Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.

Helen Keller

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farewell Tony Curtis, film legend.

My mother used to say the name "Tony Curtis" with a dreamy look in her eye. Today we say goodbye to a film legend, the most notable of his movies being "Some Like It Hot" which very well may have been one of the inspirations behind the unmemorable TV sitcom, "Bosom Buddies."  Sure, Curtis and Lemmon needed some makeup tips from RuPaul but it remains a true classic and it was the first movie I thought of when I heard the news this morning. Tony Curtis was married 6 times, most notably to Janet Leigh with whom he had daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and was linked romantically to Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe. Not only will he be remembered for his films but also for a very colorful life
He wrote two Autobiograpies American Prince: A Memoir and Tony Curtis: The Autobiography  and made about 100 films. His penchant for comedy and his not for the prudish autobiographies will cement his place in Hollywood and in pop culture.

Beachhead 2005
Reflections of Evil 2002
The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man 1999
Play It to the Bone 1999
Star Games 1998
Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball 1997
Not with My Wife, You Don't! 1996
The Immortals 1995
The Mummy Lives 1995
Naked in New York 1994
Center of the Web 1992
Christmas in Connecticut 1992
Hollywood Babylon 1992
Prime Target 1991
Lobster Man From Mars 1990
Midnight 1989
The Last of Philip Banter 1986
Mafia Princess 1986
Club Life 1985
Insignificance 1985
Brainwaves 1982
Sex on the Run 1981
Title Shot 1981
Little Miss Marker 1980
The Mirror Crack'd 1980
The Amorous Mis-Adventures of Casanova 1978
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan 1978
The Manitou 1978
Sextette 1978
Vegas 1978
The Last Tycoon 1977
Lepke 1975
The Count of Monte Cristo 1974
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? 1970
Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies 1969
The Boston Strangler 1968
Arrivederci, Baby! 1966
Boeing Boeing 1965
The Great Race 1965
Paris When It Sizzles 1964
Sex and the Single Girl 1964
40 Pounds of Trouble 1963
Captain Newman, M.D. 1963
The List of Adrian Messenger 1963
Taras Bulba 1962
The Great Impostor 1961
Spartacus 1960
Operation Petticoat 1959
Some Like It Hot 1959
The Defiant Ones 1958
Kings Go Forth 1958
The Perfect Furlough 1958
The Vikings 1958
Sweet Smell of Success 1957
Trapeze 1956
Black Shield of Falworth 1954
Houdini 1953
Son of Ali Baba 1952
Francis the Talking Mule 1950
Winchester '73 1950
Johnny Stool Pigeon 1949

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book Week: Sept 25-Oct 2

According to the American Library Association "Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

Some of the books on the banned book list will surprise you and some may not. I am an enthusiastic believer in the first amendment and find even the political correct movement to be a direct violation of the right of the individual to express themselves. As a child, I often heard the phrase, "sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you." I do not agree with this assessment. To command the language is power as illustrated by the differences in courts of law between speech and "Hate" speech. George Orwell in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four , illustrates this with "Newspeak," a language that eliminates articles such as "The" or "and" but also any word that offends or evokes emotions. Below is a list of ten of the most challenged books of the decade of 2000-2009.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)

The Chocolate War (Readers Circle)
Of Mice and Men
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Catcher in the Rye
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
To Kill a Mockingbird (slipcased edition)
The Kite Runner
Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)
A Wrinkle in Time

The full list is located here
Celebrate banned book week by indulging in forbidden fruit and celebrating the right to free speech.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Gone Baby Gone: Ben Afflecks pre "The Town" directorial debut

Right now, I am reading a classic: Sophie's Choice (Modern Library)
and a modern novel: The Memory Keeper's Daughter: A Novel
Thoughts on those when I finish.

Ben Affleck's movie, "The Town," has received critical raves. His directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone," is little known but well reviewed and worth a look. The setting for the scene is Boston, a locale Affleck seems to know well and it stars his younger brother, Casey, as officer Patrick Kenzie who reluctantly takes on investigating the disappearance of a 4 year old girl, Amanda, from her apartment. Michelle Monaghan plays Patrick's partner, Angie. If there are any weak spots in this film, it lies with the underdeveloped, not sure what the point of this character is, presence of his partner. Amanda's mother, Helene, played by Amy Ryan, is an alcoholic and drug addict, whose priorities do not lie with her child but cries on cue when in the midst of cameras. The wonderful, Morgan Freeman, plays Captain Jack Doyle, the man that is overseeing the investigation who takes a particular interest in finding the child after experiencing the loss of his own. I had often chosen movies to see based solely on the Morgan Freeman test. If he's in it, it's probably a pretty good movie. Though he has chosen a few clunkers, "Glory", "Million Dollar Baby" and the eerie "Seven" were superb and he is top rate in this film too. The winding path to the truth takes us to the underbelly and ugliness underlying the landscape, characters that will sicken you, and contains a few twists, wrong turns and red herrings but when the truth is revealed, it will be discussed and debated as the concepts of right and wrong are muddled and fall in the shades of gray. Before attending the movie "The Town," see "Gone Baby Gone."

The story is based on a novel by "Mystic River" writer, David Lahane. "Gone Baby Gone" and other David Lahane works available below or in my stores:
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Fish Called Wanda: Yes, this is an old movie but TIMELESS!

It was 1988. I was a college student and was dating a Monty Python fan, no..fanatic! Whereas, I found Python funny, I was not as enamored with it as he was and when asked to go see "A Fish Called Wanda", I did so kicking and screaming. I was never so happy to be proved wrong. This was the first movie where I literally saw movie patrons fall out of their seats buckling with laughter, myself included. I believe this was also the first movie that I ever saw where I spent so much time laughing, I never finished even half my popcorn. Now that is a true testament.
After a bank robbery gone bad leads to the arrest of George, the main perpetrator, the surrounding characters, Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Otto (Kevin Kline) and Ken (Michael Palin), connive and back stab each other to make off with the loot. Archie Leach (John Cleese), is George's barrister. Wanda uses herself as bait to seduce Archie into revealing where George stashed the loot before his arrest. Embedded in this seemingly simple plot are perfectly timed jokes, well woven subplots, unforgettable characters and great performances most notably by Kevin Kline who really demonstrates how brilliantly adept he is as an actor. After proving himself in Sophie's Choice in a dramatic role, he is also absolutely superb in a comedic one. In these dark, economic times, dusting off "A Fish Called Wanda" will brighten your day. Classic in any sense of the word and enthusiastically recommended.

You can purchase "A Fish Called Wanda" at my DVD store or a the link below!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oprah Book Club Selection : Fall on Your Knees by Anne-marie MacDonald

I'll preface by saying that this is not the kind of book I would have ever chosen for myself to read. I bought a box of books recommended by the Oprah Book Club and read them slowly. "Fall on Your Knees" is not a book for a casual day on the beach. It is not light reading and it is not for those looking for happy endings. The book chronicles the life of a family: James Piper and his four daughters, Kathleen, Frances, Mercedes and Lily. Once one acclimates to the writing style, short, precise, carefully chosen words that refuse to reveal too much, this book is as difficult to read as it is difficult to put down. The location is Cape Briton, Nova Scotia. James, after having married a child Lebanese bride, is suddenly father to Kathleen, red haired and firey with the voice of an angel who is ultimately sent to school in New York, comes home pregnant and dies giving birth to twins. Frances, the firebrand, who defies traditional rules, defies her father with her every breath. Mercedes, the devout Catholic, sweeps her family's dysfunction under the rug and protects the family secrets. Lily, the innocent daughter of Kathleen, is adopted as the fourth sister to hide Kathleen's shame, and ultimately seeks redemption and uncovers the truth, a truth that will not be revealed until  the very end. There is everything in this book, sex, rock and roll, Jazz, lies, truth, anger, love, forbidden love, passion, repression, bliss, hate, disappointment, and ultimately forgiveness.
I loved this book and would recommend it to seasoned readers and those who love books that defy convention, tackle forbidden subjects and can handle a rather uncomfortable reading experience. The themes of secrets and burial run throughout the novel but underneath these themes run the themes of redemption and truth and the concept of family and the complex relationships that run within them. Each sisters place is well defined within the family and though the sisters are as different as night and day, the thread that ties them together is never severed
Fall On Your Knees (Oprah's Book Club)

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lady Gaga, the VMA 2010 awards, MP3's available from the winners..

I've never known quite what to think about Lady Gaga. As a middle aged woman who was a child of the 70's and grew up on Rock n' Roll, I guess I just don't "get it." As a Rock n' Roll enthusiast who suffered through Madonna, Lady Gaga seems to me to no more than a repeat, a mulligan of Madonnas over the top-ness through the 80's and early 90's. Articles mention Gaga, I'm guessing this is not her real name, graduated from NYU with a degree in Art and that her shows are a real live display of some perverted idea of Andy Warhol, emphasizing exaggerated sexuality and violence, complete with a new version of Madonna's pointed boob dress that created it's own mega twitter. It's hard to dispute that part of Lady Gaga's appeal is that we wonder how far she can go, how unexpected can she be. It's not a bad marketing plan actually. This middle aged Rock n' Roll fan will admit she has some talent as an entertainer but I'm not so sure her "Alejandro" video is true art and if it is, it's art I have censored my six year old from watching. It did not stop her from donning her meat dress and winning big at the VMA's this past weekend so I'm featuring today, the singles and the artists that won this weekend. And while PETA beats on Lady Gaga, you can still enjoy her music. Me, I'm happy as a musical ludite.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Stand up to cancer !

Tonight "Stand up to Cancer" will be broadcast on most major networks.  Last year, Stand up to Cancer raised over 750 million for cancer research, the lions share going to breast, prostate and colon cancer research. While we have made such great strides towards eliminating some forms, we are seriously lacking in funding others and some of us with cancer have no treatment options at all. I have Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor, a form of Sarcoma that accounts for only 100 diagnosis yearly. My treatments have all been experimental. As this cancer is so rare, no one saw a need to develop a treatment. MPNST and other forms of Sarcoma are considered Childhood Cancers as they attack the soft tissues and bones primarily in children and young adults. 20% of all Childhood Cancer diagnosis are Sarcomas, yet last year Stand Up to Cancer gave literally nothing to researching childhood cancers. This year, 46 mommas have banded together to plead for the case to fund childhood cancer. I know of and know personally 1/4 of these women. They have shaved their heads for St. Baldricks Foundation and have traveled many miles to be at "Stand UP to Cancer" this year so that they can bring awareness and present the case to fund research for Sarcoma and all the other childhood cancers that result in the deaths of 3000 children yearly. 5000 of the 10,000 patients diagnosed with any form of Sarcoma will die. If the cancer recurs, there is no second line of defense. I wish them well and if you're watching "Stand up to Cancer" tonight, keep an eye out for these phenomenal women and ask yourself "What if it were my child?" 46 mommas for the 46 children diagnosed daily....