Tag Archives: Ragtime

RIP Marin Mazzie

Cancer knows no bounds. Race, class, income, education, etc mean nothing to this insidious disease.

Today, Broadway lost one of their brightest stars. Marin Mazzie, best known for her roles in Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate, passed away this morning from Ovarian cancer. She was 57.

I saw her in Kiss Me, Kate when I was in college. Her performance was absolutely mesmerizing. Especially the song “I Hate Men”. Despite the late 1940’s setting of Kiss Me, Kate and the unrelenting sexism in the show and it’s originator, William Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew, the audience is clued into the underlying feminism of the play. The song is feminist rage exploding on stage in a way that almost liberates the text from the rampant sexism that is unfortunately part and parcel of the narrative.

My thoughts and prayers are with her husband and her loved ones.

May her memory be a blessing.

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Filed under Feminism, William Shakespeare

Throwback Thursday-Ragtime (1981)

The early 20th century was a historical game changer. New immigrants were entering America by the millions, disenfranchised minorities were fighting against the prejudice that kept them down and the social ruling class were trying to deal with the changes that were becoming obvious.

In 1975, E.L. Doctorow published Ragtime, a novel based around three different families living in America in the years leading up to World War I. Intertwining fictional characters with the real life events and personalities, the novel bring to life the era in brilliant color and sound.

In 1981, the book was made into a film. Tateh (Mandy Patinkin) is a Jewish widower who has recently immigrated from Eastern Europe with his daughter, hoping for a better life. Mother (Mary Steenburgen) is the matriarch of an upper middle class WASP family. Coalhouse Walker Jr (Howard E Rollins Jr) is an African-American fighting against the injustice of the era while trying to win back his ex/mother of his child, Sarah (Debbie Allen).

The danger of a story like Ragtime, with a large cast of characters and multiple story lines running concurrently is that the reader/viewer can easily get lost.  But not this story. Times may have changed, but human beings are still human beings. Which is exactly why this movie still holds up after more than 30 years.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Books, History, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 5 Recap

*-Recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

Upstairs

Edith is pregnant. That’s right, she’s got a bun in the oven, going to join her sisters in the state of motherhood. And Michael is still conveniently still missing.  I’m not one to point fingers, but wasn’t it Edith who used the s-word against her sister in the first series after the Pamuk incident?

Speaking of Mary, Evelyn Napier has brought his boss, Charles Blake  (Julian Ovenden) to Downton. Their relationship can only be defined as Beatrice and Benedict like. Anyone well versed in the rules of rom-coms can predict where this is going. Lord Gillingham who?

Isobel and Violet are back to their Odd Couple ways (Do I smell a spinoff?) In an effort to prove that young Mr. Pegg did not steal from the Dowager, Isobel goes to her house and pretending to be tired, does a little sleuthing (Another sequel, perhaps, Isobel Crawley, Mistress Sleuth). She finds what was conveniently was thought to be stolen.

The surprise for Robert’s birthday is to bring Jack Ross and his band. Not surprisingly, Rose was found with Jack after dinner making out in the servants dining hall.  Sybil’s relationship with Tom has nothing on Rose’s teenage rebellion and her relationship with Jack.

There was the inevitable awwww moment when George and Sybbie were brought into the nursery after the discussion between Mary, Isobel and Tom about their lost loves.  It was a simple, sweet scene that Julian does not often put in, but is appreciated when it is part of the show.

Robert has to go America to rescue Cora’s brother Harold from a scandal.  Welcome to America.

Downstairs

Carson looked as if he might burst, not only when Jack enters the servant’s dining, but when Jack has the gall to sit in his chair at the head of the table.  He tried to be polite, but you knew he wasn’t happy.

Anna and John go to a nice restaurant for dinner, but the hoity toity matrei’d denies them a table, despite making a reservation.  That is until Cora conveniently puts her two cents and they get a table.

Jimmy has become Mr. Willoughby, or Gaston, whichever floats your boat. Either way, he went from merely cocky to a jerk. Good for Ivy, standing up for herself.

One of the candidates who made it in the training program in London dropped out, so Alfred is off the London. Daisy rages while Molesley finally does something sensible and accepts the footman position.

And finally,  Baxter or O’Brien 2.5, despite receiving a warning from Cora that her conversation with Mary about Anna does not leave that room, goes to Thomas with the details of the conversation.

Analysis 

Edith’s pregnancy was not the big shocker that I thought it would be.  It wasn’t that hard to predict.   Charles Blake seems to be another Matthew in the early moments with Mary. Is Julian Fellows setting a pattern of Mary’s romantic partners?

Did anyone else notice the not too subtle wink wink nudge nudge to Elizabeth McGovern’s  professional past? The line about Ragtime music towards the end of the episode. Back in the day, she played Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime.

Dowager Moment/Line Of The Week

Isobel: How you hate to be wrong.
Countess Violet: I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.

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Filed under Downton Abbey, TV Recap