that’s because “Jewish creatives have been scared to put anyone on television whom the general non-Jewish public, of which many have never met a Jew, might not instantly recognize as being Jewish.” But, as Abrams writes, a “sea change” is occurring (literally) before our eyes. He explored several new British series with prominent, complex Jewish characters, including “Peaky Blinders” and “McMafia.”
2) Shia Labeouf got into Yale … with a recommendation from Steven Spielberg
Shia LaBeouf may have had to struggle with the hardships of child stardom, but, as Becky Scott writes, he reaped some benefits, too. Apparently, Scott writes, “LaBeouf says that he once had a dream of attaining a higher education – and Steven Spielberg was the man he chose to recommend him.” With Spielberg’s help, LeBeouf got into Yale, though he ultimately chose not to attend. Which makes us wonder … is there an alternate universe where Natalie Portman (a child star-turned-Yale alum) and LaBeouf were college sweethearts?
3) Tiffany Haddish’s Jewish dad wants her to host the Oscars
Fantastic news, everyone: Tiffany Haddish has a Jewish dad! Even better news: she wants to host the Oscars to make him happy! She told an interviewer at SXSW, who asked if she’d be interested in the Oscars gig, “I know my father would be extremely proud if I got to do that.” Haddish’s father is an Eritrean Jew and her mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, so technically she self-identifies, in her own words, as a “Jew-Jo.” We’re down with that.
4) Anton Yelchin cements his legacy with “Thoroughbreds” …
As Becky Scott writes, “If there are actors (Hilary Duff) and ac-TORS (Daniel Day Lewis), the late Anton Yelchin undoubtedly falls into the latter category.” Over the course of his career, which was tragically cut short by a freak accident in June 2016, Yelchin appeared in a number of acclaimed indie films like “Green Room,” as well as in the blockbuster films like “Star Trek” and “Terminator Salvation”. According to Scott, Yelchin’s final film, “Thoroughbreds,” doesn’t disappoint: She argues that “His portrayal of the deviant but pitiful Tim will leave you convinced that Hollywood was the right place to spend his short life.”
5) While Darren Aronofsky embarasses himself
Darren Aronofsky is an undoubtedly talented filmmaker, but nuance and subtlety are, perhaps, not his strongest suits. He mansplained at a SXSW panel, “The way I think we treat Mother Earth is really incredibly disrespectful. We pillage her. We take from her. We rape her. We drill into her. We call her dirt. How gross is that?” Jenny Singer took him to task. “How gross is it that a man who sees himself as the god of independent filmmaking (he also cast a middle-aged man as god in ‘Mother!’) is tossing around the concept of rape during a watershed moment for the persecution of actual, human rapists?” she writes.
This story "Movie News: Steven Spielberg, Tiffany Haddish, and More" was written by Sam Bromer.