Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant Book Review

Perception is one-sided. When we think of Hollywood and movie stars, as audience members, we have one perception. Those who knew them best have another perception.

In 2011, Jennifer Grant, the only child of the late movie star Cary Grant wrote a memoir of what is was like to grow up with a movie star father. Entitled Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, she writes of a loving and giving father. Despite the fact that he and Jennifer mother’s, Grant’s 4th wife, Dyan Cannon, divorced when Jennifer was a baby, Ms. Grant writes about being raised in supportive, nurturing environment.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It’s always fascinating to see how the other half lives, especially when the other half is Hollywood royalty. The problem is that I could not get into the book and I felt disconnected from the story, even though I knew it was a memoir.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Desperate times often calls for desperate measures. The questions are, what are we willing to give up in the process and how does that process change us?

In the new movie, Lady Macbeth (which has no connection to William Shakespeare character other than the title of the film), Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a young woman sold in the name of marriage to an older man. Forbidden from doing much of anything, Katherine is left alone with only her servants for company while her husband and father in law go out into the world. She starts sleeping with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), one of her husband’s groomsman. The affair quickly becomes an affair of the heart. But things get messy when her husband and father in law return home. Katherine and Sebastian try to clean up the mess they have created. But the more they try to clean it up, the messier it becomes.

The best way to describe this film is that it is a hybrid of the psychology of an Alfred Hitchcock film with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. It also speaks truth to power about what a woman will do when she has no direct power and must use other means to get what she wants. The three things that stand out for me are a) the diverse cast b) the lack of music and how background sounds play a role in telling the story and c) how I felt as an audience member when the film was done. I disliked Katherine for her actions, but in understanding her motivation, it made for a very well done film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Lady Macbeth is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Books, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, William Shakespeare, Wuthering Heights

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn Book Review

There is something universal about growing up. No matter where we are living or what time period we are living in, growing up is never easy.

Betty Smith’s classic novel, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn during the first two decades of the 20th century. Francie Nolan is a second generation American living in the poorer section of Brooklyn, NY. Her mother, Katie is a realist. Her father, Johnny is a dreamer who not only has a drinking problem, but his employment history is sketchy. Francie is a smart, capable girl, who like her father is a dreamer, but she also knows the reality of the world she is growing up in.

This book is a classic for a reason. Francie is an every girl. Even though she is living in early 20th century New York City, there is a universal quality to her and the narrative.

I recommend it.

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Is Suicide A Cowardly Act?

In the wake of the sudden loss of Linkin Park’s front man Chester Bennington to suicide earlier this week, the outward pouring of grief from fans, his band mates, fellow musicians, friends and his family speaks of the collective heartbreak of the loss of a man who will be missed.

Korn guitarist Ben “Head” Welch initially called Chester a coward before altering his statement.

Is suicide the act of a coward? Some may say yes. It is giving into our personal darkness instead of fighting and finding a way towards the light.

To label suicide as the act of a coward is wrong. It does not help those who are dealing with the pain of mental illness and it does not help the loved ones who lost someone to suicide.

Mental illness and suicide are a call for help. To label someone who has committed suicide as a coward only ostracizes those who are haunted by the specter of mental illness and the thoughts that lead to suicide.

I understand that grieving often brings us to say and do things we would not do otherwise. I also understand that we are all entitled to our opinions. But at the same time, the statement that suicide is cowardly only hurts the effort to prevent suicide and help those who feel that it is the only way out from their pain.

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History Bombs-Jane Austen

Despite the fact that Jane Austen died 200 years ago, she is still as relevant, fresh and funny as she was during her lifetime. My only issue with the video (which for the most I enjoyed) above is that say that she died at age 42. She died at age 41, in 1817.

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July 22, 2017 · 9:03 am

New Randy Rainbow Video-The Room Where It Happened

Randy Rainbow’s new video, The Room Where It Happened is out. Based on the lyrics from the song of the same name from the Broadway score of Hamilton, it speaks to the lies and the secrecy that is not only poisoning the office of the President Of The United States, but also our reputation of living under a true democracy.

It is also the perfect way to end the work week.

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July 21, 2017 · 10:39 pm

Flashback Friday- Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that love is not something that can normally be found by using a credit card.

The Beatles 1964 song, Can’t Buy Me Love is also the name of a 1987 high school comedy starring Patrick Dempsey and Cindy Mancini.

Ronald Miller (Dempsey) is your average high school nerd. Awkward and unpopular, he is at the very bottom of the high school social strata. To achieve popularity, he pays Amanda Peterson (Mancini) to go out with him for one month to appear that he is no longer the uncool nerd that his classmates assumed him to be. He becomes popular, but as the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold.

The movie is full on 1980’s. But there is a truth to the underlying message that being yourself is more important than appealing to those who look down on you.

In 2003, the movie was remade into Love Don’t Cost A Thing. The title again borrows from another popular song, Jennifer Lopez’s Love Don’t Cost A Thing.

Stepping into the shoes of Patrick Dempsey and Cindy Mancini are Nick Cannon and Christina Milian.

The only difference between this film and it’s predecessor is the racially diverse cast and the then updated references. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same film.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Character Review: Ned Malone

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

It’s easy to take someone we have just met or randomly bump into on the street at face value. But looks, more often than not are deceiving.

Ned Malone (David Orth) is initially introduced in The Lost World as the lone American and wet behind the ears reporter who more often than not, needs saving. Far from adventurous, Ned’s motivation to join the Challenger Expedition seems rather mundane: he wants to impress a pretty girl. Ned is secretly in love with his publisher’s daughter, but she has kept him parked in the friend zone for years. To prove his mettle, Ned joins the expedition to not only write about what they will be experiencing, but also in hopes that his crush will notice him and return his affection.

Over the course of the three seasons, Ned become more mature, more confident and more self-sufficient. Part of that due to the friendship turned semi romantic relationship with Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell), a young woman raised in the jungle who is the exact opposite of the woman he was in love with when he left London.

While Ned may appear to be innocent and naive, his past was revealed about a third of the way into the 3rd season. He was unexpectedly drawn into the trenches during World War I and suffered emotional scars that lay deep and open beneath the surface.

To sum it up: No one is just one thing. We all have our light sides, our dark sides, the face we present to the world and the scars that are hidden beneath the surface. One of the primary jobs of a writer is to create fleshed out, 3D characters who are multifaceted and human. Human beings naturally relate to other human beings, whether they be real or fiction. If a character is human and feels human to the audience or reader, the writer has succeeded. If the character feels fake and uncomplicated, the writer still has work to do.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, History, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Throwback Thursday-Mannequin (1987)

Sometimes, when we are lonely and desperate, it’s easier to create a vision of perfection instead of going out and fighting for what we want.

In the 1987 movie, Mannequin (which is basically a 1980’s reboot of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady), Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) is an artist who seems to lose more jobs than he can get. He finally hits a career high when he creates the perfect mannequin, Emmy (Kim Cattrall) who only comes to life in his eyes. He also falls in love with her. Will this utopia last or is Jonathan just fooling himself?

What is interesting about this film is that it speaks to the question of what is reality and what is fantasy. It also speaks to the deep need for companionship and love when we feel that we have neither.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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RIP Chester Bennington

Suicide has claimed another life today. Chester Bennington, front man for the rock band Linkin Park, took his own life.

He was 41 years old.

It hurts.

It hurts because I know the pain and the agony that can bring on suicide. I also know that this man was an amazing musician. I am not a huge fan of Linkin Park, but I understood their music. One of their most recent hits, Heavy, hit a raw nerve. The lyrics spoke to me in a way that few songs have.

Suicide claims too many of us. It smothers our light and takes away the possibilities that life can bring.

My heart goes out to his family, his friends and those who knew him best.

RIP.

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