Revisiting All in the Family and the Jeffersons

ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience with its iconic episodes of All in the Family and The Jeffersons brought up a lot for me.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, season 2

I’ll say it right off the mark: I didn’t think season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale was as strong as season 1. I’m not sure I can pinpoint why, but I’ll offer several theories as to why anyway. You can join in with a comment if you think you have a better sense of why. This review is fairly spoiler free. Continue reading “Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, season 2”

HBO Discovers Women: Will I Have to Subscribe?

HBO is coming out with a new app for Apple TV, iPad and iPhone called HBO Now that subscribes to all the HBO content for $15 a month. I may have to consider using it, because HBO has suddenly discovered women.

Elizabeth Banks

Upcoming on that network is a Billie Jean King film called Battle of the Sexes, about tennis star Billie Jean King. King will be played by Elizabeth Banks. Paul Giamatti will play Bobby Riggs. There’s a lot more to the story of that tennis match than just a tennis match. I hope the film will include all that background and history.

Marisa Tomei

There’s a film called Ms. about the founding of Ms. Magazine and Gloria Steinem. Steinem will be played by Marisa Tomei. Ms. Magazine was an important and powerful inspiration in my life. Gloria Steinem is a woman I admire tremendously. I’m always telling people we need a national holiday named for Gloria Steinem. How could I miss a film about her?

Kerry Washington

Confirmation is about Anita Hill’s role in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Hill will be played by Kerry Washington. The thing I recall about Anita Hill at those hearings is how calm and collected she was. She was surrounded by an ocean of pompous asses and she remained steadfast and calm in telling her story.

Ever Carradine

HBO is planning a series on the Salem witch trials called The Devil You Know. It features a lot of men, but quite a few women, too. Co-writer on the project is Jenji Kohan. I’m sold right there. Among several featured female characters will be Ever Carradine as the wife of a character played by Eddie Izzard.

The biggest thing on HBO, Games of Thrones, has never interested me for even one second. Same with Boardwalk Empire. I’d watch Treme if it’s still possible to watch it, maybe True Blood.

But movies about women, now that’s catching my eye. HBO, you’re getting hard to resist.

Review: Unhook the Stars

Unhook the Stars is from 1996, and it’s a gem. I completely recommend it to you.

Unhook the Stars poster
Unhook the Stars poster

The film features Gena Rowlands as Mildred, the widowed mother of two adult children and the neighbor of Monica (Marisa Tomei) and her son J.J. (Jake Lloyd). When the film begins, Mildred is a buttoned down suburban housewife with a well-ordered life in spite of her two imperfect offspring.

Monica is a mess. Her life is a mess, her marriage is a mess, and she’s a mess of a mother. Mildred ends up babysitting for young J.J. and comes to regard him as her best friend.

Jake Lloyd and Gena Rowlands in Unhook the Stars
Jake Lloyd and Gena Rowlands in Unhook the Stars

Mildred’s daughter Annie (Moira Kelly) is an angsty mess herself, caught in the midst of a rebellion to separate herself from her mother. Mildred’s son Ethan (David Sherrill) is Mr. Success and mom’s clear favorite child.

Monica and J.J. have an effect on Mildred’s life in her empty nest of a suburban home. One effect Monica has on her it to take her out drinking where Mildred meets a truck driver named Tommy, played by Gérard Depardieu.

Unhook the Stars is a character study – a portrait of Mildred. Mildred is beautifully written and played to perfection by Gena Rowlands. Mildred is so clearly drawn and her evolution through her relationship with her children, her neighbors, and her potential suitor in the form of Tommy is masterfully done. I loved the story about how a woman comes into her own, finally, after what she thought for years was her real life as a wife and mother ends. It’s a tale of reinvention.

To a lesser degree, the film is also a portrait of Monica. Marisa Tomei just kicks ass in this part as a disorganized, inept, boozy mom and wife.

The film is a bit of a family affair. Rowlands’ son Nick Cassavetes co-wrote and directed the indie production.

I’m old enough to have reinvented myself a couple of times, and it is pure joy to watch Gena Rowlands go through a similar process in this film.

Image Credits: Unhook the Stars ©1996 Miramax Films.