Monthly Archives: June 2017

You Do You-Why We Miss Carrie Fisher

For the most part, when someone famous dies the response is as follows: their death is reported in the media, there maybe some smatterings of memorials on social media and then they are remembered during in memoriam section during the next awards ceremony.

When Carrie Fisher passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the end of last year, it was a shock to the cultural system. As an actress, writer and mental health advocate, she has been a part of our cultural landscape since 1977.

I recently purchased the Vanity Fair 40th anniversary Star Wars editions.

The one section of the article that struck me was a conversation that she had with John Boyega in 2014 when the original trailer for The Force Awakens was released. The backlash of having not just a black storm trooper,but also a black leading man did not sit well with some fans. Fisher’s response to the backlash and Boyega’s reaction to the backlash was simple: “you do you”.

Out of everything that I remember her for, it is the fact that she was her authentic self, warts and all. While some of us present a certain image depending on whom we are with, Fisher was not afraid to be herself, even if that meant revealing her demons or her less than ideal past.

She encouraged her fans to be themselves and not be afraid to reveal their own dark sides.

While I will always adore her as Princess Leia, it is her fearlessness that will continue to inspire me and her fans around the world.

RIP Carrie. Gone, but never, ever forgotten.

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Filed under Life, Movies, Star Wars

Flashback Friday-Valentine (2008)

Human beings have had a fascination with our immortal creators since the beginning of time. For better or for worse, this has created some rather interesting narratives.

In the 2008 short-lived series, Valentine, the ancient Greek g-ds are becoming anxious about the state of romantic love in our modern era. The head of the family, Grace Valentine aka Aphrodite (Jaime Murray) recruits a romance novelist, Kate Providence (Christine Lakin) to ensure that true love still exists and soul mates are brought together.

Some television series are fated to not last. Valentine is one of those shows. It was cute, but cute does not much when it comes to the potential success of a television series.

Do I recommend it? No.

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The New Jumanji Movie-Why?

The trailer for the new Jumanji reboot has just been released.

I have one question and one question only: why did this movie need to be re-made?

The 1995 original movie, starring the late and sorely missed Robin Williams is to my mind, a new classic. It’s an adventure film with the perfect Robin Williams twist.

I have nothing against The Rock, or Karen Gillian, but why a) is she the only female and b) why as usual is so skinny and her costume tiny?

Only time will tell if this film succeeds or flops at the box office. But for my money, I prefer the original 1995 film.

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Filed under Feminism, Movies

Character Review-John Roxton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The ladies man. The macho man. The hunter who always bags his kill. This is Lord John Roxton.

Lord John Roxton is very much the epitome of the hunter, both in the jungle and in the ballroom. The younger son of an aristocrat who inherited his title when he accidentally killed his brother on a game hunt in Africa, John appears to have it all. A title. A tidy inherited income. Women at his feet and in his bed. A reputation of a fierce hunter.

Played by Australian actor Will Snow, the audience appears to immediately know who this man is and what his journey will be over the course of the narrative.  The audience will soon be surprised. Under the smooth manners of an aristocrat and the adventurous nature of a man who has seen much in his life, John Roxton who is burdened by his past. The ghost of his brother hangs around his neck like a chain. His will they or wont they relationship with the mysterious and equally emotionally burdened Marguerite Krux (played expertly by another Australian performer, Rachel Blakely, who will be discussed in the coming weeks) adds more emotional depth to the character and leads him away from the Gaston like initial first impression.

To sum it up: Appearances should be deceiving. How deceiving they should be and what emotional turns the character takes is up to the individual writer. That deception on the part of the writer, if it is well written is very often the key to the success of the book or the movie. As soon as the audience thinks they know the character, the deception changes their perspective and properly hooks them in for the rest of the story.  That deception, when written properly is often the key to writing success.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Throwback Thursday-Reality Bites (1994)

Life immediately after college is often very confusing. The expectation is to get a job, eventually settle down, maybe a have a kid or two and lead a generally quiet life But what happens when this expectation does not meet reality?

In the 1994 film, Reality Bites , Lelaina (Winona Ryder) creates a mockumentary of her post college experience. Her best friend, Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a musician who has lost several minimum wage jobs. Her other friends, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) are grappling with their own issues. Vickie is anticipating the results of an AIDS test while Sammy is in the closet. Then, along comes Michael (Ben Stiller), who offers Lelaina a career making opportunity. Now she must choose not only the life she wants, but the man she wants in her life.

I have two thoughts on this movie. The first is that the feelings and experiences of the characters feel very universal. Those of us who do complete college most often come out of it with a question what to do with our lives. Without the structure we have had for the last two decades, our life feels incomplete. But on the other hand, this movie is very Gen-X specific and it does feel a little dated.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Thoughts On the 20th Anniversary Of The Publishing Of Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone

20 years ago, an unknown author named J.K. Rowling published her first novel: Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone.

At the time, Rowling had what appeared to be three strikes against her: she was a single mother, she was unemployed and she was living under the black cloud of depression. Writing was the only thing that saved her sanity. Little did she know that her first novel would lead to the career that many writers can only dream of.

That one book produced 6 sequels, multiple movies, a theme park and since then, the world of Harry Potter has become iconic. Children all over the world have clamored to read not just the Harry Potter book series, but other books.

I bet the publishers who passed on the first Harry Potter book are kicking themselves.

The thing that for me, makes Harry Potter stand out is not the magic, but how ordinary his experiences are. Growing up, dealing with bullies, having that first crush, that first kiss, etc, dealing with the b*llsh*t that life throws your way, etc. He went through all of that and survived.

If he can survive that, we all can.

Thanks J.K. Rowling for introducing the world to Harry Potter. I can’t imagine it without him.

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The Women’s Balcony Movie Review

Women are often underestimated. When men think they have played all of their cards, the women reveal the winning hand.

The new film, The Women’s Balcony, tells the story of the members of a small congregation in Jerusalem. In accordance to Orthodox custom, men and women pray in separate sections of the shul. When the women’s balcony is damaged during a Bar Mitzvah service and several members of the congregation are injured, the men turn temporarily to a new Rabbi. This new Rabbi has ideas on how the services should be conducted and how the members of the congregation should comport themselves. Unfortunately, this means the women are completely excluded from services.

This does not sit well with the women, who will not take this new Rabbi and his ideas lying down. Their husbands, meanwhile, seem to be taken in by the Rabbi.

Will this congregation split for good or will they find a way to come together again?

I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it because it is funny, charming, human and still feels very relevant in 2017.

I recommend it.

The Women’s Balcony is presently in theaters.

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Me Without Healthcare….

I could go on and on about why the good people in DC are screwing with our healthcare, but the post below says it all.

Source: Me Without Healthcare….

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Still Star Crossed Book Review

*Warning: This review contains spoilers about Still Star Crossed. Read at your risk.

My new favorite television show is Still Star Crossed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the source material is not just Shakespeare’s play, but also a novel by Melinda Taub.

The plot of the book somewhat mirrors the plot of the television show. Romeo and Juliet are dead and the streets of Verona are drenched in blood. To restore peace, young Prince Escalus sees only one way to end the violence: unite the Capulets and Montagues in holy matrimony. The surviving heirs, Romeo’s cousin Benvolio is to marry Juliet’s cousin Rosalind. The problem is that neither the prospective bride or prospective groom care for each other. Add to the fact that Escalus and Rosalind were once in love and there are forces at work who would prefer to see Rosalind and Benvolio not marry.

As expected, there are changes between the book and the novel. While most of the language is Shakespearean English, Ms. Taub does switch to modern English a couple of times in the book.

Do I recommend it? I will answer the question this way. If I only knew the book, I would say yes. But being that I am a fan of the show, I am leaning toward maybe.

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

The Diplomat’s Wife Review

Writing a sequel or a prequel to a beloved narrative is akin to walking on a tightrope. The task of the writer is to continue the narrative and character development without going so far out of range that the audience feels like they have lost sight of the original tale. Some writers succeed at this task, others fail miserably.

Pam Jenoff is one of those writers who not only succeeds, but she takes both the narrative and characters in new directions that fit like a glove.

The Diplomat’s Wife is a sequel to Ms. Jenoff’s debut novel, The Kommandant’s Girl. In The Diplomat’s wife, the focus is not Emma Bau, the protagonist from The Kommandant’s Girl, but Marta Nederman, Emma’s best friend from the resistance. World War II is over and Marta has survived only by the grace of G-d. After Marta is rescued from Nazi captivity, she falls in love with Paul, an American serviceman. He is as head over heels in love with her and as she is with him. They quickly get engaged and make plans to marry.

But then Paul is killed and Marta finds herself pregnant. She marries Simon, a British diplomat and life seems to be returning to normal. But that normalcy is threatened by a communist spy within British Intelligence. Marta goes on a dangerous mission to out the spy, who maybe closer to her than she thinks.

Pam Jenoff is my new favorite writer. This book is nothing short of amazing. I love not just the detail of the period, but the danger that Marta knowingly puts herself in. I could not put it down and I seriously need a sequel.

I absolutely recommend it.

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