Wonder Woman (2017) Gal Gadot

WONDER WOMAN *Movie Review*

Over the past several months, I’ve eagerly anticipated “Wonder Woman” while simultaneously biting my nails considering the potential box office results.  A movie like this isn’t just about how much money Warner Bros. and DC Comics will make in a weekend, but about the future opportunities available for female actors and directors.  It sounds like an undue amount of pressure on a single movie–and it is, in ways with which male directors rarely contend.

At this point, the early polls–excuse me, box office–are in and “Wonder Woman” is a bona fide success.  The film’s domestic and international grosses are hovering near $220 million and director Patty Jenkins (Academy Award winner “Monster”) has earned the superlative of best opening domestically for a female director.  Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress/model previously best known in the United States for her roles in two of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise movies is now better known as Diana, princess of the Amazons.

In the midst of the fervor surrounding Jenkins, Gadot and “Wonder Woman” the question becomes is the movie actually good?  In fact, “Wonder Woman” is perhaps the best recent example of why gender doesn’t matter.  This is the quintessential superhero movie complete with ‘fish out of water’ jokes as Diana learns about the world outside her home island.  As with the other superheroes before her who are not of this planet or people, Diana’s charming naïveté is the basis for much of the movie’s humor.  Also like others before her, she gradually learns to harness her power and come into her own as illustrated through epic (and costly) battle sequences.  The challenges these heroes face speak to universal themes which know no gender.  In fact, it’s perhaps the most compelling explanation for their endurance in all artistic mediums.

For more about “Wonder Woman”, including how vertical movement is used as Diana comes into her own as a warrior, take a look below:

—>Keep in touch with the author on Twitter and Instagram @realZoeHewitt.  Looking for the direct link to the video?  Click here.

7 Days in The Arts

Saturday, May 13

The beat goes on today at the annual Santa Monica Festival. Head down to participate in a drum circle; hear multicultural music, including a concert by Bucovina Klezmer; and enter the Eco Zone. The city steps up its commitment to environmental responsibility this year, with totally solar powered stages and a host of activities centered on caring for the Earth, including an outdoor adventure challenge course for kids, and a mobile TidePool Cruiser.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt =””>

Sunday, May 14

When a lovely young woman becomes possessed by a dybbuk, it takes a minyan to cast out the demon. In Paddy Chayefsky’s “The Tenth Man,” they only have nine, until they pull a troubled man off the street to help with the Jewish exorcism. But he’s got his own demons. The play opens this weekend at The Skylight Theatre.

8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sun.). $20. 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. (310) 358-9936.

Monday, May 15

Great American music takes center stage this evening, with a tribute to the works of celebrated lyricist Dorothy Fields. Michael Feinstein, Marvin Hamlisch and others perform “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” a celebration of the life and lyrics of Fields, who wrote the titular hit, and numerous others including “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I’m in the Mood For Love.” A post-performance cast party will follow. The event benefits L.A.’s Center Theatre Group’s discount ticket programs, and is hosted by Corina Villaraigosa.

8 p.m. $200 and $500. 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3139.


Tuesday, May 16

S.T.A.R. Sephardic Tradition and Recreation goes big this Lag B’Omer, and invites the community to join in. This evening they’ve rented out the Santa Monica Pier for a citywide Jewish celebration, complete with rides, kosher food and live entertainment.

5-9 p.m. $8. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica. (818) 782-7359. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt = “”>

Wednesday, May 17

Bring your child — or your inner child — to L.A. Artcore’s exhibition of Ursula Kammer-Fox’s “Play Mates,” on view through May 31. Kammer-Fox has created a number of whimsical sculptures of made-up creatures for this show, and she explains, “I perceive one of life’s demands to be that we escape our prisons. This body of work represents my escape from the prison of constant seriousness, and the esthetics of higher education.”

Noon-5 p.m. (Wed.-Sun.). Free. LA Artcore Center, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. (213) 617-3274. ” width=”15″ height=”1″alt = “”>

Thursday, May 18

Lauded short story writer Deborah Eisenberg discusses her latest collection, “Twilight of the Superheroes: Stories” on KCRW’s Bookworm program this afternoon. Host Michael Silverblatt will engage Eisenberg more specifically on the subject of writing about the post-Sept. 11 American sensibility.

2:30-3 p.m. KCRW 89.9 FM.

Friday, May 19

Silliness reigns at the Academy tonight, as it presents a special cast and crew reunion and screening of the classic comedy “Airplane!” Writers-directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker and actor Robert Hays, among others, are scheduled to attend the discussion. No word on the jive-talking Barbara Billingsley.

8 p.m. $3-$5. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 247-3600.

7 Days in The Arts

Saturday, May 6

Playwright Colette Freedman offers two divergent works now on the stage. “Iphigenia at Aulus” is Freedman’s adaptation (in rhyming iambic pentameter, no less) of Euripides’ classic tale about the Greek king who must sacrifice his daughter to assure a victory in his attack on Troy. “Sister Cities,” by contrast, is her more straightforward story of four sisters reunited after the death of their mother. They both play this weekend at Circus Theatricals Studio Theatre at the Hayworth.

$15-$20. 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Sunday, May 7

Four talk-radio personalities compete for air time in today’s panel “The Impact of Talk Radio” at the University of Judaism. On your AM dial, Bill Handel (KFI), Michael Jackson (KNX), Doug McIntyre (KABC), and Stephanie Miller (Air America) participate, along with editor and publisher of Talkers magazine Michael Harrison. Veteran talk show host Bill Moran will ref.

2 p.m. $20. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1246.

Monday, May 8

The intense relationship between 30-something displaced cowboy Harlan Carruthers and rebellious teen Tobe creates the backbone of the new movie, “Down in the Valley,” which opens this week. Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood star in this dark film written and directed by David Jacobson.

Laemmle Theatres. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Tuesday, May 9

Existential questions make for a unifying theme in Jewish Artist Network’s latest group show. Sharing a space at 661 N. Spaulding will be Heather Rose’s color photography layered negatives, Jeremy Oberstein’s combined photographic images, Joseph Mamos’ watercolors, Moshe Hammer’s illustrated Hebrew calligraphy, Yoshimi Hashimoto’s photo-based imagery and Zlata’s acrylic and oils.

Noon-5 p.m. (Tues., Thurs., Sun., or by appointment.) JAN Gallery, 661 N. Spaulding, Los Angeles. (562) 547-9078. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Wednesday, May 10

This month, the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre solutes the comic works of favorite nebbish Woody Allen. Tonight, catch his classic comic fantasy, “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” about a depression-era waitress’ love affair with a matinee idol. Screenings of “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)” are scheduled for later in May.

7:30 p.m. $6-$9. 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 466-3456. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Thursday, May 11

Hope Edelman, author of “Motherless Daughters,” visits Village Books this evening, to discuss her new follow-up book, “Motherless Mothers.” Attend the book signing to hear her talk about the experience of motherless women when they become mothers themselves.

7:30 p.m. Free. Village Books, 1049 Swarthmore Ave., Pacific Palisades. (310) 454-4063.

Friday, May 12

Opening this week is the Zimmer Children’s Museum’s latest exhibition, “show & tell: the art of time” Seventy-eight artists, humanitarians and social activists created unique, often whimsical sculptures playing on the theme of “time.” The pieces will be auctioned off at the May 7 opening reception, to benefit youTHINK public school art and education program, but will remain on view through June 9.

Open Tues.-Thurs., and by special arrangement by calling Carrie Jacoves, (323) 761-8992. $3 (ages 3-12), $5 (adults), Free (ages 2 and under, and grandparents accompanying a grandchild). Zimmer Museum and Jewish Federation Bell Family Gallery, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8990. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

A Superhero Dreams

When friendly strangers find out I’m a convert to Judaism, they want to know why.

And I’ve learned to be ready.

I have two stories: One is

respectable, and one involves comic books and video games.

The first is the one I bring out for casual conversations, for puzzled strangers and for grandparents. It fits in a neat little box, and people nod their heads in an understanding way when I’m talking, so it must make sense.

It goes like this: I asked my best friend (not a Jew) about Judaism, and he recommended I read Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin’s “Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism.”

I did. With a few more books under my belt, I signed up for an Introduction to Judaism class at Temple Beth Sholom; it happened to be the shul closest to my old apartment.

I called the front desk at Temple Beth Sholom and said I wanted to talk to a rabbi about converting. That’s how I met Rabbi Shelton J. Donnell. He said he didn’t turn people away from Judaism, because he knew how wonderful it was for him. He expected me to study, to experience the ritual and to bring Judaism into my life. I said I was game.

Donnell and I looked at the prayer service and talked about what the prayers meant to me. He encouraged me to look at Shabbat and what I could include or exclude to make the day holy. Most important, he helped turn my book learning into emotion and communion with God.

“How do you feel?” he would ask after I described things I’d done. That’s how Judaism traveled from my brain to those places in my stomach and heart that make me cry and laugh.

I explained my interest in Judaism to my parents — an atheist and an agnostic — and they both thought it sounded like a good idea for me.

After more than a year of study, I converted. There was a beit din with Donnell and Rabbis Stephen Einstein and Heidi Cohen to determine my seriousness about conversion. I went to Tarzana for a ritual circumcision (I was already circumcised). Finally, I went to the ritual bath at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. Some guy saw me dunk naked (he was a rabbinic student making sure I did it right). And when everyone had left the room I got out of the mikvah and said the “Shehecheyanu” privately. I knew I was a Jew. I hadn’t believed in God, and now I did.

So, that’s the story I’d tell you if I met you on the street. But if we crossed the street to a coffee shop, and the subject stayed on Judaism, well, I might come clean: I converted to Judaism because of superheroes and video games.

When I was a kid, I read comic books (OK, I still do). I wanted fantastic powers to use for good deeds.

Sadly, it was no dice on being Superman, cape flapping in the breeze, rescuing innocents from scowling super villains. Like all of you, I am left with the more mundane abilities of humankind: smiles to make someone feel better, an ear to listen when someone needs to talk, a hand to help others, and a heart and a voice to thank God.

The rabbis knew the power of those little things in life and what a difference they could make. They had rules for putting on a happy face, helping the less fortunate and blessing God for every beautiful thing in the world (and there so many).

Then, about the time I read that Prager and Telushkin book, I was playing a video game called “Morrowind.” In it, I played a freed slave brought to an island kingdom to perform work for the king, but the most amazing thing to me was a bit of a side quest: joining the native religion. I performed pilgrimages to holy sites and brought food to the poor and healing potions to the sick. Doing good for good’s sake triggered that childhood yearning in me that said “Life is for doing good and being good, in big ways and little ways.”

I had always tried to be good and compassionate, but I realized I wanted a path to lead a good life, and Judaism provided the right one for me. There’s where the story ends. Well, really, it doesn’t end at all. I’m a Jew now, trying to be a better Jew and bring more good to the world. I even dream of being a rabbi someday. That’s about as super heroic as I’ll get.

I also know that if you let your tallit blow in the breeze, it makes for a great cape.

Brendan Howard lives in Anaheim and is an editor for a video trade magazine.

Man of Action

If there is a name for comic book action, it must be “David Goyer.”

When the 36-year-old screenwriter is not bringing superheroes to life in hyperactive flicks — such as the just-released “Blade 2,” starring Wesley Snipes — Goyer is doing it in the pages of D.C. Comics. “Justice Society of America” often charts as the fourth best-selling comic book. Goyer’s gift for scripting pulse-quickening action has made him a hot name in Hollywood and in comics, industries pioneered by Jews.

“I think it comes from persecution and a certain amount of wish-fulfillment,” Goyer said of the reason Jews gravitate toward the mediums.

Goyer knows of what he speaks. Being Jewish is “definitely something I’m proud of,” but he’s admittedly turned off by organized religion. During his childhood in Michigan, “a lot kids beat me up, saying that I killed Christ. I was very consciously different. I didn’t have a ton of Jewish people around me. I grew up with something of a chip on my shoulder.”

Goyer and his brother, Jeff, were raised in Ann Arbor by their single mother, of Lithuanian descent, who took her boys to Israel after their father left. Goyer, then age 10, lived in Jerusalem for several months — an enjoyable experience, he says, which now seems surreal.

“My brother and I collected bullet casings. We had pillow cases full of them,” he remembered. “We were sort of unaware. I remember seeing the police shoot a guy dead in front of us on the street. I remember the jets and windows shattering from the sonic booms. But I wasn’t afraid.”

Six months after graduating from USC Film School, Goyer sold his first script, the Jean Claude Van Damme action flick “Death Warrant.” Even in Hollywood, Goyer encountered anti-Semitism when an extra asked him if he was Jewish.

“I said, ‘Yes I am. Why do you ask?’ He said, ‘You smell like one.’ And I punched him,” Goyer recalled. “People were shocked. It seemed so strange. So out of the blue.”

That episode aside, “Death Warrant” turned out to be fortuitous for the young screenwriter.

“Not the world’s best movie, but it got me my start,” said Goyer, who later penned “Dark City.”

With “Blade” in 1996, Goyer not only brought the half-human vampire hunter to the screen, but put Marvel Comics on the Hollywood map. This tertiary character from the sleeper ’70s “Tomb of Dracula” series was the first Marvel hero to inspire a hit movie.

Goyer pitched a trilogy to New Line “that was Wagnerian in scope — the ‘Star Wars’ of vampire films,” he said. Former New Line executive Michael De Luca “went crazy” over it, he added.

Goyer put a ’90s gloss on “Blade” with a hybrid urban/Hong Kong flair that was a year ahead of the stylistically similar “Matrix.” After “Blade” became a hit, Goyer became Marvel’s “it” guy, writing scripts based on “Nick Fury,” “Dr. Strange” and “Ghost Rider.” He said he may work on Snipes’ pet project, “Black Panther,” if he can also direct.

Yet it was Marvel’s competitor, D.C., that approached Goyer about writing for comics.

“It’s important to write in different mediums,” Goyer says.

And to direct, since even writers get typecast. But Goyer doesn’t take things sitting down. He just premiered his directorial debut, “Zig Zag,” at South By Southwest Music Festival. The independent production, that he wrote, stars John Leguizamo (“Moulin Rouge”) and Natasha Lyonne (“American Pie”).

“It’s the polar opposite of movies I’m known for,” says the drama’s proud papa, now prepping to direct another drama written by Ted Tally (“Silence of the Lambs”). Then he’ll write “Blade 3.”

Full circle for a tough hombre who is one tough act to follow.