Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Red Tent Book Review

There are three types of women in the Bible: the ones that are named and given as much attention (well, as much attention as women get in the Bible) as the men (i.e. The Matriarchs, Esther, etc), women whose names and stories are flashed by so fast that we hardly notice them (Dinah) and women whom we only know as the daughter of ______ or the wife of _______. These women have no name, no identity, no life other than being someone’s wife or daughter.

A few months ago, I wrote a post that Anita Diament’s best selling novel, The Red Tent, was going to be made into a movie by the people at lifetime.

Dinah is the youngest child and only daughter of the Biblical patriarch Jacob and his first wife, Leah. Inside the Red Tent, women are in control. The cycle of a woman’s life and the knowledge she gains is only known to the women who have access to the Red Tent. Outside, the world belongs to men.  Women are mere chattel.  As a young women, Dinah falls in love with Shalem, a prince of a city near which her family is staying.  The response of her father and brothers to their sister’s new husband is not positive.  Having no one to support her from her own family, Dinah relies on her mother in law, who takes Dinah back to her homeland.

I haven’t read this book in a long time. I forgot how good this book is. Ms. Diament’s story of a forgotten Biblical heroine whose story is overshadowed by her father’s and brothers is vivid and full of life.  All of the women are full human beings with the same joys and folly’s as the rest of us.

I recommend this book.

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Becoming Jane/Miss Austen Regrets

There are often two sides to any story. There are also two perspectives in life, one of youth and one of maturity.

Jane Austen is a remarkable author. Her books are still read and performed 200 years later. Despite all that we know about her life, there is still a myth about the woman and her writing.

In 2007, Becoming Jane  introduced movie goers to a young, pre publishing and pre-fame Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway). She hopes to write for a living, but knows that the only way to support herself and her family is to marry. She is approached with a marriage proposal by Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox), the nephew of Lady Gresham (Dame Maggie Smith). But she is attracted to Tom LeFroy (James McAvoy).

This movie is decent. Having no conclusive evidence that there was a romance between Jane Austen and Tom LeFroy, the writers relied on what is known of her life, combined with a little fictionalized romance based upon her books.  It’s always interesting to see the young writer living their life and developing the idea(s) that will one day become their stories.

A year later, Miss Austen Regrets premiered. Approaching her 40th birthday Jane Austen (Olivia Williams) is visited her brother, Edward Austen Knight (Pip Torrens). His oldest daughter, Fanny Knight (Imogen Poots) is of a marriageable age and has been in the company of John Plumptre (Tom Hiddleston). She is looking to her aunt for guidance in regards to the potential marriage to Mr. Plumptre. At the same time, she is getting sick while an old suitor Rev Brook Bridges (Hugh Bonneville) returns to her life.

We don’t know much about Jane’s personal life. Her sister Cassandra burned many of her sister’s letters after her passing. This TV movie shows us the older Jane. Still in the prime of her life and churning out stories, but as we all know, she died far too soon at the age of 41.  I recommend this movie.

 

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Not One Red Cent

The MTA is raising the fares, again.

I get it. The MTA needs to pay their bills and their employees. The trains and buses run 24/7/365. You can get on the train at Coney Island and ride all the way up to the top of the Bronx on one fare. There are very few public transportation systems in the world than run all day, every day and you don’t need to pay based on your destination.

The people who run the MTA know that we need them. New York City would become paralyzed, on multiple levels without the trains and buses.  The MTA  is the the lifeblood of this city.

I wouldn’t mind a fare hike if the service was improved somehow. Or the buses and trains were cleaner. If they are going to raise rates, I need to see that the money I pay them to get me around town is going toward something useful.

But if they are going to raise their rates because they can’t control their finances,  that is not my problem and I should not have to pay more to fix their problem.

Not one red cent.

 

 

 

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Frozen Review

I gave in this weekend. I finally saw Frozen.

I rented it mainly because Once Upon A Time will be incorporating several of the Frozen characters into season 4, so I wanted to understand what I was watching. I was also a little curious about this movie that has become cultural phenomenon in a very short of amount of time.

Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are sisters. Elsa has the power to turn anything she touches to ice. When she accidentally injures her sister when they are young girls, their parents make the decision to lock up the castle, with their daughters in it.   Years later, when Elsa is to be crowned Queen, her power is revealed.  She runs away, building an icy kingdom, separated from her sister. Anna goes after her sister with the help of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), leaving her kingdom in the hands of her very quickly chosen fiance, Hans (Santino Fontana).

I surprisingly enjoyed this movie. I’m not part of Disney’s standard demographic, I haven’t been for a long time. But I still enjoyed this movie. As time goes by, the writers and producers at Disney seem to not be just rewriting fairy tales for re-writing’s sake, but there is an underlying message for kids and adults. I also like that the true love aspect was not the standard Disney happily ever after.

Would I see this movie again? I don’t know. But in the anals of Disney movies, it certainly stands out.

 

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Free Palestine-From Whom?

The chants have been heard around the world: Free Palestine.

My question is, from whom should they be free from?

Free from the Israeli’s, who despite the violence, destruction and hateful rhetoric that comes out of the Gaza strip and the West Bank, provide food, supplies, electricity and medical care to the people who live in West Bank and Gaza?

Israel pulled out of Gaza nearly 10 years ago.  The rest of the world told them it was the right thing to do, despite the protests from Israelis who were living in Gaza and others outside of Israel. This was an opportunity for the Palestinians to build up their economy and their people. The money they received should have been used to build homes, school and hospitals. Instead it was used to buy bombs and build tunnels.

Or should they be free from Hamas, who they elected to lead them? Hamas, who puts rockets under civilian populations and knowing that Israel has sent warnings to the people of Gaza, encourages people to stay in their homes and become human shields?

Hamas, who then exploits the causalities for their benefit in front of the world and the world press. They use images and other media that has nothing to do with the current conflict to their advantage.

Some people say that IDF response is disproportionate. Let me ask you this. If you had a neighbor who on a daily basis, if they weren’t talking trash about you and your family, they were throwing rocks at your home and destroying your property? Would you sit back and just take it? Or would you step up and protect your home and your family?

If your thinking that I have  no sympathy for the people who live in Gaza, I do. No one should be  suffering and dying in a way that these people are dying. However, Hamas was legally elected by the people of Gaza to lead them.  If they wanted a legitimate democratic country and peace with Israel, they would find a way to make it happen. But that is not what is happening over there.

The next time you hear Free Palestine or see some idiotic tweet from a celebrity whose head is in their ass, do some research and then make up your mind. Can I tell you what to think or how to feel? No. But I can suggest that you look up the facts for yourself before making such a statement.

 

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Keep Your Kid In The Seat: An Open Letter To NYC Parents

Dear New York City Parents

I an aware that parenting is a challenge.  In this crazy,  always on the move, 24/7/365 city that we call home,  parenting is even more complicated.

I do have one request of NYC parents, especially if they have young kids and rely on public transportation to get around: teach your kids that the train car is not a playground.

I was on the train yesterday afternoon. A woman with a little boy, around 4 or 5 years old, got on with me. This little boy preceded to use the train car as his own personal playground.  The mother did next to nothing to keep her child in a seat. Now this is not the case every day. There are plenty of parents who can keep their child entertained and sitting while traveling on public transportation.

Imagine if this little boy had gotten hurt. The only person at fault would be the mother who did not keep her child in a seat while traveling on a moving subway car. Not the city, not the MTA, but the mother.

In conclusion, I ask that you, the NYC living, MTA riding parent, teach your child to stay seated while on the train. For your sanity and for mine.

I thank you for your time.

A fellow rider of the NYC MTA

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The Lost World

There is something about a favorite television show. No matter what is going on in life or how good or bad the day is, your favorite television show just makes it that much better.

The Lost World, airing from 1999 to 2002 was loosely based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In the early part of the 20 century, a group of explorers, led by scientist George Edward Challenger (Peter McCauley) goes on an expedition seeking a lost world that has been isolated from the rest of the world. The rest of the group includes Lord John Roxton (Will Snow) an aristocratic big game hunter with a certain reputation, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely), an heiress with seemingly ulterior motives and an unknown past, Ned Malone (David Orth) a young American reporter looking to  impress a woman back home and Professor Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff), a fellow member of The Zoological Society who initially egged on Professor Challenger when he presented his initial findings to his colleagues.

When they reach The Lost World, they are befriended by Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell), a woman raised in jungle. Her parents discovered The Lost World a generation ago and disappeared when their daughter was still very young. In season 3, Finn, a woman from the future  (Lara Cox) joined the cast.

The Lost World was part of the action/adventure/fantasy trend that appeared in the late 90’s started by Hercules and Xena. I happen to love this show, it’s one of the few shows that I have the complete series on DVD. The special effects, well, Jurassic Park, it is not.  But it is a good show with good story telling and well drawn characters. I just wish that it has lasted more than 3 seasons, but such is life.

I recommend this show.

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Why Downton Abbey Should Air On Both Sides Of The Pond At The Same Time: An Open Letter to PBS And ITV

Dear PBS And ITV

Thank you for bringing Downton Abbey into our lives. The fifth season premieres in the US on January 4th, 2015. The lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants  have become part of our general cultural lexicon, in addition to being must see TV.

However, it is still 5 months in between the premiere in the UK and the premiere in the US.  I am writing to tell you why Downton Abbey should air on both sides of the pond at the same time:

  1. All important ratings. I have a feeling that PBS is slightly afraid to complete with the major networks in the US who will premiere new shows and bring back current shows in the fall. It’s easier to have a mid-season premiere when the major networks have had their fun in the fall. To be honest, I don’t think they have anything to worry about. Even if PBS aired Downton at 3am on a Tuesday morning, the fans would still find a way to watch it.
  2. Spoilers. We live in an internet age spoilers are everywhere.  Two examples of this:
    1. When Sybil died in season 3, I was home when the episode had it’s initial run in the UK. The fans on twitter were not shy about sharing their grief and the news about the loss of a beloved character.
    2. In the spring, when Mr. Selfridge was nearly done in completing the second season, one of the British newspapers spoiled the end of the series in regards to Agnes’s romantic choices. I was not happy.
  3. The actors and producers only have to do press once. Instead of doing press twice ( the UK in the fall and the US in December), they only have to do it once. I’m sure they enjoy traveling and meeting overseas fans (I know I would in their shoes), but as fun as traveling is, it is exhausting.

I’m aware that ITV is a commercial cable channel and PBS is a public channel that relies on donations to survive.  There are issues when it comes to rights and editing, I understand that. It’s  not like BBC who has their own American affiliate channel and can air Dr. Who on both sides of the pond at the same time.

That being said, I believe that it would help, not hurt Downton Abbey if it were to air on both sides of the pond at the same time.

Sincerely

A Downton Abbey Fan

 

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Throwback Thursday-Beauty And The Beast

We all know the 1991 Disney Beauty And Beast movie. In nearly a quarter of a century since the movie’s initial release, the images and songs have become iconic. Millions of little girls (myself included) had some sort of merchandise attached to this movie at one point or another. But there is another movie adaptation of Beauty And The Beast that deserves equal attention.

The 1946 Beauty And The Beast, directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as The Beast/The Prince/Avenant is much closer to the original fairy tale than the more contemporary adaptations. The psychology of the fairy tale and the characters journey is not as diluted as the Disney adaptation is. The costumes are absolutely beautiful.  This movie was made as the ashes of Nazi controlled Europe was slowly dying. The fact alone makes the movie that much better.

The only thing I could have done without is Belle fainting when she sees the Beast for the first time. Other than that, the movie is perfect.

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Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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