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Aug 15 2014

Ricki Lake’s New Documentary Shows a Whole Lot of Boobs

By at 1:30 pm

Rikki-Lakes

Since becoming a mom, Ricki Lake has been cranking out feminist-y documentaries about birth and family planning like it’s nobody’s business.

In 2008, she partnered with director Abby Epstein to make a documentary about homebirth and midwivery called “The Business of Being Born,” followed up by a well-received book about birthing options titled “Your Best Birth.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2014

Three Lauren Bacall Scenes That Prove She Was Not Your Average Jewish Mom

By at 10:04 am

lauren-b

Lauren Bacall, who died this past Tuesday at the age of 89, was a model, an actress, a movie star… and a Jewish mother.

Born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx to a Romanian mother and a father whose parents emigrated from Poland, she had three children herself, Stephen and Leslie with Humphrey Bogart, and Sam with Jason Robards. Her stage name, Bacall, was actually her mother’s maiden name. (She is also a cousin of Shimon Peres on the Perske side.)

In her autobiography, Bacall recalled being fired from an early modeling job because she was Jewish. It was the reason she didn’t tell the reportedly anti-Semitic director Howard Hawks about it, and why she allowed the studio’s PR department to claim that their new star was a descendant of some of America’s oldest families. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 13 2014

The Best Parenting Advice From Robin Williams Movies

By at 10:52 am

Robin-Williams

Many of us who grew up watching Robin Williams in so many dazzling roles are left reeling at his death at age 63 and the tragic circumstances surrounding it. It’s odd to think that a man who brought so much joy to so many people was quietly struggling with such severe depression, and a sobering reminder that mental illness can touch anyone, no matter how seemingly blessed and glittering the externals might appear.

Like other children, I watched “Aladdin” with rapt attention when it came out in 1992, and became an instant Robin Williams fan at age 6–though I only put a face to the Genie the following year when Williams starred in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Since then, I’ve followed his career, along with a few million other people, and the canon of work Williams left behind is vast and the stuff of cultural legends. A few of the movies in which he starred have taken on an added meaning for me since I became a parent, and in re-watching some clips in the wake of Williams’ death, I found two parenting tidbits from his movies to be particularly powerful.

First up, in what is generally considered a lighthearted comedy, “Mrs. Doubtfire” actually contains one of the most moving monologues I’ve ever seen Robin Williams deliver in character and certainly one of the most touching discourses about parenting from any movie I can easily recall (and I watch a lot of movies). Towards the end of the film, the judge presiding over the custody case between Williams’ character, Daniel Hillard, and his ex-wife Miranda (played by Sally Field), asks whether Daniel has any closing remarks to make to stake a claim for partial custody of his children. In response, and with reference to his cross-dressing antics, Daniel says this: Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2014

I Was Embarrassed of My Jewish Looks–Until I Saw “Dirty Dancing”

By at 3:58 pm

Dirty-dancing

I watched “Dirty Dancing” with my daughter the other night. It was the first time she had seen it and probably my 10th.

I was super excited for our girls’ night–we bought candy, made some popcorn and changed into our pajamas–but I also felt some pressure. What if she hates the movie and thinks it’s corny and old-fashioned? Maybe next time, then, she’d ask a friend over to watch a movie instead of me. Maybe next time she’d choose to watch “Gossip Girl” on Netflix by herself. I know she loves our time together as much as I do, but I feel the fragility of these moments–of an almost 14-year-old–of a blossoming young woman who will soon begin her own journey of self-discovery apart from me.

“Dirty Dancing” was a movie that had a profound impact on me back in 1987. I was 19 then, just a year or two older than Baby (played by Jennifer Grey). It was the first time I had seen a movie that featured a Jewish girl as the romantic lead. I thought Baby was just like me because she had a Jewish nose and frizzy, curly hair. In reality she looked nothing like me. We were alike, however, in the absence of certain physical attributes. Neither of us had long golden blond hair, small button noses, big blue eyes, or full pouty lips. In fact, girls like me and Baby were typically the best friend of the pretty girl who dates the good-looking popular guy. Jewish girls like us didn’t get the cute guys. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2014

SEE: Israeli Actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

By at 1:07 pm

Director Zack Snyder revealed the first photo of Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman via Twitter on Saturday. Gadot is most recognized for her role as “Giselle” in the last three “Fast & Furious” movies. Before becoming an actress and model, Gal was a sports trainer for the IDF.

In other words, she’s pretty badass.

But even more powerful than the image of Gadot as Wonder Woman is this Facebook post of the actress and her daughter lighting Shabbat candles accompanied by a prayer for the IDF and the people of Israel. Just breathtaking.

 

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Jul 24 2014

Talking with Zach Braff, Kate Hudson & Mandy Patinkin of “Wish I Was Here”

By at 1:39 pm

Wish-I-Was-Here

As we’ve mentioned before, Zach Braff’s new movie “Wish I Was Here” gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller. I sat down with three of the film’s stars, Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, and Mandy Patinkin, to talk about their Jewish connection to the movie, being a child no matter how old you are, and the hardest part about playing the role of a dying man. “Wish I Was Here” is now playing in select theaters, and will play nationwide starting tomorrow. 

On the role Judaism plays in the film:

Zach Braff:

My brother Adam and I wrote this, and he’s 10 years older than me. When he was a kid, my parents put him in Yeshiva. By the time they got to me, they downshifted to Conservative and kosher. Both of us have grown up to be adults who organized religion does not work for. We love the jokes, we love the humor, we love the culture, we love the fun of the family gathering. But we don’t relate to anyone giving an eff if I have a bacon double cheeseburger, or a bearded man in the sky judging us. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 15 2014

Win a Free “Wish I Was Here” Movie Poster Autographed by Zach Braff

By at 2:17 pm

Zach-braff

If we didn’t know any better, we might have thought Zach Braff’s latest film “Wish I Was Here” was created for the sole purpose of being talked about on Kveller. Topics explored in the movie range from what to do when you can no longer afford to send your kids to Jewish Day School, raising young children while also dealing with the heartache of aging parents, and grappling with different levels of observance and personal beliefs within the same family.

Plus, there’s a dog named Kugel.

In anticipation of the movie’s release on July 18, we’re very excited to host an exclusive giveaway for Kveller readers. We’ll be giving away an official movie poster autographed by director and star Zach Braff to three lucky winners.

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below. We’ll choose three random entrees on Tuesday, July 22. And whether or not you come away a winner, we highly recommend checking out “Wish I Was Here” in a theater near you and letting us know what you think. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jul 7 2014

Kveller Exclusive: An Interview with Olaf from “Frozen”

By at 2:08 pm

Josh Gad is Olaf from Frozen

Zach Braff’s new movie Wish I Was Here gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller–the film covers everything from the (too high) tuition of Jewish day school to dealing with aging parents. But there was one aspect that was impossible to ignore: among its cadre of impressive actors is Josh Gad, perhaps best known for his voiceover work as the snowman Olaf from FrozenI was lucky enough to sit down with Gad–a Jewish dad himself–and talk about life as a famous snowman. 

Are your kids obsessed with Frozen? 

My 3-month-old doesn’t know what the word “frozen” is, let alone the movie. But my 3.5-year-old is obsessed, like the rest of the world.

And she knows that you play Olaf?

She knows I’m Olaf. What’s interesting is that I never needed to tell her I was Olaf. I took her to go see “Monster’s University,” the first movie she ever saw, and they played a teaser for “Frozen,” and it featured me as Olaf, laughing. There was no dialogue. She looks up at the screen and she goes, “Daddy?” She was 2.5 at the time, and I literally turned away and was like, “Yeah, it’s me,” as I started crying. I was like, I can’t deal with this. Read the rest of this entry →

May 23 2014

Pennsylvania Just Became Better for Same-Sex Families–And The Rest of Us

By at 11:48 am

LGBTQ-flag

I was watching “Frozen” with my 3-year-old daughter when I heard the news: the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage was overturned! My Facebook feed exploded with cries of “Mazel tov,” as well as, “Finally, PA,” and, “Welcome to the 21st Century.” This was big news, and not just in an abstract, I believe in equality and social justice kind of way. This was news with measurable impact on people I care about, news with the gravitas of, “I remember where I was when I found out.”

That means, I will always remember that I was watching “Frozen.” Disney’s latest blockbuster is being heralded by parents everywhere, even while they can’t stop singing, “Let it Go.” It’s notable for depicting princesses who defy the waiting-for-Prince Charming stereotypes, but it’s not quite defiant enough for my taste. One of the opening songs still has Princess Anna say, “What if I meet…the one?” I was as devoted a follower as anyone of “How I Met Your Mother,” so it’s not that I’m opposed to the concept of “the one” being portrayed in popular culture. Rather, I think that marriage doesn’t make sense as the primary plot device in a movie marketed towards kids who haven’t started kindergarten yet.

Even so, my daughter is no stranger to weddings, having already attended three in as many years. Last June, she attended the wedding of two of our family’s dear friends, and she talked about nothing for weeks before or after the celebration. Leading up to the wedding, we talked a lot about being quiet during the ceremony, giving gifts, and eating a special meal, but we made no mention of gender, even though the marriage was (and is!) between two women. To our then 2-year-old, a party was a party, and the particulars mattered not at all. Even now, even after seeing “Frozen,” when I asked her this afternoon, “What does ‘married’ mean?” she said, “It’s when people love each other.” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 29 2014

Watch the Entire “Frozen” Soundtrack in Hebrew

By at 3:22 pm

frozen1

Because “Let it Go” actually sounds better in Hebrew. But don’t blame us if your kids bombard you with Israeli Queen Elsa serenades.

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry →

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