Sundays never lose that bittersweet feeling, when you savour the freedom of the weekend while fighting off that niggling “have I done all my homework?” voice inside. That’s what makes Sunday the perfect day for the cinema, as the last hours of the weekend can be the best time to escape to another world in the dark.
Sunday 30 September is Cinema Day, a National Lottery initiative that entitles players to claim a free ticket to participating UK cinemas, with Lotto tickets purchased between 26-29 September. British cinema has greatly benefitted from the National Lottery, with over 500 films supported by National Lottery through BFI funding. On Cinema Day, your free ticket isn’t restricted to British films, and there’s a good choice of films in cinemas at the moment so it’s a good opportunity to leave Netflix at home and enjoy the big screen.
Here are my picks of films with Jewish hats on,to help you navigate what’s on offer:
If you haven’t seen it already, watch BlacKkKlansman in the cinema. Directed by Spike Lee and written by Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz (young Jewish screenwriters from New Jersey), BlacKkKlansman is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington), a black police officer who infiltrates the KKK in Colorado during the 1970s. Once a rapport with KKK members is struck over the phone, how can Stallworth meet them face to face? Adam Driver, who broke out in Lena Dunham’s Girls, plays Jewish officer Flip Zimmerman, a fictionalised version of Stallworth’s colleague who stood in for the black officer when necessary. The Zimmerman-Stallworth partnership allows Lee to explore identity, race and the concept of “passing” as someone you’re not.
American Animals is another true story of deception, but here it’s agenre-defying art-heist film directed by Bart Layton (the son of British glass artist Peter Layton and artist/director Tessa Schneideman). We follow the extraordinary Transy Book Heist, when four young men attempted to steal rare books from Transylvania University library, Kentucky in 2004. American Animals is stylish and snappy, with a stunning combination of well-paced dramatic reconstructions, alongside interviews with people involved in the events. Once you’ve seen American Animals in the cinema, you’ll be inclined to seek out Layton’s amazing 2012 debut, The Imposter.
Seeing as it’s nearly October and Hallowe’en isn’t too far away, there are a couple of spooky film options directed by leading Jewish filmmakers.The Little Stranger is a chilling gothic drama from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson (who made 2015’s award-winning Room). The excellent cast, including Domnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson and Charlotte Rampling, provide plenty of spine-tingling moments as strange happenings take over the dilapidated mansion Hundreds Hall. Set in 1948, Gleeson plays Doctor Faraday, who is called to the aristocratic family to tend to illness and finds himself in the midst of suspicious, perhaps supernatural goings-on. If you like your spooky a little less austere, go for The House With A Clock In Its Walls, the latest from horror-supremo Eli Roth, starring Jack Black (who’s always a little terrifying anyway) and Cate Blanchett. It’s billed as a family-friendly fantasy but isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it’s full of escaping monsters and scary pumpkins.
For a more sophisticated drama, go with The Wife, an adaptation of Brooklyn-born writer Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel which skewers male vanity with flair. Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce play husband and wife Joe and Joan Castleman. Joe is a Roth-esque, egotistical Jewish novelist who wins the Nobel prize for literature– but with Glenn Close leading as Joan, his WASP wife and former student – you can be sure that this portrait of a marriage will have us rooting for the wife’s unsung strength.
Cinema Day may well sweeten your Sunday, but if you’ve still got a niggling feeling at the end of the weekend, don’t forget to check your Lotto ticket for winning numbers!