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Posts Tagged ‘Film’

Gone are the days when a Hollywood studio could basically “own” its talent. But we’ve all heard of actors having to sign away their lives for a certain number of pictures over a period of years. Now with the #metoo movement, more than a few casting couches have been exposed. Once you achieved “star” status, the pressure might ease up a little; but did you know that over one hundred years ago at Universal Studios women were writing and directing many of the early silent films?

As director Ida May Park, another of the Universal Women, remarked in 1920, “Films are made for women, [who] compose the large majority of our fans.” That’s true today, when females make up 52% of the moviegoing audience. Yet filmmaking is top-heavy with male-driven stories, written, directed and produced primarily by men. Surely the mismatch has a role in the drop in box office receipts at movie theaters.  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sharp-universal-studios-women-20171112-story.html

Last night, I understand Frances McDormand made an impassioned plea at the Oscars. Still haven’t seen “Three Billboards” but it’s on my list! Calling attention to an “inclusion rider” was her way of telling her peers that they can take back their power in numbers if everyone adds this rider to their contract. Simply put, you are calling for diversity of your cast and crew – you’d like the movie you are about to shoot represent all of the varied shades of the American people. All ages and sexes would be nice as well. And, I would add, maybe even women screenwriters?

With the exception of Star Wars, I’ve often felt that studios are so worried about box office numbers, they have lately been putting out any and all iterations of comic/book/super/action/heroes. Adolescent boy material can be good for awhile, but as a culture we’ve come close to overdosing. Women like a movie with a good storyline, that’s all. We don’t want gratuitous scenes of random violence and torture, we don’t need loud car chases and crashes.

Although, I must admit “Wonder Woman” was a long time coming.

Let’s take a look at that fish story. That’s what I call “The Shape of Water.” Bob loved it and I came away with a mawah feeling. I’m not sure why, maybe I’m just too practical to think a woman might fall for a fish. It had periods of light for sure, but best movie Oscar?  I told Bob I can’t wait to see one of my favorite actors, Jennifer Lawrence, in Red Sparrow. It’s only topping out at about 45M in the US, hmmm, then I read a Jezebel review and thought, WHY? Rape, sexual humiliation and torture, when Lawrence’s character is not walking aimlessly around a street…I feel like Nancy Kerrigan all the darn time.

When the Bride and I were driving home from our family forum on healthy sex, she happened to mention that unlike her peers, she remembers that as a teen we would allow her to see films with sex scenes in them, but not violent films filled with guns. I of course remember taking her to see an “Alien” movie because I’d read that Sigourney Weaver was the first female action star – and ended up covering her eyes for most of it! Sometimes you wonder what sticks during those parenting years.

I cannot wait to see “A Wrinkle in Time,” written, directed and starring women of all possible shapes, sizes and colors and ages. I wonder if Oprah, Reese and Mindy had inclusion riders in their contracts? Here is my favorite local historic home, hey Hollywood scouts, let’s see what goes on behind that door!    IMG_2373 2

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It’s been a busy weekend. Not busy like Great Grandpa Hudson’s busy Veteran’s Day celebrations, but busy enough. On Saturday, Bob and I stopped by a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in our neighborhood; and that evening we saw the spectacular “Jane” documentary with the Bride’s family, about Jane Goodall and her beloved chimps of the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. As we were leaving the theatre, I remembered interviewing Dame Goodall in Rumson in the 90s.

She was slight like the Flapper, elegant in an easy way, no makeup with her grey hair pulled back in the proverbial ponytail. Wrapped in a long poncho. I remember the determination in her eyes, so focused and bright.

Last night we walked down our alley to meet our 90 year old neighbor, Burdell, and walk to a presentation on the history of Germantown. Our little outpost neighborhood in Nashville started out with an abundance of slaughterhouses in the 1840s and began developing into a mixed residential area until the 1950s. It was an old-school slide presentation and when a certain house on Monroe St appeared, Burdell whispered, “Turnip greens.” Seems a woman would sit on that front porch yelling, “Turnip greens!” all day long.

And I thought I had entered into a Southern novel and was wishing my sister-in-law Jorja  was here.

Burdell and the man wielding the laser light single(or double)handedly rescued Germantown from becoming an industrial zone in 1979. The city wanted to build an emissions testing garage across the street from those venerable old homes, so our buddies ran quite a protest with press coverage and champagne and donuts! Certain homes became historic landmarks and an architectural review board convened to save the tiny row houses and bungalows from extinction.

Now we are back to being a mixed residential zone, only the new condos and apartments being built are hardly affordable. In fact, a new town home next to an old funeral home and across from a pet store just sold for over 1M.

At least that’s what Bill told me. This is how I get my news these days, from neighbors walking past our porch to the coffee house; from Bob’s “damage report” every morning; from BBC and Nashville Public Radio; and for up to the minute “breaking news” from Twitter. I’m changing my habits. Gone are the days of yelling at Morning Joe over coffee. Instead, this morning I watched a video clip on my laptop from the Today Show of Joe Biden.

First I just watched his facial expressions, without sound. Then I punched in the sound as he answered Savannah Guthrie’s question about some juvenile Tweet Mr T sent regarding North Korea’s leader being “short and fat.” Biden was measured and serious, we are no longer laughing at Mr T’s buffoonery. He said he’s known many presidents, and that our children and grandchildren are watching, that our country used to lead by “The Power of our Example.”

We all know you can teach a child through lessons, words and workbooks, but it’s our example as teachers and parents that sifts through their consciousness. I wanted the Love Bug to see “Jane” because she also loves animals, and being outside collecting bugs. If you want your child to not develop an eating disorder, you don’t grab their arm or threaten at the dinner table. One models a healthy lifestyle by living it. Just thinking about two man-baby leaders trading sarcastic middle school Tweets with those same fingers that can access nuclear codes is more than horrifying.

They are putting humans on the endangered species list. When Jane’s chimps ventured south on the Gombe, they were systematically annihilated by a different group in that area. Territory is hard-wired in our brains I’m afraid. And Mr T goes to China and comes back with a branding agreement for his name to be used on hotels and escort services among others, but nada on North Korea. There is a move to impeach this president, have you signed the Need to Impeach Trump petition yet? https://www.needtoimpeach.com

We are walking on a tightrope.

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Let me feel your psyche talk. Reading a recap of the news this morning made me want to break into song, sorry Olivia Newton John. It seems that Mr T is on a Twitter tear, which obviously means he’s not happy, and he’s setting the stage for his United Nation’s address today. What he will say to the General Assembly is anybody’s guess, but one look at his Tweets tells us he’s getting aggressive with the “Rocket Man.” And Nikki Haley’s response?

“He gets emotional.”

Awww. Imagine what would have happened if Hillary Clinton set policy via Tweets creating one scandal after another, and then her Ambassador said she was just being emotional? Imagine President Obama saying just about anything Mr T has said?!! Imagine any US President mock/striking a woman with a GIF of his golf swing! This is our new normal, we have somehow normalized the behavior of a 12 year old boy.

Last night Bob and I drove out to a lake house for dinner with some new friends. We have the shared experience of our daughter’s residency at Vanderbilt. Their doctor-bride-to-be will be married in January, and she is a Pediatric Orthopedist. We met Susan and Tom by chance at the eclipse, and liked them before we found out our girls actually knew each other. We had a lovely time and returned home in time to watch the premiere of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s epic documentary “The Vietnam War.”

I got pretty emotional, because my brothers served in that war.

I had no idea that the eventual leader of the Viet Cong, Ho Chi Minh, had first written to FDR after WWII for help with establishing independence from the French for his country. That letter was never delivered. After the Chinese Revolution, Russia was only too happy to help this nationalist leader fight for a united Vietnam.

I didn’t know a young congressman named John Kennedy saw the futility of this proxy war for the French. And that in 1959, the first two American soldiers were killed as they watched a movie. The incremental lead up to war was chilling, and resonates today with our troubles in North and South Korea. And so much is about the context of our time, and how that shapes our point of view.

In the 1960s, we thought we were fighting for freedom, because we were afraid of Communism. Fear pushed four presidents of both parties to intercede in a bloody civil war for French Indochina – we didn’t see the obvious end of colonialism. Hindsight may hopefully teach us something this time around.

If we can manage to not let our emotions take over; if our President can control his temperamental Twitter tirades; if we don’t turn our backs on history.

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Christopher Nolan’s new movie Dunkirk will open in July, but you can watch the trailer now. The Rolling Stone called it “Gripping,” and said the trailer moves forward with, “…white-knuckle intensity.” Seeing as the Rocker composed the music and sound design for this one, I can understand why:

Nolan wrote and directed the movie, which takes place in 1940, when 400,000 Allied troops were surrounded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, caught between the English channel at their backs and the German army on land. Civilian sailors joined the English navy and air force for an all-hands-on-deck evacuation operation. http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/see-gripping-new-trailer-for-christopher-nolans-dunkirk-w480901

I’d never heard of this story, about simple Sunday sailors and fishermen setting sail across the channel to rescue their British troops. If Hitler had turned his army toward that edge of sand, the war might have been over before we got our chance to jump in after Pearl Harbor.

Great Grandpa Hudson remembers seeing kamikaze pilots in the Pacific even after Hiroshima. He was retelling some of his war stories this week while we were visiting, and Great Grandma Ada told us some of her frustration with the VA. She’d been trying to get her WWII Vet a new set of hearing aides for months.

Hudson just turned 91 in April. He is one of two men left from the ship he served on in the Pacific. The Navy made him the cobbler onboard when he was a teenager, which probably sparked his interest in woodcarving. Totem poles abound around their property that he has painstakingly carved over the years. He is starting to slow down now, but still has a twinkle in his eye!

I was struck again at how profoundly deaf Hudson has become, and how isolating that can be for him and all our seniors. He and Grandma waited months for a new set of hearing aides to arrive, making calls to no avail, until finally Ada wrote to the Administrator, the Boss of the whole operation. All of a sudden, she received emails and calls tracking the package, a semi-apology, and supposedly the hearing aides are actually in the mail and on the way.

Did the package actually ship? Was their address correct? Who knows, but not many 90+ year olds are married to such a feisty 93 year old!

It’s Memorial Day weekend and if you’re not traveling, you’re probably barbequing something. But let’s not forget our Veterans, the men and women who risked life and limb only to return home to staggering “wait times” in order to see a doctor at their local VA. The proposed new budget from Mr T’s administration may look good to some, but is in reality a typical GOP move to outsource services:  “We are very concerned the administration’s request to make the Veterans Choice Program a permanent, mandatory program could lead to a gradual erosion of the VA health care system,” the VFW stated Wednesday in written testimony.'” It’s kind of like eroding the public school system by pushing charter schools. http://taskandpurpose.com/veterans-groups-criticize-proposed-va-budget-cuts-elderly-vets-benefits/

Funding for medical research will be reduced by 30 Million, and the new priorities will be Gulf War Vets and opioid and suicide prevention. This is all well and good, but let’s not forget our elderly Vets. When I found out that Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aides, or audiology testing, I was dumbfounded. Bob told us that soon enough we will be able to purchase hearing aides over the counter. Ada said, “But will they be any good?”

A feeling of not being heard would land me into a state of deep despair. It’s such an important sense, not just for communicating by phone that a set of hearing aides have not yet arrived, but for our ability to connect with others.

When the call went out to send as many sea-worthy vessels as possible to evacuate the British soldiers from Dunkirk, 933 ships responded including battleships from the Royal Navy and a 14 ft open-topped fishing boat. They brought back 338,226 Allied soldiers over eight days while being bombarded by Nazi planes.

What if they never heard the call?

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Tomorrow I will be voting for our First Woman President! I am so proud to cast this vote, to pull the lever or press the button in honor of my Grandmother, Anna Robinson, who wasn’t allowed to vote when women suffrage was passed because she had married an “alien” Irishman. Immigration is the grand story of this great country, not it’s problem. But first let me fill you in on the last few days.

Returning home to my newly retired husband was a bit strange. People are asking me how is he doing, like we got a diagnosis of some dreaded disease. Yes, he still shaves in the car and puts his pants on one leg at a time. Don’t forget, Bob was never a 9 – 5, Monday through Friday kinda guy; he worked plenty of weekends and like a commercial pilot, had lots of free time around the house. I’ve already set some limits – no reorganizing the linen closet for instance. But do feel free to search and destroy random stinkbugs while cleaning out any expired cans from the pantry! Thanks Babe!

The Virginia Film Festival coincided with my return from Nashville, so we ventured out to the Historic Downtown Mall for dinner and a show. Only the film was midday, so dinner at the Nook came later, guess we are slipping into early bird specials already. We saw a documentary about the Holocaust…I know, I know. In the midst of this bizarre and stressful election denouement, why submit ourselves to such heartache. But it was a film about children, and I thought it might be uplifting.

The film, “Not the Last Butterfly,” was inspired by a poem written by Pavel Friedmann, “The Butterfly,” about never seeing another butterfly in the transit ghetto that was Theresienstadt outside of Prague in the former Czechoslovakia. Commonly called Terezin, it is sometimes mis-identified as a concentration camp, but it was a Walled Ghetto of Limbo for Jews awaiting their fate at the hands of the Nazis. It was a stop along the way for 15,000 children between 1941 and 1945. Pavel the poet was shipped to his death in Auschwitz in 1944. Only 100 children survived Terezin.

He was the last. Truly the last.
Such yellowness was bitter and blinding
Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.
That was his true colour.
And how easily he climbed, and how high,
Certainly, climbing, he wanted
To kiss the last of my world.

I have been here seven weeks,
‘Ghettoized’.
Who loved me have found me,
Daisies call to me,
And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.
But I haven’t seen a butterfly here.
That last one was the last one.
There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.

In an effort to make this horrific history approachable for schoolchildren today, a teacher in California came up with the idea to create 1.5 Million butterflies: yes, One and a Half Million to memorialize the total number of Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Under the leadership of a mosaic artist, Cheryl Rattner Price, they set about designing a curriculum that would include each child making by hand a ceramic butterfly and painting it, while simultaneously learning about one particular child who perished during the war. It was a profound undertaking, and quickly spread around the globe and to many different faiths. A rock festival in Poland created butterflies. A Catholic school in Oregon took on the Butterfly Project. The installation has taken flight at the San Diego Jewish Academy, but the butterflies are arriving from all over the world.

Remember I had just returned from Nashville. I had given the Love Bug butterfly kisses on her cheek. So when they showed the archival footage of children during the Holocaust, I thought of my grandchildren. When they showed Jewish stores and synagogues burning during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, I thought of the the Black church that was burned down in MS last week, with “Vote Trump” painted across a wall. Slowly, tears streamed down my face, because I understood how hatred starts out. Slowly, hatred of the “Other” becomes socially acceptable, so that the electrician who came to fix our phones said, “Why should they get a free ride, when I had to pay for my wife to come here?”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/02/vote-trump-painted-on-wall-of-burned-out-black-church-in-mississippi/

So tomorrow I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, for my grandchildren. I am voting for Love, because I don’t want to go back to a time where Women and Blacks were humiliated and disenfranchised in this country. I don’t want to go back to that great America where LGBT people were ridiculed and denied their rights. The Germans didn’t believe Hitler meant what he said, but we need to believe Trump means what he says; and he likes nuclear weapons and calls our military a bunch of “losers.” We cannot elect such a man filled with hate.

For more information about the film, or to see if you can arrange a showing at your school, please visit: http://thebutterflyprojectnow.org    img_5559

 

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Traveling with dogs can be tricky. Particularly when your dog is a rescue who starts gagging the moment you ask her if she wants to go for a ride.

We never had a dog who didn’t love jumping into any moving vehicle when invited for a ride. Buddha Bear would leap onto the Piper Arrow’s wing and happily sit beside Bob as his co-pilot! The Corgis always cuddled under the plane’s seats. So watching Ms Bean run away from the hanger and foam at the mouth while sitting in the back seat of my Honda was disturbing, and finally led us to the Vet for canine anti-nausea drugs.

But watching Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard apologize for bringing their dogs illegally into Australia was even more disturbing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/18/johnny-depps-wife-amber-heard-pleads-guilty-over-bringing-dogs-to-australia

Yorkies “Pistol” and “Boo,” due to the last-minute sacking of one of Heard’s assistants, did not have all their proper doggie paperwork completed, which led Heard to outright lie on the immigration form as they landed in their private jet. Some excuses seem to work I guess, although I would caution anyone to check (YES) when asked if you are carrying animals into another country, certainly if you happen to have two terriers in mini-mesh-carry-ons. When threatened with deportation, death, or ten years in jail, eh quarantine, Heard and Depp agreed to film their apology.

Heard’s punishment, a one-month good behaviour bond of $1,000, was an anti-climactic end to a Hollywood clash with Canberra in an imbroglio dubbed the “war on terrier”.Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said the video, played to her Gold Coast court on Monday, was “of far more benefit to this country” as a warning to would-be illegal importers than any conviction recorded against Heard.

The scripted video that played in court looked as if some mind control expert had taken over the couple’s souls. Depp tells us to “Declare everything” at the end, as if only the truth will set you free! I kept looking at him thinking they must have to use more make-up to age his pirate persona since he seems to be getting younger. As part of their sentencing, the video has now become a viral sensation, and may get more views than Depp’s latest rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow. Maybe they could rename this next Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, “Dead Dogs Tell No Tales?”

As for us, on last month’s trip to NJ – her maiden voyage – Ms Bean did just fine with her pill onboard. She even got to play with a Jack Russell visiting from Arkansas. Now she runs toward the car when we ask if she wants to come along! And we may just have to pack her up and evacuate if the wind shifts and this Shenandoah wildfire starts moving in our direction. It has burned over 2,000 acres and the smoke is affecting my eyes and lungs. This was our view last night. IMG_4282

 

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Do you stop to think twice? Or do you leap into new situations, never looking back? This is characteristic of the nature/nurture phenomenon, a temperament that is born-in IMHO. You are either a risk-taker, or a risk-avoider. Look at the baby Rocker. The first time he saw the ocean, he ran right into the waves. Remember he was called “The Boy who ran before he could walk,” so he probably wasn’t even walking yet!

Not every young adult would pack up all his earthly possessions in two cars, convince his girl this is a good idea, and move across the United States to find work in the film industry. Which he did – exhibit A: The new Tarzan trailer, Music and Sound Design by my boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91rm_G1xkU8

And then there’s the rest of us, we proceed cautiously – my psychologist brother Dr Jim was just telling me about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM); “The transtheoretical model posits that health behavior change involves progress through six stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.” 

My first thought was, ‘this is so meta.’ Let’s think about how we think about changing our lives. But for behavioral psychologists, TTM is helpful when someone has been stuck in a habit, let’s say smoking, for most of his/her life and cannot seem to quit. Or they quit for awhile, and then start back down the road. It’s a way to break down the process of change into manageable, small steps. http://brainblogger.com/2009/01/25/smoking-behavior-and-the-transtheoretical-model-of-the-stages-of-change/

I’ve been thinking about this since returning to the states, and the full-frontal onslaught of political campaigns. We’d been invited to a fundraiser for Secretary Hillary Clinton and unfortunately couldn’t attend, but I’ve been listening closely to her words about the Supreme Court nominee. Lately she’s been tweeting us a very valuable history lesson:

  • At our best, America has united behind the ideal that everyone deserves a fair shot. At its best, the Supreme Court has defended that ideal.
  • In 1973, #SCOTUS ruled that women have the right to make intimate health decisions for ourselves. 
  • In 1954, #SCOTUS held that separate is not equal in our schools.
  • Last June, #SCOTUS ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land.

However her critics want to talk about emails, about trustworthiness, about her abundance of caution. She corrals the press, keeping a tight leash on reporters. She doesn’t want to debate in NY, but will in PA. She just has TOO MUCH confidence! This is what Huffington Post writer, Anna Kegler, said about Hillary’s problem:

While boys are raised to exaggerate their skills, take risks, fall down and pick themselves back up, girls are taught to think things through and second-guess, avoid risk and failure, and not raise their hand unless they’re sure they have the right answer. Lastly, girls absorb from the media that their real value [lies] in their appearance, at the same time that boys absorb the message that girls are not to be trusted.

Could this be the real issue? It’s not that Hillary can’t be trusted, it’s just that she doesn’t suffer from impostor syndrome. “By exhibiting confidence and publicly extolling their own virtues, female politicians running for office break the rules of the game and subvert existing power structures. As a politician, Clinton makes repeated asks for money and votes. Implied at the end of every ask is “because I deserve it,” and often, “more than that white man I’m running against.” http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/03/28/impostor_syndrome_is_expected_of_women_but_hillary_clinton_won_t_conform.html

Hooray for all those non-compliant women out there! Great Gma Ada used to give the Bride money for a report card that had that negative “Does not raise hand before talking” box checked! Good for you, she would say, make your voice heard! We not only wanna have fun, we want to bake and eat those cookies too! And the Rocker, well he wants to jump at the same time! Which is why he can work in Hollywood and still return to Jersey for gigs with his band, The Parlor Mob. 12418059_10154401166989316_7721114401111152149_n

Here’s to all the risk-takers, boys and those girls, the ‘tomboys’ out there who want to have it all. Don’t listen to the critics, climb trees, ride your bikes faster and faster. Reach for the stars, because you too can be President one day.

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