On August 3rd, Aviva sadly parted with her beloved Violeta, after 11 years of devoted service.
Summertime and the living is streaming. I am still not sure how this whole process of streaming operates but I have succeeded in figuring out how to record my favorite shows or watch them on demand. I can say that many of my friends, especially those of a senior age, are not so talented. Remember always ask young people for help.
My newfound capabilities have enabled me to expand my infotainment intake, and I suggest watching two cable shows about aspects of our American history that make for great drama. Try figuring out how to access them if you missed them when they first aired.
The Americans on FX is an incredible story about a Russian couple posing as American travel agents living amongst us in the Washington, DC area during the Reagan era while actually spying for the Soviets. These KGB agents try to cope with danger while bringing up two children and the facing the morality of their actions. You will have to do a lot of catch up because the show already aired for four seasons, but it’s worth every suspenseful episode.
Underground on WGNA is a riveting series of how slaves were submitted to horrible conditions in the South and how a group organized an escape from their plantation against great obstacles. While on the run, they encountered cruel bounty hunters but were also aided by a few abolitionists with a conscience. The difference between the house and field slaves is bluntly portrayed as well as the toll slavery took on everyone. The ending of the seasons introduces a character that will motivate you to keep on watching when it starts up again.
Kudos to these cable stations for providing us drama that can offer us glimpses into our American past, and better understand the long lasting effects of the Cold War and slavery in the South that shapes our country in the present.
Good luck on trying to access the shows.
While other American states are enduring primaries,, the Nation’s Capital has been celebrating 30 years of movies premiering at Filmfest DC, Washington, D.C.’s International Film Festival, this past week and through the weekend.
This year, the festival opened with Jocelyn Moorhouse’s hilarious and poignant “The Dressmaker,” starring Kate Winslet as the sophisticated dressmaker coming home to see her elderly mother – played with a devilish twinkle by Judy Davis – and unearth what caused her exile at a young age.
Read the full post at theWrap.com, here!
This Saturday night, HBO will offer Americans a great lesson in democracy by airing Confirmation, a movie about Anita Hill’s Senate testimony on Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991. This airing is also timely because America needs to be reminded how the Senate Judiciary Committee works whenever a vacancy occurs on the Court and how the present Republican leadership’s refusal to hold a hearing for our President’s nominee Merrick Garland is undemocratic.
The other theme addressed in this upcoming drama— sexism both in the work place and in the all male Senate committee back then— are also current as voters have an opportunity to finally vote for an excellent and experienced female candidate for President.
I remember all too well being glued to the television day after day watching the hearings and feeling so shocked about the sexist complaints Hill felt compelled to report about Thomas. My anger only increased hearing the chauvinist treatment from the male Senators. Plus the hearings brought to mind the sexist treatment I had faced in my own past and had buried deeply in my brain. My friends confessed that the hearings also brought up ugly memories for them.
That is why Anita Hill is such an important heroine for so many of us women. With talented actress Kerry Washington playing Hill, I am sure you will identify with the scandals that women encountered back then and are still facing in the work place and in their personal lives.
I just suggest you not view the show alone, especially if you’re a woman, because the issues call for discussion. Call or email some friends to come over and watch the show together. I organized such a group showing by emailing friends this afternoon.
Hopefully after you finish watching Confirmation and discussing the issues with your friends please contact the Republican leadership in Congress and insist that hearings be held for nominee Garland. And then go rent or buy Freida Mock’s Anita, her excellent 2013 documentary on Anita Hill, and discover how this brave woman succeeded in her career in spite of confronting sexual harassment at work and hostility at Senate hearings.
And just hopefully both Garland and Hillary Clinton will also succeed in their challenges.
In the April 1-8 edition of Entertainment Weekly (page 22) there is an article discussing which Hollywood directors would encourage the release of movies put forward by Sean Parker’s Screening Room for same day release in your home. Cleverly, writer Nicole Sperling decided to survey directors about what they thought of this so-called new concept of viewing films in ones living rooms on opening day. (Seems to me like Netflix has capitalized on this concept already.) She found 5 people were for the new system and 5 opposed it. Maybe it is a new concept with first day releases, but what is not new is that the 10 directors pictured for the survey were all men.
Are so many female feature directors out shooting movies that they could not be reached for their opinions? Or does EW editors and writers not have the pictures of these female directors on file?
Just another example of Middle Age Madness when Hollywood and those who cover the industry cannot seem to remember that only one gender, apparently, are able to direct feature films.
I don’t know what makes me more furious: That it was written by a women writer in the entertainment industry who seems clueless as to how to best cover the male hegemony at a critical time when women directors are suing for recognition and continue in making noise about discrimination.
Or that it’s discouraging that that the story focused on famous directors and they are all male.
Maybe the male species was only surveyed because they are usually the couch potatoes?
For what it’s worth EW I believe that audiences should first see movies released on the big screen. But of course that is a MAM thought since I was raised on the joy of watching films larger than life.
Although the Oscars are ancient history by this point a few of us still smile when recalling how Chris Rock nailed the white elephant in the room and left us with laugh-induced bellyaches. After his routines, my annual wish for political statements to be made at the Oscars was fulfilled to the brim.
I do hope that audiences will change their behavior after what they heard at this year’s Oscars ceremony. Listening to one of Rock’s pleas I bought even more Girl Scout cookies than usual and served them at my annual betting party for how many games my local baseball team, the Washington Nationals, will win. I have also been inspired to renew working on a long-standing concept for a television series that celebrates diversity, and I have criticized a friend for not including any speakers of color at her otherwise wonderful women’s program. And I have advocated for more diverse representation in the documentary branch.
But on another front I have not been very successful. My personal efforts to talk friends into seeing some of the Oscar winner’s great performances and movies have failed. I pride myself on seeing most of the nominated movies and performances, and even before the nominations are announced. I advocate that they see those movies as soon as they are release. But some friends just won’t go see a movie with “tough” themes, and winning a golden statute does not seem be enough incentive.
These films with hard-to-watch scenes because of the realistic depictions of suffering have resulted in some excellent performances. I was enraptured by Leonardo DiCaprio’s brilliant performance in The Revenant. I thought the movie captured the brutality, especially as directed toward the Native American population, and beauty of our country’s history of manifest destiny. Mexican director Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñàrritu and director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki so deserved their statues. These well deserved accolades given to two citizens of America’s below the border neighbors only prove that art is best realized on the screen not by building walls between our countries but by allowing the free flow of ideas and talent.
Yet my efforts to entice friends, especially of the female persuasion, to see this frontier epic went mostly unheeded. As a matter of fact one male acquaintance said to me “you are the only woman I know who saw the movie.” Without going into a detailed discussion about the perceived squeamish female factor in movie going, I just have to say both male and female movie goers are missing a spectacular vision of the settlement of America. Women don’t need to see Leonardo only sinking in a ship for love to know what a talented actor he has always been.
A similar reaction manifested when I enthusiastically encouraged family and friends, especially children of Holocaust survivors, to see Làszlò Nemes’s Son of Saul. The movie’s demanding sound effects, Géza Röhrig’s heart wrenching acting and the close up camerawork so bravely portray the horrors of Auschwitz. I told the Hungarian director, whom I had the honor to meet, that I believed his brutal depiction of the horrors in the death camp was so close to what I imagined my murdered grandparents and aunt and surviving uncle faced there. Kudos to Sony Pictures Classics for nurturing this foreign film’s release.
I also faced hesitation from moviegoers when I encouraged them to see the performance by the recipient of the best actress award, Brie Larson, for her nuanced acting in The Room. They expressed reluctance to watch a movie about a mother who has been raped and held in captivity while caring for a son born under such horrible circumstances. What they are missing are the command performances of a mother who surrounds her offspring with an incredible fantasy world. The Room is one of the most inspiring stories of a mother going to great lengths to care for a child by creating an imaginary bubble of survival rarely seen on the screen.
I don’t know the numbers of how the Oscars winners are faring on the income charts as my survey stems from personal anecdotes. I just hope that Hollywood and the independent community will still make and distribute these “difficult” subject films.
I was also inspired by Sarah Gavron’s Suffragate that is the best-underrated and under viewed film this season. The scenes of how British working class women faced horrible working conditions and unequal status in their marriages still resonate in my head. Depicting the courageous and even militant suffragette fight in England for women’s voting rights was captivating and so timely. What better film to see this year when Hillary Rodham Clinton will hopefully capture the Democratic nomination and lead America in 2017.
So I can only hope that moviegoers will see both the so called fun movies and also the serious ones. I certainly alternate going to both. Maybe the reluctance to deal with the moving and depressing realities of the past and today’s world is the horrible news we are receiving daily from all over the world.
This rejection phenomenon just occurred just now among my email boxes. I had proposed to several friends to see Atom Egoyan’s Remember, about Holocaust survivors planning to take revenge an Auschwitz Nazi guard on a cross-continental journey, at my local independent Avalon Theatre.
But the majority of my buddies expressed more interest in seeing My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Turns out that Remember was an engaging thriller with a twist, so glad my friends agreed to go with me. Although a humorous wedding flick trumps a celluloid depiction of genocide for some of my friends, I am glad I went with my film going instincts.
The 86-year-old actor offers a frank — and very funny — take on men’s health in “A Man and His Prostate”
A show about prostate problems that plague older men does not strike one as a comical subject. But when lines about male issues are being delivered out of the mouth of the quintessential curmudgeon, an 86-year-old Ed Asner, this delicate topic is gut-wrenching humorous.
Read my full guest blog on The Wrap.com, here.
Not surprisingly, László Nemes’ wrenching “Son of Saul” was recently nominated for a Golden Globe award and shortlisted for the Oscars, as well as landing on most film critics’ best-of lists. Ever since the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes in May, its young director has been rightly praised for this brilliant and realistic portrayal of survival in Auschwitz in 1944.
Nemes was recently in Washington, D.C. presenting his masterpiece. He explained how he started making the film “10
years ago when he was just 28 years old.”
Read my full guest blog on The Wrap.com, here.
A couple secretly hoarding a cache of guns and plotting their nefarious political goals as they go about leading a “normal” American life while nurturing their offspring. This storyline is most familiar to those of us who are fans of FX’s “The Americans,” the story of Soviet spies posing as a model American couple with kids while violently taking out enemies of Mother Russia. Both scenarios include a garage full of weapons, and a couple clandestinely plotting evil acts. While the hit television show returns for its fourth season in 2016, the real life couple’s double lives came to a brutal end thanks to rapid police response.
Read my full guest article on The Wrap.com, here!