Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Why Thelma and Louise Will Live On Forever

So, it finally happened. My young daughters received their first wolf-whistle while we were walking to town. I was a good 20 feet behind them, but well, reacted as I'm wont to do.

"Hey asshole! Get back here you spineless pr***!

I threw my water bottle at his car but he didn't stop. Had he turned around I would have knocked him to the ground with my massive  handbag then stomped on his genitals. Instead I just fantasized. Meanwhile my daughters were blissfully unaware of the entire ordeal.

Which leads me to Thelma and Louise.

Though I spent most of my professional career acquiring movies for large companies, be it through development, script, packaging, financing or an actual screening, nothing prepared me for or has since affected me as much as the film Thelma and Louise.

This was early days in my career, about to see a picture I knew nothing about. I worked with the principals of a few large companies, so how it worked was--- I was based in Los Angeles dealing with movie people to find films, and when the principal/owners came to town we made the "rounds," meeting with agents, producers, etc or attended film festivals.

One boss (will call him Q) and I were meeting with various people and decided to drop in on an old producer friend.

Producer, in typical huckster pitch style: "Hey, I've gotta bunch of films in the can. Wanna have a look?"

Q and I scanned his menu of movies, a number of them quite interesting, many looked like code, but I was stuck on one.

Thelma and Louise: "A road trip comedy about two gals that get in over their heads. Lots of fun and soaring action."  (The producer made up his own loglines.) Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. He showed us the trailer, looked amusing.

Me: I like this one.
Q:  Fine. I like Ridley.
Producer: Great. I can't unload it. This sure aint gonna win any Oscars.

Q bought the film right there.  The deal was closed in 40 seconds and we were ushered into a dark screening room.

The film begins. I knew instantly this was a not a "funny road trip comedy." I was riveted from the opening scene of wide expanse before barging into a small town diner. As the movie progresses, I watched Louise, forthright, intelligent and full of helpful advice, stuck in some claustrophobic cafeteria, and then the vulnerable Thelma trapped in an abusive, oppressive marriage, acting out some 50's housewife version of a woman. They are about to embark on freedom, but in a world that does not allow that for women.

I knew I was about to witness a revolutionary film.

"Women who are completely free from all the shackles that restrain them have no place in this world. The world is not big enough to support them. They will be brought down if they stay here," Callie Khouri.

I've loved everything she's ever written, including recent amazing Nashville. I also love T-Bone Burnett so it only makes sense the two would collaborate.

So yeah.... It can be awkward sitting next to your big boss, in the quiet dark, choking on emotion. He knew I was crying and he also knew he had made the right choice. He loved the film.

Why are men allowed to act out their base impulses and never be held accountable?  Why do they rape and not go to jail? Why do they glorify the "perfect" women, objectify them, without considering what this might mean?  All of this strongly resonated with me, as it did with so many.

Q was much older, and was not only an amazing businessman, mentor, teacher and friend but also the first male figure in my life that honored women. He treated me with as an equal and respected my decisions.

In any case, I missed the 20th anniversary of this film due to the on-goings of my own life, working and raising twin girls. The reason I write this now is because over 20 years, nothing has changed. Women are still treated like sex objects, and maybe even worse due to the media's bombardment of all things that sexually exploit females. Everywhere I turn I'm staring into another American Apparel pornification ad.

Most women I know understand this:

It took me a while to comprehend that given this film was such a success, and unquestionably iconic, other films with strong female leads, laying out the truth of our world, have not been made. There was momentum, but then it stalled quickly. Since 1991, the women in Congress has dropped, women holding executive positions in Fortune 500 has dropped, and women in any kind of power position in the media is depressingly low.

Number one reason remains: It's a man's world.  Sure, we all know this, but somehow a part of me thought by now the tides would have turned.  But sadly no. Women who step out of line are still severely punished.

The brilliant political undertones of Thelma and Louise still hold, and when Thelma finally owns her sexuality in the scene with Brad Pitt, not only is she punished, but so is Louise. Now they have nowhere to turn. And here Thelma comes alive. Breaks free. Helps her best friend. Explodes with ideas. Unleashes a person that she had buried years before.

When the film ended with their deciding to drive into the Grand Canyon, I burst into tears. Q be damned. He put his arm around me.

Because I knew, and he knew, this was the only way the movie could end.  They had both tasted freedom and could never return to their old lives. The world was never going to change. So metaphorically they triumph.

Callie says it best: "After all they went through, I didn't want anybody to touch them. They flew away, out of this world and into the mass unconscious."

Though we as writers try very hard to get movies made with strong female protagonists, it's a never ending game of defeat. "Can't she be nicer? Make her more sympathetic. What are you a man hater? It's a good script, but make the lead male. Maybe if it's a woman and a man. Put a wedding at the end and we can make a deal. But two women? And they don't care about marriage? Who is going to watch that? No. We can't get it financed." On and on.

But we don't give up. Because we can't.

This film resonates strongly because there is no other. No movies get made where women take control of their own lives and bodies; particularly when no men are involved. The female heroines now are out of comic books and there is always a love story. Sometimes they are pure sitcom. Better than nothing I suppose, but these films do not inform or leave a lasting impression.

Everyone always points to Bridesmaids. But the underlying theme is -without a  man, women are nothing. Furthermore, they ought to be abandoned like contagion if they speak their mind. Kristen Wiig shines a light on the hypocrisy

but is well, ostracized for this. It's only when she plays by the "rules" she is once again accepted.

Go with a good cop and you'll be okay and hold back any further impulses to speak your mind. I mean, they gave her a cop? That what she gets for stepping outside the norm. Cage that crazy lady!

Many years, tons of books and lots of theories emerged concerning the feminism backlash. The internet shines a light to further entrench the notion that women with freedom are unhappy, careers give them cancer, they are neglecting their children, they become emotional wrecks, alcoholics and they certainly are not attractive to men.

The backlash whispers into women's ears that they secretly yearn for servitude not power. Those who say otherwise will be shutdown. This is why Thelma and Louise will never be made again.

And this is why we get movies like Bridesmaids, the deceptive Gravity or name your "chickflick" whose soul purpose is the lead's finding the right man before she is "old" but bills itself as pro-female.

"Hang on Sandra, I'm coming to save you. Darn little women still think they can drive for god sakes," said Space ghost George Clooney.

Despite all the efforts women made in the 70's, and there were some very good movies, now it's all perfect skin, leggy blondes, picket fence veneers, sex and popcorn.

And the few good films made by women but rarely get a theatrical release.

Thank god Callie Khouri exists. That we at least  have this in the cinema realm. I see no end in sight in our misogynistic world, despite the many good men that exist. We still need culture to catch up, to change; as Gloria Steinem said, "I wish we didn't have to be nude to be noticed."

Meanwhile, I will keep trying to get my movies made, my stories written and my books published. And direct my daughters to do what they love best; art, reptiles, roller skating, soccer, reading, sewing bohemian outfits and adding to their 30 plus and growing snake collection.

Their father is a great dad, protects them, guides them and provides tools so they can protect themselves. And there are many fathers like him. But not enough.

I rarely go to movies anymore. But when I'm low and can't take an other day of crassly sexist ethos that permeates Hollywood, the corporate world and politics, I pull out my Thelma and Louise DVD for relief.  Even if momentary. After countless viewings, I still burst into tears.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on Thelma and Louise, sexism, patriarchy, female objectification and the never ending hope this will one day change.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kevin Kline and Dakota Fanning Under the Sheets--NO NO NO!

The Last of Robin Hood, a biopic about Errol Flynn (50) and his sexual affair with aspiring actress Beverly Aadland (15) belongs on the Horror Network, not Lifetime.

The thought of the ethereal Dakota Fanning (23) lying in bed with who could be her great grandfather Kevin Kline (66) is just going too far.

Hasn't Dakota been through enough? What with child abduction and a dangerous father (Man on Fire,) being orphaned then terrorized by her insane father (Hide and Seek,) facing down an alien apocalypse with her Peter Pan father (War of the Worlds.)  Nonetheless, her film choices are excellent and she is clearly so talented it borders on genius. But nothing in all of her 450 films can be worse than bedding with a man that is much older than her actual father.

As much as I'm an advocate for the Lifetime Network or any network that promotes stories written by or about women, this one eludes me. Somehow this feels very wrong. I know all networks need to chase ratings and a sale but at what cost?

Errol enjoyed Lolita just as much as the next guy. He gave the book to Beverly as a gift. ^^^

This is a biopic about Errol Flynn and his romance with a 15-year old starlet, one that is encourage by her fame hungry mother. The one sheet goes on to say though set in 1959, this surely mirrors today's society. Really? Apparently this romance was a paparazzi dream come true, a never ending tabloid fest, a real life Lolita.

I guess in today's world that might mirror, well nobody. I guess Johnny Depp and maybe sister Elle Fanning? But this would never happen, instead we might have James Woods (66) and Kristen Bauguess (26,) a sort of age match, an actor wanting to stay in the limelight... but frankly no one cares.

Lifetime says it prides itself on making films that empower women and I'm not seeing it here. I'm seeing something much more lurid and I find it disturbing. But that's just me. Given women have barely any outlet in which to make movies, the one TV network supposedly devoted to them makes a film about a creepy old pervert preying on a teenager while her mother encourages their union. We saw this film. It was called Lolita. It was a great novel. And a great film. But it was also about a lot of other concerns.

I find The Last of Robin Hood a rather pathetic excuse for entertainment. Lifetimes seems to have fallen down some scary rabbit hole.

In real life, Kevin Kline (66) is married to Phoebe Cates (50) but when they married, I remember thinking, wait, Kevin Kline, that great actor from The Big Chill, Sophie's Choice, A Fish Called Wanda, among so many others was marrying that teenager from The Fast Times at Ridgemont High? I loved her, then don't ever recall seeing any further acting.

Apparently she retired from acting to raise their two kids and they're perfectly happy.

I also love Kevin Kline, and really their age difference isn't anything abnormal in Hollywood. Except when they met on The Big Chill she was 20 to his 36.  I actually remember being slightly horrified. Maybe because she looked 14. Or maybe because I felt it was predatory. I don't recall.

Of course the May/December romances are nothing new.  And a number of them actually last, such as Annette Benning and Warren Beatty (21 years)  Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart (22 years) Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones (25 years) well, verdict is out.

True love ^ ^ ^ ^

And now the tide is changing. For example a few new ones, Robin Wright and Ben Foster (14 years) Joan Collins and Percy Gibbons (32 years) Jennifer Lopez and Casper Whatever (18 years) Geena Davis and Rehza Jareahy (15 years).. on an on.

Sharon Stone with some  hottie. ^ ^ ^

I like the swing of older women/young men, just for the sake of balance.

So why not make a film about a 66-year old female star and an upcoming young man? Say Goldie Hawn and Dane DeHaan? Or Diane Keaton and Ezra Miller?  Wouldn't this be a better fit for Lifetime?

I'm available... ^ ^ ^ ^

Meanwhile, what woman is going to watch adorable Dakota getting her sexy on with Kevin Kline!? How about nobody. At least he has a heart attack and dies. She inherits nothing. Her mother is a boozy freak.

I understand because this is a biopic it will carry a certain cache, and it was also sold to Goldwyn so may face an actual theatrical release. The producers and executives involved keep saying over and over how it mirrors today, despite it being set in 1959,  but this just isn't true. Yet they just keep saying this.

The only thing that is true is Hollywood will continue to support films with older, in this case geriatric men and younger leading women.

I understand that Lifetime is having a rough go, made evident by their recent Flowers in the Attic and Lizzie Bordon Took An Ax, exploitation films that portray women as murderers, crones, child abusers or innocent things that have no problem with incest.  I don't watch much TV so I don't know when the whole "women in peril" was replaced with flat out psychotics.

Until women start truly gaining a foothold on what people see on their screens, any screens, I highly recommend not watching this dreck.

There are the occasional great films that get made, ones that empower females. But they are rare.

Until then, it's still a man's fantasy out there. Lolita. Light of my life. Fire of my loins. Lo-Li-Ta.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on Errol Flynn, the perpetuation of perverts through the media and holding out hope that change is in the air.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just Be Like Jennifer Lawrence!

"If you looked and acted like Jennifer Lawrence that might work." On how my girls could be okay with my existence.

I rarely thought about my appearance until I realized I was fat. This epiphany occurred when I arrived in San Diego for college. After four exhausting years of starving myself I never actually achieved any sort of self-validation concerning my looks. I did, however, receive a great education.

This is me, the afternoon my chosen field of study held an honorary lunch on my behalf ^ ^ ^ I graduated top of the class. I wore a turtleneck in 85 degree weather because, well, I thought I was fat. It was all downhill from there.

Moving to Los Angeles to begin a career exasperated my weight issue given I now weighed 90 lbs, but felt like an elephant. Why was everyone so insanely thin, tan, tall and blemish-free? Fortunately for me I was somewhat articulate, so when all the girls were in hot tubs with various actors, I would be having conversations with the people that kept them employed. I quickly drew a line in the sand between me and them. Those tall, lithe, beautiful girls where magic things happen when they take their shirts off and me, where I had to work hard to make anything happen.

Those gals really go places. ^ ^ ^  Not that I haven't been to St. Tropez, but, yeah, kind of different.

Anyway, I threw myself into my work and by my mid 20's had gotten past cheap exteriors and the abundant superficialities of life.

But this is ancient history, or so I thought. Years, careers, accomplishments, dreams and marriages flew by.

Now I have girls. I had them later in life, or not in my 20's, and had already experience motherhood, so my approach to raising them was not exactly helicopter style. I'm more "let them break an arm" parent.

How else are they going to learn?

The girls  (Twin A & E) are now 11. I understand the mother/daughter dynamic all too well, have written extensively about this. But somehow I didn't think I would fall  prey to the daily, harsh criticism from my own daughters. Just because I thought my mother was the most un-cool, unattractive person ever certainly would not give reason for my girls to think the same. I'm mean I'm awesome. Right?

My mother horrifying me ^ ^ ^ ^   The man on the sailboat is Charles Manson's psychiatrist. They stayed together for ten years until one of his ex-wives dumped some placenta on their doorstep with a sign: EAT IT!  Well, it was Marin County.

Now---it's my turn to navigate these tricky waters and very carefully, because if I suggest that saying unkind things is well, unkind, E will run off in full hysteria mode.

E: OMG! I knew it! You think I'm mean and awful and I am. I should just run way. What a horrible excuse for a  human.

Her sister, A, a master diffuser, will assure her that it's mom, not her. I am the culprit. Then they hug and are okay.

So I've learned to not react, engage, respond, no matter how much I am tested, teased or disparaged, no matter how cruel the insult, how deep the wound. I have an excellent poker face.

BUT, what I was not expecting was a throwback to my college days where I thought I was fat, ugly and retched.

I had already learned and worked through how having children can re-ignite all sorts of old wounds. Nonetheless, I'm  human and there is only so much a person can take.

Despite their dads constant compliments, kindness, lovely gestures, none of this matters. I need my daughters approval, dammit. But I'm not going to get it. Ever.

But, I also am not exactly pure. I instigate a lot of this nonsense.

Me: So who DO you find attractive?
E: Why do you need to know? I thought those things didn't matter.
They look at each other as if to prove I'm full of shit.
E and A:  Jennifer Lawrence. Too bad you don't look like her.
Me: Well, I'm old enough to be her mom!
E: So.

Later we go shopping. They take a picture of me in the dressing room as if to dissect my entire face.

Your typical sadistic fitting room mirror with fluorescent lighting. ^ ^ ^ E starts to make a list. I buy three T-shirts.

We go to lunch. Sometimes I throw E a curve ball. Why I do this is for another time and ensuing psychotherapy sessions.

Me:  E, see that lady over there?
E: Yeah.
Me: Would you say I am smaller or larger than she is?
E: Hmm. You're just a little bigger.

The woman in question. ^ ^ ^  only in Beverly Hills.

Me: Honey, she's huge.
E: Mom, that's mean! What does it matter?  And you asked. You're about the same size.

She examines my face for a reaction and I give none. So she continues.

E: Your eyebrows are all fuzzy. Plus why is your face blotchy? Plus, you should brush your hair. You look like a  crazy person. Also brown isn't your color. You can whiten your teeth you know.

(This Hollywood veneers epidemic is really problematic. The girls actually believe teeth are supposed to be white-out white.)

SHE GOES ON! Pretty much covers the list.

We walk by a news stand.

E: Oh, Mom, you look like her.
She grabbed a magazine with Cate Blanchett on the cover.
Me: I do? She's beautiful.
E: Oh, you don't look like her.

I must have looked crestfallen. They both shook their heads in unison.

E: Mom! I'm a kid. Jesus. Why do you even listen to me?

Then A chimes in.

A: Mom, you're really pretty. PAUSE. Can you spot me ten bucks? Spot? Is she going to Vegas? Who are these girls? Maybe I should have paid more attention to them growing up.

Later, I read the list.

Negative Mom Stuff.

Scraggy hair.
Bad jokes.
"The rabbit hole!"  Why quotes? Is this a subject of such constant discussion it's earned quotes? She's referring to my suprasternal notch; which is known for it's love qualities whatever that means.
Spine showing.
Blotchy skin
Dirty bathrobe.  Okay, it's white, and impossible to keep clean when you have kids. Just sayin.
Embarrassing laugh. I actually relate, used to hate my own mother's laugh.
Very Wise. Wow. How did that get in there? And Caps.
Weird funny. I will take it.
Flappy P.J.s  Am I supposed to wear a latex body suit to bed?
Bad food judgement (AKA PB on a bagel?) I happen to think that's delicious.
Random spaz attacks.  This is my favorite because really she's referring to when I start to laugh and can't stop.

After I read this, I gave her a huge hug.  I happen to know she is kind to people, just not me. And she is extremely sensitive dramatic. So, this is all a test and I am determined to pass with flying colors.  I will not react. I will not react.

My job is to continue helping them keep their heads above the insidious waters of unattainable perfection and beauty; an ideal that remains in our society, one of the failures of feminism as Cheryl Strayed so elegantly pointed out. Of course much has been written on the subject, yet everyday we pass another American Apparel pornification ad. It's worth a look to read about NYC's Girl Project.

However, so far, so good. They put much more importance on the feeding and caring of their 30 reptiles, being the best at roller skating, or Girls on the Run, or soccer, or art, cooking, sewing etc, than they do their on their looks.

But I know it's coming. Girls self-esteem starts to take a big dip at age 12 and typically lasts until they are 20. So when E asked to have her  hair cut like Ellen DeGeneres, along with pierced ears shaped like a dragon, I'm gearing up.

For today we are baking cookies, laughing at my bad jokes and I'm still wearing my flappy P.J.'s and filthy bathrobe.

Rhonda Talbot on parenting girls, the influence of the media, objectification, self-esteem and bad jokes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Installation Sex

My latest story published through the wonderful lit magazine Literary Orphans. Orphans is worth your checking out. Mike Joyce and Scott Waldyn did a phenomenal job in creating something unique and beautiful, filled with provocative writing, stories, poetry, artwork and more.


Installation Sex

Had I known I'd be rigging electrical wires to Franklin Franklin's scrotum studs,  I may have reconsidered my trip to San Francisco. Yet the trip would prove to be critical in my relationship continuum.

Fixing men was something I was good at, a self-appointed job that gave me an additional sense of accomplishment and much needed validation.... (click on link below to continue.)

My first success

Thanks for reading. And remember, even Holly Golightly didn't stoop this low.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on men, women, sex, love, confusion, growth and priceless art.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Devil's Playground- new story published in Oddville Press

Latest story in Oddville Press. 

Teens, hoodlums, robbing banks and the kindness of strangers.  Go to Volume 2, page 30. Thanks for reading. Will post the story here when I figure it out.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LA School System Wants More Ronan Farrows

I’m not sure when this happened, but elementary schools are loading children up with intense performance anxiety creating kids so stressed out their brain is being wired with very bad chemicals, specifically cortisol.  I thought this push to succeed logic typically came from home, and it often does, but I didn’t consider the schools themselves were part of this horrific assault to churn out little Ronan Farrows.

By that I mean, 12-year old academics ^ ^ ^ on their way to becoming Yale Law graduates by 20; somewhere become a UNICEF spokesperson and a regular at Dufar picnics; not to mention speechwriting for various diplomats in the Obama administration, interning at a law firm focused on foreign affairs; followed by a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, all the while writing op-ed pieces for such rags like, heh, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, as well as a book, Pandora’s Box, no doubt during his downtime while traveling to Afghanistan laying out peace proposals.

I’m certain I left things out, and what is he now, 25? With his own national TV show.

I use him as an example for a number a reasons. I have no idea how any of the above is remotely possible, logistics alone make his resume shaky.

There is no question he’s incredibly bright, witty, and cute but I can’t connect the 15-year old Bard student to the 18-year old Yale Law graduate while attending Oxford and feeding kids in Africa while writing a book and attempting to solve the world's most difficult problems? 

"I never sit down, ever."

Did Madonna add to his avidity? Mental whisperer. ^ ^ ^

The genius bar is set so high, schools look at this, then their pathetic national test scores and freak out. Public schools will lose state funding if they don’t hit a certain number and private schools will not lure in the rich folks unless they are spitting out little Ronans.

Everyone knows I am pretty lax regarding the school process and refuse to buy into this theory—best/most expensive private pre-school, followed by best private elementary, junior and high, equals matriculation into Yale or Harvard, equals prestige, power and your kid will be President. Major athletic ability and community service a must.

I’m quite the opposite.  Education of course is important, but I’m not Mayim Bialik aka hover parent, in fact I don’t even check to see if my kids do their homework. They do. Why? Because if they don’t the school will come down hard on them. Here, they learn to take responsibility. What a concept.

I don’t drive myself batshit taking them to dance, music, Chinese language immersion programs, karate, gymnastics…  on and on. I see other parents do this and the pressure on this kid is undeniable. The parents are filled with competitive anxiety, hence so is child. Be the best dammit! Judy aced that math test and is a star soccer player!  Don’t you want to go to the Olympics! School stress is literally killing kids. 

My kids find their own way. They cook, sew, dance, skate, collect reptiles, speak Spanish, make art, covet otters and will pass the 5th grade.

So I was amazed when my daughter, 10, got up late and had her first panic attack. She sets her alarm at 6am everyday, so she can have a full two hours for any homework she may have forgotten, or any projects that need completion, then wants a little “me” time. (I might be guilty; big on me time.)

Alarm didn’t go off:

Audrey shaking with panic: “Oh my god! Mom!” She starts crying. “I have so much to do. I can’t do it now. I saved a piece of homework, have to finish a painting, start a story, and study for a test. Oh god. Oh no!”  Also she hates being late for school, by this I mean she arrives half an hour early. Just in case.

I always thought she just had a little OCD.  I do too. A bit. I have writing OCD. As in I never stop once I start. It’s weird. I used to have dictionary OCD. I carried one with me and read a page everyday until I memorized every single word. And yes I won all the spelling B’s. 

This is not a boast, it’s a curse, and not so fun. Started early.

She goes on: “It’s totally over. I’m now going to flunk 5th grade, never get in a good Junior High or High School, or College. I won’t get a job.  Maybe a fast food but I’m not a minority so I’ll be homeless! Oh my god!!”

I thought she was joking but tears were pouring down her face, she was still shaking and sweaty,  her heart banging around in her tiny body.

“Honey, you are a minority. You’re a girl.”

More tears. Never joke with your kids when they’re upset. I know this. But sometimes mess up.

I comfort her, calm her down, tell her she’s made this too global, she’s smart, she will get in good schools, she will never be homeless, she will follow her heart and achieve her dreams.

But I also learned she’s getting this anxiety from school! Not just the kids who are trained to think this way by their over zealous parents but by the school itself. Not even subliminally, but direct. “If you don’t study and do well, you’ll flunk this test and never move forward. Who wants to work at McDonalds?” WTF! That is right out of a bad sitcom.

I am not a fan of standardized testing; it’s horse shit. All the kids are treated the same.  Drill and kill. You can’t test critical thinking, artistic ability, leadership, courage, empathy, etc. Not to mention testing has not improved student achievement.

Now, daily, I talk to my kids, to depressurize them, they don’t have to be RONAN FARROW! They don’t even want a talk show. They hate public attention.

I would home school but I have a life, and this is my only one. So instead, I deflate this educational balloon fantasy and let them feel okay about missed assignments, not getting perfect grades, because they are doing their best.

If kids were to stay on this harried track, which has tripled in intensity since my son was in school, they would have a nervous breakdowns before 18. Many are having them already in Junior High. They take drugs for everything; to stay alert for testing, for doing their homework, drugs for social anxiety, drugs to go to sleep. 

I know a mother that put her kid on Ritalin for his homework, then again for any testing. He was scheduled for some activity every hour until bedtime.  His parents would not accept anything but perfection. He hanged himself at age 13.

I’d rather my kids paint unicorns on canvas, sew purple, fringy dresses, skate with Derby Dolls, bake weird shrimp dinners, play sidewalk airplane and get passing grades. 

They are happy. Stress free. Gravitating toward their own passions, embracing their own individuality. That is the main thing. Honestly, I’d rather have them against the "norm," happy and relaxed living in a cardboard box than the alternative.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on contemporary school systems.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Movie Remakes Better Than Original

Ten Movie Remakes Better Than Original       via Thought Catalogue

1)  The Departed - Martin Scorsese
While Wai-keaung Lau Internal Affairs was considered a masterpiece, Scorsese fine-tunes by upping the stakes, and adding black humor using a script by William Monaghan. By adding a layer of high-wire tension without taking itself too seriously, the film is more enjoyable, a thrill ride. And who can forget the exceptional cast? The film went on to win an Oscar for best picture.

2)  True GritCoen Brothers
There will always be people who will forever love the John Wayne original and even think it blasphemy to have remade this. Yet the Coen brothers made “Rooster” more human. He was tortured and crass, made obvious by his alcoholism, but of course an expert with a gun.  Jeff Bridges outshines in this role, with a great supporting cast.

3)  Ocean’s ElevenSteven Soderbergh
It would take a master director to compete with the Rat Pack original by Lewis Milestone and that’s exactly what happened. While the same story, Ted Griffin’s script is much smarter and makes use of the technology now available.  Soderbergh delivers a funny, slick, entertaining and sexy movie with the some of the most watchable actors Hollywood has to offer. It stands on it’s own.

4)  Maltese Falcon John Huston
Many filmgoers are not aware that this Dashiell Hammett novel has been made twice before. But Huston’s version is so well done no one questions the projects origins. Huston’s film is sexier, darker, wittier and more courageous than the previous. Though we lose Bette Davis, we gain Humphrey Bogart.

5)  Airplane Jerry and David Zucker
Based on an actual plane-in-trouble thriller from 1957 called Zero Hour the filmmakers and cast have enormous fun in sending up every possible scene. Leslie Neilson has a comedic field day as Dr. Rumack from the original. It’s great fun to watch them side-by-side.

6)  The ThingJohn Carpenter
John Carpenter swaps out the fear of Communism for Aids, without losing the intended paranoia that wreaks havoc with a small band of scientists. Using an amazing cast, he weaves through this bone-chilling and insidious thriller, by far eclipsing the original with a horrifying and ambiguous ending.

7)  Little Shop of Horrors Frank Oz
Though the original gave us Jack Nicholson, this remake is completely demented, in a good way. With all of its dark humor, quirks and fun cameos, this is a quite an enjoyable film, even if you didn’t like the play. It’s worth a view if just for Steve Martin's deranged dentist.

8)  Fatal Attraction Adrian Lyne
Again, not well known, but this was based on a British TV thriller called Diversion. Lyne takes the material and delivers one of the scariest, cautionary tales of all time.

9)  Insomnia Christopher Nolan
Nolan remade this Scandinavian thriller adding a layer of film noir, and an impressionable cast that alters the texture of the original. While the original is excellent, this remake infuses it with a higher realm of excitement. By setting the film in Alaska, the movie is incredibly claustrophobic adding to the overall tension.

10) 3:10 to YumaJames Mangold

While Delmer Davis delivered a strong Western for the time, Mangold, with the help of a tight script, stunning visuals and dead-on casting recreated a story that now remains one of the best Westerns ever made. His direction never lets up and completely blew the lid off the original.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on film remakes. Sometimes they are  better than the original.