Flashback Friday-Red Eye (2005)

Flying has become a routine of our modern lives. It can also create an opportunity for blackmail.

In the 2005 movie Red Eye, Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) hates flying with a passion.  On a flight to Miami, she sits next to Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy).  The conversation starts off as regular small talk until Jackson reveals that he has ulterior motives. If Lisa does not help Jackson assassinate a politician, her father will be killed.

This movie is brilliant. If there was one film to describe as a thriller, this film would be it. Murphy is truly terrifying, reaching the limits that only a villain in an Alfred Hitchcock film would reach. For her part, McAdams fear of flying is only heightened by the very difficult decision that she knows she has to make.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Sense And Sensibility Character Review: Mrs. Jennings

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or 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 Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every author, regardless of genre, relies on a stable of character tropes when creating the characters that inhabit the world of their stories. One of the familiar character tropes that readers of Jane Austen will recognize is the character that induces eye rolling and internal groaning. This character for the most part, is female, older and though she has good intentions, sometimes runs her mouth off without thinking.

In Sense And Sensibility, this character is Mrs. Jennings. Mrs. Jennings is a wealthy widow who is distantly related via marriage to the novel’s heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. With both of her daughters married, Mrs. Jennings is more than happy to play matchmaker for Elinor and Marianne. The problem is that her advice/attention is unwanted by the girls. Mrs. Jennings also lacks the self awareness that she sometimes has, well, foot in mouth disease.

To sum it up: While Mrs. Jennings is peripheral character, she in her own way, contributes to the narrative. As writers, we have to remember that every character plays a role in the narrative, whether they are central to the plot or they come and go as needed. The peripheral characters may not be front and center, but they still as important as the main characters. We cannot forget them or marginalize them, for if we do that, the story loses some it’s humanity and it’s color. That humanity and color is vital to the narrative, otherwise it will be just another story with another set of characters.

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It’s More Than Mental Health

The shooting yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead reminded us that once more we must publicly grieve the loss of innocent lives due to unnecessary gun violence.

In addressing the nation this morning, you know who put much of the blame on the shooter’s mental illness. He did not mention that the shooter was able to legally purchase a weapon is meant to be used on the battlefield and not in every day civilian life.

I have two problems with this statement:

  1. Millions of people around the world (myself included) suffer from mental illness. Only a tiny fraction of us spiral down into murdering innocents, but the news reports would make it seem like mental illness is the only reason for the shooting. Unlike other medical conditions, mental illness carries a stigma. Using mental illness as a framing device for any mass shooting, regardless of the state of mind of the shooter is counterproductive in erasing the stigma and helping those who are suffering.
  2. I know it’s been said every which way for a generation, but we need reasonable gun laws now. We needed them yesterday and the day before, but some of those in power are continuing to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the survivors and the loved ones of the victims. But while they are turning a deaf ear to the voting and grieving public, they seem to have no problem accepting money from the NRA.

My heart breaks for the survivors and the victim’s families. There are no words we can use to bring back their loved ones and dry their tears. But there are laws that can be put on the books and enforced to prevent another mass shooting and we can stop using mental illness as a crutch for mass shootings.

The question is, are we willing to do so or will we continue to see lives lost for no reason?

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Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.

 

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Another Day, Another Columbine

April 20th, 1999 is a day that will forever live in my memory. It was the spring semester of my senior year of high school. The day was comfortable and ordinary. I went to school, came home and was doing my homework like any other student.

Then the news of the Columbine shooting spread like wildfire across the country. Back then, it was an anomaly that should have once and for all changed the way we view and legislate gun laws in this country. Nearly 20 years later, Columbine has sadly become the first of one too many school shootings where innocent lives are lost.

There was another school shooting today. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Broward County, Florida. 17 people walked into the school building today and left in body bags. The accused killer is Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was forced out of the school for disciplinary reasons. Somehow, he got his hands on an AR-15, which is a weapon of war and decided get revenge by killing 17 innocent people.

I don’t know when this will stop. I only know that we are killing a generation of kids who might change the world for the better.

 

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Trumped

There is nothing so important to a legit democracy than the ability to openly satirize and mock those in power.

Donald Trump has been an easy target for satire since he announced he was running for election. Now that he is unfortunately sitting in the most powerful office in the country, the target has become larger and easier for satire.

That being said, I give you Trumped, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, reprising their roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom from The Producers.

I will caution that one does need to know the overall plot from The Producers to get some of the jokes, but the skit also stands alone as a moment of political satire that is absolutely needed during this time in our country’s history.

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What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know Book Review

It’s not exactly a secret that women are given the short end of the stick when it comes to work. Despite our accomplishments, we are still seen as second class employees.

Mother and daughter team Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey understand the hurdles that women face in today’s workplace. So much so, they wrote a book about the subject, entitled What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know. Interviewing 127 women, they examine everything from pay discrepancies, the prejudice that women who have children (and who do not have children) face and what it takes to succeed in the business world as a woman.

I really appreciated this book. I appreciated it because it speaks to the reader on both a cultural level and on a personal level. I also appreciate because the writers also devote a chapter the double discrimination that women of color face because they are women and they are not Caucasian.

I recommend it.

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Brave Book Review

One of my favorite quotes, famously spoken by Gloria Steinem is as follows:

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Actress Rose McGowan is beyond pissed. She is furious at the way women are treated, especially women in Hollywood.

She recently released her new memoir, Brave. The book is a balls to the wall, complete reveal of her life up to this point and her anger at those (especially men) who abused her and took advantage of her. In the book, she describes two cults: the one was born into and the Hollywood cult that assaulted her and sold her as a marketable product.

This is one of the most mind-blowing books I’ve read in a very long time. Both a memoir and a manifesto, Ms. McGowan is not only pissed for everything she has been through, she is pissed for every woman who has been shoved aside or thought as a sex object because she is a woman.

I absolutely recommend it. I would also go as far to say that it is one of the best books of 2018 so far.

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Beauty And The Beast DVD Review (2014)

Beauty And The Beast is one of those fairy tales.  Every writer who has picked up their pen or turns on their computer has a different perspective on how to tell the story.

In 2014, another reboot hit theaters. Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel play the title roles. Unlike other adaptations, the narrative of the film is closer to the narrative of the original fairy tale. Belle is the youngest daughter of a once wealthy merchant who has taken on her father’s debt to the Beast. The Beast is a prince who was cursed and can only return to his human form once he has the love of a woman.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. While most of the Beauty and the Beast adaptations of recent memory have moved away from the original narrative, this film clings pretty closely to the source material. The problem is that I was underwhelmed and the lead actors lacked the chemistry to make me believe that they would hopefully have their happily ever after.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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A Nazi Is Running For Congress In America

America is supposed to be a country where people of every faith, creed and color live in harmony with one another. The key word in this sentence is supposed.

Arthur Jones is running for Senate in Illinois. While he refers to himself as a “white racialist”, anyone else would refer to him as a Nazi.

He is an open anti-Semite, denies the existence of the Holocaust, and has stated in the past that he is of the opinion that African-Americans do not have the same intellectual capacity as Caucasian-Americans.

I’m appalled and offended by the words that are coming out of the mouth of this man. As an American and a human being, I am offended. While only time will tell, I can only hope and pray that the voters in Illinois do what is right and do not vote for Mr. Jones to become their Senator.

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