At the movies
“The Giver” is a dystopian action-adventure film based on the award-winning young adult novel by Lois Lowry (also the author of the Holocaust-themed novel “Number the Stars”). In the future, humankind apparently has solved all its problems — but one young man, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), discovers that this harmony comes at a terrible price. Playing Jonas’ friend and love interest Fiona is Odeya Rush, 17, who was born in Haifa. Her first name means “Thanks to God” in Hebrew. She moved to the United States when she was 9 when her father took a job with an American security company. “The Giver” opens widely on Friday, Aug. 15.
Rush has acting ability, as well as being blessed with striking blue eyes. Her first prominent role was in the 2012 Disney film “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” a modest hit. Two years ago, Rush made “Mary, Mother of Christ,” scheduled for a 2015 release. She plays Mary from childhood until the film ends (when Jesus is 4 years old). Ben Kingsley and the late Peter O’Toole co-star. Much lighter is “Goosebumps,” a big-budget flick set to open in summer 2015. It’s inspired by the best-selling series of children’s novels by R.L. Stine, 70, who is played by Jack Black, 44.
“What If,” an Irish-Canadian romantic comedy, shamelessly uses as its advertising tag line “Can men and women really be friends?” I say “shamelessly” because this was a question repeatedly asked in the classic 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally,” written by the late Nora Ephron. “What If” stars Daniel Radcliffe, 25, as nice-guy Wallace. He meets Chantry, a very cute girl, played by Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of director Elia Kazan). Wallace likes Chantry but hides his feelings when he learns that she has a boyfriend. So, this film’s question is: “Can Wallace stay in the ‘really good friend zone’ forever, or will he open his heart and either ‘get the girl’ or lose his friend?” Smart critics are divided on “What If,” with some saying it works pretty well and others saying it is too sweet and formulaic. The screenplay is by Elan Mastai, 39, a Vancouver native who is finally getting noticed with this film, which has racked up a lot of Canadian awards. His father, Moshe, is big in real estate, and one of his sisters works for Vancouver’s Jewish Family Service Agency. His maternal grandmother fled Austria in 1939 and went to England on one of the Kindertransports. It’s playing in San Francisco and opens in Berkeley on Friday, Aug. 15.
Tevye on Capitol Hill?
It’s rare when a prominent TV journalist casually divulges bits about his or her Jewish background. But I guess Rick Klein, 37, the political director of ABC News, was in an expansive mood recently when he spoke to The Hill, a political news website. Klein, a Long Island native, Princeton grad and father of two young sons, dropped these Jewish nuggets: “I will never forgive D.C. for its lack of diners and solid Jewish deli options,” and “I was big into drama club in high school. I played Tevye in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ under the stage name Ricky Klein.”
Serious moment: celebs on Gaza
Most celebrities have refrained from saying anything about the fighting in Gaza/Israel. A Google News search will reveal which celebs have expressed an opinion and even, in some cases, withdrawn or tempered prior statements. The Hollywood Reporter, which can be read online, has Gaza-related articles in an easily findable section that both summarizes and analyzes what celebrities and entertainment executives are saying and thinking. If you are interested in this subject, you should read this insider coverage.
Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.