Coming to a theater near you

Scarlett Johansson (with Sam Rockwell, left, and Roman Griffin Davis) stars as a loving German mom in “Jojo Rabbit.”  

By Nate Bloom, Special to The Jewish Light

At the movies 

“The Current War: Director’s Cut” is about the corporate battle that pitted Thomas Edison (1847-1931) against George Westinghouse (1846-1914) and Westinghouse associate Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult). After inventing the first commercially viable light bulb in 1879, Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) went straight into the electric utility business. His power plants sent DC current to customers. But DC current (unlike AC current) can’t travel more than a mile, making the Edison-type plant only viable in heavily populated areas.

Westinghouse, who invented the first very good railroad brake in 1873, plunged into AC transmission in the 1880s. Utilizing Tesla’s AC motor innovations, he built many AC power plants and entered into a long fight with Edison. Would AC or DC become the dominant form of transmission? (“spoiler”: AC won). This battle was often dirty, and Edison marred his great reputation with false stories about the dangers of AC. 

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The film was written by MICHAEL MITNICK, 36. Most of his credits are as a playwright. His fiancée is JESSICA BRICKMAN. She’s also a writer, mostly for TV. Brickman’s father, MARSHALL BRICKMAN, 80, has worn many hats: folk musician, TV comedy writer, and co-writer of three of the best WOODY ALLEN movies (“Sleeper,” Manhattan,” and “Annie Hall.” He shared a best screenplay Oscar with Allen for “Annie Hall”). The film opens locally on Oct. 25 at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema.

“Jo Jo Rabbit” opens in St. Louis on Nov. 1.  This is a controversial film and you should read long reviews before seeing it (see ours in next week’s Light). JoJo, a lonely boy in Nazi Germany, has Hitler as his imaginary friend. Jo Jo has grow-up on Nazi propaganda and his imaginary friend is a wonderful guy. Then his world turns upside down when he discovers his mother (SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 34) is hiding a Jewish girl. JoJo has to reconcile his “friend” Hitler with the reality in his own home. Director and writer TAIKA WAITITI, 44, is a New Zealander who has made good movies in many genres. Waititi (who plays Hitler in the film) is the son of a Polynesian (Maori) father, and a mother he has long and often described as Jewish. I recently learned that his mother is the daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. But my sense is that she identifies as Jewish and Waititi, while secular, thinks of himself as “half-Jewish.”

 “The Irishman,” a Martin Scorsese film, opens in limited theater release on Nov. 1. Netflix financed this expensive film and it will begin streaming on Netflix on Nov. 27. It has received uniform great advance reviews and if you have a chance to see a big-screen theater showing: go. It’s based on a memoir by Frank “The Irishman” Sheehan (Robert DeNiro). He claimed to have killed Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). HARVEY KEITEL, 80, plays Mafia chieftain Angelo Bruno. Keitel has made four films with Scorsese, including the star role in the director’s film debut, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” (1967).

Briefly noted

The second, eight-episode season of the hit Netflix comedy series “The Kominsky Method” begins streaming on Oct. 25. It stars MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 75, as Sandy Kominsky, a Hollywood acting coach. ALAN ARKIN, 85, co-stars as Norman, his best friend and agent. LISA EDELSTEIN, 53, has a supporting role as Norman’s drug-addled daughter.

At the end of the first season, Sandy started getting romantic with Lisa, an acting student (played by Nancy Travis, 58. She’s not Jewish, but her two sons were raised in their father’s Jewish faith). Second season “new Jewish faces” include PAUL REISER, 63, as Martin, a teacher who is dating Sandy’s much younger daughter, and JANE SEYMOUR, 68, as Madelyn, an old flame of Norman’s who runs into him at a funeral and lights a fire in this widower. (Seymour was born Joyce Frankenberg, the daughter of a British Jewish father and a non-Jewish Dutch mother.)