At the movies
“Room,” a smallish-budget indie film, won the audience choice award at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, and critics agree that Oscar nominations will follow. The film centers on Jack, a 5-year-old boy who is locked in an 11×11-foot room with his mother, Ma (Brie Larson). Ma was kidnapped as a teen, sexually abused and forced to live in this cramped space. Nonetheless, she somehow manages to give Jack a fulfilling life. They eventually make a daring escape, and the second half of the film shows how they cope.
“Room” is based on a best-selling 2010 novel by Irish Canadian writer Emma Donoghue, and many sought the film rights. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, 48, courted her for several years and ultimately was chosen because of a convincing letter he wrote, explaining his understanding of the story and promising not to change it or tell it using visual tricks.
Abrahamson has directed four acclaimed indie films, including “Frank” in 2014. That year, he spoke to the Forward about being an Irish Jew. His grandfather, a kosher butcher, came to Ireland in the 1930s. Though not religious, Abrahamson’s family belonged to an Orthodox shul, and he went to Hebrew school and had a bar mitzvah. He said while he faced little anti-Semitism growing up, he was a curiosity to schoolmates, most of whom never met a Jew. While he feels “deeply Irish,” he said, his films have been influenced by the outsider perspective of being Jewish and by the Jewish intellectual tradition.
Just in time for Halloween comes “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.” Halston Sage, 22, has a co-starring role as a “badass cocktail waitress” who teams up with three Boy Scouts to save their peaceful town from a zombie invasion. (“Room” and “Zombie” open on Oct. 30.)
“The Peanuts Movie” opens Nov. 6, the first time the beloved comic strip characters, created by the late Charles Schulz of Santa Rosa, have made it to the big screen. Charlie Brown is voiced by Noah Schnapp, 11. He made his film debut playing Tom Hanks’ son in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.” Noah told AOL.com: “Working with Mr. Spielberg also was just such an amazing experience … He was always jumping in helping me.”
Noah said Charlie Brown is his favorite in the Peanuts gang. “He’s so unique because he never gives up. Most people in life, when they’re frustrated, they just give up.” His father, Mitchell Schnapp, added: “My biggest concern — and my son is laughing right now — is his schoolwork, and I’m on top of him day and night making sure we’re not falling behind.” Noah’s mother, Karine Schnapp, has a Moroccan and Canadian Jewish background and is a senior VP at fashion company Hugo Boss. Noah has a twin sister.
Amanda Peet’s answer to Santa
Amanda Peet, 44 (HBO’s “Togetherness”), has penned her first book, “Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein.” The title character is a young Jewish girl who wants to celebrate Christmas like her friends and neighbors. The book was inspired by questions that Peet’s two older children asked about Santa (she and her husband, David Benioff, 45, have two daughters, 8 and 5, and a boy, 10 months). She told People: “They felt left out, as I think most Jewish children do, and I was exploring different ways to make sense of it.”
By the way, Benioff, who just won an Emmy for producing HBO’s “Games of Thrones,” which he also co-writes, is related to billionaire businessman and philanthropist Marc Benioff, 51, the head of Salesforce.com, the cloud computing company with San Francisco headquarters. Marc, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, and David, a New Yorker, share a great-grandfather. They met for the first time last March at a “Thrones” gala premiere in San Francisco.