At the movies
Featuring an array of iconic DC Comics characters, the new movie “Justice League” counts among its stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot, 32, reprising the role she played in the 2017 summer blockbuster “Wonder Woman.” Ezra Miller, 25, who had a cameo as the Flash in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016, will get to expand on that part in “Justice League.” And on the dark side, Jesse Eisenberg, 34, will appear again as baddie Lex Luthor, a role in “Batman v Superman” for which he was both lauded and slammed.
No need for me to get into the complex plot, but here’s a fun fact in regards to comic book history: Every member of the Justice League, aside from Wonder Woman, was created or co-created by a Jewish writer (Batman, Superman, Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg). It opens Friday, Nov. 17.
Another movie opening Friday, “Wonder” is based on the bestselling novel of the same name. Born with a facial deformity, a young boy named Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) has been in and out of hospitals for years. His mother (Julia Roberts) and father (Owen Wilson) stand by him as he tries to fit in at a new school, where Augie shows everyone he is just an ordinary kid and what matters is on the inside.
Advance publicity describes “Wonder” as a heartwarming comedy-drama, and a trailer featuring Mandy Patinkin, 64, lives up to that billing. Patinkin plays the principal at Augie’s new school; he’s a funny, caring man, and upon first meeting Auggie and his mother, he makes them smile by telling them what he’s had to put up with because of his last name: “Hi. I’m Mr. Tushman and I’ve heard it all: tushie, buttman, buttface, Mr. Tuchus.” Oakland native Daveed Diggs, 35 (“Hamilton”) has a supporting role as a hip English teacher who inspires his students, including Auggie.
On Nov. 5, “60 Minutes” profiled Alma Deutscher, a 12-year-old music prodigy who is charming, upbeat and insightful. She began playing piano and violin before age 5, has long been a virtuoso on both and began composing at 6. At 10, she wrote her first full-length opera, “Cinderella,” which premiered in Vienna last December. (The prince is a poet. Cinderella finds a poem of his and puts it to music.) Her first U.S. performances will be in San Jose on Dec. 2-3, when she will perform her own violin concerto with the Symphony Silicon Valley. Those performances, as well as all five scheduled Opera San Jose performances of “Cinderella” (between Dec. 16 and 21), are sold out, although more performances of “Cinderella” might be added.
Born and raised in England, Alma is the daughter of well-known Israeli linguist Guy Deutscher, 47. He’s a university professor and amateur musician in the U.K., and his British wife and Alma’s mother, Janie Steen Deutscher, is an academic (old languages) and amateur musician, as well. While I don’t know if Janie is Jewish, I do know that Alma has dual Israeli citizenship. I was charmed by a TV clip of Alma, at age 8, appearing on an an educational music program in Israel. She seamlessly moved from Hebrew to English while chatting with the show’s hosts.
Local ‘Jewish kid’ makes good
The FXX cable series “You’re the Worst” concludes its fourth season on Friday, Nov. 17. A sharply written comedy-drama with uniformly great reviews, the show follows the up-and-down relationship of Gretchen (Aya Cash, 35), a self-destructive Los Angeles PR executive, and a self-involved writer named Jimmy.
I was pleasantly surprised when Cash, a San Francisco native, appeared late night with Seth Meyers last month and referred to herself as a “Jewish kid.” She added that she called her late maternal grandmother, Pauline Betz, who won five major singles tennis titles in the 1940s, including Wimbledon, “Champy.” Her father’s parents she called “Bubbe” and “Zayde.”
Aya’s mother is Kim Addonizio, a well-respected novelist and poet who now lives in Oakland. Some internet research reveals that her father, Eugene Cash, was a street actor and musician before becoming a Buddhist teacher, which he is now. In video interviews done with Sirius and AOL last year, Cash called herself Jewish, explaining that “Cash” was originally something like “Ch-resh” and that she had visited Israel.
A high school graduate of the San Francisco School of the Arts, Cash paid her dues, waiting tables and acting in mostly smallish parts until “You’re the Worst.” She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband, actor-turned-writer-producer Josh Alexander, 43, a graduate of Gunn High School in Palo Alto who was profiled in J. in 2008.