Tag Archives: New York City

Throwback Thursday: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The question of our fate is one that is open ended and based upon the beliefs of the individual. Is it in our hands or is it preset even before it has begun?

The 2011 movie, The Adjustment Bureau (based on a short story, Adjustment Team, by Phillip K. Dick), is a science fiction inspired love story that is not supposed to happen. According to the powers that be, politician David Norris (Matt Damon) and contemporary dance Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) are supposed to live separate lives in New York City. But when he sees a flash of his future with Elise, David goes against those are keeping them apart, The Adjustment Bureau, to be with her. David and Elise have two choices in front of them: accept that their relationship is not meant to be or fight for it.

This movie is so good. It asks existential questions in a way that both speaks to the audience and keeps within the boundaries of the genre. Blunt and Damon have fantastic chemistry and the narrative is perfect taught with tension and suspense.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City, Throwback Thursday

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City Book Review

Food is more than the nourishment our body needs to survive. It tells the story of the people who prepared it.

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City by Scott Seligman was published last year. One of the major tenets of traditional Judaism is keeping kosher. That means that certain foods are off limits. Meat and dairy dishes cannot be combined in the same meal. There must be two sets of dishes and two sets of preparation tools. Most of all, the only acceptable meat is kosher. The problem with kosher meat is that it is more expensive than its non-kosher counterpart.

In May of 1902, many Jewish families who resided in New York City were poor immigrants, barely struggling to get by. But in spite of the hardships, they were determined to maintain their traditions. That included the food they purchased and consumed. When the price of the animal based proteins rose beyond what many could afford, women took to the streets, believing that price gouges were responsible for the increase. What started out as a non-violent movement turned into a battle for the hearts and minds of the community. Led by women who lacked the education and opportunities of their uptown peers, it is a story of not just economic survival, but the average person fighting against the powerful.

This book is obviously a niche subject and right up my alley. This is my history and the women I come from. Instead of keeping silent, they stood up for themselves and their community. In doing so, these women blazed a path and helped to created the blueprint for the modern non-violent protest that we see today.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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

This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir Book Review

When one reaches the peak of success in Hollywood, the assumption maybe that the problems this person had when they were not famous disappear. Their life is nothing short of perfection. The truth is that their pre-fame issues remain the same (or may even be magnified) with the harsh spotlight that comes with being in the public eye.

Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong released her new memoir in August. Entitled This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir, the book tells her story of losing her beloved cousin, Owen, to cancer and the emotional destruction that Covid-19 has left in its wake. When he passed away in early 2020, Strong was devastated. Her grief was compounded when New York City became the epicenter of the virus a few months later. Needing a break from everything, she left the city, took refuge in a house upstate and began to write.

I like that it is set in a diary format. Strong reveals a personal side of herself that television viewers have not seen of her. She lays her mental health cards on the table, talking about emotions that are private, deep, and a little bit uncomfortable. My problem is that I expected to feel everything that she puts on the page. Unfortunately, I was not, which a dam shame.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health, New York City, Television

Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen Review

Costumes are more than clothes on a performer. They communicate as much about the character as the words that come out of the actor’s mouth.

The new exhibit, Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen, is open until the end of next month. Visitors are able to get up close and personal with some of the most lavish and beautiful costumes from their favorite stage shows, movies, and television programs. They are also able to have conversations with the experts in the field as they talk about their craft and the work that goes into the finished product.

This is the type of experience one can only have in New York City. The ability to see the detail and the effort it takes to create these masterpieces is not one that occurs very often. As an audience member, it makes me appreciate the artisans and artists who job it is to bring these masterpieces to life.

My problem is that I wish there was more to it. While it is entertaining and a bit of a learning experience, it falls short of fulfilling the promises it makes.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen will be open until October 31st. It is located at 234 West 42nd Street in New York. More information can be found on the first link above.

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Filed under Movies, New York City, Television

Flashback Friday: The Parent Trap II (1986)

Divorce is a hard thing on a kid. You want your parents to be happy, but their happiness is no longer dependent on one another.

The 1986 TV movie, The Parent Trap II, is the sequel to the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap. Nikki Ferris (Carrie Kei Heim) and Mary Grand (Bridgette Andersen) both have divorced parents. Being best friends, they plan on bringing Nikki’s mother Sharon Ferris (Hayley Mills) and Mary’s father Bill Grand (Tom Skerritt) together. Their goal is to prevent Sharon and Nikki from uprooting and moving to New York City. But the girls are not doing it alone. Sharon’s twin sister, Susan Carey (also Haley Mills) is more than eager to provide help in whatever ways she can.

I haven’t seen this movie in thirty plus years. I remember watching it countless times when I was young. Its a cute movie and overall, a nice extension to the narrative of the original film. With films like these, important thing is the balance between nostalgia and moving the story forward. Granted, I have only seen it it through a child’s eyes, but as sequels go, I have seen much worse.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, New York City, Television, TV Review

Worth Movie Review

What is a human life worth? Is it the emotions we create in others? Is it the experiences that define our lives? Or is it in a check that is given to our loved ones when we are gone?

The new Netflix movie, Worth, follows the story of real life lawyer Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) as he tries to help the victims of 9/11. He has been assigned to help the survivors and the families of the nearly 3000 people who died that day. His job is to lead the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, but it will not be easy. With the help of associate Camille Biros (Amy Ryan), he and his team must determine what each person was worth.

Challenging Kenneth are two surviving spouses. Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) lost his wife when the Twin Towers fell. A community organizer, he is continually nipping at the team’s feet, pushing them to think with their heart and not with their calculators. Karen Donato (Laura Benanti) is torn between her needs and what she is hearing from her brother-in-law.

Kenneth knows that the task he has ahead of him will be grueling, in every sense of the word. Money can never replace the ones we love. Whatever happens, he knows that he must succeed, even with the difficulties that lay before him.

This movie is riveting and powerful. Based on a true story, it is a reminder that the souls who died that day were not just names on a spreadsheet. They were human beings whose loss represent a black hole that can never be filled. It also a reminder that there is still hope in this world. Kenneth starts the film as the typical cynical bureaucrat who is just doing his job. By the end of the film, he understands the grief and heartache of those who he is trying to help.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Worth is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, New York City

Now Can We Believe in Climate Change?

Some say that climate change does not exist. It is just part of the natural cycle of life and nature.

After the damage that Hurricane Ida wrought on multiple parts of the country, millions of American are still suffering. In Louisiana, there are some parts of the state that may not have full power back until the end of the month. The return of full infrastructure and normal life (well, as normal as it can be with Covid-19), is going to take some time).

In my hometown of New York City, the destruction Ida left behind is much more than any of us in this part of the country could have imagined. Between flooding, fires, and tornadoes, it was storm that was dangerously underestimated. Approximately 40 people lost their lives to Ida.

I don’t know what it is going to take for all of us to believe that climate change is both real and dangerous. We cannot undo what has already happened. But I believe there is still time, if we are willing to do the work. The question is, can we face up to reality and do what needs to be done?

If we don’t, then we are dooming ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and further generations to an Earth and a fate that will eventually kill us all.

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Clueless Character Review: Mel Horowitz

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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 of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Being the father of a teenage daughter is a curious and complicated thing. It is obvious that your little girl is no longer a little girl. As much you want to protect them, there comes a point in which they have to be set free.

In Clueless, Mel Horowitz (Dan Hedaya) is the father of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone). A widower and a high priced lawyer who has had several relationships since the death of his first wife, he is also the former step-father of Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd).Though he is none too pleased with some of his daughter’s outfits, he is proud of Cher’s unconventional academic achievements, and her striving to be a better person.

Mel also encourages Josh in his professional future as an environmental lawyer by inviting him to join him on work related projects when additional hands are needed. He also lets Cher get involved, but he gets frustrated by her inability to follow directions.

To sum it up: Mel is no different than any father. He wants the best for his daughter, but he gets aggravated by some of her actions, which to be perfectly frank, are normal for her age. Though he is far from the main character, he is not as clueless (get it?;)) as other parents in the genre.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

P.S. As New York accents go, his is old school in the best way possible.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, New York City

One Last Stop Book Review

When we get on to the train or the bus to get to wherever we are going to, we don’t expect to find love. But sometimes, it finds us when we least expect it.

Casey McQuiston‘s new book, One Last Stop, was published in June. New Orleans native August has just moved to New York City to be alone. She rents a room in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush and lives with a motley crew of roommates. When August is not home, can either be found working at a local pancake restaurant or attending classes at Brooklyn College.

Her life changes when she meets 1970’s rocker chick Jane on the train. What starts a crush turns into something more. The problem is that Jane cannot leave the subway car. She has been stuck on the subway since the 1970’s. The only way to free Jane is for August to open up and not be afraid of looking back at her past.

To say that I was disappointed in this book is an understatement. I loved her first book. By themselves, the individual elements of this novel are fine. I loved the chemistry between August and Jane. The author perfectly captures the kinetic and sometimes less than glamorous reality that comes with living in NYC. The supernatural twist adds another level that is sometimes missing in the modern romance genre, regardless of the gender and/or sexuality of the lead characters.

The problem is that it is hard to read. It drags on to the point where I nearly put it down several times without finishing it. I did eventually get to the end, but not without feeling like I had pushed on a ten pound weight off my shoulders.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Throwback Thursday: The Phantom (1996)

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. They also exist outside of the big IPs.

In the 1996 film, The Phantom, the title character (Billy Zane) is the latest line of superheros. Four hundred years ago, his ancestor witnessed his father’s murder on their ship. When he finally returns to dry land, he swears that he will become a version of Robin Hood. This legacy is passed down from father son until we get to what was then the present day. The current Phantom’s latest is nemesis Xander Drax (Treat Williams). There is also the love interest in the form of his ex, Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson) and the wannabe love interest/baddie Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Like The Shadow (1994), it is a live action version of an old time radio show. As narratives go, it is rather generic. While the action is decent, there is nothing that makes it stand out in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City, Throwback Thursday