The last few days have been a downer, to say the least. While the summer is sadly coming to an end, it is quite over yet.
I’d like to change topics and talk about something that makes all of us happy, especially this time of year…..ice cream!!!!!
One of my favorite ice cream shops in all of Brooklyn is Ample Hills.
It is one of the most authentic ice cream shops I’ve ever been in. The multitude of flavors is sure to please any palate.
And of course, they have teamed up with Baked By Melissa to create a new flavor of ice cream. My mouth is already watering.
I absolutely recommend Ample Hills. It is worth the trip.
For those of us of a certain age, the 1990’s invoke nostalgia for what appeared to be a simpler time.
The new movie, Landline, is set in New York City in 1995. Alan (John Turturro) and Pat (Edie Falco) are a married couple with two daughters: engaged twenty something Dana (Jenny Slate) and teenager Ali (Abby Quinn). The film starts out with a Norman Rockwell-ish image of a family who will soon be tested. Dana has been engaged to Ben (Jay Duplass) for a while, but it seems like their wedding day may not happen. Ali is the typical rebellious teenage girl. The drama really starts to ramp up when the girls discover that their father is having an affair and their mother struggles with the work/life balance that many women deal with.
This movie is refreshing and real. The characters that make up the family feel like any other family who love each other and try to make it work, despite their individual imperfections. It also feels nostalgic, not just because the film is set in 1995, but because it was just before computers and the internet took over the world.
I recommend it.
Landline is presently in theaters.
One of the most enduring narratives is love vs. duty. In the end, does the protagonist follow their heart and swim against the current or do they subvert themselves to fit in?
In My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok, Asher Lev is growing up in a Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY. He knows that certain things are expected of him. What is not expecting and troubling is that Asher is a budding artist. His mother mostly encourages her son, while his father despairs that his son is being pulled away from faith and family.
This book is nothing short of mind-blowing. It is mind-blowing because despite the fact that the protagonist is an ultra-orthodox Jew, his journey feels universal. Asher’s slow journey toward his art and away from everything and everyone that he has known and loved feels real because many have gone on a similar journey in real life.
I absolutely recommend it.
Single parenthood is never easy. It can be made especially harder when your own community is forcing you to re-marry.
In the new release, Menashe, Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a widower and a member of New York City’s Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish community. After the recent death of his wife, his son was sent to live with his in-laws. Working at a grocery store, Menashe is told that he can only raise his son after he re-marries. The problem is that he has no interest in re-marrying. He needs to prove that he can raise his son without re-marrying.
Directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein, the film is set in Brooklyn. Containing English subtitles (with a rare exception, most of the characters speak entirely in Yiddish), the film is both charming and universal. While it is set in a very specific community, it is universal because speaks not only of the ups and downs of single parenthood, but also of the value of faith.
I absolutely recommend it.
Menashe is presently in theaters.
Change often comes not when we stay in our own little bubble, but when we step out of our bubbles and into the Real World.
The Real World is the mother of the reality genre as we know it to be today and MTV’s longest running program. Premiering in 1992, the premise is simple: take a group of diverse young people who have never met before, have them live together for a short time, film them while they live together and see what happens.
No topic was off limits: sex, religion, prejudice, abortion, etc. While the original season was filmed in New York City, the show has since traveled all over the US and to parts of Europe. Over it’s 25 year history, the Real World has been the career spring-board for a handful of alumni: Jacinda Barrett and Jamie Chung both have successful acting careers. Sean Duffy, who has represented the state of Wisconsin in the House Of Representatives since 2010.
One could argue, that like every other reality television show, it is a little contrived and as scripted as a non-reality television program. But, at the same time, the show spoke to its teenage/early 20’s audience because the cast was the same age as the audience. To have a television show, when you’re at the age when you are starting to form your own opinions and build your life in your way, speak to you in a way that is unique to your age group is powerful and potentially life changing.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Morality and art are often subjective.
In 1923, the play God Of Vengeance hit Broadway. It closed in one night. It closed not because of poor reviews, but because it was considered immoral. It is the love story of two women against a backdrop of false piety, false modesty and the worship of the almighty dollar. Written in the first decade of the 20th century by Sholem Asch, it has been compared to Romeo and Juliet for its portrayal of love against all odds.
The Broadway play Indecent, is about not only the production of this play, but the reaction to the play over the years. Written by playwright Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman, the play starts in the early 20th century in Warsaw. Sholem Asch (Max Gordon Moore), a newlywed and a budding writer, has written a play called God Of Vengeance. Young and enthusiastic, he is eager to see his play on stage. It becomes a success in Europe, but in America, it is a different story. The years pass, the culture changes and the question of what is art and how morality plays into the question comes into the forefront of the battle to see the play on stage again.
The thing that struck me about this play is how relevant it feels in 2017. It asks questions about politics, immigration, morality, diversity, etc. It also has a love story with two women, which was unheard of in the early 20th century and only now is slowly becoming more acceptable.
I absolutely recommend it. Indecent is only open until this Sunday, August 6th. See it if you can. I guarantee that you will walk out of the theater blown away.
Indecent is at 138 West 48th Street in New York City. You can find more information at http://www.indecentbroadway.com.
There is something universal about growing up. No matter where we are living or what time period we are living in, growing up is never easy.
Betty Smith’s classic novel, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn during the first two decades of the 20th century. Francie Nolan is a second generation American living in the poorer section of Brooklyn, NY. Her mother, Katie is a realist. Her father, Johnny is a dreamer who not only has a drinking problem, but his employment history is sketchy. Francie is a smart, capable girl, who like her father is a dreamer, but she also knows the reality of the world she is growing up in.
This book is a classic for a reason. Francie is an every girl. Even though she is living in early 20th century New York City, there is a universal quality to her and the narrative.
I recommend it.
Life is sometimes full of coincidences. The stranger on the street could be just that or they could be closer to us than we think.
Author Laura McBride’s new book, ‘Round Midnight, was published earlier this year. It tells the story of four women are who are linked in unexpected ways.
Originally from the New York City area, June left her Jewish family and her Jewish first husband behind for the glitz and glamour of the Vegas strip. She owns the El Capitan night club with her second husband. It’s 1960 and June is in love with one of the African-American singers who regularly performs at the club.
Honorata left the Philippines as a mail order bride. Her groom to be is not exactly prince charming. When she wins a very healthy jackpot, she decides that she no longer needs to marry. But her past and her decision to walk away from the marriage will come back to her.
Engracia is Mexican immigrant who smuggled herself over the border with her son. She makes ends meet as a cleaning woman. While working for Honorota, she becomes more than just the cleaning woman when a gunman forces himself into Honorota’s home.
Coral has always known that she is both adopted and bi-racial. Despite the fact that her adopted mother and siblings treat her as if they were of the same flesh and blood, the question of Coral’s birth parents are never far from her mind.
This book is amazing. Ms. McBride is able to skilfully intertwine not just the multiple narratives, but multiple time periods in a novel that is thoroughly engrossing and entertaining.
I absolutely recommend it.
For twenty years, Law And Order was a staple of the television schedule. With that success, the creative team decided to try a spin-off. That spin-off is Law And Order SVU (1999-Present).
While the original SVU was focused on a variety of crimes, this spin-off focuses solely on sexually related crimes. The current cast includes Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Raul Esparza and Peter Scanavino.
I have been a fan of this show since the beginning. Like it’s predecessor, the show deals in the grey areas of life and fighting crime, especially when it comes to the cases that the characters deal with. I also very much appreciate the strong women on show, Lt. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish).
I absolutely recommend it.
The cop/courtroom drama has been around since the beginning of television. The question is, will the television program be the same dry procedural show that audiences have become so used to, or will there be a twist that keeps the audience engaged until the credits roll?
Law And Order was on the air for twenty years, between 1990 and 2010. Covering a multitude of crimes in New York City, the focus of the show was split evenly between the police who are investigating the crime and the prosecutors whose job it is to argue that the accused should be found guilty. Over the show’s 20 year history, the roster of actors who played the detectives and the prosecutors included the late Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston, Jesse L. Martin and Elizabeth Rohm.
Law and Order is one of those television shows that everyone has watched at least once. It has multiple spin offs, an impressive list of guest stars and always leaves the audience to answer an ambitious, grey zone question that makes us think.
I recommend it.