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Kosher Cinema: April Movie Picks For JDaters®

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Kosher Cinema

Hey again, JDaters®! Spring is in the air, and hopefully new love is blooming for some of you as well.  Unfortunately for the folks over at Disney®, it seems new debt is also on the horizon. John Carter bombed in such spectacular fashion that it forced the boys over at the mouse-house to take a $200,000,000 write down. Ouch.

With Passover on the horizon, many of you may be traveling and too busy to see a movie, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since April looks to be a weak month at the Box Office. We’ll get to the rundown of this month’s movies in a bit, but first, we’ve got The Chosen Feature.

 

The Chosen Feature

Some of you were not thrilled with my choice of Drive as The Chosen Feature. Tough. I like controversial movies, and next month you may get another one. This month, however, I’m choosing a film that should be embraceable for all.

A Small Act presents the touching story of Chris Mburu, a Harvard graduate and United Nations human rights worker. Mburu, who was born dirt-poor in Kenya, was the beneficiary of a program in Sweden which sent money from Swedish workers to help fund primary school education for Kenyan children. Hilde Back, Mburu’s benefactor, was a holocaust survivor, and when she decided to send some of her meager teacher’s salary to help a child in Kenya, she could never have imagined the eventual outcome. To honor Back, Mburu founded the Hilde Back Scholarships to help other Kenyan children attend school.

The beautiful and emotional A Small Act follows some of Mburu’s potential scholarship recipients in Kenya as they study for a national exam which will help determine their scholarship eligibility. At the same time, it charts the course of Back and Mburu’s unlikely friendship. After watching it, you’ll truly see how far a simple gesture can go.

 

The J-Scale

  • Titanic (In 3-D!) – 1/5 Stars of David

I was never a huge fan of Titanic, but I know some people love it. I’m equally unsure I’d enjoy seeing a movie of its length and pace in 3-D. Sure, the sinking scenes might be fun to see pop-out at you, but a lot of this movie involves people sitting around talking to each other. It gets one star for the presence of Victor Garber in a supporting role.

  • Iron Sky – ?

Nazis return from the dark side of the moon in this sci-fi comedy by Finnish director Timo Vourensola.  I’m not sure it’s possible to rate such a strange film.

  • American Reunion – 3/5 Stars of David

A lot of Jews involved with this one. Between Alyson Hannigan (Jewish mom), Natasha Lyonne (Born Natasha Braunstein), Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Eugene Levy, there are plenty of Jews on the acting side, though Jason Biggs only plays Jews in the movies – he’s Italian. On the creative side, guys with names like Hurwitz and Herz abound. Plus, Jim’s father even explores JDate to look for a match for himself! No promises on the quality of this sequel that seemingly no one was clamoring for, except some of the former “stars” who’ve fallen on hard times (here’s looking at you Tara Reid).

  • The Hunter – 0/5 Stars of David

Willem Dafoe hunts tigers in Tasmania. On a side note, what’s with all the weird film plots this month?  Lots of Australians here, not too many Jews.

  • The Cabin in the Woods – 0/5 Stars of David

No Jews at this Cabin in the Woods, unless Fran Kranz is Jewish. His name sounds Jewish, but that means nothing in a world that gave us Chuck’s distinctly not-Jewish Zachary Levi. This doesn’t look like your run-of-the-mill horror film, and with Joss Whedon involved, I wouldn’t expect it to be.

  • Lockout – 1/5 Stars of David

No actual Jews in this film that could have been called Escape from New Space Prison, what with its Snake Plissken-ish protagonist, but Maggie Grace got her start acting at her local JCC, despite not being Jewish. She credits her ability to cook a great noodle kugel to her time there. No joke. Does it blow anyone else’s mind that Luc Besson, the man who brought the world Leon, The Fifth Element, and The Transporter, also brought it Arthur and The Invisibles? That’s the equivalent of Quentin Tarantino suddenly making an earnest remake of My Fair Lady.

  • The Three Stooges – 2/5 Stars of (Larry) David

The real Curly, Larry and Moe were Jewish, but the actors playing them in this comedy are anything but. However, the film does include Larry David playing a nun! Expecting much from a Farrelly Brothers comedy these days is a dangerous game, though.

  • The Lady – 0/5 Stars of David

This film about the life of Burmese hero Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t feature any Jews prominently, and has been getting thrashed by critics who’ve hailed Michelle Yeoh’s performance, but called the film “dull.”

  • The Lucky One – 1/5 Stars of David

This romance, starring 1/4 Jew Zac Efron, and spouse-to-a-Jew, Blythe Danner, features a ludicrous premise – and I don’t mean the stalker-ish plot in which Zac Efron tracks down a stranger whose photograph he obsessed over while in Iraq (creepy!) I mean that they expect you to believe Zac Efron as a Marine Sergeant.

  • Think Like a Man – 1/5 Stars of David

This film, based on a Steve Harvey book, features a large African-American cast. While there would seem to be no Jews among the bunch, Meagan Good actually claims some Jewish ancestry. Kat Graham and Kali Hawk would be proud.

  • Safe – 2/5 Stars of David

Writer/Director Boaz Yakin attended Yeshiva as a kid. He also went to CCNY, and I’m inclined to like a fellow Beaver. Yes, the City College of New York’s mascot is the Beaver. My other College, Bennington, didn’t even have sports teams. Considering this film stars Jason Statham and depicts him holding a gun on the poster, you can expect many beatings and killings.

  • The Raven – 0/5 Stars of David

Somehow I’m not buying John Cusak as Edgar Allen Poe, but hey, it could work. John Wayne played Ghengis Khan.

  • The Five-Year Engagement – 3/5 Stars of David

Jason Segal co-wrote and stars in this comedy about a couple who can’t seem to make it down the aisle.  Produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Nicholas Stoller, who married his wife in a Jewish ceremony, The Five-Year Engagement also features tribe members David Paymer, and Alison Brie, who needs to grow the hell up and embrace the fact that her real last name is Schermerhorn, which is AWESOME. When I lived in NYC, my friend Dan lived near Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, and we used to have people prank him when we went over to his house by calling him up and claiming to be lost. When he’d ask what street they were on, they’d intentionally mangle the name Schermerhorn. He caught on after a while. The moral of the story is: Respect the Schermerhorn, Alison!

 

And that’s all for this month! Next month begins the onslaught of Summer Blockbusters. Enjoy Passover, JDaters!

 

Jonathan Maseng is a Los Angeles based screenwriter and journalist. He is a frequent contributor to the LA Jewish Journal, and his work has appeared in publications around the globe. His mother would like him to find a nice Jewish girl — he’s still looking.
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5 Comments »

  • Cleo says:

    In the “Hush” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the “Gentlemen” who all look typically German pass over many dorm room doors until reaching Room 118. “118″ in Cantonese is a pun for Every Day/Daily Prosperity in other words “Live Long and Prosper” and the inhabitant who gets his heart ripped out is played by a Semitic looking actor.

  • Cleo says:

    I don’t know if Fran Kranz is Jewish either. His soulmate was Summer Glau in Dollhouse but he also did a Wailing Wall kind of keening in the last episode – that could just mean he’s disrespectful and not Jewish.

  • Yaakov Mark says:

    Ok, I know I come from a different point of view, but as a religious Jew, and one who sees a Jew as one that is connected to G-d by covenant, I find it totally useless to judge a film on how many Jews were in the making. Many Jews in Hollywood, I would never support based on their view of Torah, Judaism or the State of Israel. When rating a film based on its Jewishness seems to be an open invitation for the Goyim to show how the Jews own Hollywood, and invites more racism. It may even show the public so that they wont go see the film. Perhaps rating based on how little shtus, how the movie promotes Torah values, Its support of Israel, this may have a little merit for me. Of course I dont go to Movies much, but if there were a rating system, it might make movies more accessible to me. This is just my perspective and not everyone will agree.

  • la martina polos says:

    This is an excellent write up! Do you guys agree with me when I say that this is an awesome site? I thought the information you posted on were very interesting and indeed useful.

  • dee says:

    Fran Kranz ain’t Jewish, if you were curious (just [part] German).

    It’s funny that Alison Brie’s last name is really Schermerhorn… especially because it’s her non-Jewish father’s very German last name. Her Jewish mom’s name, Brenner, is a lot more easy to put on a marquee, that’s for sure!

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