Jewish artists shine in latest movies, TV shows

Jesse Eisenberg in ‘The Hummingbird Project.’

By Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

Dumbo soars again and everything Eisenberg 

“Dumbo,” directed by Tim Burton, is a live-action version of the classic Disney cartoon. As the film begins, the owner of a struggling circus (Danny DeVito) enlists a former star of the circus (Colin Farrell) and his children to care for Dumbo, a big-eared baby elephant. Things take off for the circus when they discover Dumbo’s ears allow him to fly.  Huge crowds come out to see Dumbo perform with a spectacular aerial artist played by French actress EVA GREEN, 38. Green’s mother is a Sephardic Jew, originally from Algeria. Green is secular, but identifies as Jewish. The film is slated to open Friday, March 29.

“The Hummingbird Project” stars JESSE EISENBERG, 35, and Alexander Skarsgard as cousins of Russian Jewish background who, as the film opens, work in technical support for a nasty company. They realize they could make millions if they go out on their own and lay a faster fiber-optical line from Wall Street’s electronic core in Kansas to its New Jersey data bank (it only has to be a bit faster than the existing line — the time it takes a hummingbird to once beat its wings). They face many obstacles as they proceed to build the line. The film is scheduled to open Friday, March 29, at the Landmark Tivoli Theater in University City.

“Happy Talk,” a play Eisenberg wrote, opens off-Broadway on April 30. Susan Sarandon stars as a suburban New Jersey housewife who juggles family and friends as she gets ready to play a major role in a production of the musical “South Pacific” at her Jewish Community Center.

In 2017, Eisenberg wed his longtime “on-and-off” Jewish girlfriend, ANNA STROUT, now 41. They have a son. They reside part of the year in Bloomington, Ind., her hometown, where they are very involved in helping a domestic violence shelter there. Strout’s late mother was the head of the shelter for 30 years. 

Serendipity Ice Cream ad

Catching up on a streaming gem; our New Zealand Landsman

“The Act,” a true crime series, premiered on Hulu on March 20. The first five-episode season of “The Act” is based on the real story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Dee Dee is played by PATRICIA ARQUETTE, 50, and Gypsy is played by JOEY KING, 19. Most reviewers are calling King’s performance outstanding, and many say this is a breakthrough dramatic performance for her.

Gypsy was born in 1991. From the time she was 8 years old, her mother falsely insisted that she had many serious chronic conditions. Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair and was home-schooled because of her “illnesses.” Doctors suspected Gypsy’s conditions weren’t real but never called in the authorities. Dee Dee loved the attention her “sick” child brought her and enjoyed benefits, such as the house Habitat for Humanity built for her and Gypsy. When Gypsy became a teen, Dee Dee kept her in line via physical abuse. 

In 2015, Gypsy enlisted the help of a young man she met online and, as they planned, he killed her mother.

Much of the series takes place in Missouri, where the Blanchards lived from 2005 on. The murder took place near Springfield. 

The first two episodes started streaming March 20. The last three episode first stream March 27, April 3 and April 10.

“What We Do in the Shadows,” a comic documentary series that follows four vampires who have been roommates for hundreds of years in New York City, starts March 27 on FX cable (9 p.m.) BEANIE FELDSTEIN, 25, the sister of JONAH HILL, 35, has a recurring role. The series is based on a 2014 indie hit film of the same name directed by and co-written by TAIKA WAITITI, 43, who also co-produces the TV series. From New Zealand, Waititi’s father is native Polynesian (Maori) and his mother is Jewish. He had a blockbuster hit with “Thor Ragnarok” (2017) and has just about completed “Jo Jo Rabbit,” a film with an anti-Nazi theme. SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 34, co-stars.