Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 18th, 2006

May 18th, 2006 was a sad day for the fans of Will & Grace.

It was the date of the series finale.

Premiering in 1998, Will & Grace told the story of two best friends, gay lawyer Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and straight fashion designer Grace Adler (Debra Messing) sharing an apartment in New York City.

Best friends since college, Will is the Felix Ungar to Grace’s Oscar Madison.   Upping the comedy ante (and makes fans belly laugh countless times of the 8 years that the series was on the air) was Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), Grace’s pill popping, boozed up socialite assistant and Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes), a gay man who was out, proud and slightly outlandish.

For eight years, this foursome made audiences laugh, shed a tear every once in a while and think. Both Will and Jack represented the LGBTQ community on television in a way that had not been done before. Instead of relying on stereotypes, these men were fully fleshed out human beings who spoke loudly and proudly for a community that has been slowly over the years becoming accepted as part of the mainstream.

The influence of this show is priceless. In 2012, when Vice President Joe Biden stated that Will & Grace paved the way for the federal marriage equality act, that is a legacy to be proud of.

I am forever a fan and I am forever grateful that these characters are a part of my life.

Happy Thursday.

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Filed under New York City, Politics, Television

Throwback Thursday- Dead Man Walking (1995)

It’s easy to point the finger at someone who has killed another human being.  But happens if there is more to the story than the guilty verdict?

In the 1995 movie, Dead Man Walking, Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is on death row for murder. He is set to be executed for his crime. Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) has the job of spiritually counseling Matthew during his waning time on earth. What starts off a simple story of a convicted murderer and a nun trying to provide emotional support becomes a story of friendship and discovering that not everything in life is black and white.  Mingling Matthew’s present state with the murder and the trial leading up to the conviction, the film takes the audience to emotional areas that are not easily discussed or dismissed.

The one word to define this movie is profound. The performances are top-notch, the narrative is taught with emotion and tense from nearly the very beginning of the film. My favorite aspect of this film is that even with Sarandon’s character being a nun, there is no romance or traditional happy ending. The lead characters are equal without using the usual plot points to fill in the gaps in the narrative.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Yom Ha’atzmaut

Last week, Israelis celebrated  Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day.

I could talk about the wonderful things that that the Israelis have accomplished in a mere 68 years, but I will let Mayim Bialik share why Israeli is so special.

Happy Birthday Israel, here is to another 68 years.

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May 15, 2016 · 9:38 pm

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Any writer who has attempted to publish a novel will tell you that for every novel that has at least a completed draft, there are several novels that did not come to fruition.

Jane Austen was no exception.

One of her unfinished pieces was Lady Susan, a story about a widow who uses subversive and less than scrupulous methods to get what she wants.

This weekend, Love & Friendship premiered. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow with a teenage daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Her status as a widow without fortune means that she is dependent on relations and friends for income and a home.  Known as a flirt without scruples or morals, her ability to insult with a smile is renowned.

Lady Susan’s plan is to marry Frederica to the wealthy but dumb Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett). As Edmund Bertram noted in Mansfield Park about his future brother-in-law, James Rushworth, a character similar to Sir Martin,  “If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.”

The film starts with Susan, Frederica and Susan’s companion, Mrs. Cross (Kelly Campbell) forced out of the home of Susan’s married lover, Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearain). They end up living with Susan’s in-laws, Charles and Catherine Vernon (Justin Edwards and Emma Greenwell). A frequent visitor is Catherine’s handsome and eligible brother, Reginald DeCourcey (Xavier Samuel).

The only person who gets along with Susan is her best friend and sometimes stooge, American Alicia Johnson (Chloe Sevigny). Alicia’s husband, Mr. Johnson (Stephen Fry) forbids his wife to see Susan and continually threatens to send his wife back across the Atlantic if she does not end the friendship and cease all communication.

Will Susan get her way or will she, like all unlikable characters who are less than honest receive a proper comeuppance?

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I have been a Jane Austen fan for a few years now.  So of course, this movie was on my must see list.

If anyone ever says that Jane Austen is stuffy and boring, immediately recommend this film. Jane Austen is wickedly funny, as the main character Beckinsale  (previously known to Austen fans as the title role in the 1996 Emma) plays a woman who is by definition is unlikable. Her insults are cloaked in propriety and her plans in regards to her daughter, her current lover and her future lover are nothing short of cold and devious.

I absolutely recommend this film, especially for my fellow Jane Austen fans.

Love & Friendship is presently playing in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Movie Review, Movies

Flashback Friday More 80’s Television- ALF (1986-1990), Perfect Strangers (1986-1993) & Murphy Brown (1988-1998)

Oh, the 1980’s. It was the decade that transformed television. While the tried and true format remained, the audience was introduced to new narratives and new characters.

In this Flashback Friday episode, I am going to discuss three very different television shows from the 1980’s that showed the range of  television.

ALF (1986-1990)

ALF (voiced by Paul Fusco) is a loud mouth, wise cracking, wise ass alien find a home with a human family. Discovered in their garage, ALF becomes one of the family, in an annoying neighbor kind of way.

 

Perfect Strangers (1986-1993)

Larry (Mark Linn-Baker) is your typical American. He is high-strung, always has his aim on the target and prefers solitude. Larry’s distant cousin Balki (Bronson Pinchot) has come to America to find his family. The yin to Larry’s yang, Balki is idealistic, sees the glass half full and wants to spend loads of time with his cousin.

Murphy Brown (1988-1998)

Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) is one of the top female news-people in the game.  While her ability to do her job is unsurpassed, her colleagues know her to have a sharp tongue,to be a little self interested, but also smart and capable. She also made the decision to become a single mother, which in the early 90’s ruffled many feathers, including former Vice President Quayle.

Do I recommend them? Why not?

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Filed under Feminism, Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

The Dark Lady’s Mask Book Review

With every successful writer, there are questions of where they got their initial plot ideas from and whom they encountered as they developed the plot and the characters. When it comes to William Shakespeare, there are myths that he might have not written some of the work that we identify him with.

One of the myths is that Aemilia Lanier (nee Bassano) had a hand in writing some of Shakespeare’s most famous works.

Mary Sharratt’s new book, The Dark Lady’s Mask, shows us the world of Elizabethan England through Aemilia’s eyes. For her time, Aemilia was unusual. Educated, smart and not averse to cross dressing when needed, we first meet Aemilia when she is a young girl. Her father is Marrano Jew who escaped Italy and the Inquisition as a young man. While he publicly lives the life of a good Christian, he has never forgotten his faith. Her mother, who found herself abandoned and pregnant by her first husband, married Aemilia’s father and raised her daughters as if they were full blood sisters.

Aemilia’s life is one dramatic turn after the other. After the death of her father, she is taken away to be educated. In her teens, Aemilia becomes the mistress of one of the most powerful men in England, who is old enough to be her father several times over. Finding herself pregnant by her lover, she is married off to Alfonse Lanier. Then she meets William Shakespeare and that is where the story takes off.

I liked this book. Writers of historical novels, especially when there is more fiction than fact, walk a fine line. They must honor the history and the known facts while writing a novel with an engaging narrative and characters that the audience will want to follow.  What the author was able to do very well was meld fact and fiction is a story of a very strong woman in an era when women were simply chattel to the men around them. Aemilia is a character who is very strong, but understands her world and how to survive in it while remaining true to herself.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, William Shakespeare, Writing

Throwback Thursday-Escape From Sobibor (1987)

Sometimes, when circumstances seem impossible, all you need a little hope and courage.

In the 1987 television movie, Escape From Sobibor, the Jewish prisoners have not been gassed and their bodies burnt to ashes. But that does not mean that their suffering is less than their coreligionists in other Nazi concentration camps.  Based on the true story, on October 14th, 1943, the prisoners led by Leon Feldhendler (Alan Arkin) and Alexander “Sasha” Pechersky (Rutger Hauer) lead a revolt against the guards. They know that not one prisoner must not be left behind. Those that stay at the camp are sure to be tortured and murdered.

There is also the question of how to deal with their captors. It would be easy to stoop to their level, but how much freedom could they relish knowing that had killed another human being?

For me, this movie is a powerful one. Not just because it is a Holocaust film, but it deals with questions that have never been black and white.  This film is a reminder of not only the choices we make, but the questions that never have a simple answer.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Her Father Raped Her. The Village Elders Had Her Whipped. What Is Wrong With This Picture?

There is a reason that feminism is still very badly needed.

In India, a young girl was raped by her father.  Was her father punished for raping his own child?

Yes. But not only was the father punished, but so was his daughter. She was whipped. Publicly.

What is wrong with this picture? A father rapes his child and she is punished?

This is the reason that feminism is needed and still very relevant. There are still countries in this world where a woman is still a second class citizen. A housekeeper, a baby maker, a maid, a sexual plaything. Nothing more. She is not even a human being, she is an object to be bought and sold in the name of marriage, to be used to punish her family for wrongdoings, perceived or real. She has no rights, no expectation of an education, of a career, of a life of her own choosing.

If someone can explain to me why feminism is unnecessary, please explain it to me. I beg to differ and I pray that this young lady will one day be able to rise above the abuse and injustice that she experienced.

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Filed under Feminism, International News, World News

NEW YORK’S YIDDISH THEATER & ROZ CHAST REVIEWS

New York City is full of stories.

The Museum Of The City Of New York has two exhibits that  reflects the narrative of what it is to be a New Yorker.

New York’s Yiddish Theater: From Bowery To Broadway is the story of how Yiddish theater not only flourished in New York City, but also had an influence on today’s theater. Using archival footage, images, costumes and other media, the exhibit takes the visitor through the world of Yiddish theater as it adapted to changing times.

Another exhibit, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs lays out the humorous, sarcastic, self-deprecating and  every day humor of respected New Yorker  magazine cartoonist Roz Chast. Born and raised in working class Brooklyn, Ms. Chast has a unique sensibility that is reflected in her work.

I found both exhibits to be unique to New York. Do I recommend them? Well, I will put it this way. If the topics of either exhibit interest you, then I say yes. If not, then I say no.

The Museum Of The City Of New York is located  at 1220 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. New York’s Yiddish Theater: From Bowery To Broadway will be at the museum until July 31st of this year. Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs will be at the museum until October 9th of this year. 

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Filed under History, New York City

Solsbury Hill: A Novel Book Review

To those who knew her during her short lifetime, Emily Bronte was simply the shy, eccentric daughter of Patrick Bronte, a man who was fiercer in his eccentricities than his daughter. Keeping to close family and friends and to nature, the next to youngest Miss Bronte was not much for fashionable society.  Her sole novel, Wuthering Heights, is the story of unfulfilled, wild passion against a sea of Victorian sensibility and propriety. She died at the young age of 30, leaving her mark in the world via her novel, which is still beloved and debated 160 years after its initial publishing.

But what if there was more to Emily Bronte? What if the passion between her iconic lovers, Heathcliff and Cathy were an echo of her own life?

In Solsbury Hill: A Novel, by Susan Wyler starts in modern-day New York City. Eleanor Abbott appears to know her path in life. Her career as a fashion designer is starting to take off. Her relationship with Miles, her boyfriend/childhood best friend is nothing but solid.  Then, as all good novels start, the protagonist is knocked off that projected path. First Eleanor catches Miles cheating on her. Then she receives a phone call about her Aunt Alice, her late mother’s older sister. Alice is on her deathbed and wants to see her niece one last time before she leave this world.

Leaving the concrete jungle for the wild moors of Yorkshire,  Eleanor is swept into a mystery about her family past and how they might be connected to Emily Bronte. Encountering ghosts, a family mystery and her aunt’s adopted son, Eleanor is drawn into the past as she tries to figure out where  her heart and her future lies.

I will say it straight out. I loved this book. I loved the mystery, I loved how Ms. Wyler hooked me right away. I also loved that Ms. Wyler kept the undercurrent of the narrative of Wuthering Heights while exploring the idea that the image that modern readers have of Emily Bronte might differ from the reality of her life.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emily Bronte, Life, New York City, Wuthering Heights