From serious to silly
“By the Sea” is a very personal film directed and written by Angelina Jolie. It was partly inspired by her mother’s difficult life and early death. The film follows Roland, an American writer played by Brad Pitt, and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie), as they vacation at a beautiful French seaside resort in the 1970s. They try to come to terms with the crisis in their marriage as they spend time with other travelers, including young newlyweds Francois and Lea (Mélanie Laurent, 32, a talented French actress who co-starred in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Beginners”).
Jolie, of course, spends a lot of time in the South of France, including the months before the birth of her twins in 2008. She wanted to be near Dr. Michel Sussman, 63, a top Nice-based ob-gyn who brought her through a difficult pregnancy and birth. Michel’s son, Arnaud Sussman, 31, is a top-flight concert violinist who has often played in the Bay Area.
Big moment for young actor
Emory Cohen, 25, the son of two New York City public school teachers, co-stars in the 1950s immigrant drama “Brooklyn.” The film got universal raves at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Variety gave its review this overline: “Saoirse Ronan shines, but relative newcomer Emory Cohen is the true breakout in this tale of a young woman torn between two men on opposite sides of the Atlantic.”Ronan’s character, Eilis, is a mousy and poor Irish girl who moves to Brooklyn to study accounting. In America, she’s swept away by an Italian American plumber (Cohen). On a return trip to Ireland, Eilis realizes she misses home, and is courted by a local guy. The film opens Friday, Nov. 13 in San Francisco and a week later in the East Bay.
I suspect most people will wait for the DVD/cable release of one of the coming season’s biggest comedic Christmas movies, “Love the Coopers.” This must be the first time two octogenarian Jewish Oscar nominees are co-starring in the same movie. Four generations of the Coopers get together for the holiday; the oldest is represented by June Squibb, 85, Oscar nominee for “Nebraska,” and Alan Arkin, 81, four-time Oscar nominee and a supporting-actor winner for “Little Miss Sunshine.”
The National Geographic series “Breakthrough” started on Nov. 1, but it’s easy to catch up through encore showings. (New episodes air at 9 p.m. Sundays.) Ron Howard recruited six Hollywood biggies to direct the stories behind the world’s cutting-edge scientific innovations. Peter Berg, 51, directed the premiere episode “Fighting Pandemics,” Brett Ratner, 46, directed “Decoding the Brain,” which airs Nov. 15, and Akiva Goldsman, 53, directed “Energy from the Edge,” which airs Dec. 6.
James Franco’s bar mitzvah got mucho publicity, but another “sort of” bar mitzvah was held Oct. 19 in New York. Three-time Tony Award-winning director and playwright James Lapine, 66, was given the prestigious “Mr. Abbott” award for his contributions to the theater. The event’s theme was a “Broadway bar mitzvah,” and pictures show a Torah-like scroll with Lapine’s name written in Hebrew-style lettering on the wrapping.
A Vermont-based company is selling men’s briefs with a silkscreen drawing of Bernie Sanders, 74, on the front (or back) with a caption underneath that says “Feel the Bern.” It’s said to be a tribute to Sanders, and 10 percent of revenues will go to a charity that helps veterans. Of course, the underwear sales are a nod to Larry David’s hilarious Sanders impression on “Saturday Night Live” in which he claims he is such a regular guy that he only has one pair of underwear — but billionaires have three or four. “Feel the Bern” is not new; the official Sanders site has long used the catchphrase on coffee cups and other items for sale. I think if Dianne Feinstein runs for re-election in 2018, she should look into her own catchphrase, “Feelin’ Fein,” and its lingerie appeal.