Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
In the June 28 episode of A & E’s reality series, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” flamboyant KISS frontman Simmons – famed for his demonic makeup, fire-breathing, tongue-flicking, 10-inch platforms and female conquests – cries at his father’s grave in Israel.
It was the first time Simmons (born Chaim Witz in Haifa) had ever visited the grave; in fact, it was the first time the 61-year-old had returned to Israel in more than half a century, having left at 8 with his mother, a Hungarian survivor of Auschwitz. He stood at the grave and said “Kaddish” with half-siblings he did not even know he had until this “Family Jewels” trip; they were his father’s children from subsequent marriages.
Simmons’ longtime partner, Shannon Tweed, a former Playboy playmate, had arranged for the rocker to meet them: “She was very sneaky and planned the whole thing, with a lot of surprises,” he said. “I didn’t even know I had any siblings. We were at a restaurant when a good-looking guy approached me; I thought he was the waiter. Then they sprung it on me that he was my half-brother – and I met my half-sisters.”
For the KISS bass player-singer-songwriter (a.k.a. “The Demon”), it was a chance to confront some personal demons; particularly those surrounding the father he believed had abandoned him and his mother.
In the show, the catharsis comes as cameras follow Simmons into the the cemetery where his father, Feri Witz, is buried; a sibling reads aloud a heartbreaking letter Witz wrote but never mailed to Simmons in the United States. “I spoke six languages, was very good in math and physics,...but because of the war in Europe and here in Israel all the time, and all kinds of tragedies in my life, I couldn’t progress and I’m going to finish my life as a nobody, as a nothing,” Witz wrote. “The only thing I can be proud of is my children.” The letter goes on to say how avidly he had followed Simmons’ career and “I’m very happy that you are happy.”
It’s almost too much for the rock star, who laments, “I was so stupid…so f——-g stupid. Why didn’t I go see him?”
“I’ve been arrogant about lots of things, especially my father,” he says later in the show. “I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else and to my father that I didn’t need him. So once I proved it and became successful, I wanted to stand stubbornly on my pride…. Unfortunately I never saw my father again until I stood over his grave, and that was not easy.”
On the phone with me, Simmons recalled of the cemetery trip, “It was too much, actually. I didn’t even know that was going to happen. They don’t tell me anything on the show; what you see is pretty much what you get. They have cameras on all sides, so people think we do additional scenes, but we don’t. I thought we were going sightseeing on that day.
“I found out a lot of stuff: that my father was married at least six times, and apparently had a lot of kids,” he added.
Tweed, who this season has threatened to leave Simmons for his infidelities, noted the similarities between father and son. “Her point was: lots of women—it seems to be in the DNA,” he said. “Let’s just say I’ve been around thousands of women.”
Confronting issues about his father proved transformative, however: “The last time I saw him I was almost 7,” Simmons said. “So it was time [for me] to grow up, because men don’t want to grow up, you know.”
Here are excerpts from the rest of my conversation with Simmons, who was alternatively thoughtful and provocative as he discussed his ardent support for Israel; why President Obama is “foolish” for his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; why Jews should change their names, and how “Baywatch” can save the world.
NPM: Why did you wait so long to return to Israel?
GS: I had come to America as an immigrant – a legal one, because there’s a difference – since my father had left us when I was 6. I couldn’t speak the language, and I hadn’t ever seen a supermarket before: to me, it was like a city of food, with streets [aisles] going in different directions. By 9 or 10 I was working: doing newspaper deliveries, scraping the fat off of butcher blocks, and was shocked by how easy it was to make money here. This truly was the land of dreams, the streets paved with gold and all that. And every day that I got up and became more successful, I was afraid to leave; I thought once you get off the bus, it leaves without you.
NPM: Did turning 60 have anything to do with your homecoming trip?
GS: No, it was more Shannon, who convinced me that Nick and Sophie [their children] should see where their father came from, because they’d already been to Canada to visit her birthplace.
NPM: You also revisited your home in Tirat Carmel, Haifa.
GS: When I was a kid there was nothing there except dirt roads and cactus, and one house on a dirt road. When I came back it was pretty bustling.
NPM: Your mother survived a death march from Auschwitz. How was it to visit the national Holocaust memorial, Yad VaShem?
GS: My mother has never really come clean and talked specifically about her [ordeal]; it’s just too emotional. She saw her mother and her grandmother walk to the gas chambers; almost her entire family was wiped out. So she doesn’t talk much about it. When we went to Yad VaShem, I was able to find concentration camp information, hand-written by the Nazis, which listed every single Jew in the camps. I actually found records of my mother as she was being taken from one camp to another at 14 years of age. There was her name, hand written by a Nazi.
NPM: While you were at Yad VaShem (this was back in late March) a bombing killed a British tourist just two miles away.
GS: We were shocked, but nobody on the streets even thought about it. It was very strange, like, “Oh, yeah, it rained today, no big deal.”
NPM: How do you feel about President Obama’s statement that Israel should return to its 1967 borders?
GS: I think he means well, but he clearly doesn’t understand the world body politic. He would understand if he lived in Israel: 1967 borders? You’re out of your mind! I don’t care if you think it’s a good idea, or if it’s right or wrong, it’s simply indefensible. Any military tactician will tell you that would be suicide.
NPM: You’ve called artists who have supported boycotting Israel (like Elvis Costello) “idiots.”
GS: It’s clear they’re being foolish. But let’s say war breaks out between Arabs and Jews again, whose side do you think they’re going to take? There’s no question it’s Israel’s, because I don’t remember the last Jew who ran down the street with bombs attached to himself and blew himself up. I know the history of the Stern gang and all that when Israel was formed, but today, the idea of Jewish extremists is a joke. And Christians by and large don’t run around doing wacky stuff, though there used to be the Inquisition and such. It’s just that certain cultures are going through their dark ages, the way all cultures have.
The cure for all that is American TV. Because watching “Baywatch,” [for example], emancipates women: [lets them know] it’s OK to wear makeup and high heels and skimpy skirts, because men shouldn’t have anything to say about who and what you are.
And by the way, I am vehemently against the Hasidim and the [ultra-Orthodox] having any effect on Israel. I get pissed off when I’m in the hotel and somebody tells me I can’t have the fleishedik with the milchigdik.
NPM: Do you feel optimistic about the future of the Middle East?
GS: What’s happening now in the Arab world is very inspiring. And during these amazing, inspirational marches across the Arab world, I don’t see any hatred towards the west or Israel. This is a new generation; things won’t happen overnight but the Internet helps. In fact, on the streets of Cairo, one of the leaders of the revolt was asked by CNN if there was anybody he wanted to thank and he said, “Yes, I want to thank Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook.” He’s an Egyptian Muslim thanking an American Jew for inventing Facebook. That’s as cool as it gets.
NPM: KISS has never played in Israel. Would you like the band to perform there?
GS: Yes, but it’s very expensive. You’re surrounded on one side by Arab countries and on the other side by the sea, so you can’t just truck your equipment in there. And as soon as you put it 747s, it costs millions. That’s the only reason KISS hasn’t played there before.
NPM: Is it coincidence that you and Paul Stanley, the founding members of KISS, happen to be Jewish? [Current member Eric Singer is also an MOT, as well as former guitarists Ace Frehley and Bruce Kulick.]
GS: Yes, it’s coincidence. By and large, Jews don’t exist on the frontlines of pop culture; we tend to be more the managers and the record label owners and the movie studio executives and the producers and so on. There are no real Jewish stars.
NPM: What about you and Paul Stanley?
NPM: If anything, we changed our Jewish-sounding names; we’re the great assimilationists. It’s like that [old saying], “Dress British, think Yiddish,” because ultimately in the world, Jews know instinctively that the sound of their names are not perceived as cool; the Jewish culture itself isn’t really perceived as cool, so we change our names, we straighten our hair, we fix our noses.
NPM: So you and Stanley weren’t drawn together, at least in part, by your shared heritage?
GS: No, because that would have been the height of lunacy. By and large, if you look or sound Jewish – and this is a great wakeup call to those of us who are delusional—it doesn’t work; the masses don’t react to it.
NPM: My name is Naomi Pfefferman Magid.
GS: If I had that name, I would’ve changed it immediately.
The “Family Jewels” episode chronicling Simmons’ return to Israel, “Blood is Thicker Than Hummus,” will be rebroadcast on June 29 at 8 p.m., and at midnight on June 30, both Pacific time.
5.22.13 at 12:36 pm | In June 1965, during the most violent days of the. . .
5.15.13 at 2:00 pm | A British journalist recalls how she once sat. . .
5.1.13 at 11:20 am | “I don’t think I’m in any way a. . .
4.30.13 at 4:57 pm | Bar Paly is the new hot export from Israel.. . .
4.26.13 at 11:25 am | Michael Shannon was shy and soft-spoken during a. . .
4.18.13 at 12:34 pm | In the most searing sequence in Tadeusz. . .
4.30.13 at 4:57 pm | Bar Paly is the new hot export from Israel.. . . (9273)
5.15.13 at 2:00 pm | A British journalist recalls how she once sat. . . (447)
5.22.13 at 12:36 pm | In June 1965, during the most violent days of the. . . (225)
June 15, 2011 | 9:48 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
One has to wonder when James Franco ever sleeps. Hollywood’s most educated thespian — perhaps best-known for his Oscar-nominated turn as the guy who cut off his own arm in Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” – has famously juggled acting on soap operas and in blockbusters (think Rupert Wyatt’s upcoming “Rise of the Apes”) with doctoral studies in English and film at Yale, hosting the Academy Awards, creating art exhibitions, albums, a short story collection, conceptual and visual art. In Los Angeles on June 20, he’ll unveil his latest endeavor – directing and starring in an experimental biopic of the tortured, gay American poet Hart Crane – at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs from June 16-26. (UPDATE: Here’s an account of the festival event by the Journal’s Ryan Torok.)
A mustachioed Franco portrays Crane (1899-1932), who emerged on the scene with his Brooklyn-bridge epic, “The Bridge,” yet agonized over ever written word—even as he ferociously chased sailors, and was “incredibly comfortable with his sexuality,” Franco said by phone. But booze, brawls and depression took its toll on the poet, whose last work, “The Broken Tower,” chronicles his single heterosexual affair. Not long thereafter, when Hart was 32 – just a year younger than Franco – he jumped from a boat into the Gulf of Mexico and drowned.
Franco’s black-and-white film captures Hart’s brief, burning life in 12 “voyages,” or chapters, that merge verbal and visual imagery. It’s a stream-of-consciousness telling of Hart’s early years as the rebellious son of a wealthy Cleveland businessman; his sojourns through New York, Cuba and Paris; his torrid affair with a ship’s purser named Emil Opffer (Michael Shannon); his manic highs and suicidal lows and of course, his unapologetic love of men. The sex scenes, are, accordingly, explicit, with Franco-as-Hart ebulliently performing fellatio on what appears to be an impressive phallus, or ecstatic as he is topped during anal sex.
The idea for the film began as Franco was reading Paul Mariani’s biography of Crane, also titled “The Broken Tower,” on the set of the 2002 film, “Sonny” (Franco played a male prostitute who was pimped out by his mother). “I suppose it was that Crane had the quintessential tortured artist’s life,” Franco said of why he was drawn to the material. “He was trying to write in a way that was atypical for his time; he was not understood by most of his peers; he was struggling both with his financial circumstances and within himself to produce his work. He drank, he had lots of sex, he had one great, if short-lived, love. And so I thought, ‘That’s a story that lends itself to a film, easier than a story about someone like James Joyce, [who] wasn’t as readily dramatic or tragic. Although it could be done, it’s not quite the same kind of tortured life.”
Franco—who has appeared in the Spider-Man franchise and opposite Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love”—began “The Broken Tower” as his thesis project at New York University’s film school, and eventually decided to star in it himself. “He has made a film about Hart Cane, the visionary, but also about the hard life of Hart Crane, as a gay man, not just gay, but a wolf, really, going after sailors,” Mariani told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “And also his heavy drinking, despondency and proneness to suicide.”
The graphic gay sex scenes will no doubt be fodder for those who love to speculate as to Franco’s sexuality, given that he has also played the lover of congressman Harvey Milk in “Milk” and the Jewish beat poet Allen Ginsberg in “Howl.” He’ll release a vinyl album in July with his frequent collaborator, the drag queen Kalup Lindsay, and he once famously teased a reporter, “Maybe I’m just gay.”
Franco, who reportedly has had the same girlfriend, the actress Ahna O’Reilly, since 2006, appears to enjoy provocative intellectual fare as much as occasionally playing the provocateur.
Here are excerpts from the rest of our interview:
NPM: What was it like for Crane as a homosexual in the 1920s?
JF: He didn’t seem to have ever been troubled by being gay at a time when it must’ve been much more difficult to come out. But aside from not telling his parents, I think he was pretty open about it among his friends. So that didn’t seem to be a big issue, although he had that strange, unique-for-him, heterosexual relationship with Peggy Crowley, while he was in Mexico. But for me that didn’t feel like it was Crane renouncing the way he had lived before or that he had been struggling with being straight his whole life. Somehow he just came together with Peggy at a time when he was very emotionally needy. She was someone he felt really close to, and so it was more just coming together with a person; it wasn’t really about being troubled over being gay.
NPM: Why do you think Crane jumped from that boat to his death?
JF: In the film, I tried to show a lot of the different contributing factors that might have led to his suicide. Who really knows what the one trigger was, but there were a list of possibilities: His parents sounded like they had a really horrible marriage; he was a teenager when he tried to kill himself for the first time, and had a history of suicide attempts from a very young age. While I (again) don’t think he was troubled over being gay, his whole life he had trouble with drinking and he was probably an alcoholic. Then his father was a millionaire from selling chocolate, but he never really gave Hart any support. I think that Crane had been waiting his whole life, first to inherit money from his grandmother, and then from his father, and when that didn’t happen it was a big blow.
In addition, it was so difficult for him to write—I mean it just took years and years and YEARS—and his friends had turned on him with [negative reviews]. So there he was going back to a New York that had just fallen into the Depression; he had been trying to write some epic about the history of Mexico, and felt like he couldn’t write anymore. He had just written a poem that nobody cared about; he had no money and no inheritance; he was going to have to find a job in advertising again, which to an extremely sensitive person like him was just hell. And maybe he wouldn’t even get that kind of job because it was the Depression. So he was just going back to a place where he really had nothing to look forward to but misery.
NPM: Are there ways in which you identify with Crane, as an artist and a person?
JF: I suppose there are things that I both admire and, in some ways, think he maybe went too far with. He was an autodidact; he didn’t go to college, but he was always searching, and his letters are famous for engaging in these very pure and intense dialogues about his work. But he went too far in that he was very stubborn. He knew his work was difficult, and that he was going to turn off most readers. But he felt that if he had six good readers that was enough for him.
I am in a business where that’s harder to do, because movies cost more money, so you need more than six viewers to make the money back, or nobody is going to invest in your movies anymore. So I guess I admire his attitude, but when I’m dealing with something like a film, I try – depending on the subject – to walk a middle ground. The film, “The Broken Tower” is not going to be a blockbuster, but I’ve made it for not a ton of money – I made it for a very responsible amount of money, because I know what it is. But I’ve also tried to be true my subject and not water down or try to make it more entertaining just for entertaining’s sake.
NPM: Speaking of popular entertainment, you’re starring as a (human) scientist in the “Planet of the Apes” prequel, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (to hit theaters on Aug. 5). Do you view the original “Planet of the Apes” films as an allegory of race relations in America? And was the fact that these films transcend their science fiction genre part of the draw for you?
JF: Yes, it was. I wasn’t a “Planet of the Apes” aficionado but I went back and looked at the older movies. The setup for the original films was extremely well done because the apes were great figures to compare ourselves to. They look different but are as intelligent as humans, so the underlying premise is that these two cultures are not very different at all, yet they are fighting and each thinks it’s superior to the other.
Our film doesn’t really delve into race relations, because it’s an origin story, so the apes are only starting to grow into their intelligent versions. They’re in the transition stage, so the dynamic between the apes and the humans is very different than in any of the older films. I really don’t think there’s a strong racial bent in our film; it’s more about the dangers of experimentation and the relationship between human and animals than anything else.
NPM: The last time I spoke with you, you mentioned you’d like to have a bar mitzvah when you have the time. [Franco’s mother, Betsy Franco, is Jewish; his father is not.]
JF: Yes, I would like to. I would have appreciated having gone to Hebrew school and having that history, just because I love learning and I had so many friends who were going to Hebrew school and having bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs when I was growing up. At the time, I didn’t envy them, because none of them seemed to really enjoy it; it was a chore [laughs]. My parents were all over the map in terms of religion, but maybe it was good that nothing was imposed on me too strongly because there were so many different influences. But I am very interested in learning more about my Jewish heritage.
For information about “A Conversation With James Franco” at the Los Angeles Film Festival (a screening of “The Broken Tower” plus discussion afterwards), visit www.lafilmfest.com.
June 8, 2011 | 6:27 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
On a white couch in their airy and still very new-looking Beverly Hills offices, actress Jami Gertz and former agent Stacey Lubliner recounted how they came together to form Lime Orchard productions, whose first feature, “A Better Life,” will premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 21 before hitting theaters June 24. The Summit Entertainment drama—about an illegal alien gardener struggling to keep his son out of gangs – is already receiving awards buzz and will be released in the same slot as Summit’s Oscar-winner “The Hurt Locker.” The Chris Weitz-helmed film, starring Demian Bichir (“Weeds”) and Jose Julian, is also produced by Weitz, Paul Junger Witt and Christian McLaughlin.
Several years ago, Gertz, who starred in 1980s films such as “The Lost Boys” and “Less Than Zero,” found work offers dwindling, as they typically do for actresses around 40. “It’s a bit more forgiving for men, age-wise,” said Gertz, who on HBO’s “Entourage” recently played the wife, of an adulterous agent, who sets hubby’s Aaron Sorkin notes afire. This came at a time when Gertz’s three sons were growing older and more independent, leaving the actress with time on her hands and the desire to reinvent herself creatively.
Lubliner, meanwhile, had left her own career as an agent after eight years of representing writers and directors such as Nancy Meyers. “The culture of agenting had become so much more competitive; there was much less time to be creative with your clients,” she said. “It seemed like everyone was on the defensive, so the staff meetings and the daily calls were a lot of damage control for clients and other people’s clients. There was less and less time to do what I really enjoyed.”
Then, in 2008, Lubliner received a call from one of her old colleagues at ICM, Toni Howard—who also happens to be Gertz’s longtime agent. Howard thought the actress and the ex-agent should meet. “Toni knew I wanted to start a production company,” Gertz said. “While I knew a lot about acting and scripts, I knew so little about how the business worked. Toni told me she knew this great woman, Stacey, who had just had a baby and didn’t want to be an agent anymore.” Soon after Lubliner and Gertz met over lunch in 2008, Lime Orchard was born.
The partners clicked not only over their desire to create character-driven work but also on a Jewish level. While growing up in Chicago, Gertz had attended weekly Conservative services and United Synagogue Youth. She began her career at 16—after winning a nationwide talent contest—by playing a Jewish preppie on CBS’ “Square Pegs.”
Lubliner attended Camp Hess Kramer and Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, where she learned to love movies courtesy of her grandfather, Frank Rosenfelt, a legendary CEO of MGM.
As for her own relationship with her producing partner, Lubliner said, “We call it the macro and the micro.” Added Gertz: “Once I came in with a David Ives play about Baruch Spinoza [the 17th-century Jewish philosopher] and Stacey was like, ‘I can’t really see the poster.’”
They discovered “A Better Life” (originally titled, “The Gardener”) in 2009. Lubliner knew about the script because her husband, agent David Lubliner, represents Chris Weitz, who was attached to direct the movie. “Chris could have done whatever he wanted after his film, ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon,’ became a huge hit,” Stacey Lubliner said. “He was getting offers on a lot of big movies, but he was passing because he really wanted to do this film.”
Lubliner was strongly moved by “The Gardener” and so was Gertz, who cried while reading it at the hairdresser, drawing stares from other patrons. “We had read so many scripts by that time, because when we announced we were in business, we said we are unique in that we actually have money to spend on development and possibly production,” Gertz recalled. “So as you can imagine, we had received numerous submissions. But from the moment I started reading [The Gardener], it was so beautifully written that I cared about this father and son and wanted to know what happened to them. I wanted to know how this boy would grow up, and wanted him to have a good life, a better life than his father.”
Gertz and Lubliner were on the set every day of the entire 38-day shoot in 70 locations around Boyle Heights and South Central Los Angeles; they and Weitz kept things authentic with the help of Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, an anti-gang organization. Gertz also helped by seeking imput from attorneys who work pro bono for illegal aliens detained by the authorities.
“In a jail sequence, one of the homeboys was wearing an ankle bracelet, the kind for monitoring by the police,” Lubliner recalled. “I asked our wardrobe person how she had managed to get one, and she said the bracelet was real. In fact, the actor was nervous and embarrassed by it, so we assured him that we would not see it in the film.”
The movie isn’t intended to be political: “We never set out to make a movie about immigration, although immigration is part of the story,” Gertz said. “It’s really a father and son tale that is beautifully told. But if you come away from it [realizing] that there is a face to your gardener, to your busboy—if it makes you sit up and think about those around you, all the better.”
The themes of the movie resonate for the producers, as parents and as Jews. “It’s in that sense of family, of one’s responsibilities as a parent, and the social awareness of what is going on around you,” Lubliner said.
“It’s in the teachings of Judaism, and tikkun olam, to make the world a better place—and that’s certainly a part of our lives,” added Gertz, who with her husband, financier Tony Ressler, has been described as one of the top charitable celebrities in Hollywood. “In my own philanthropic life, we’re involved with 18 charter schools, mostly in low-income areas; we are graduating 98 percent going to a four-year college, many of them Latino and African-American. We go into very difficult neighborhoods and we graduate kids. We begin in middle schools specifically because that’s when gangs start to heavily recruit.
“So when you ask what kind of movies Stacey and I want to make, I imagine there are going to a lot of films like ‘A Better Life,’ because it’s the kind of film we are attracted to doing.”
June 1, 2011 | 12:32 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
As “X-Men: First Class” continues to glean first class reviews, it’s worth noting that the mutant saga is perhaps the most Jewish superhero film to grace the silver screen: which makes sense considering the movie marks the return of producer Bryan Singer to the franchise. (He directed the first two “X-Men” films, but not this time. Now he gets a writing credit.) As a gay and Jewish filmmaker, his work has long reflected his own outsider-group status.
The Marvel Comics saga depicts the origins of the rivalry between telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender)—who can manipulate magnetic fields—from their very different childhoods in the 1940s. While Xavier grows up privileged, Erik spends his boyhood in the Warsaw ghetto and, ultimately, is tortured by a sadistic doctor in a concentration camp. As the adult Lensherr tracks down that physician—who now has Armageddon on his mind—the movie becomes the best Holocaust revenge fantasy since Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” Here are some of the movie’s top Jewish moments, which chronicle Erik’s journey from tortured child to his transformation into the villainous Magneto. [SPOILER ALERT]
1. As the film opens in 1944 Poland, Erik and his parents are herded in the mud and rain to the gates of a concentration camp, where the boy is forcibly separated from his family. When the gates of the camp slam shut, Erik is restrained by guards who are shocked when his screams and gestures actually bend and twist the iron gates to the compound. As the guards finally wrestle him to the ground, the camera zooms in on Erik’s yellow Star of David—a branding that will follow him for the rest of his life.
2. In an office gleaming with knives and other instruments of medical torture, the concentration camp’s sadistic doctor, Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), orders Erik to demonstrate his telekinetic talents on a Reich coin adorned with a swastika. “Blue eyes, blond hair, pathetic,” the doctor tells the boy of the Nazi’s genetic goals. Schmidt is far more interested in mutant powers. “Genes are the key that unlocks the door to a new age…a new future for mankind, evolution,” he tells the terrified boy. “A little coin is nothing compared to a compound gate,” he adds, encouragingly, referring to the gate incident. But when Erik cannot move the coin via brain-power, Herr doctor changes his tactics. Reflecting that while the Nazis don’t always have the greatest ideas, their methods seem to produce results, he gives the boy an ultimatum. Unless Erik can move the coin by the count of three, he will shoot Erik’s mother, who is brought into the room for the occasion. It’s only after the shot rings out that the enraged Erik practically destroys the office with his anger-induced magnetism. Dr. Schmidt is pleased. “So we unlock your gift with anger; anger and pain,” he says. “We’re going to have a lot of fun together.”
3. It’s Geneva, Switzerland, in 1962. While extracting information about Schmidt’s whereabouts from a smug Swiss banker, Erik makes his point by also extracting (via magnetism) one of the man’s tooth fillings. “This gold is what remains of my people,” he says of the bank money.
4. More ironic mayhem awaits German expatriates in a bar in Argentina who resist Lensherr’s questions about Schmidt. “Let’s just say I’m Frankenstein’s Monster,” he tells them. “I’m looking for my creator.”
5. As Xavier helps Erik unleash his powers without the use of anger, Xavier (via telepathy) unearths a tender memory from the Holocaust survivor’s brain: Lighting the chanukiah with his deceased mother. “I accessed the brightest corner of your memory,” he tells the baffled Erik, adding that there is so much more to the survivor than pain and anger. To discover his full powers, Erik must “find the point between rage and serenity.”
6. At a crucial moment before Erik’s transformation into the evil Magneto— and in one of the most powerful sequences in the film—human soldiers attacking the mutants were “just following orders,” a fellow mutant tells Lensherr. It’s not exactly the best thing to say to a man who has survived a concentration camp. “I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders,” Erik replies. “Never again.”
The film opens on June 3. For another point of view about the movie, check out Geek Heeb.