Monthly Archives: March 2018

Flashback Friday-Scoop (2006)

In the world of journalism, an unsolved murder is like catnip.

In the 2006 movie, Scoop, American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) has a hot tip regarding the murder of fellow journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane). She follows the tip to doorway of British aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). But things get weird when Sondra begins to fall for the man who maybe Joe’s killer and begins to question if Joe might have been wrong.

Every filmmaker has at least one film where the tried and true becomes dull and predictable. Unfortunately, this is that film for Woody Allen. While his cast is stellar, they cannot make up for the fact that screenplay needed work.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Fiddler On The Roof Character Review: Hodel

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.

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 Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is only one certainty in life: change. In Fiddler On The Roof, Hodel is the second of Tevye and Golde’s five daughters. In the beginning of the story, Hodel states her choice of her future husband: the Rabbi’s son. Her elder sister, Tzeitel is quick to burst her bubble. Their father is a dairyman.  Daughters of dairymen do not marry Rabbi’s sons. Being the smart ass that she, Hodel laughs it off.

Then Perchik enters the picture. Perchik is a young man traveling through Anatevka who has ideas that do not mesh well with the locals. While tutoring Hodel’s younger sisters, it becomes clear that there is chemistry between her and Perchik. But when the time comes, Hodel will have to make a decision: stay with her family or follow Perchik into the unknown.

To sum it up: In choosing to join Perchik in Siberia instead of staying in Anatevka, Hodel is willing to accept change. Even if it means that she may never see her family again. Change often comes whether we like it or not. As writers, when we create a character who is faced with change, how the character deals with the change is a mark of their character. It’s up to the writer to determine if the character will accept the change or fight it.

 

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Thoughts On The Eve Of The First Night Of Passover

Tomorrow night is the first night of Passover.

Passover, like any holiday is about family and tradition.

When I think of Passover, I think of my childhood and my grandparents. When I was growing up, all but one of my grandparents lived nearby. They were an integral part of my childhood, and I am forever grateful for the time I had with them. Looking back, I don’t think I would have the pride in my faith and my history, had my grandparents not been vocal in ensuring that their grandchildren were raised Jewish.

All four of my grandparents are gone, they passed away years ago. While I am not religious, Passover is one of those holidays that I celebrate.  One of the reasons I celebrate is the memories I have of my grandparents and the love of Judaism they passed down to me.

To all who celebrate, have a Happy Passover.

 

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Throwback Thursday- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

The Cold War is often used as the backdrop for some of fiction’s greatest spy stories.

In the 2011 film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, (based upon the novel of the same name by John le Carré), George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is a former spy who thinks that his working days are behind him. Then a Soviet spy is found within MI6 and George is called back to work to discover the identity of the spy.

I’ve never read the original novel nor had I seen the 1979 adaptation starring Alec Guinness. The only reason I went to see the film was the cast, most of whom are British and have starred in adaptations of Jane Austen novels. As I recall, I didn’t quite get the intricacies of the narrative and by the end of the film, I remember being confused.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

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Filed under Books, History, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

The Immortalists Book Review

Family is never perfect. We may love our families, but sometimes, we cannot stand them.

The new novel, The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin starts off in 1969. Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon Gold live in New York’s City Lower East Side with their immigrant parents. There is a rumor going around that a fortune-teller has moved into the neighborhood. Her specific gift is being able to see the date when her visitors leave this earth. Curiosity compels the Gold siblings to seek out this fortune teller and learn what their futures may hold.

Nearly a decade later, their father dies unexpectedly and the relationship between the siblings is forever changed. Simon and Klara head west to San Francisco. Simon becomes a dancer and Klara follows her dream of becoming a magician. Daniel finds job security as a doctor and faces issues with his career. Varya becomes a scientist and tries to blur the boundaries between science and immortality.

This book is amazing. While it is a little slow in the beginning,when it picks up, it really picks up. The main reason that I enjoyed it was that the relationships between the siblings were far from perfect and felt absolutely normal. Anyone with siblings would be able to recognize and appreciate the relationships between the main characters.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Roseanne Review

*-Warning: this review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not yet seen the premiere episodes. 

Television is supposed to the medium of the masses. But for most of television history, the family sitcoms focused on middle class families who seemed just a bit too perfect.

Then Roseanne premiered in 1988. Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman) are a working class couple living in middle America just trying to get by as best they can. The original series lasted for 9 years and has become a new classic. This evening, the reboot of Roseanne premiered.

Dan and Roseanne are still living in the same house. Their three kids, Becky (Alicia Goranson), Darlene (Sara Gilbert, who is also one of the show’s executive producers) and DJ (Michael Fishman) are all grown up and dealing with adult issues. Roseanne’s ever-present sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) is still more in her sister’s house than she is her own. Also returning is Sarah Chalke as Andrea (otherwise known as Becky #2), as the mother to be of the child Becky plans on carrying.

Watching this show is like slipping into a pair of jeans that you haven’t worn in a long time. It’s comfortable, it fits perfectly and it makes you feel good. Hitting the right mixture of notes of humor, family drama and current events, Roseanne feels like it never went off the air in the first place.

I recommend it.

Roseanne airs on ABC at 8PM on Tuesday. 

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The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote Book Review

Human beings can be very stubborn creatures. It’s very hard to change when we are set in our ways. Especially when it comes to social justice movements and enfranchising those who are disenfranchised.

The new non fiction book, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss details the final nail-biting days that lead to the ratification of the 19th amendment. In the summer of 1920, 35 states have ratified the 19th amendment. 12 have either rejected the amendment or have abstained from voting. Only 1 more state is needed to add the amendment to the Constitution, and that is Tennessee. Groups on both sides of the argument are racing to Tennessee, using whatever means they have to influence lawmakers. For the suffragists, the vote is everything they have been working for more than a half century. For the anti-suffragists, it means the destruction of the family and home, if women win the right to vote. It’s going to be a battle to finish line, one which will forever change American history.

 

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because Ms. Weiss imbues the facts with intensity, taking the viewer on a heart pounding ride. I also very much appreciated that she spent time on African-American women, who were denied the vote because of skin color and sex. It can be read as a traditional history book, but the issues that our fore mothers were dealing with a century ago are not so far off from the issues we are dealing with today.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Best Show On Television Your Not Watching: American Dynasties: The Kennedys

If America had an official royal family, the Kennedy family would be it.

They have it all: glamour, class, fame, beauty, power, tragedy, etc.

For the last two weeks, CNN has aired parts one and two of a miniseries entitled American Dynasties: The Kennedys. It started with Joseph Kennedy, the family patriarch named as ambassador to the Court of St. James in the late 1930’s.

Narrated by Martin Sheen, the series contains intimate family home movies, interviews with journalists, historians, family members and those who are/were close to the Kennedy family.

I am thoroughly enjoying this series. It humanizes a family that many Americans put on a pedestal and allows the audience to see the subjects as fully formed human beings, instead of references in a history book.

I recommend it.

American Dynasties: The Kennedys airs Sunday nights at 9:00 on CNN. 

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Bosie Tea Parlor

There is nothing like a classic English tea. Tea, tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jelly, etc.

In New York City, there are quite a few tea parlors. But my favorite is Boise Tea Parlor.

Located in the Village, Bosie Tea Parlor is physically a small space, but the menu makes up for the limited space. The tea menu is extensive and lovely. The food menu is perfect for anything from a simple tea break with scones to a full meal.

If you do go, and you only get only one thing, I recommend the macarons. I don’t usually have desert with my meals, but for macarons from Bosie Tea Parlor, I make an exception.

I recommend it.

Bosie Tea Parlor is located at 10 Morton Street in New York City. 

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Today, I Marched For Our Lives

A little over a month ago, 14 students and three staff members were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Today, millions of citizens, both within the United States and around the world (myself included) marched to prevent another tragedy of the same ilk.

The NRA’s response to the marchers that we want to abolish the 2nd amendment.

While guns are not my cup of tea, if someone who owns guns has purchased them legally and is of sound mind, I have no right to deny them. What I and millions of citizens marched for was federal legislation of universal background checks and preventing those who are mentally unstable from purchasing a firearm.

Whether they admit it or not, the NRA is very powerful in this country, especially when it comes to politics.  They prioritize their own needs versus the needs of the country, especially the children who are afraid to go to school.

In a normal world, the adults speak/lead and the kids listen/follow. Today, it was the opposite.

It’s easy to trash talk teenagers. Lazy, selfish, all about their social media, etc. But these kids who have led the movement are intelligent, capable and are undoubtedly going to change the world.

That is why I marched today.

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