By Nate Bloom
Sleeper Summer Hit? A Multi-Layered Thriller
“The Art of Self-Defense” opens on July 12. It may open later in the month in a theater near you. It got rave reviews at film festivals. Here’s a long quote from the “Variety” review that encapsulates how unusually good it is: “Casey Davis [JESSE EISENBERG, 35] may be the least macho man you’ve ever met … mugged by thugs on motorbikes. Casey hardly puts up a fight …. Dark, sinister, and disarmingly hilarious [the film] tells the story of how someone like Casey learns to stand up for himself by signing up for karate classes. But it’s hardly that simple: Once enrolled, he starts to feel more confident in his personal life, even as he begins to realize that something bizarre is going on behind the scenes of the dojo[school]: violent night classes for select students, weird mind games, and broken bones…this singular black comedy balances off-kilter humor with an unexpectedly thriller-esque undercurrent, to the extent that audiences will find it tough to anticipate either the jokes or the dark, “Fight Club”-like turn things eventually take — all to strikingly original effect.”
Family Matters: The Lowdown on the Very Diverse Kravitz/Glusman Clans and a Douglas Milestone
ZOE KRAVITZ, 30, wed actor Karl Glusman, 31, on June 28. The secular wedding was held in the palatial Paris home of her father, famous rocker Lenny Kravitz. Also attending were the four other female stars of Zoe’s HBO series, “Big Little Lies." Zoe’s mother, actress LISA BONET, 51, was there, too, accompanied by her present husband, actor Jason Momoa (“Aquaman”).
OK – here is the condensed Jewish story. Lenny’s father was Jewish and his mother African-American. He had a very light exposure to Judaism as a child and as an adult he identifies as a Christian. His mother was African-American actress Roxie Roker (“The Jeffersons”). Bonet’s white mother was Jewish and her father was African-American. She was raised “Jewish light,” but doesn’t practice anything now. Zoe has defined herself as a “secular Jew” and does seems to like Jewish guys – most of her prior “steadies” are Jewish.
An inaccurate story that Glusman is the son of a German Jewish father is all over the web. The true “411:” Karl’s paternal grandfather, Dr. MURRAY GLUSMAN, a distinguished physician, was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. Karl’s paternal grandmother, also a top physician, was a “WASP” (I don’t know if she converted to Judaism. Clues make me think “no”). Karl’s maternal “grands” were Irish and Swedish. Bottom line: there is enough “Jewish” going on here that there’s a chance that the newlyweds’ children, if any, will be raised Jewish. They will be “halachic” Jews since their mother (Zoe) is the child of a woman (Bonet) whose mother was Jewish.
Last week, on Youtube, I stumbled on a quite entertaining but fairly obscure Western movie (“Draw!”) starring KIRK DOUGLAS, now 102, and the late James Coburn. The film prompted me to look at an on-line bio of Douglas and I noticed something not in many news outlets: Kirk’s wife, ANNE BUYDENS, turned 100 last April. Last May, the couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Buydens converted to Judaism in 2004 when the couple renewed their wedding vows. I checked a bit and could not find another famous person who was alive and over 100 when their spouse, too, turned 100.
Douglas and Buydens may be unique. Statistically, marriages between “centenarians” are very rare, period. Imagine the odds against one “100-plus” spouse being famous. Imagine the odds against them both being Jewish.
From Brooklyn to Broadway
A new Broadway musical about the life and career of rock legend NEIL DIAMOND, 78, will hit the boards sometime in the next year. The still untitled musical will follow him from his origins as poor Brooklyn Jewish boy until he hits super-stardom. Many of Diamond’s songs will be used. Diamond has expressed happiness with the new show and the creative team behind it.
The two principals are top-notch: the director is MICHAEL MAYER, 59, a Tony winner for best direction of a musical. He’s also adept at directing dramas and fixing scripts when necessary. The show’s “book” (story) is being written by Andrew McCarten, a long-time Diamond fan who specializes in “bio-pics”. He wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” (about rocker Freddie Mercury) and he snared an Oscar nomination for his script for “The Imitation Game” (about computer pioneer Alan Turning).
Sadly, Diamond ceased touring in January, 2018 following tests that determined that he had Parkinson’s disease.