Category Archives: Movies

Thoughts On The Basis of Sex Trailer

When it comes to social reforms, there are two avenues: protest and amending the law.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young lawyer, the second wave of the feminist movement was at its height. While many saw the path to equality via protest, the future Justice Ginsburg understood that amending the law was just as important as public protest.

Her experience in this period of her life is documented in the upcoming film On The Basis Of Sex. Starring Felicity Jones as RBG and Armie Hammer as her late husband Martin Ginsburg, the film tells the story of the court case that would put RBG on the legal map and on the road to joining the Supreme Court decades later.

The problem with some biopics is that regardless of whether the subject is alive or dead, the facts don’t always make it to the final cut of the film. My hope (especially because RBG is still alive and kicking), is that the film (and Felicity Jones by extension) portrays RBG as she ought to be portrayed on the big screen.

On The Basis Of Sex hits theaters on December 25th. 

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Filed under Feminism, History, Movies, Politics, Thoughts On....

Star Wars Character Review: Poe Dameron

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

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 Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Becoming a hero is a wish that many have. Saving the day and receiving everything that comes with saving the day is a fantasy that has been the backbone of storytelling since the beginning of storytelling. But there is an unspoken reality of becoming a hero. Besides the danger that is involved, there may also be an ego trip and the inevitable fall that comes after the ego trip.

In the newest Star Wars films, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a hero of the rebellion. The spiritual son of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), he is not only one of the best pilots within the rebellion, but he is also being groomed as General Organa’s future second in command. In The Force Awakens, Poe is one of the core characters that is front and center in the war against The First Order.

Brash, passionate, emotional and a little reckless, Poe is everything the rebellion needs to prevent The First Order from taking over the entire galaxy.

In The Last Jedi, Poe is still the hero, but his recklessness becomes a negative attribute instead of a positive one. Disobeying orders, he leads a strike against the First Order that costs the lives of many and is promptly demoted. But even his demotion is not enough  when he disagrees with the choices of his replacement, Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). When he is working with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega) to help the rebellion survive, his actions bring out the opposite result.

In the end, Poe redeems himself as a hero in the battle on the planet Crait, but not before having a few bumps and bruises along the way.

To sum it up: Being a hero and saving the day is not all fun and games. There is a reality to being a hero that is often not explored. When creating a character who wants to be a hero, making that character earn that hero title is in my opinion, necessary. It not only creates a realistic character arc, but it also keeps the audience or reader in their place, questioning when the character will become the hero they want to be.

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Two Podcasts You Should Be Listening To If You Aren’t Already: Can I Just Say & Unorthodox

These days, everyone and their mother has their own podcast.

But for me, there are two podcasts that I count myself as a fan of: Unorthodox and Can I Just Say.

Unorthodox

There is an old inside joke about Jews: For every two Jews, there are three opinions. From my perspective. is the backbone of Unorthodox. Created by Tablet Magazine,  the podcast is hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz. Every week they talk about news relating to the Jewish world and have two guests: one Jewish and one not Jewish. What I appreciate about this podcast is that Mark, Liel and Stephanie not only mesh well together, but their unique world views allow all three to stand out in their own way. I’ve been listening for a couple of years; it’s a pleasure to wake up on Thursday morning knowing that the week’s episode is waiting for me.

Can I Just Say

Pop culture podcasts can sometimes get a little dull. Either they can veer too much into the fan boy or fan girl lane or they are just a tad too intellectual.

Thankfully, Can I Just Say is the perfect pop culture podcast. Hosted by Daphne Olive and Elizabeth Stevens, the ladies have unique and stimulating conversations about everything from Star Wars (their newest podcast about The Last Jedi was very interesting) to novels and their various adaptations (their comments about Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility got me thinking) to a hand-picked selection of Baz Lurhmann films opened my eyes to his abilities as a filmmaker. They also host a podcast entitled Fathoms Deep: A Black Sails Podcast, an equally interesting podcast about the television series Black Sails.

I recommend both.

 

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Movies, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Star Wars, Television

Star Wars Character Review: Finn

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

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 Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

We all have pasts, it’s part of being human. Part of that past are mistakes that even years later, we regret making. In The Force Awakens (aka Episode 7 of in the Star Wars series), Finn (John Boyega) is introduced as a storm trooper whose inner Jiminy Cricket has kicked in. After refusing to kill innocent villagers on the planet Jakku and helping Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) escape from the First Order, Finn joins the resistance, in spite of his past.

In The Last Jedi (aka Episode 8), Finn wakes up from the coma to discover that the resistance is slowly being destroyed by the First Order. He again tries to run away, but is caught by Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran). They eventually form plan is to sneak onto a First Order ship and destroy the signal that is tracking the resistance ships through light speed. What starts out a simple plan quickly goes awry, but in the end, there is a faint glimmer of hope that Finn’s actions has helped the rebels to fight another day.

To sum it up: The fight or flight response is built into us as human beings. The question is, as a character, does one run from their past or they face up to it? In Star Wars, Finn eventually faces his past, making him a better man than he was if he had chosen to run away. As writers and human beings, we know that actions, both good and bad have consequences.

When it comes to creating a character who must choose the fight or flight response, the writer must follow the path that is true to the character. For if the character’s action feel untrue to the reader or viewer, it is unlikely that he or she will want to continue to follow both the story and the character.

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Three Identical Strangers Movie Review

The question of nurture or nature has haunted humanity since the begging of our species. Are we simply the product of our environment or do our genes control our actions and our choices?

The new documentary, Three Identical Strangers, starts in 1980. Robert Shafran is starting his freshman year of college. As he is moving into the dorms, he is greeted classmates who are referring to him as Eddy. Robert knows that he was adopted, but he knew nothing else of his birth family.  This strange encounter leads to a twin brother, Eddy Galland. Neither Robert or Eddy knew that each other existed. The press gets a hold of this story and a third brother comes forward, David Kellman.

While the brothers are bonding and becoming media sensations, there are unanswered questions about the past.  Why were they separated? Why were the adopted parents not told about the other two boys? Who is behind the separation and could they have had less than honorable reasons for hiding the truth?

As documentaries go, this is top ten, if not one of the top five documentaries of the year. It’s the type of story that is almost too good to be true.  What makes this documentary compelling, at least from my perspective, is the unseen dark forces that shaped the lives of these men well before they knew that they had the ability to make choices.

I absolutely recommend it.

Three Identical Strangers is currently in theaters. 

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Star Wars Character Review: Rey

The new group of characters I will be discussing is…. the new characters from the Star Wars franchise. 

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

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 Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

If we are lucky, we are raised in a loving family by parents who do everything in their power to ensure that we grow up to be successful and happy adults. But that is not always the case. In episode seven of Star Wars, entitled The Force Awakens, the audience is introduced to a new heroine, Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey is a woman alone, living as best she can on the desert planet of Jakku. Her parentage is unknown. She is a scavenger, who earns her bread by selling whatever she can scavenge. The fate introduced her to Finn (John Boyega) and BB-8 and she discovers that not only does have to makeshift family but she also is very strong in the force.

While training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), in episode eight, otherwise known as The Last Jedi, Rey must not only learn what it is to become a Jedi, but also confront her past and her relationship (if you want to call it that) with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

To sum it up: Family is not always blood. For some, the lack of blood relations creates an emotional hole that is never truly filled. But for others, they find within themselves the ability to create a family.  While the fact remains that her parents are still a mystery, Rey not only finds a family within the members of the rebellion, but also finds a father figure/mentor in Luke. Family is sometimes not born, it is made. The question is, can a character built a family or will they always mourn the loss of the blood relations they have never known?

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars

Throwback Thursday: Airplane! (1980)

Disaster movies are sometimes taken a little seriously.

That is why movies like Airplane! (1980) exist.

Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) broke up a long time ago. But that doesn’t mean that Ted has moved on from his ex.  In a last-ditch effort to rebuild his relationship with Elaine, Ted is conveniently flying on a specific flight where Elaine is working as a flight attendant. Somewhere on route, everyone gets food poisoning. That is with the exception of Ted, Elaine and Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen).  Can Ted fly the plane and land it safely at its final destination or is the flight (and her passengers by extension) doomed?

This one of the funniest movies of all time for a reason. Not only is the screenplay is quotable, but the filmmakers took every narrative they could satire and still were able to create an entertaining story.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Incredibles 2 Movie Review

It has been said that good things come to those who wait.

Incredibles 2 is a perfect example of this concept.

The movie starts just after it’s predecessor, Incredibles ended. They have saved the world, but the fact that is superheroes are still illegal. The Parr family nearly resigns themselves into a normal life, but then the brother sister duo of Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk & Catherine Keener) come calling. The wealthy siblings are more than eager to rehabilitate the reputation of superheroes. They plan to use Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) as an icon to change the status of superheros, both legally and culturally. This means that Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is home with the kids all day.

While Elastigirl is doing her superhero thing,  a new villain emerges. Their name is Screenslaver. Will the Parr family ever be allowed to be their superhero selves and more importantly, can they find out who this Screenslaver is and defeat them?

The last fourteen years were worth the wait. This movie, for lack of a better word, is incredible. It has a nice balance of action and emotional moments, especially when it comes to Mr. Incredible realizing that parenting is not as easy as he presumed it to be. The kids in the audience will appreciate the humor. The adults in the audience will appreciate the relationship between the family and more specifically, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Early Throwback Thursday-Elektra (2005)

One of the hallmarks of the hard-fought for gender parity, especially in Hollywood, is that the idea of a female superhero headlining a film is no longer an anomaly. But, then like any superhero film, the question of quality, especially when compared to the source material, has to be asked.

In the 2005 film, Elektra (based upon the comic book character of the same name), the titular heroine, played by Jennifer Garner survives a near death experience. Breaking with the rest of the world, Elektra’s sole focus is her job as an assassin. Her latest assignment is protected a single father and his young daughter from a group of supernatural assassins. Can she protect her charges and perhaps regain her humanity in the process? Or will she forever run from the world?

At the time, I knew nothing about the MCU or the characters that inhabited that world. I suppose the film is ok, but when it is compared to other films within the MCU, it doesn’t quite hold up.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Robin Book Review

Robin Williams was one of the most remarkable performers of our time. When he took his life in 2014, his passing created a hole in our culture that will never be filled.

Earlier this year, Dave Itzkoff published Robin, a biography of the late star.

Robin Williams was a walking contradiction. He was a performer who could make audiences laugh and cry at the same time. He played iconic characters in Mork and Mindy, Aladdin, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire. But not even those remarkable performances could mask years of dealing with the triple demons of addiction, self-esteem and mental illness.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because when put Hollywood celebrities on a pedestal, we forget that they are still human beings who deal with the same issues that all human beings deal with.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health, Movies, Television