The Two Movies That Got Me Through January


We’re well into 2019 and I’ve barely watched any movies because my kids have been so sick. January was a festival of viruses, a nasty cold that just never left and then, last week, when the last of the phlegm departed, my baby brought home a novel stomach flu that incubated for about 36 hours before hitting me, my husband, and my first-grader in six-hour intervals.

I feel like this is the third or fourth time I have written about illnesses, so at this point it is a leitmotif of this blog and probably warrants its own tag.


When Under The Tuscan Sun came out in 2003, I was 25, and I remember kind of wanting to see it, but feeling that it was for older women. That feeling didn’t always stop me from seeing movies I wanted to see–for instance, I sat in a theater of seventy-somethings watching the 2004 Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely–but in this case, I think a part of me thought I should save this movie for a time in my life when I needed it.

Well, my two readers, that time has come. I’m 40, and I spent the past six weeks cooped up in a virus-ridden apartment with two small children and an unfinished novel manuscript. (The second unfinished novel to take up residence in my laptop in the past few years.) One night, I was perusing HBO’s offerings and I saw beautiful Diane Lane and a bouquet of yellow sunflowers. I thought, that is exactly what I need: Diane, flower gardens, Tuscany, and a serious real estate makeover.  Continue reading “The Two Movies That Got Me Through January”

Mermaids & Beaches

makeover mermaids

I got sick again, which is what happens when you live with a five-year-old who brings home a fresh batch of germs every day. Also, it’s March in NYC, a miserable season when everyone collectively wonders why they pay such high rents to live in a place with consistently terrible weather. It’s the one time of year when New Yorkers admit that the weather is usually awful. It’s true: there are about 15-20 beautiful days, tops, and yet New York imagines itself to be a place with mild, sunny spring days and crisp fall afternoons. I blame all the movies set in New York, which do not convey the bitter winds, flash flooding, fallen branches, pot holes, sleety rains, and white-gray overcast skies that appear in winter and summer.

I had plans to see A Wrinkle in Time, but they were foiled by my cold, the weather, and my son, who came down with an ear infection. Instead I watched two movies from my own childhood: Mermaids and Beaches. I had a craving for them. Continue reading “Mermaids & Beaches”

Frances McDormand, Muse


Lately I’ve been feeling conflicted about how much I enjoyed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Having read a lot of the critical backlash, I can now see how writer and director Martin McDonagh’s engagement with racism is glib and manipulative. But I have to admit that while watching Three Billboards, the only thing I perceived as seriously off-key was the setting. I kept thinking it was set in some small western town, near a coast, but then a character would say something about being in “the south” and I would have to recalibrate. More than once, I had to remind myself of the film’s title in order to get my bearings. This admittedly, is a pretty big problem for a film to have, but I felt like the whole thing was made coherent—or at least was made to seem coherent—by Francis McDormand’s leading performance. Continue reading “Frances McDormand, Muse”

Should Acting Awards Be Gender-Neutral?

With the Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, I’ve been thinking about my acting picks and wondering why we separate the awards between male and female actors. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve pretty much taken this tradition for granted and accepted it without examination. But the more I think about it, the more it seems strange to divide the field in this way. I don’t think anyone would argue that men and women practice the craft of acting in markedly different ways, or that men or women are naturally better at acting, giving one sex an advantage over another. There’s also the question of where actors who identify as gender non-binary would fit into these categories. Continue reading “Should Acting Awards Be Gender-Neutral?”