Throwback Thursday-The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

When a film is adapted from a comic book, it must two serve purposes and two masters. It must please the comic’s core fanbase while appealing to new fans. It must also, as best as the creative team can, full transplant the narrative and characters from the page to the screen.

In 2003, the film adaptation of the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hit the big screen. In an AU (alternate universe) Victorian era, a group of heroes from famous novels must come together to save the world. The group includes Tom Sawyer (Shane West), from the classic Mark Twain novel, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, and Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Led by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, this band of adventurers and heroes must save the world from a villain known as the Fantom.

Bear in mind that I have never read the comic book and when I saw the movie, I was unaware that the source material comes from a comic book. As a standalone movie, it’s ok. It’s just the run of the mill film adaptation of a comic book that is top-heavy on special effects and light on both character and narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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When Does A Review Cross The Line?

The basic definition of a reviewer, regardless of whether they are reviewing a book, a film, etc, is to give the audience or the reader an overview of the narrative and tell them if it is worth their time to watch or read it.

But the question is, when does a reviewer cross the line?

Recently, I’ve started listening to the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC in the morning just to get a handle of what is going on in the world. One of the people interviewed yesterday was Vulture writer Kat Rosenfield about her recent article entitled “The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter“.

The book in question is The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. I’ve not read the book, but hearing the response on twitter to the book and the negative reviews brings up a few questions.

One of the things that pointed out during Ms. Rosenfield’s segment was that the writer was basically pandering to her potential readers. I get it, I’m also a writer. If your writing feels false and your only writing to make a buck, the reader will know it. One of the most common quotes associated with writing is “write what you know”. On one level that makes sense. But on another level, if every writer only wrote what they know, the science fiction and fantasy genres would never exist.

The reviewers job is to review the art without hurting the artist(s). The problem is that the line between a review and a personal attack is subjective. The other issue is that social media so pervasive in our daily lives that one review where the reviewer goes too far can potentially damage of the career of the artist.

I welcome your comments on this topic. Listen to the link (the interview with Ms. Rosenfield is the last 20 minutes of the show) and read the article. Where is the line and how far can a reviewer push it before it morphs into a personal attack and ruins careers?

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RIP Elvis Presley

There are only a handful of artists who are known by the first name. Michael, Madonna, Bono.

But before Michael, Madonna and Bono there was the one and only Elvis Presley.

He died 40 years ago today of a heart attack. To invoke the name of Elvis Presley is to invoke a certain image. In his prime, Elvis represented a youthful rebellion that had not been seen before in American culture. Teenagers loved him and adults at best tolerated him and at worst tried to censor him.

While there was some controversy in hindsight (he was not actually the pioneer of rock and roll, he just started playing the music that the African-American community had been playing for years), he is still an icon who is still respected, adored and worshiped four decades after his passing.


RIP sir. Your physical presence maybe long gone, but your music will live forever.

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Ample Hills

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.

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This Weekend’s Heavy Reminder From Charlottesville

This past weekend was heavy to say the least. The rally in Charlottesville reminded us of how precious our freedoms are and how easily they can be taken away from us.

The video below has been making the rounds on my social media for the last two days. Though it was made in 1943, it has not lost its potency or its message. It is a relevant in 2017 as it was in 1943.

Martin Niemoller was a Protestant Pastor who openly spoke up against the Nazi regime and survived 7 years in a concentration camp. He is best remembered for the following:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist./Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist./Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew./Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I think the valuable lesson we learned from this past weekend is that when we are stronger together. When we fight among ourselves and forget that the other person we are looking at is a human being, then we have lost the battle.

One of the most prophetic lessons of the Holocaust can be summed up in one quote:

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Despite the violence, I have seen a spark of hope. It was the people who came to protest against the White nationalists and the government leaders who spoke out against the hatred. Perhaps, after all of these years, after the needless killing of millions, we have finally learned from history and will not repeat the mistakes of the past.

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Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Book Review

While the basic definition of feminism is equality for women, it is much more than that. It represents an ideal that all human beings, regardless of sex, are judged for who they are and not for their sexual organs.

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen, is an anthology comprised of essays, stories, lists, letters and art about the topic of feminism. Contributors include writers Roxane Gay, Malinda Lo, actor/activist Amandla Stenberg and actor/comedian/writer Mindy Kaling. They write about everything from finding self-love, navigating relationships and body image.

What I loved and appreciated about the book was that it was based on the real life and the real experiences of the contributors. I also liked that instead of just including essays and stories, the book also included art, letters and lists. The book could have read like a boring academic text, there was a life to the book. I don’t know about any other readers, but this book has certainly re-light the fire under my behind to continue to fight for my rights.

I absolutely recommend it.

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You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught

I’m not a huge fan of the classic musicals, but sometimes, one of them resonates so deeply that it is as relevant in 2017 as it was when it was initially introduced to audiences.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical, South Pacific is set on an unnamed island in the South Pacific during World War II. The underlying message of the narrative is basically that racism of any kind is wrong. The story focuses on the will they or won’t they relationship between two couples: an American nurse and a French expatriate plantation owner with mixed race children and a soldier and a native girl.

While the show has it’s lighter moments, one the best remembered songs (in my opinion at least), is “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”.

The rally in Charlottesville yesterday proved that America has a long way to go in achieving the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

It did not help, of course, that President Trump’s statement was vague and he did not outright condemn the hate filled marchers, but honestly who is surprised by that?

We were warned, btw by Hillary Clinton last year.

Heather Heyer lost her life to this hate.  I hope this is a wake up call for all Americans. The progress we have made as Americans in reaching the ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers represents the work of multiple generations. But for as much work as we have done, this weekend proves that we still have a long way to go.

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Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice Book Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the BDP (British Period Drama) genre, like most genres is mostly bereft of characters of color.

In 2013, the movie Belle finally broke the color barrier for the BPD genre.

Paula Byrne’s 2014 book, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, is not just about Belle, but the events that led her uncle, Lord Mansfield’s ruling on the Zong massacre.

I adore the movie Belle. It is much more than the standard BPD. It speaks to a modern audience about race issues, women’s issue and other human rights issues that are just as relevant today as they were in the 19th century. That is reason I read the book. The book and the movie, however are vastly different. The book reads like a college textbook and not like the entertaining movie that subtly speaks to the audience about issues that 300 years later are still being discussed.

Do I recommend it? No.

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The March In Charlottesville-Hate Is Alive And Well In America

In 2017, one might hope that America has moved past the prejudice and hate that has plagued past generations and has lived up to the ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers.

Hope often spring eternal.

The rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has proved that hate and prejudice are alive and well in America in 2017.

It is both sad and scary that there are people in this country who still think like this, who would condemn another person because of race, family origin, religion, etc. I feel like I watching historical footage of a Nazi rally in 1930’s Germany or reading an oral narrative from the South just after the Civil War. It is surreal that this is happening in America today.

When we speak of the Holocaust, we say never again. It saddens me that in America in 2017, we must use never again to remind us of what happens when hate and prejudice take over.

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We Should All Be Feminists Book Review

Feminism is not just a cause to be embraced by Western women. It is a cause to be embraced by women from every corner of the world.

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie published her book, We Should All Be Feminists in 2012. She addresses feminism as it must be addressed in our modern era. Writing directly from her own personal experience, she shines a light on the topics that this generation of feminists must address to allow our daughters and granddaughters to make even greater leaps and bounds.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Though it is super small, Ms. Adichie speaks directly to what is a universal experience of being a woman and what battles we still need to fight to achieve true equality.

I recommend it.

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