Boston Strangler Movie Review

There is something about an unsolved crime that piques our imagination. Regardless of whether one is an average person, a journalist, in law enforcement, etc, it makes us want to put on our detective hats and discover the truth.

The new Hulu film, Boston Strangler, is based on the true story of the serial killer who murdered 13 women in Boston in the early 1960s. Reporters Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) start looking into the story when no one else will. Underestimated because they are female and expected to stay in their lane, Loretta and Jean start digging.

Though their editor, Jack Maclaine (Chris Cooper) throw them a bone, hoping to make them go away, he soon learns how tough these women are. Though the challenges in front of them are numerous, they are determined to find the murderer before another woman is found dead.

Part thriller and part feminist tale, it speaks (once more) to the fact that female representation that goes beyond the traditional model is often erased or ignored. Knightley and Coon have amazing on-screen chemistry. Their drive to succeed in a world that would send them back to home is inspiring and badass. Without the work of Cole, McLaughlin, and others of that generation, we would still be tied to the kitchen with our apron strings.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Boston Strangler is available for streaming on Hulu.


Flashback Friday: Ladies in Black (2018)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only way to grow is to step out of the box that is your comfort zone.

The 2018 film, Ladies in Black (based on the book The Women in Black by the late Madeleine St. John) is set in Sydney in 1959. It follows four women who are employed by a department store. Among them is the cultured Magda (Julia Ormond) an immigrant from Slovenia and Lisa (Angourie Rice), a teenage girl who wants to spread her wings.

I really liked the four female leads. Instead of being limited to the standard narrative of love, marriage, and motherhood, they are fully drawn as full human beings. I also liked the immigrant narrative and the fear of immigration. Though it is set decades ago, the themes and narratives are true today as they were then.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared Documentary Review

Traveling via plane is a safe way to get to a faraway destination. But then there are accidents every once in a while that catches the attention and imagination of the world.

In March 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (also known as MH370) took off from the airport in Kuala Lumpur. The final destination was Beijing. The plane never arrived at its final destination. For nine years, the questions about what happened to the plane and the 239 souls aboard have yet to be answered.

The new three-part Netflix documentary MH370: The Plane That Disappeared follows the existing breadcrumbs to try to understand exactly what happened. Interviewing family members, experts, journalists, and others leads the viewer down the path of various theories.

What got me was the emotion of the story and the heartbreaking tales from the family members who have yet to have a concrete explanation. Unlike Lost or Manifest, this is not fiction. These are real people who are hurting and desperately craving peace of mind.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared is available for streaming on Netflix.

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When Marilyn Met the Queen: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in England Book Review

Sometimes, the making of a film is just as interesting as the final product.

When Marilyn Met the Queen: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in England, by Michelle Morgan, was published last year. In 1956, Marilyn Monroe was the biggest movie star in the world. That year, she and her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller flew to England. She was scheduled to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Her on-screen love interest was Sir Laurence Olivier.

The plan was simple. Arthur was going to write and Marilyn was going to make the film during the day. At night, they would relax and enjoy being newlyweds. But as we all know, when we plan, our creator laughs.

She was being hounded by the press. Though Monroe and Olivier did their best to be professional, their mutual dislike was obvious. While across the pond, Monroe became interested in Queen Elizabeth II and eventually met her before returning to the States.

I enjoyed the book. Morgan bring the narrative and her subjects to life in a way that made me feel like I was with them during the experience. What she does exceptionally well is revealing the real women beneath Monroe’s Hollywood facade. Though she was strong and smarter than many thought she was, she was also beset by her troubled past and low self-esteem.

The only issue I have is the title. I feel like it does not mesh well with the story. If it was me, I would have emphasized the making of the film in addition to meeting the Queen.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

When Marilyn Met the Queen: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in England is available wherever books are sold.

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Flashback Friday: Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

When life hands us lemons, the only thing we can do is make lemonade.

In the 2008 film, Sunshine Cleaning, single mother Rose (Amy Adams) is in a bind. She wants to send her son to an expensive private school to ensure that he gets a good education. But it is not within her financial means to do so. She starts a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service with her sister Norah (Emily Blunt).

Norah is to Marianne Dashwood as Rose is to her elder sister Elinor. Rose is determined to succeed. But she knows that it will not be easy. Especially when she is working with Norah and their father, Joe (Alan Arkin).

This movie is charming and adorable. It speaks to the ingenuity that kicks in when all seems lost. It also has two female lead characters in which romance takes a back seat to getting by on their own two feet.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New Randy Rainbow Video: Life’s a F***ing Fantasy for Santos – A Randy Rainbow Parody

We all lie at least once in a while. It’s part of being human. However, there is a difference between a little white lie and consciously lying all of the time.

The new Randy Rainbow video is out today. Entitled Life’s a F***ing Fantasy for Santos – A Randy Rainbow Parody, it combines “Jolly Holiday” from Mary Poppins and The Seekers 1966 hit, “Georgy Girl“.

This is the roasting that George Santos deserves. His growing list of fibs and falsehoods has long since become a problem. The fact that he disturbingly refuses to admit the truth makes his exit from Congress all the more necessary.

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ARC Review: Code Name Edelweiss Book Review

History is full of lessons that are there for us to learn from. The question is, can we learn from the past or are we too stubborn/afraid to see it?

Code Name Edelweiss, by Stephanie Landsem was published this month.  Liesl Weiss is a single mother living in Los Angeles in the early 1930s. Without her husband, she is the sole caretaker of the young children and aging mother. Though her younger brother lives with them, he cares more about himself that the family. When she loses her job, everything goes to pieces.

A wanted ad leads her to Leon Lewis, a Jewish lawyer who believes that Nazis have infiltrated Hollywood and are planning to use it to spread their message. But the powers that be are putting their focus elsewhere. Without any other options in sight, Liesel accepts his offer to spy on her friends and neighbors. What starts out as a mere paycheck turns into a realization that there is a dangerous undercurrent that could destroy the country.

Based on a true story, this book is amazing. Part spy thriller and part historical fiction, it is one hell of a ride. From the word go, the danger is in the reader’s face. I love Liesel as the main character. She is a woman walking a tightrope that could tear at any moment. Torn between her conscience and doing what she needs to do to keep her family afloat, Liesel has to make a choice that could put everyone she loves in danger.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would even go as far as to say that it is one of my favorite books of 2023 so far.

Code Name: Edelweiss is available wherever books are sold.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC review copy.

The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe Book Review

One of the things that I find interesting is how pop culture and history is intertwined.

The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe, by Helen Stapinski and Bonnie Siegler, was published last month. It brings together three stories that otherwise, would exist in separate worlds: a Jewish family desperate to escape Nazi Germany, the creation and cultural explosion of Superman, and the making of The Seven Year Itch.

This book is fantastic. It takes what would otherwise be the standard Holocaust narrative and adds new levels to it. At its heart, it speaks to the American dream, how powerful it can be, and the complications that we don’t see coming.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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RIP Topol

There are some actors who are known for a variety of roles. Then there are others who become iconic for a single part.

The actor Topol (also known as Chaim Topol) died yesterday. Born in Tel Aviv in 1935, he is best known for playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Since 1966, he played the role over 3000 times and is best remembered for the 1971 film adaptation.

Though he was only in his 30s when the played Tevye in film and was aged up via makeup and costume, he was perfectly cast in the role.

He was a proud Jew, a proud Israeli, and an icon for the ages.

May his memory be a blessing. Z”l.

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Flashback Friday: Finding Neverland (2004)

The behind-the-scenes stories of the inspiration of our greatest literary work are fascinating to me. As a reader, it allows for a deeper understanding of the work and the psyche of the author.

The 2004 film, Finding Neverland, is based on the origin story of Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie‘s (Johnny Depp) career as a writer is near its breaking point. The failure of his latest work has threatened to destroy his career. Seeking inspiration, he goes out for a walk.

Randomly he meets Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet). Sylvia is newly widowed with four young sons. Her third son, Peter (Freddie Highmore) has not yet gotten over the death of his father. As J.M. becomes close with Sylvia and her boys, there are two obstacles to their friendship: his wife Mary Answell (Radha Mitchell), and Sylvia’s mother Emma Wightwick ( Julie Christie).

J.M. becomes a paternal figure to the boys and is trying to bring Peter out of his grief. As this is happening, a germ of an idea comes to him. When it seems that Peter is finally turning the corner, his mother gets sick.

This film is lovely. It is well-written, well-acted, and the perfect tearjerker without being too schmaltzy. Winslet, as usual, is gold. Depp is at the peak of his career. Unfortunately, his reputation as an actor and a human being has taken a hit that is of his own doing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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