Daily Archives: December 12, 2014

Flashback Friday-It’s The End Of The World As We Know It- Independence Day (1996) & The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Director Roland Emmerich likes to destroy the world, at least on screen.

In Independence Day (1996), it is two days before July 4th. Communication systems around the world are failing for what seems to be no reason. At first, the reason is though to be meteors. Then David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) discovers that Earth is about to destroyed by an alien race. The day before July 4th, many of major cities around the world are destroyed by the aliens. The survivors have one more chance to save Earth. Can David and Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) save the world on July 4th?

For a movie that is more science fiction than fact and more action than plot, it’s not bad. Considering that it was made in 1996, the special effects are also pretty decent.

In The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a paleoclimatologist. He discovers that a rather large ice sheet has separated from a glacier and could potentially affect climates around the world. At the same time his son, Sam, (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in New York City for a school trip. When the upper part of the United States is hit by a giant wave and then frozen over, Jack will go on a daring and dangerous mission to rescue his son.

Before I go any further, I will warn that anyone who sees this movie for the first time, must watch on a large screen. Watching this movie on a small television, the impact is lost.  This movie hit’s home for me, especially with the idea of climate change. Now granted, this is a movie and I am sure that some liberties were taken with the plot. After Hurricane Sandy hit two years ago, this movie had elements that were very real. Especially the large wave hitting downtown Manhattan (I see that view nearly every day).

I recommend both.

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Flashback Friday-Happy Chanukah-Eight Crazy Nights (2002) and The Hebrew Hammer (2003)

Adam Sandler, in his Adam Sandler way, announced Hanukkah with the following lyric: Put on your yarmulke/here comes Hanukkah.

While the list of Christmas movies seems to go on forever, the list of Hanukkah movies is sadly very short.

In Eight Crazy Nights (2002) Davey Stone (Adam Sandler) is an alcoholic with a criminal record. He is given the chance to reform his life while under the supervision of an elderly basketball referee, Whitey and his sister Eleanore (both voiced by Adam Sandler).

There is a message in this movie, but not in a schmaltzy way. It’s also edges toward PG13, which is nice change from the typical holiday movie.

In The Hebrew Hammer (2003), Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg) is an Orthodox Jewish blaxploitation hero. When Santa Claus’s son Damian (Andy Dick) plots to steal Hanukkah, it’s up to Mordechai to rescue the holiday.

This movie is incredibly funny. While satirizing the blaxploitation movies that were part of the 1970’s cinema, the movie also subtlety hints at the idea that many Jews are often drawn to lure and popularity of Christmas.

Do I recommend them? Why not.

And if your wondering, Hanukkah this year is the 17th-24th. Happy Hannukah!

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From The Dance Hall To Facebook Book Review

There is an old saying: the more things change, the more things stay the same.

On the surface, teenage girls seem like a very cohesive and predictable sub group within our society. Slightly innocent, obsessed with boys, clothes and everything that is proclaimed to be the latest and greatest, they seem so easy to label.

Shayla Thiel Stern’s new book, From The Dance Hall To Facebook: Teen Girls, Mass Media and Moral Panic in the United States 1905-2010 examines the lives of teenage girls over the last 100 years and the picture of teenage girls that the media has painted over the years.  She starts with the supposed dangers and unseemliness of young women who spent their free time in the dance halls in the years leading up to WWI. The book ends with our modern era, how the dangers of technology are luring young women into dangerous territory.

She made three points that made perfect sense. The first point is that many of the concerns were only for young Caucasian women who came from middle and upper class families, not for young women of color or  young Caucasian women who come from lower socioeconomic families. The second point was that being the parent of a teenage girl has not changed that much, it does not matter if you live in 1910 or 2010. The third point was that while parents, schools and the media go out of their way to put teenage girls in a tower similar to Rapunzel, they don’t do the same for teenage boys.

I liked this book. It was a bit dry at points, but overall, it was a great read. It reminded me that while women have won numerous small battles in the war for complete equality, the fight for equality is not over.

I recommend this book.

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Flashback Friday-Happy Holidays-Home Alone I & II

There is something about your favorite holiday movie. You’ve seen it an untold number of times over the years. You can easily quote the screenplay and you know the in jokes that only a super fan knows.

Twenty four years ago, a little holiday movie made it’s debut in movie theaters. It was the story of a young boy who is left home on Christmas and must protect his house from burglars. That movie is Home Alone.

Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is the youngest child of loud and rowdy family. After getting into another fight with his older brother, Buzz (Devin Ratray) Kevin is sent to the attic to sleep. The next morning, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty. The electricity shorted the night before, causing the family to nearly miss their flight to Paris for vacation. In their rush to get to the airport, Kevin was forgotten about. The first few days of being alone is bliss, until Kevin must defend his house from Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci) a couple of burglars who are looking to take advantage of the empty houses.

This movie is a classic. It is the story of brains over brawns, youth vs. adults. It also reflects the craziness that many of us go through during December and what is really important this time of year.

Two years later, the audience was back in Kevin’s life. In Home Alone 2 (1992), the McCallisters are again getting ready for Christmas vacation.  They prepare the night before, make sure they are packed and have the alarms set. And yet again, chaos ensues when the family nearly misses the flight. Kevin is with his family, but this time they get separated at the airport.  Kevin gets on a plane to New York City and his family goes elsewhere. Armed with his father’s credit card and plenty of cash, the city is his playground. That is until Harry and Marv show up and Kevin must again defend himself from the duo.

As sequels go, this movie is not that bad. Though anyone who knows New York City will tell you that the geography of Manhattan is not 100% accurate in this movie. But that’s ok.

I recommend both. Happy Holidays!

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