Catching up on latest summer streaming options

‘Greyhound’ director Aaron Schneider.

By Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

New films, shows streaming

“Greyhound,” a big-budget film starring Tom Hanks (who also wrote the film), began streaming on Apple Plus TV on July 10. A huge audience has tuned-in and it is now a summer streaming blockbuster. “Greyhound” is the radio call sign of a World War II American navy destroyer that escorts cargo ships crossing the Atlantic. These cargo ships and their war ship protectors are the subject of many Nazi sub attacks. The film centers on a three-day period in which all the Allied ships have to cope with many vicious attacks from a so-called “wolfpack” — multiple Nazi submarines teamed up together.

Reviews are mostly positive and praise was universal for the way the director, AARON SCHNEIDER, 55, shot the film’s action sequences and how he kept the film “taut.” Remarkably, by using a variety of new special effects, Schneider was able to make the film without a single scene actually being shot in the water.

Although Schneider has worked in Hollywood for decades, there was little bio on him because “Greyhound” is just the second feature film he’s directed. However, after “Greyhound” began streaming, there was new biographical coverage in the local media near where Schneider grew-up (a small town near Peoria, Ill.). It was mentioned that his father is DELWIN SCHNEIDER, and that he is a 91-year-old Korean War veteran. 

 Schneider’s life changed 35 years ago when he happened to meet BILLY CRYSTAL, now 72, on a Florida beach. Schneider was then an unhappy Iowa University student who wanted to learn about film special effects. He told Crystal his ambition, and he urged Schneider to go to film school, which was not common advice back then. But, he adds, it was the right advice.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” began streaming on Hulu on Aug. 4. It opened in some theaters last year, but it kind of flew under the radar despite great reviews. It’s a re-working of the Huckleberry Finn story co-starring SHIA LABEOUF, 34. He plays Tyler, a shady guy who is being pursued by two other shady guys.  He meets up with Zak, a young adult with Down syndrome, and they have many adventures.  Zac, too, is on the run having “fled” an assisted living facility to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler. Zac Gottsagen, who really has Down syndrome, plays Zac.

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The film “Magic Camp” has its worldwide premiere on Friday, Aug. 14 on Disney Plus. Andy (Adam Devine) is a magician whose career isn’t going well. Roy (JEFFREY TAMBOR,76), Andy’s former mentor, runs a summer camp for young, aspiring magicians. He persuades Andy that being a camp counselor might help raise his spirits. 

The film was co-written by MAX WINKLER, 36 (Henry Winkler’s son). REBECCA METZ, 46, appears in a supporting role. She’s perhaps best known for a recurring role on the FX series “Better Things” as the competent and caring agent of the lead character, Sam (played by PAMELA ADLON, 54).   

Of course, the big-budget Jewish film of the summer is “An American Pickle,” starring SETH ROGEN, 38, who plays two major parts (see review on page 11). He portrays Herschel Greenbaum, a poor Jewish immigrant who comes to America 100 years ago and works as a pickle maker. One day, he falls into a vat of pickle brine. Amazingly, he is revived in the present day and hasn’t aged at all. He finds out his only descendant is his great grandson Ben Greenbaum (also Rogen), a mild-mannered computer programmer who doesn’t seem to have much in common with Herschel. The film was written by SIMON RICH, 36, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer who is the son of well-known columnist and essayist FRANK RICH, 71. (“Pickle” began streaming on HBO Max on Aug. 6.)

“Ted Lasso,” a new 10-episode sitcom, begins streaming on Apple Plus TV on Aug. 14. Jason Sudeikis stars as an affable American football coach who is recruited to coach an English soccer team, despite having no soccer coaching experience. BRETT GOLDSTEIN, 39, has a large supporting role as Roy Kent.

Goldstein was profiled by the UK Jewish Chronicle in 2011. The profile said that he grew up in a middle-class Jewish home and had his bar mitzvah at the Wimbledon synagogue. The profile was published just after Goldstein did a solo comedic show at a major British comedy festival. The main subject of Goldstein’s show was a year he spent (just before he went to college) helping his father run a strip club. A mid-life crisis, Goldstein told the Chronicle, led his father, a “respectable” bookstore manager, to radically switch jobs. Can you say oy vey with an English accent? 


 Songwriter’s sweet serenade 

DON BLACK, 81, also a British Jew, has penned the lyrics of many famous tunes, including the theme songs for five James Bond flicks. In 1967, he co-won the Oscar for “Born Free,” the theme song for the film of the same name. The song was a huge popular hit. Last May, he went into the hospital with COVID-19. He recently told the BBC that when he checked-in a kind nurse asked what he did and he said, “A songwriter. Google me.” Aided by a caring staff, he pulled through after nine harrowing days in the hospital. Twenty or 30 staff members, he said, learned the lyrics of “Born Free” and serenaded him as he was being discharged. The song, about a lion being released to the wild, sort of fits a COVID survivor. Here’s one very apt line: “Born free and life is worth living.”