“The Club” leads our weekly Jewish movies and TV picks


Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

What does one do when it’s raining all day on the first day of the year? Watch some good television, movies, and shows alike — unless you are watching the latest “Fauda” trailer for the seventh time. Grab a trustworthy blanket and finish off that bagel with hot pastrami while considering these suggestions of what’s worth watching, starting off with “The Club.”

“Club” much?

The very popular show about Turkish Jews, titled “The Club,” has a second season coming out on Netflix next week, so don’t waste any time catching up or binging. Following the six-episode first season, the second round will have four parts and the trailer promises more high-caliber drama.

The second season looks like it’s putting its already endangered characters into more trouble, as the plot seems to involve the 1955 Istanbul Pogrom. The infamous event affected Greeks living in Turkey, but also put Jewish inhabitants into a tricky situation. Rasel, a prominent character in the show, looks to be right in the middle of it.

The Adrien Brody upset movie

With the Academy Awards somewhere (hopefully not postponed) in the near future, let’s revisit the true launch of the Jewish actor. Brody was the young actor who upset Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis at the Oscars. Released in 2002, “The Pianist” was the story of a Polish Jew watching Warsaw crumble before the commencement of World War II, feverishly hiding to avoid eventual capture and detainment in a concentration camp.

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Instead of Nicholson winning for “About Schmidt” or Day-Lewis grabbing the gold for playing Bill The Butcher in Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” Brody took home the prize. Watch it for $4 on Amazon or YouTube. Look for his next big Oscar-type role on Jan. 28 in “Clean.”

The 2020 movie you shouldn’t forget about

With “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” Jewish director Eliza Hittman wasn’t just making another abortion drama to rile up the masses; this one hits especially hard due to the lead performances and the nonchalant nature of the story. Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder (no relation to Winona) are extraordinary, and the screenplay is a slow-burn, realistically shot portrayal of a young woman’s life being redirected. A “don’t judge by the cover” kind of experience, this one will sit inside your chest for a while. It’s available on several streaming platforms, including HBO Max.

The movie that made me like Andy Samberg

Before the 2020 smash-hit comedy “Palm Springs” came out on Hulu, I wasn’t sure what to think of Samberg. The Jewish actor achieved fame on “Saturday Night Live” and the television show, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” but neither performance showed me much. Stuck somewhere between Jason Biggs slapstick and Jim Carrey boilerplate, Samberg found his groove in “Palm Springs,” playing a wedding crasher of sorts who is doomed to repeat the nuptials eternally. A new woman in his life could present a way out, or another reason to stay stuck. Hulu subscribers shouldn’t pass this up. Short, hilarious, original and co-starring J.K. Simmons. Enough said.

The Jewish comedy actress who chose jokes over cheerleading

Thank you, Hannah Einbinder, for choosing the stage and screen. The HBO Max Original, “Hacks,” is one example. Co-starring Jean Smart in an Emmy-nominated performance, the TV series kicks off with Einbinder’s wet-behind-the-ears comic writer getting a job reviving Smart’s aged-joke carrying stand-up comedy lioness. She holds her own with the esteemed actress, as the two ladies trade barbs, burns, and occasional sentiment as they navigate the young and older highways of show business. Before she went to Hollywood, Einbinder didn’t please her parents, both “SNL” veterans, by nearly choosing cheerleading over jokes. Whew!

Need less drama? Come this way

Everybody knows Mandy Patinkin as the soul behind Showtime’s “Homeland” and the swordsman who wouldn’t stop until he found his father’s murderer. But since the pandemic started taking over our lives and hacking away at our freedoms, Patinkin’s family have lightened up the festivities with songs and other forms of entertainment. Found on the actor’s social media accounts, you can see him sing a wonderful version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in Yiddish.

Without the universally loved Betty White around, we need all the rainbow one can get at the moment. See you next week.