Monthly Archives: May 2018

Beast Movie Review

At it’s heart, Beauty and The Beast is a tale of two outsiders who find the companionship and affection that is missing from their respective worlds. That narrative quality alone opens the door for new and interesting interpretations of the classic fairy tale.

In the new movie, Beast, Moll (Jessie Buckley) lives with her family on the island of Jersey. Put upon by her family and more specifically, her overbearing mother, Hilary (Geraldine James), Moll externally goes along with everyone, but internally, she is screaming for a way out. Enter Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a rough around the edges outsider who may be the man responsible for a series of unsolved murders of young girls. Pascal is one of a few suspects who is being investigated by Clifford (Trystan Gravelle), a family friend who works as a police officer and has been assigned to the case of the murdered girls.

While the movie was a little too long, the narrative was fantastic. This dark and twisted fairy tale is neither simple or predictable. Writer/director Michael Pearce keeps the tension thick, always making the audience question if Pascal is really the killer or if he is being targeted because he is an outsider. He also smartly ended the film in the most un-fairy tale way possible, with just enough narrative leeway for the audience to ask questions about the future of these characters.

I recommend it.

Beast is presently in theaters. 

 

 

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Fairy Tales, Movie Review, Movies

When Did Our Immigration Policy And Those Who Enforce It Lose Their Humanity?

America is a country of immigrants. Unless one is Native America, we can all trace our familial origins to one or more persons who left their countries of origin for a new life in the United States.

It’s no secret that the current administration’s immigration policy is not exactly open to immigrants, especially those of color.

According to Steven Wagner, the Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, nearly 1500 immigrant children who tried to enter the US illegally are missing.  Mr. Wagner claims that his department is not responsible for the children once they are placed in sponsor homes.

In addition, families who cross together are being separated from one another.

I am the descendant of immigrants. I am appalled by the actions taken by those in Washington. While I am all for securing our borders and preventing terrorism, these actions are not disgusting, but inhumane.

At best, these kids could be living on the street or getting into trouble with the law. At worst, these kids could fall into the hands of human traffickers. I shudder to think what should happen if they do find themselves entangled with human traffickers.

This is not the America that I know and love. While following the law of the land is important, so is compassion, humanity and understanding. From where I am standing, things need to change, otherwise the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned will be nothing but a mirage.

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Filed under Politics

When Has School Shootings Become Normal?

Friday morning started off as an ordinary day at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana. Then one of the students walked into a classroom with a gun and the day went from ordinary to life changing.

By the grace of G-d and the heroism of teacher Jason Seaman, there were only two injured: Mr. Seaman and a female student. There were no fatalities.

When did school shooting become normal? I’ve stated in previous posts about being in high school when the Columbine shooting occurred. Back then, school shootings were major news because they didn’t happen. When they did happen, not only was it major news, but the surge of grief and anger was paid attention to by politicians and those in the government.

Today, school shooting are just another news bulletin that holds our attention all too briefly. First there is the anger/grief, the calls for gun control reform. Then there is lip service of thoughts and prayers/”it’s not the right time” comment from our politicians. Finally the story fades into the background until another school shooting occurs and the cycle starts all over again.

How many innocent people will be hurt or killed  before this mania stops? When will our children and those who teach our children be more important than a gun?

More importantly, why have school shootings become normal?

 

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Filed under National News

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World Book Review

In the fall of 2016, the feeling of change was palpable. Not just because Barack Obama would soon be finishing his second term as President Of The United States, but also because the possibility of America’s first female President was within our grasp. Hillary Clinton was running on the Democratic and it looked like it would be an easy win. But, as we all know, the results of the election was a shock to everyone, especially Jennifer Palmieri.

Ms. Palmieri, who had previously worked in the Obama administration before joining the Clinton campaign, is the author of a new book, Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World. Framed by her experience in our current political climate, it is a series of letters to the future female leaders of America, and specifically to the women who will one day become President herself.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because not only does Ms. Palmieri write about the pitfalls of women in positions of political power, but she also encourages women to get involved in politics. If nothing else, the book is empowering its readers to become leaders in whatever walk of life they are in and not be afraid of the challenges that go along with being in a leadership role.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Politics

Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

In 1977, Star Wars hit theaters and forever changed the way films are made. Since then, Lucasfilm  has tried to replicate the success of the original film with a hit or miss success rate.

Solo: A Star Wars Story premiered in theaters yesterday. Set 10 years before Episode 4, the franchise’s space pirate/bad boy, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is the focus of the film. Han is an orphan who has survived on the streets for as long as he can remember. He is cocky, full of it and has piloting skills that has saved his behind more than once. The only standard in his life is his relationship with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), his longtime girlfriend, who is arrested before they can escape from the authorities.

A few years later Han is working for Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a low-level member of the criminal underworld. While working for Beckett, Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and has an unexpected reunion with Qi’ra.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the prequels and 10 being the original trilogy, I would rate Solo: A Star Wars Story 6 1/2 t0 7. It’s a decent film, however, I wouldn’t call it the greatest of the Star Wars films. While the pacing and the action is to be expected for a Star Wars film, I just was not as impressed with this movie as I was with Rogue One.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars

Karma Is A B*tch, Harvey Weinstein

The casting couch is not a new concept in Hollywood.

Harvey Weinstein took the casting couch to a new level. Yesterday he was arrested and charged with rape.

According to Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein’s lawyer:

“Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” he said. “Bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”

While it’s true that the casting couch has existed long before Weinstein climbed his way up the Hollywood power ladder, he certainly took advantage of it.

Karma is a b*tch, as is justice. Only time will tell if Weinstein is found guilty of the charges laid out against him.

If there is a silver lining in this case, it is that men who use their power in any industry are being sent a strong message about how they view and treat their female employees. Treat them with respect and dignity or face the consequences.

 

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Filed under Feminism

Flashback Friday-City Guys (1997-2001)

One of the more underused narratives in the high school genre is the story of a student or students just trying to deal with life while trying to not get the attention of a teacher or principal.

This was the basic narrative of the late 1990’s/ early 2000’s television show, City Guys. Jamal Grant (Wesley Jonathan) and Chris Anderson (Scott Whyte) are normal teenage boys who go to high school in New York City. Getting in sticky situations that only teenage boys can get into, they hope that their antics does not get back to Ms. Noble (Marcella Lowery), the school principal who is tough, but fair with her students. But hopes often spring eternal.

The show lasted five years. It was one of those innocuous high school shows that was mildly entertaining and semi-memorable.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, New York City, Television, TV Review

Little Women Character Review: Laurie Laurence

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have seen any of the 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 Little Women to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

First love is an experience that stays with us always. While it is more than likely that the relationship does not grow beyond youth, that person will always have a place in our hearts. In Little Women, Theodore Laurence, known as either Teddy or Laurie, is the boy next door. He has been besties with Jo March for years and has secretly been in love with her for most of their friendship.

On paper, Laurie would be a good match for Jo. The world that Laurie and Jo live in is still ruled on a certain level by social rank and income. The Laurence family, being of a higher social rank and a higher income than the March family, would be a step up for Jo. But despite Laurie’s best efforts, Jo turns him down. She understands that their marriage would not be a happy one. Laurie initially sulks like a school boy after Jo turns him down, but ends up going to Europe. While is Europe, he reunited with Jo’s younger sister Amy, whom he does fall in love with and marry.

To sum it up: Sometimes, as we grow up, we have figure out who is best for us. We may wish, hope and pray that our first love, whomever he or she will be, will be our last love. But for many, learning that our first love will not be our last love is often a painful growing experience. As writers, when creating this experience for our characters, it is incumbent that we demonstrate why this couple is not meant to be. If we do not demonstrate why this couple is meant to be, the writer has not done his or her job and leaves too many questions unanswered.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, History

Throwback Thursday-Trading Spaces (2000-2008)

Nowadays, it’s not too hard to find a home makeover show. But in the early 2000’s, the concept was defined by one show: Trading Spaces.

Based on the BBC series Changing Rooms, the concept of the show is as follows: two couples will work with a designer to renovate a room in each other’s houses. They have two days to complete the renovation and a budget of $1,000. Neither couple is aware of what has been done to the room in their house until the big reveal. The results of the revelation are sometimes interesting to say the least.

While Trading Spaces did fall within the category of reality television, it was family friendly and not as out there as other reality shows from the era.

Recently, the show was rebooted. While I have not seen the new episodes, it looks to still be Trading Spaces with some minor changes.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Thoughts On The Passing Of Philip Roth

Every genre has their own icon. Philip Roth was one of the icons of modern fiction by Jewish authors or fiction about Jewish characters. He passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

My favorite Philip Roth novel is The Plot Against America.

In the novel, Roth re-wrote history. In 1940, FDR lost the presidential election to Charles Lindbergh. Soon after taking office, Lindbergh not only blamed the Jews for America’s ills, but also negotiated a sort of peace with Germany. The Jews in America, who thought they were safe from the racist, anti-Semitic world that their European brethren lived will soon discover that they will soon be no better off than the Jews of Europe.

We read and re-reading Philip Roth because, like all great writers, he has a way of speaking directly to his readers, regardless of their religious or cultural background.

As they say in our mutual religion, may his memory be a blessing. Not only to those who knew him on a personal level, but also to the millions who have read and loved his books over the years.

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Filed under Books, History, Thoughts On...., Writing