On the big screen
“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which will open widely at many theaters on May 25, is described as a “space Western.” The film covers Han Solo’s early days as a smuggler and his friendship with Chewbacca, a Wookiee. We also find out how he met Lando Calrissian. Alden Ehrenreich, 28, plays Solo, with Donald Glover playing Calrissian.
Ehrenreich, who was discovered at a bar mitzvah reception by Steven Spielberg, 71, told Collider.com that the young Solo “was more of an idealist” than the one in the original films. He also added that he consulted with the “original Solo,” Harrison Ford, 75, about how to play the role. Ford’s late mother was Jewish.
The script is by Lawrence Kasdan, 69, and his son, Jonathan Kasdan, 38. The elder Kasdan previously co-wrote two of the best “Star Wars” films: “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “The Force Awakens” (2015). The younger Kasdan has a small role in “Solo” as Tag and Jon Favreau, 51, provides the voice of Rio Durant (whom PR people for the film are describing as a very cool and important alien character).
“Book Club” is a comedy focusing on four senior women that opened last week. Diane (Diane Keaton, 72) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage; her daughter is played by Alicia Silverstone, 41. Diane’s best friends are Sharon (Candice Bergen, 71), a judge who is still upset about her decades-ago divorce; Carol (Mary Steenburgen, 65), who is in a slump in her marriage; and Vivian (Jane Fonda, 80), who enjoys no-strings relationships with men. The action gets rolling when they decide to spice up their dull book club by reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
The book’s main theme prompts Carol to try and get her husband to embrace some of the “tie me up” kinky stuff in the book. The “Fifty Shades” steamy content convinces Sharon and Diane to jump in the dating pool. They start seeing guys played by Richard Dreyfuss, 70, and Andy Garcia, 62. Meanwhile, Vivian starts seeing an old high-school flame played by Don Johnson, 68.
Cable and streaming
Remember Paige Davis? This musical actress was the perky host and star of the TLC series “Trading Spaces” for most of its original run from 2000 to 2008. Last month, the show was rebooted on TLC, with new episodes running Saturdays at 8 p.m. Davis, 48, is again the host and the premise is the same: Couples swap homes and have a limited budget to redo one other’s homes with the help of a designer.
Reasonable people can differ on whether or not they like the oftentimes dirty stand-up humor of Gilbert Gottfried, 63. Sometimes I like his humor — dirty or not — and sometimes he doesn’t amuse me at all. However, I was charmed and touched by “Gilbert,” a documentary film about his life that was released in 2017 and is streaming on Hulu. Gottfried wed his girlfriend of 10 years, Dara Kravitz, 48, in 2007, and they now have two young children. Kravitz is a film producer and a former top record promotion executive.
She is the perfect wife for Gilbert — a miracle, really. She’s smart, funny, nurturing and tolerant of his huge quirks and neuroses. She laughs at stuff that would turn off many other women. Gilbert’s wife and kids clearly adore him and seem to accept his eccentricities and absences due to frequent road trips. We also see how kind Gilbert is to his sisters (lots of home movie stuff) and how they, too, adore him. Forget whether you like his comedy; this is a great and oddly heartwarming Jewish family story.
What about Wolf?
Now-famous comedian Michelle Wolf, who headlined last month’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, is not Jewish. Not only did the Times of Israel make mention of that a few years ago, but Larisa Klebe of the Jewish Women’s Archive says she asked Wolf if she was Jewish (via Instagram last year), and Wolf replied that she isn’t. Klebe wrote a recent article about how the criticism of Wolf often veers into anti-Semitic tropes, and one in December about how Wolf is not a “nice lady.”