Tag Archives: Brooklyn

The Village Review

When you live in an apartment building, your neighbors hopefully become more than your neighbors. They become friends and by extension, family.

This is the premise of the new NBC series, The Village. Set in an apartment building in Brooklyn, the series follows the lives of the residents.

Sarah (Michaela McManus) is a nurse and single mother raising her teenage daughter.  Gabe (Darren Kasagoff) is a young lawyer who has the most unexpected of roommates: his grandfather Enzo (Dominic Chianese). Ava (Moran Atias) is an immigrant who is raising her son alone when ICE comes calling. Nick (Warren Christie), is the newest resident of the building and a veteran. Ron (Frankie Faison) is the super whose passion for his social worker wife, Patricia (Lorraine Toussaint) is as strong as the day they married.

I’m not really a fan of schmaltzy television. When a show goes over the top with drama, I am usually turned off. But I liked The Village. I liked it because it’s my world. As many of you know, I live in New York City. To have a house of one’s own is a luxury. Most people either rent or own their apartment.  I understand these characters and familial bond that goes with living in an apartment building.

I recommend it.

The Village airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 10:00. 

Leave a comment

Filed under New York City, Television, TV Review

The Wartime Sisters: A Novel Book Review

Sometimes, the relationship we have with our sibling is a complicated one. Just because we came out of the same womb and have the same parents does mean that we are close to our siblings.

In the new book, The Wartime Sisters: A Novel, by Lynda Cohen Loigman, Ruth and Millie are sisters from Brooklyn in New York City. But they don’t always see eye to eye or get along. Ruth is quiet and bookish. Millie is outgoing and popular. Labelled by their parents and the community around them, both internally resent each other for the treatment they receive. As adults, their relationship is fragile, seething with unspoken emotions.

While World War II rages on, Ruth lives with her officer husband and children in Massachusetts.  When tragedy strikes and Millie has nowhere else to go, she travels to Massachusetts with her young son to live with Ruth’s family. With the sisters living in close quarters, old tensions rise to the surface as new faces challenge both Ruth and Millie.

This book is amazing. The sisters are clearly drawn, allowing the reader to empathize with both Ruth and Millie. The world around them is equally drawn in a way that pulls the reader in and does not let go until the final page.

I absolutely recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, History, New York City

Throwback Thursday- Brooklyn Bridge (1991-1993)

For many, the 1950’s are seen through the view of rose-colored glasses. It was a simpler time, free of the complications and grey areas that we deal with today.

Between 1991 and 1993, television audiences saw the world through the eyes of Alan Silver (Danny Gerard) in Brooklyn Bridge. A young man growing in a Jewish family in early 1950’s Brooklyn,NY, it was the story of not just this young man and his life, but it is also a world that has retreated into memory. With Marion Ross of Happy Days fame playing Alan’s grandmother and Art Garfunkel singing the show’s theme song, it was a trip back in the time for those who lived in that world and for those who didn’t, it added to the warm and fuzzy nostalgia that is associated with the period.

What I find very interesting about Brooklyn Bridge is that it used the same nostalgia factor that made The Wonder Years a hit. Unfortunately, while The Wonder Years lasted five years, Brooklyn Bridge only stayed on the air for two years.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, New York City, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Christmas, As Only Dyker Heights Can

For 11 months out of the year, Dyker Heights is a quiet, unassuming, almost suburban neighborhood in South Brooklyn. The residents go to school, work and go about their daily life as anyone normally would.

Then comes December and Christmas.

This normally unassuming neighborhood becomes a destination for both locals and tourists. A living testament to the color and creativity that is decorating for Christmas, the homeowners go way beyond a tree with simple lights and a few ornaments. The entire neighborhood lights up in a way that one would not expect a neighborhood in Brooklyn to light up for Christmas.

A must see for both tourists and locals alike, it is a reminder of the joys of the season.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York City

Best & Worst Movies of 2015

2015 has been a good year for movies. With less than a week until 2016, I think it’s time to share my list of the best and worst movies of 2015.

Best Movies Of 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens & Brooklyn

If you asked me to choose between these two movies for top movies of the year, I honestly could not.  Star Wars: The Force  Awakens reminded me why I have been a fan since high school. It was everything that the first three films were and then some. Brooklyn was the perfect film. Fully formed characters, a plot that anyone can relate to, and of course, it takes place in my home town.

  Trumbo

Another surefire award winner, Trumbo is the story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston). One of the most respected and highest paid screenwriters in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Dalton Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Ten. Accused of being a communist, Trumbo is jailed and nearly forfeits his career.

Suffragette

Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) is an ordinary woman who is pulled into the pre-World War I feminist movement in Britain. Choosing between her family and her new-found beliefs, Maud must make some hard decisions.  A reminder of why we still need the feminist movement, this film is a reminder of not just how far we have come, but how far we need to go.

Honorable Mentions Of 2015

Ricki and The Flash

Years ago, Ricki Randazzo (Meryl Streep) gave up the life of an ordinary suburban wife and mother to become a rock and roll singer. That plan has not worked out so well and Ricki must face the turmoil from her ex-husband and her children.

Pitch Perfect 2

Several years after the original movie, the girl are back.  When a performance does not go as planned and embarrasses the Bellas, Becca (Anna Kendrick) & Co must pull together and remind the rest of the world why they are the Barden Bellas.

Far From The Madding Crowd

Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) has recently inherited her late uncle’s house and his fortune. Based on the book by Thomas Hardy, Bathsheba has no interest in marrying. But three men come forward who present her with a glimpse of what married life could be.

Worst Movies Of 2015

The Intern

In this new-age e-commerce film, Ben (Robert DeNiro) is a retiree with too much time on his hands. Jules (Anne Hathaway) is the owner of an online fashion company that is looking to senior interns. While the premise was interesting, the writing felt like it was lacking.

Macbeth

Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) is one of the most respected and well-known Shakespeare plays. That does not mean that it translates well to the screen every time. While the individual pieces of the film are fine, they don’t work together as  well as they should.

See you in 2016!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars, William Shakespeare

Brooklyn Review

For centuries, America has seemed like a shining beacon to those seeking a better life.

In the new movie, Brooklyn, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), is a young woman living in Ireland in the 1950’s. Taking her sister, Rose’s (Fiona Glascott) advice, Eilis takes advantage of the opportunity to move to Brooklyn, NY. Taking a job in a department store and living in a boarding house run by Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters), Eilis is initially homesick. After some time, she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian-American boy whom she quickly becomes involves with.

When tragedy pulls Eilis back to Ireland, she is torn. She can go back to her life in America (and to Tony) or stay in Ireland, where opportunities have opened up for her in the form of a bookkeeping job and a possible life with Jim (Domhnall Gleason).  In the stages of early adulthood, Eilis must make a choice about her life and her future.

Brooklyn (based on the novel by Colm Toibin) is one of the best movies of 2015 (and not just because the film takes its title from my hometown).  Eilis’s story is something we can all relate to. Growing up, moving away from home for the first time, making decisions that could potentially change our lives. Even though Eilis’s experiences are specific to her life, there is a universal quality to her journey that draws the audience in.

While the film was made in Canada and Ireland, it still feels authentic to this native Brooklynite. And kudos must be given to Emory Cohen (who evokes a young Marlon Brando in his performance) for his New York accent. It was just enough to be authentic without being too heavy.

The best movies, I find, are the ones with characters whom the audience can connect with emotionally. I was certainly able to connect with Eilis as she goes on this journey.

I absolutely recommend this film. While I have not yet compiled my top ten list of movies for 2015, I can say with some certainty that Brooklyn will be on it.

5 Comments

Filed under Books, History, Life, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Brooklyn Story Book Review

One of the quotes about writing that is floating around the internet is as follows:

Anyone who survives childhood has enough material to write for the rest of her life- Flannery O’Connor

In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn circa 1978, 15 year old Samantha Conti wants to be a writer. According to Ms. O’Connor, Samantha will have plenty of ideas to choose from.

Suzanne Corso’s 2011 novel, Brooklyn Story, is a coming of age tale told from Samantha’s point of view several years after the events in the book have taken place.

Her home life is dysfunctional with a capital D. Samantha’s father, a man of Sicilian origins, divorced his wife and abandoned his family years ago. Samantha has not seen her father since she was a little girl. Her mother, born into a Jewish family, converted to Catholicism at the start of her brief marriage. Samantha’s mother lives off welfare and has health issues stemming from substance abuse. Thankfully, Samantha does have positive adult role models in her life. Her grandmother lives with them and is helping to raise her granddaughter, she has also the family priest and her favorite teacher providing the emotional support that is not coming from her mother.

Samantha’s best friend, Janice who is three years older than her, introduces her to Tony. Tony is slightly older than Samantha. He is charming, attractive and attentive. He also has a temper and is a bit on the possessive side. Still, Samantha starts to see Tony. But the relationship will become questionable and Samantha will soon have to choose between her dreams of becoming a writer in Manhattan or staying in Brooklyn with Tony.

I initially picked up this book because I am very familiar with the part of Brooklyn that Ms. Corso uses as a backdrop. What I read was a young woman’s coming of age story that felt very real. The reader does not have to know Brooklyn or have lived during the late 1970’s to appreciate and understand Samantha’s journey.  While the thirty something woman that I am wanted to warn Samantha that Tony was bad news, the former teenager in me understood Samantha’s interest in him.

This book is nothing short of amazing and I highly recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City

Marine Park Stories Book Review

Write what you know is one of the more common pieces of advice that writers will often hear.

Marine Park is one of the southern most neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Located a distance away from the train, the neighborhood is best accessible by car or bus. It is almost a small town unto itself, separated from the rest of the borough.

Mark Chiusano’s 2104 book, Marine Park Stories, is a collection of short stories based on the life of the author. The stories revolve around growing up, family and the colorful characters that the author encountered during his childhood.

I grew up not too far from Marine Park. The places and characters are familiar ones, to me at least. But that does not mean that a reader who is unfamiliar with Brooklyn or Marine Park would not be able to appreciate the stories. The best and most beloved stories are universal, regardless of the time they take place in or the specific location that the author places the story.

I recommend it.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City

An American Bride In Kabul Book Review

Life is made up a variety of experiences. Sometimes these experiences take our lives into new directions previously not thought of.

In the early 1960’s, second wave feminist and author Phyllis Chesler was young and in love. Ms. Chesler was born into an Orthodox Jewish family from Brooklyn, New York. The man she fell in love with was the son of a devout Muslim family from Afghanistan.

Deciding to take a chance on love, she put aside her family and her ambitions to marry this man and live with him in his native country. Her experience is chronicle in her 2013 memoir, An American Bride In Kabul. When the plane landed in Kabul, her American passport was taken away from her. She was no longer an individual, but property that was part and parcel of her husband’s family.  The charming, educated, open minded man she fell in love was soon replaced by a traditional man who clung to the old traditions and expected his wife to do the same.

What I very much enjoyed about this book was that it opened my eyes to a world that I know really nothing of. Many of us who live in the West, unless we have visited countries like Afghanistan, truly have no understanding of what it is to live in that world.  One of the points that Ms. Chesler makes is that those of us in the West may pretend to understand what it is to live in Afghanistan and other countries in that region, but the truth is that we do not.

I highly recommend this book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

End Of An Era

To the locals of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, the El Greco diner is not just a diner. It is a landmark and a part of the community.

It will soon be closed.

I grew up in Sheepshead Bay and have fond memories of eating in the El Greco diner. Every neighborhood has it’s own landmark, the place that generations have been going to. For the residents of Sheepshead Bay, one of those places is the El Greco diner.

It’s a diner. It serves the usual diner food. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. But to go back to your favorite haunt, it’s like Cheers. Everyone knows your name. You know the menu, you know the waitstaff and you know that you will have a good meal.

But all good things must come to an end eventually. I just wish it didn’t have to be the El Greco diner.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York City