Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Fifty Year Silence Book Review

Miranda Richmond Mouillot is the granddaughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors. But her grandparents story of survival is not the usual story.

In her new book, A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France, the author tells her grandparent’s story in a narrative that is part fiction and part biography. Her maternal grandparents, Armand and Anna fell in love and married during World War II. While the families and the friends they left behind were slaughtered, Armand and Anna were living in a refugee camp in Switzerland. But the marriage would not last. After the war, Anna would leave Armand and take their children to America. The only connection they would have fifty years later was their granddaughter.

There are thousands of Holocaust stories. Each is more heart breaking than the last. But what makes this particular story unique is not the traditional story of the Holocaust, but of this couple and the journey that their granddaughter takes two generations later to find out what really happened in her family.

I recommend it.

 

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Vaccination

Earlier this week, a measles outbreak was occurring in California.

Such diseases used to be a thing of the past or the subject of a Charles Dickens novel. It was not uncommon in previous centuries for parents to watch one or more children die from diseases such as measles.

Since the 1950’s vaccinations has become the norm. But some parents do not vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons.

Before I go any further, I need to state that I do not have any children.  But I believe that unless there is a specific reason that a child should not be vaccinated, there no reason that a child should not be vaccinated. If not for the sake of the individual child or their immediate family, but for the sake of the surrounding community. Please vaccinate your child, you could be saving more than their life.

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Being Grateful for this day, this moment.

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Flashback Friday-One Movie Begats Another- The Mummy (1999) & The Scorpion King (2002)

Hollywood has a dirty little secret. When one movie is successful or one genre becomes the genre of the moment, the good people in Hollywood will continue until that movie or that genre has hopefully run it’s course.

In 1999, Hollywood brought back the monster/action genre with The Mummy. Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) is an English librarian who has become interested in the ancient Egyptian city of  Hamunaptra. Rick O’ Connell (Brendan Fraser) is saved by Evelyn from death. Rick joins Evelyn and her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah) at an archeological dig, but they are not alone in following the results of the dig. Another group is interesting in the results and resurrecting the mummy of a high priest who has the power to unleash a powerful curse.

This movie harkens back to the 1930’s and the era of the black and white monster movies of the era. While it is escapist entertainment at it’s best, I can’t help but think that Evelyn is just a little too much of the damsel in distress for my taste.

Three years later, after a sequel to the Mummy was released, a sort of prequel entered movie theaters. The Scorpion King, an off shoot of a character that was seen briefly in The Mummy Returns was presented to audiences. Mathayus (Dwayne “The Rock Johnson) is a desert warrior hired to assassinate Cassandra (Kelly Hu) the sorceress who evil King Memnon (Steven Brand) is using to predict the outcomes of battle. What seems like an easy capture will become much more than the hero can imagine.

Again, this movie, at best, is escapist entertainment. While it’s not completely intellectually stimulating, it’s fun ride and an enjoyable film.

I recommend them both.

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oh the beauty of Shell Silverstein

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Flashback Friday- Dick Tracy (1990)

Dick Tracy made his world debut in 1931 as a comic strip detective. In 1990, the comic strip was made into a movie with Warren Beatty in the title role.

At the start of the movie, Dick Tracy has a simple life. He has his career and his longtime girlfriend, Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly). Then the kid (Charlie Korsmo) and Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) enter his life. Complicating the story is Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), his long time nemesis who starts to make trouble in town.

Part classic noir, part comic book, this movie is colorful. Is it the best movie ever written? No. But it is escapism entertainment and isn’t that what we sometimes want in a movie?

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-The Net (1995)

20 years ago, the internet is not what it is today. But the dangers are still the same.

Premiering 20 years, The Net (1995) is the story of Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock). Angela is a computer programmer whose social life barely exists outside of her computer. When she finally goes on a vacation, she has an encounter with Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam), whose true face is soon revealed. Angela will quickly be pulled into computer espionage and must find a way out.

This movie was scary 20 years ago. It is even scarier today.  It is amazing how art can not only imitate life, but predict the future.

I recommend it.

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How Star Wars Conquered The Universe Book Review

Star Wars is a world wide cultural phenomenon. No matter where you go around the world, most people know something of this franchise.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, was written by Chris Taylor and published last year. It is part biography, part filmography and a real treat for Star Wars fans. The book starts by tracing  the origins of Star Wars by delving into the childhood of the franchise creator, George Lucas. Partially based on the Flash Gordon serials, Lucas also draws elements from the popular western and adventures series that were part of American pop culture during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The book follows Lucas through his adolescence, toward film school and the film franchise that would make him one of the most recognized and respected men in Hollywood.

As a Star Wars fan, I very much appreciated the interviews and the work that the author put into this book.  I feel like that when we get to know an artist as a human being, we can appreciate their art even more because we understand the cumulative experiences that led them to create that art.

I recommend it.

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Class Vs. Classless

When Gabi Finlayson went on vacation to Paris with her family in December, she could have bought a trinket that might have become a dust collector on her shelf. Instead, she bought something that she hoped she would remember for the rest of her days: a formal dress that she planned to wear to her school dance.  Like most teenagers, Miss Finlayson hoped that the dress, in future years would trigger fond memories of a rite of passage that many young people go through. Instead the night ended in tears.

One of the adults chaperoning the dance asked her to cover her shoulders,  forever changing what could have been a fun night out into a humiliating and unhappy evening.

This dress is beautiful. Whomever designed the dress had Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn in the back of their minds. It is simple, elegant and age appropriate. She covers more skin than she actually shows. And yet this adult forced her to cover her shoulders.

I understand that the school district has certain requirements for the students to be able to attend the dance. But why, once again does the dress code only pertain to girls? Why is it that girls and women are responsible for the “impure thoughts” of boys and men?

Miss Finlayson has class. The adult who forced her to needlessly cover up and ruin her evening? Classless.

 

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Throwback Thursday- Cary Grant and Irene Dunne Double Feature-My Favorite Wife (1940) & The Awful Truth (1937)

Every era has it’s favorite on screen pairing.

In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s Cary Grant and Irene Dunne made several rom-coms, some of which are the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

My Favorite Wife (1940)

Nick (Cary Grant) lost his wife Ellen (Irene Dunne) seven years ago. Presuming her to be dead in a shipwreck, he has just gotten married again, to Bianca (Gail Patrick).  Ellen returns to her husband and her family, but she is not alone. Traveling with her is Burkett (Randolph Scott), with whom she was stranded on deserted island with for seven years.  The question is, will Nick stay married to Bianca or will he go back to Ellen?

The Awful Truth (1937)

Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne) are in the process of ending their marriage. But before the ink is dry on the divorce papers, they decide to have a little fun by ruining their soon to be ex’s new relationships.

I highly recommend both of these movies. While the plot are deceptively simple, both movies are hilarious. Now these are what I call movies.

I recommend them both.

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