Monthly Archives: July 2016

Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary

This year marks of the 25th anniversary of Beauty And The Beast.

Loosely based on the fairy tale of the same name written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, Belle is the odd woman out in the small town in rural France that she calls home. She prefers books and spending time with her father instead of loosing her mind over Gaston, the town hunk.

Miles away a prince has spent the last ten years the form of a beast. Cursed by an enchantress for his selfish ways, he has ten years to mend his ways and find a woman who will love him enough to see past the exterior image. The enchantress left him a reminder of the time he has left, a magical rose that wilts. If the last petal falls and the prince has not changed his ways, he will forever remain a beast.

The catalyst to the meet cute of these characters is Belle’s father, Maurice, who is not the brightest bulb in the box. He gets lost in a storm on the way to a fair and finds shelter in the beast’s castle. The rest is movie history.

Among Disney heroines, Belle was and still is unique. I adore Ariel because she is my animated ginger sister from another mister, but Belle I get. She is smart, capable girl who is not looking for prince charming. She may get her prince charming in the end, but there is no version of “someday my prince will come” in Beauty And The Beast. She is also, compared previous Disney heroines, mature and level-headed.

Belle is to Anne Elliot as Ariel is to Marianne Dashwood.

Her other half, Beast, is also a mess of complications. He is deep down, a decent guy, but has allowed his anger and grief to overtake him and let him emotions match his external image. Sometimes, when we let grief, anger and self hatred overtake us, it’s hard to let the better qualities that we know are inside of us shine through.

In Belle, I see a Disney proto-feminist. While she is not reading The Feminine Mystique or Fear Of Flying, she has inspired multiple generations of girls to be strong, courageous and to simply be themselves.

I had the pleasure, many years ago of seeing the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and The Beast. I also adore the relationship on Once Upon A Time known as Rumbelle. I am eagerly looking forward to the new live action adaptation of Beauty And The Beast that will be arriving in movie theaters next March.

Not that we need reminding why we love this movie, but I give you the original trailer and a reunion of most of the cast the filmmakers.

Writing this, I feel old. Happy Sunday and have a good week.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Television

History Made: The First Female Presidential Nominee In America

Somewhere in heaven, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Betty Friedan are all cheering.

This week, Hillary Clinton accepted the democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential race.

The glass ceiling is starting to crack in ways it has never cracked before.

The Seneca Falls Convention took place on July 19th and 20th in 1848.

The 19th amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920.

It took American women 72 years from the earliest days of the Suffragette movement to gain the right to vote. This year celebrates the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We’ve come a very long way, but there will be many more battles ahead. I have been waiting to hear the words “Madam President” for a long time. I will be voting for Hillary come November.

I’m with her.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Music

Flashback Friday-Jefferson In Paris (1995)

History is full of myths and half-truths that may or may not be completely accurate.

One of the myths of American history is the relationship between founding father/3rd President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. The 1995 film, Jefferson in Paris, recounts the years before Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) became President.

Presently, Jefferson is the ambassador to the French court. Joining him is his daughter, Patsy (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his slave, Sally (Thandie Newton). Jefferson is having an affair with his much younger slave, who according to history, will bear him six children. While his personal life is a bit messy, his position as ambassador could change with the impending French Revolution.

This movie is very interesting. Blending fact with fiction that may or may not be true, the movie humanizes Thomas Jefferson and allows the audience to see the man behind the myth and the 18th century oil painting.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday: Ladybugs (1992)

Climbing up the corporate ladder is not always easy. Sometimes we have to find creative methods to get up the ladder.

In the 1992 film Ladybugs, Chester Lee (Rodney Dangerfield) is eager to move up the company ladder. But instead of doing it the old-fashioned way, Chester comes up with a unique idea. His company is sponsoring a girls soccer team. The parents sitting on the bleachers during the games work with Chester. Not only will he coach the girls, but he will bring onto the team his secret weapon: Matthew (the late Jonathan Brandis), his soon to be stepson. Dressing Matthew as a girl, Chester hopes that this will bring about the professional success he is hoping for.

This movie is very early 90’s. It’s also aimed at a certain age group. While it is not the best tween/early teen movie from the era, it’s not the worst either.

Do I recommend the film? Maybe.

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A Historic Day — By Hook Or By Book

Nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote here in the U.S., Hillary Rodham Clinton has officially become the first woman nominated by a major political party, for President! I realize what a polarizing figure she is. I myself was a Bernie supporter, but no matter your views […]

via A Historic Day — By Hook Or By Book

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Filed under Fanfiction, History, National News, Politics, Uncategorized

To Marry an English Lord Book Review

Marriage, for many generations, was not about love, commitment and compatibility. It was about class, money and social standing.

In 1776, America broke away from England and became a free nation in her own right. About 100 years later, young American heiresses would reverse that trend by going back across the pond and saying I do to male members of the English aristocracy that had the title and the land, but not necessary the fortune to keep both going.

In 1989, writers Gail MacColl and Carol McD Wallace wrote To Marry an English Lord, a book about these young women who chose spouses from among England’s elite. Starting with the Gilded Age and ending with 1914, the book traces the stories of these girls. Compiling images, facts and press clippings from the era, the writers take the reader back to a time when marriage was more about duty and fortune than love and commitment.

My initial desire to read this book started with the fact that I am huge Downton Abbey fan and that Julian Fellows was inspired by the stories of these girls. What kept me reading was that despite the fact that these girls had no rights and were being used as cash cows by their husbands, was that they were able to forge new lives and thrive in a country that was not their own, at least by birth.

The most fascinating aspect of this book was how many members of the upper class have American blood in them. Winston Churchill’s mother was American as was the paternal great-grandmother of the late Princess Diana.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Television

Ghostbusters Movie Review

A sequel or a reboot of a beloved classic is a hard film to make. Keeping the balance between respecting and referring to the original film and creating a new narrative with new characters is tricky. Especially when that movie is part of your childhood.

Ghostbusters hit theaters last weekend. A reboot of one of the best-loved movies of the 1980’s, there was a controversy and a concern surrounding this film. Can it live up to the status of the original or is it doomed to be another clunker of a reboot?

New York City is haunted. Someone is opening a gateway for the dead to return to the land of the living. It is up to the Ghostbusters to stop them. Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) are the only ones who can save New York from the dead. Assisting The Ghostbusters is the handsome but dumb Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).

I can understand the trepidation from audience members, especially from my fellow 80’s babies. Your fears are unfounded. Not only does this film pay the perfect homage to the original film (complete with cameos from the original surviving cast and a bust of Harold Ramis), but it stands on it’s own two feet. As director and co-writer of the screenplay, Paul Feig strikes the perfect balance between comedy and horror. Utilizing a combination of practical effects and CGI, the special affects add to the already perfect screenplay. And of course, the four actresses in the lead roles are smart, funny, strong and completely human.

I absolutely recommend it.

I also recommend staying for the initial credits, it will be worth the wait.

Ghostbusters is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Late Flashback Friday-The Aviator (2004)

It can sometimes be said that genius is sometimes tempered by the shadow of mental or physical illness. Howard Hughes was an innovator, a film maker, one of the wealthiest individuals of his era and suffered from a debilitating mental illness.

In the 2004 biopic, The Aviator, Leonardo DiCaprio played the title role. Focusing on the 1920’s through the 1940’s, the film follows Mr. Hughes as he becomes hugely successful in business, creates films that at the time were controversial and dated three of the most famous actresses of the era. Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett), Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) and Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) were all on the arm of Howard Hughes during the period that the film takes place in.

Mr. Hughes’s life was a combination of the highest highs and the lowest of the lows. DiCaprio plays both ends of the spectrum so brilliantly that the audience can only see Howard Hughes in full 3D, instead of a 2D caricature.

I recommend it.

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By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz Book Review

Tibor “Max” Eisen is part of a dying generation.

Born in 1929 to an Orthodox Jewish family in the former Czechoslovakia, Max entered Auschwitz at age 15. Before World War II, his extended family contained 60 people. By the time the war was over, only Max and two of his cousins remained.

His recently published memoir, By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz, starts with his brief childhood and guides the reader through a harrowing tale of near death and survival in the most infamous Nazi death camp.

I understand that this is a memoir and not a novel. But still, I wish the narrative was not as dry. That being said, I found the story to be engaging. Surviving any of the Nazi death camps was often a game of luck and chance more than anything else. The fact that Mr. Eisen not only survived, but thrived as an adult blows my mind.

Now retired, Mr. Eisen travels around Canada speaking to various groups about his experiences during the war. The fact is that the survivors are dying. Books like Mr. Eisen’s will be the only voice and narrative we have for this time in history. If nothing else, this book reminded me of how easy it is to hate someone based on external factors and how far that hate can go.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants (2005)

There is something to be said about the relationship that women have with their friends. It’s almost like having sisters who are connected not by blood, but by friendship and an emotional connection that only gets stronger as the years roll by.

In the 2005 movie, Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, four friends are separating for the summer. A pair of jeans that fits all four girls will them keep the relationship strong as their lives begin to veer off into different directions.

Lena (Alexis Bledel) is spending the summer with her grandparents in Santorini. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) is the wannabe documentary filmmaker. Carmen (America Ferrera) has been shipped off to visit her estranged father. Bridget (Blake Lively) tries to keep her focus on the ball at soccer camp, but can’t help but make eyes at one of the coaches.

Based on the book of the same name by Ann Brashares, the movie is basically the standard coming of age story. But, what I like about it is that the lead characters are four very strong empowered young women who are also human and dealing with the same dilemmas that every 17 year old girl deals with.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Feminism, Life, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday