The Movie “Quartet” is a Winner: Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut at 75 Grade: A


If you’re a baby boomer or above, you’re facing some realities. You aren’t going to look like your 25 no matter how much you try. You start noticing other changes too. You get tired faster.  Some people notice a little forgetfulness creeping in. Imagine how it’s going to be in your  70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Acceptance of very old age is beautifully portrayed in the movie, “Quartet.” It is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut (at 75) and he does a sensitive job. He was wise enough to do his first production with the best actors. Try Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and  Pauline Collins,   Even though they’re elderly, they’re effective.  Just like the characters they portray in the movie.

The movie is about people living in a retirement home for musicians,  Beecham, residents are notable instrumentalists and opera singers. They don’t sit around and play Bingo; they play and sing music. Most of it classical and operatic There is plenty of music interspersed throughout the movie. There’s some authentic singing done by some of these masterful actors, singers and instrumentalists.

One of the conflicts comes into play when a former diva Jean Horton, portrayed by Maggie Smith, has to make contact with her ex husband Reginald portrayed by Tom  Courtenay. You know it was a serious breakup by their reaction to each other.

The retirement home needs to put on a show to raise money so they can stay in business. Smith’s character doesn’t want to tarnish her reputation since she can’t hit the high notes she used to. Part of the movie deals with Jeans reluctance to perform again.

Although the movie drags a little in the beginning, it picks up speed and by middle, you’ll be completely captivated.

*If you live in Columbus, Ohio, it’s playing at The Drexel Theater in Bexley.

Stay for the credits. They have some before and after pictures of the actors.

( I attended this movie with people I’ve been singing in a choir with for over 20 years. By the end of the movie, we were joking about scoping out a retirement home now.  I couldn’t think of people I’d rather live with when  I’m really old! )

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Fes...

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Les Miserable


If you’ve never seen the Broadway play of Les Miserable, maybe you’ll appreciate this clip from a 10th anniversary special. These were all the professionals who played the main parts.

I did enjoy the movie, but I was a little haunted by all the big voices I was used to hearing when I saw it live. This play is a particular favorite of mine.    I’ve seen it several times. What do you think?

“Parental Guidance”: Movie Review” Nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal!


Do you think Billy Crystal is hilarious? Then, go see Parental Guidance. I both laughed and cried during this movie. But, nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal. He plays Arte Decker, an over-the-hill baseball announcer, who has been fired for being old and out of touch with the newest generation.  There were some poignant moments in this movie interspersed with all the laughs.

I laughed a lot more than I cried. Bette Midler plays Crystal’s adoring put-together wife (Diane) who sees the chance to babysit their three grandchildren as another opportunity to win their grandchildren’s love. Currently, their photo is pushed aside on the mantle because the “other grandparents” take center stage.

Alice Simmons (Marisa Tomei) is  their only daughter  who is married to Phil Simmons (Tom Everett Scott) he’s handsome, understanding and smart.  He’s a gadget computer guy who’s completely made their house user friendly.  Crystal’s awkwardness around all this stuff felt familiar to me.

Alice and Phil direct the parents on their modern child rearing methods. Use positive reinforcement and don’t ever say no. “We let them ‘use their words and make choices.” says Tomei.

The three kids are adorable, but they have their problems. The oldest girl, Harper, (Bailee Madison)  is too serious,  the middle child, Turner, (Joshua Rush)  has a stutter, and the littlest guy, Barker (Kyle Harrison Breikopf)   has an imaginary friend. They all play straight guys to Billy Crystal. He’s great with them, especially Barker, but there is a moment in the film when Turner steals the movie.
There are a few slap-stick gags that are old, familiar and predictable, but they still work.

Crystal does one scene by himself that I found particularly touching. You’ll have to see the movie because I don’t want to ruin it.

What I was glad to see were all the kids, mostly preteens or early teens,  in the movie theater. A clean-cut movie with no monsters, guns and violence. They seemed to be enjoying it too.

If you’re looking for depth, there isn’t a whole lot in this movie. But, if you’re looking for laughter, you’ll find it here.  And if you’re trying to reconcile your place in the universe, it’s reassuring to know you’re in the same age category as Midler and Crystal.

Do you agree with my review? Comments are welcomed.

 

TV’s Supernanny is cool: A Review. Ten of the best techniques I’ve gleaned from the show.


I am fascinated by the Supernanny.  She’s the English Nanny who helps rescue people being over-run by their kids.  What’s most fascinating about her is that she doesn’t have any kids, but she seems to have a good understanding of what makes kids tick. No matter how assertive she is with the children,  the kids seem to love her. She knows the difference between being stern and mean. (It is TV) It just proves that kids are looking for authority figures, not friends.

This lady has good ideas. I was watching a marathon of these shows yesterday. Why I should be interested after I’m all done with mothering bewilders me. Maybe I’m just glad I didn’t live with abusive kids.

These new parents have a lot on their plates. It takes two incomes to raise kids these days. It’s a lot of responsibility, work and time.  I think maybe we’ve lost sight of what’s important. I think our mothers, father, and grandparents had a better idea.

I’m not saying I was the perfect mother, far from it. Luckily, my kids came out all right, but I  could have used some of the techniques I see proposed on this TV show.

Ten Valuable Techniques (I’ve watched

Supernanny

Supernanny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supernanny teach hapless parents.)

1 .When disciplining the child, get down on their level. Have them think about what they did wrong, then have them apologize. (I actually did use this technique. It was in place in the medieval times. )
2. Put some authority in your voice, so they know you mean business.
3. Make them go in their corner or room for one minute per age.
4. If they get out of bed at night, just put them back in their beds. The first time, say something, but after that don’t talk, just put them back in bed.
5 .Don’t let them use bad language, kick, hit or abuse the parents. It should never be tolerated.
6. Keep a good routine going. Give them thing to do that they will like. (Don’t just expect toys or TV  to completely entertain them.)
7 .Make sure your house is safe and that they can’t get into trouble.
8. Give them responsibility.
9. Take time to play with them.
10 Take time to listen to them.

Clinging Child

The story that I found unbelievable was about a little boy who was clinging onto his mother. She couldn’t walk 10 feet without him putting up his arms and demanding that she pick him up. She never turned him down.  He also decided what time his  mom and he should go to bed.  When he got tired, he happily crawled in bed with Mom and Dad (already asleep).

Supernanny gave Mom several  techniques to un-cling little 2-year old.  Mom was unwittingly promoting these  clinging habits. Dad wasn’t helping because when  he came home from work, he had transition time which never ended. He sat on a chair all night and watched TV. As soon as he became engaged with his kids, things began to improve.

It all came out all right. (At least on the TV show.)  The clinging  child  finally went to sleep in his own bed, disengaged from his mom and stopped throwing tantrums every time she put him on the floor.

If the kids featured on Supernanny are messed up, it’s easy to see who is responsible. It usually goes back to Mom and Dad.

The parents don’t seem to have any insight in what they’re doing to create these little monsters. Some parents are afraid of their kids not liking them, some are too lazy to tend to their kid’s needs, and others just don’t know what to do.

It seems peculiar that they don’t teach these kinds of skills in school. I think it’s needed now, more than ever.

Your thoughts?

A BalletMet Production of “The Nutcracker” Doesn’t Disappoint but today it makes me a little sad


Vzevolozhsky's costume sketch for The Nutcracker.

Vzevolozhsky’s costume sketch for The Nutcracker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the day after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Yesterday, I watched all the news shows. I can’t watch them today. It’s too disturbing.  These shootings are just beyond comprehension. What could drive a person to shoot 20 children? Who was he? Why did his mother keep guns in her home?

Why do we always end up focusing on the murderer? I’m guessing it’s because the thought of someone human doing these things is so incomprehensible.

Today, I dragged myself out of the house to watch Columbus BalletMet’s version of The Nutcracker. The last time I’d seen a production was twenty-six years ago.

I usher for the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It’s one way to help the community and see different events for free. Columbus does have a lot to offer as far as culture goes: the symphony, Broadway on tour, guest artists, lectures  and my favorite, Columbus BalletMet. This dance company does a lot of contemporary dance as well as the classics. The dancers are young, energetic, beautiful, artistic and talented. i never walk away disappointed.

It took me by surprise
I had forgotten that little girls come with their mothers and fathers to these shows. The little girls were dressed up in frilly colorful holiday dresses.  I hardly saw anyone wearing jeans or T-shirts. It was sweet and so nostalgic.

I couldn’t help but think of the children who were murdered yesterday. They were about the ages of many of the little girls who were so thrilled to be seeing this famous ballet for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking of the  grief -stricken parents who lost their precious children.

BalletMet didn’t disappoint

I  was enchanted with the production. It was beautifully staged, the music charmed me and the costumes were extraordinary. It was a memorable production and cheered me up a little.

But, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop remembering all those little girls who will never get to get dressed up and see
The Nutcracker with their parents.

It’s  really time to do something to stop the violence. Don’t you agree?

The Harmony Project Pays it Back Today : another Harmony Project Post


Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

Today the teenage group from South High School met with the Unison Project (people who live at the Commons of Buckingham) and the Harmony Project members.

I approached the building, and saw all the teenagers congregated outside. A Unison Project member was outside with them. “I wanted to feel all that energy,” she said. I know what she meant. If you haven’t been around kids for a while , it’s nice to feel their enthusiasm.

City Year, a college group that  works with the students, was in attendance.  They explained that they are assigned schools, and help out the kids with mentoring, tutoring, and all those good things.

David Brown, our director, ushered us inside where all the adults were congregated.The kids had a couple of pieces of Donato’s Pizza. (Some things never change, kids and pizza is one of them.) They came up in an orderly fashion, and were extremely polite.

The kids made a circle around us, and sang the song they are singing in our concerts December 19, and 20th. There is nothing like the sound of kids singing in harmony. Take my word for it, you won’t want to miss them at The Southern Theater. I think they are going to bring the house down.

A few of the kids explained what they were doing at South High School to prepare for the concert. The ones who spoke were very poised.  It includes singing and talking about the same things that Harmony Project talks about. Sharing with each other, and giving back  These might be old ideas, but they work.  David Brown, had them repeat “we’re paying back.”

The rest of us sang our song to them. They gave us a rousing reception.

David asked some of the members of the Unison Project to talk to the kids.One person told them not to give up, and that education is so important.  Another member told them not to let anyone tell them “they can’t do anything, and to reach for the stars.” Member of the Unison Project are people who have worked their way out of homelessness or very tough circumstances. That is a true testament of people who aren’t afraid to make new lives for themselves and want to pass on their knowledge to the younger
generation.

He had the kids come up to all of the adults, and introduce themselves. They all followed directions, and were so friendly and engaging.

All in all it was a very inspiring afternoon. Going and singing with the Unison Project is one of my favorite things to do.

All the adults left, and the kids went on to decorate Buckingham Commons, where a great Thanksgiving Celebration is going to take place on Thanksgiving Day. All the members of the Harmony Project want to help, and there will be no shortage of servers or guests.

Everyone starts feeling charitable this time of year. I am proud that The Harmony Project does it all year round.

You can still get tickets for our performance December 19 and 20. Don’t miss a great show! You can get tickets through Capa or me!

“Trouble with the curve “needs a lot of straightening out


Amy Adams at the 83rd Academy Awards

Amy Adams at the 83rd Academy Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe I’m just having a bad day, but I found “Trouble with the Curve” embarrassing.  Poor acting, and an implausible plot.

It’s about Eastwood, an aging baseball scout, who has a poor relationship with his daughter. She helps him on his baseball scouting job because John Goodman (his friend) pleads with her to help good old Dad. She walks away from a good law job where she is trying to become a partner  of a law firm to do this.  She has a lousy relationship with Eastwood in the first place, so why would she want to help him?

Eastwood goes to his wife’s grave to sing “You are my sunshine.” How hokey is that? The date on the headstone is 1945- 1984. That means that Eastwood, who is 83, would be married to a woman a lot younger than him. I don’t think so! ( Unless you are a rich movie star.)

First of all, why would an 83-year-old guy, Clint Eastwood,  be scouting baseball players for a major baseball team? Not only is Clint old, but the other actors who play scouts seem pretty old too. I guess this was to make Eastwood seem like a 50 something kind of guy. (The movie would’ve  been better with a 50 or 60 something actor playing the part.)

My other problem is the actress, Amy Adams, who plays his daughter.  I do think she should go to acting school. She used the same tone of voice through the movie, and it was annoying. She does have nice long hair which she flips around a lot.

I had trouble buying that she would be Clint’s daughter, but Eastwood did have his 30 something son playing a  minor part in the movie. (Clint is a movie star, after all.) In real life, Adams would’ve passed for his granddaughter.  Their relationship seems so distant that it’s hard to believe she would leave her important law job to help him.

Justin Timberlake plays her love interest.  He does take off all his clothes, except his underwear if you’re looking for a little thrill. There is practically no chemistry between Adams and Timberlake.

The story is one of those feel good movies with a happy ending. If you like baseball trivia, you might enjoy some of the patter going on between Timberlake and Adams. If you can suspend your belief system, you might be able to buy this movie.

I have to give Clint credit for acting although he’s too old for the part.  He’s about the only one besides John Goodman who seems to know how to act.

If you are  a baseball fan, like the actors, and enjoy a predictable story—this movie is for you.