Right Is Wrong, Wrong Is Right?

The 2006 movie Tristan + Isolde (affiliate link), starring James Franco as Tristan and Rufus Sewell as Lord Marke includes every single context — loss, greed, the insatiable thirst for world domination, jealousy, sibling rivalry, bravery, loyalty, love, and betrayal — humankind has grappled with since the first human was molded from dust and given the breath of life.

For me, this is enough to make it a perfect film, but this is not where its perfection lies. No, its true perfection, ultimately, lies in these essential questions it puts to us:

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When a Woman Wants to Leave…

open bird cage with birds leaving

Dear Reader!

Good art starts a lively conversation in your heart and/or in your head.

The 2009 French film Leaving (affiliate link) directed by Catherine Corsini and starring Kristin Scott Thomas is good art if the comments on Netflix are any indication.

On Netflix, this film got viewers more hot and bothered than Suzanne, our heroine, was over Ivan, her Latin lover. And that, my dear reader, is quite a feat as Suzanne was both deliriously mad and deliciously hot and bothered over Ivan.

So let us have a chat about Leaving culled from the rich commentary on Netflix. Because there is so many subtle layers to this film, it will be difficult, but I will try to be brief.

Why would a well-do woman leave her husband to be with the hired help?

Apparently, many of the viewers are snobs. Who knew?! But hear ye: A palatial cage is still a cage. And the human desire to feel fully alive can be a powerful one, especially if your husband is…

How could she do this to a husband who loved her?

Disparaging your aspirations openly in front of the “hired help;” dismissing your aspirations in front of your kids and your mutual friends; forbidding you to have your own feelings; locking you in your room; blacklisting you so you could not support yourself; raping you—someone, anyone, how is this love?

He couldn’t stand to lose, so he…

Whatever is she going to talk to the hired help about?

Snobbery, again! It is ridiculous to assume that “higher education” naturally implies general intelligence. Conversely, being the “hired help” does not mean one is unable to have meaningful conversations or is uneducated.

And I have a question: What is Suzanne talking to her boorish, disrespectful, abusive husband about?! What?!

There is no way a well-to-do woman would throw away a 20-year marriage and her “easy” life for poverty with the “hired help.”

Mm, she might if she was married to an abusive, controlling husband and finally had enough!

Clearly, for Suzanne the grand adornments of her upper class cage were no longer enticing.

And why do so many of us believe that feeling deader than King Tut inside but being financial secure is a worthier choice than choosing love or the desire to feel fully alive?!

Furthermore, who said anything about poverty?! She was willing return to the work force…

Bottom line

This is a wonderful film about the internal incitements that can drive us to behave in ways that are as surprising to ourselves as they are to others.

The director did a great job of drawing the viewer into Suzanne’s “madness” by never explicitly revealing Suzanne’s why. Like Suzanne said, “I didn’t expect to fall in love. It just hit me.”

It just hit us too. It didn’t make sense to her. Maybe, it doesn’t make sense to us…

As for the ending, which is also the beginning, of the film, it will have a visceral effect on anyone with a pulse or a heart.

Call to action: Do you understand the desperate drive to feel alive? Have you ever gone “mad” for love?

Other film posts: Remembrance: Deep, Meaningful, True; Fall in Love, the 11th Commandment; and Do You Want to Live Forever?

Remembrance: Deep, Meaningful, True

Auschwitz Concentration Death Camp
Auschwitz Concentration Death Camp

Dear Reader!

The very best films break open your heart; or remind you of something very important that you may have long forgotten or buried in some dark corner of your mind; or delight your heart and your mind with a new recognition of the stunning beauty and power of the human potential.

The German drama Remembrance (2011) (affiliate link) directed by Anna Justice is precisely such a film. It does all three with a rare poignancy.

This movie is an incandescent confirmation of deep, meaningful, true love and its wondrous power.

This is the story of Tomasz, a captured Polish-Catholic resistance fighter, and Hannah, a Jewish woman. In 1944 both were imprisoned at the Auschwitz Concentration Death Camp.

In the presence of senseless, depraved evil and in the midst of…

inconceivable human cruelty…

wretched squalor…

How deep, meaningful, and true is your love?

calculated starvation…

unfathomable hopelessness…

and the stifling, heavy aroma of death perfuming the air,

love found a way to seed, to grow, and to even flourish.

One man found a way to a love one woman, to nurture her physically, to give her hope, to save her life.

And what struck me as hauntingly breathtaking is that this love seeded and sustained itself without…

a common language…

the deception of makeup…

Pinterest-worthy outfits…

silicone assets…

or professional definitions.

All the things we—with our comparatively easy lives—think we need to love and to be loved.

Yes, two ordinary people ripped from their homes and their families, thrown into the hell that was a labor/death camp, and stripped naked of all their human dignity found their way to hope… and to a deep, meaningful, true love.

The movie is even more exhilarating, because it was inspired by true events. Imagine that!

And I can’t help but wonder: Is it possible for those of us with comfortable existences and our superficial checklists — Does he have a college degree? Is she hot? Does he have blue eyes? Is her hair blonde? Does she have a big arse or breasts? Is she white? How about 50 shades of stupid? Whatever! — to ever be certain that the untested love we find is deep and meaningful and true?

Call to action: In the comments, share: When do you know that love is deep, meaningful, and true? Have you been lucky to bear witness to this kind of love?

Other film posts: Fall in Love, the 11th Commandment; Yes, I Am Queen of Sheba; and I Don’t Like All Black People.

Yes, I Am Queen of Sheba

Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman

Dear Reader!

I love the movie the 1958 Long, Hot Summer(affiliate link), starring the beautiful, blue-eyed Paul Newman (Ben Quick), a very young Joanne Woodward (Clara Varner), and a husky, swarthy, bearish Orson Welles (Will Varner).

This movie has a definite tone of the America South. And the dialogue is, well, good. Here is one of my favorite pieces expressed passionately by Miss Clara to Mr. Quick:

Mr. Quick, I am a human being. Do you know what that means? It means I set a price on myself: a high, high price. You may be surprised to know it, but I’ve got quite a lot to give. I’ve got things I’ve been saving up my whole life. Things like love and understanding and — and jokes and good times and good cooking. I’m prepared to be the Queen of Sheba for some lucky man, or at the very least the best wife that any man could hope for. Now, that’s my human history and it’s not going to be bought and sold and it’s certainly not gonna be given away to any passin’ stranger.

PSST! You decide.

You decide your worth.

Not he or she or “they,” but…

Whatever the price on your head, you decide.

So how much do you think you are worth?

Are you bargain basement? Are you on clearance? Or are you priced above stunning Pigeon Blood Red rubies accented with diamonds and set in an  intricately hand-engraved platinum setting?

Yes, you decide.

Call to action: What is your price and when did you decide your worth?

Check out this related post: Priced Above Rubies

 

Do You Want to Live Forever?

Clock

Greetings!

I recently saw The Age of Adaline (affiliate link), starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford, and Kathy Baker.

Beautiful people. Beautiful outfits, Ms. Lively. Beautiful scenes. Beautifully quiet.

But boring. Really boring.

It is yet another contrived tale of youth, beauty, love, and immortality. Here’s a brief synopsis:

A beautiful (of course), 29-year old mother (Blake Lively) is “gifted” with immortality after a strange car accident involving a meteor (don’t ask), her heart stopping, her being struck by lightning, and then her heart restarting. She lives the next eight decades pretty much to herself, moving every 10 years or so to avoid discovery. Seriously, can you imagine her fate if any government caught wind of her secret?!

Tragically, while she may be young, beautiful, and very well dressed, she can never really live and love and be happy, because “change” doesn’t come easy to her. Immortality is, for her, a living death. After eight long decades of youth, beauty, and immortality, Adaline is not having a good time.

Only one person — her aging daughter — is privy to her deepest secret. She has, however, managed to keep one long-term female friendship with a blind woman who cannot see her secret. And then she meets him… Ellis (Michiel Huisman). And four days later, Adaline comes to a crossroad in her life… Will she finally trust someone enough to share her secret with them and, in effect, choose “life?”

Oops, was I snoring?! I’m sorry, but I told you it was unbelievably boring, except for the icky reveal (I still love you, Harrison).

Still, the movie did get me thinking and asking myself: “Janine, if given the choice, would you actually choose immortality over death?”

Here’s the thing: Death, the infinite darkness of the unknown, is fearsome.  And the process of aging, equally so. From the first moment we embrace the light, we are all careening on a well-trodden path to old age — if we’re lucky or unlucky, suffering along the way, and inevitably death. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we are terrified, a little or a lot, at the prospect of our own expiration. I am.

But if given the choice, would I, would you, choose to be forever young, forever beautiful, forever here? Forever young… Forever beautiful… Forever here…

Forever young… Forever beautiful… Forever here…

As seductive as that all sounds, I think before anyone can answer that question with any intelligence, they should first ask themselves another: “Do you have the capacity and the desire to love?”

You see, I think everyone could enjoy the perks of immortality — in the short-term. Short-term, before the losses pile up, it might be grand fun. But only a psychopath or a narcissist has any real possibility of enjoying it long-term.

Why? Well, since these people care about no one but themselves, other people are interchangeable to them. It is this defining characteristic, their inability to love, that makes them the most likely of us to truly enjoy the “gift” of immortality. For them, an eternity of “Next” would probably be simple easy, or at the very least simpler easier, choices.

But if you, on the other hand, have the capacity and the desire to love other people, life would eventually become absurd, hopeless, and bitter. Think… Think about how agonizing it is to lose loved ones in one lifetime, never mind many! Or, maybe worse of all, to always have to stand emotionally on the outskirts of love, never able to fully submit, to fall.

This price alone would be too costly for most of us to pay — it became so for Adaline. The truth is, for most of us to enjoy living forever, we would need to have the power to invite everyone we love or would ever love to take the journey with us.

Then, there is also the issue of how intolerably bored most of us feel on a quiet Sunday afternoon with no distractions, nothing to do, and no one to see.

So with that said, my final answer is a fearful no.

Call to action: In the comment section below, answer this question: “Do you want to live forever?”

I Don’t Like All Black People…

Black or White, the movie

Happy Monday!

I saw the Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer’s movie 2014 Black or White (affiliate link), which is based on a true story, over the weekend with my mum. And yes, we enjoyed it!

In case, you’re planning on checking it out. I will include no plot spoilers. However, there are several scenes that I found particularly interesting, and I would like to share one of them with you.

Let’s start with just a little information about the key players:

  • Elliot Anderson is a heartbroken father and husband who has lost both his daughter and his beloved wife and who is grandfather to a biracial seven-year girl Eloise.
  • Grandma Wee-wee (Rowena Jeffers) is the delusional and ever hopeful mother of the pointless arseclown who spread his seed willy nilly and who is the worthless other 50% of why Eloise is here.
  • Jeremiah Jeffers is a highly educated and successful attorney and brother to Grandma Wee-wee and, much to his chagrin, uncle to the worthless arseclown.

They are in court, because the arseclown’s mother, Grandma Wee-wee, is suing for custody of Eloise after the death of her maternal grandmother. Elliot is on the stand and Jeremiah throws out THE question:

Jeremiah Jeffers: Do you dislike black people?

Elliot Anderson: Not all of them.

I don’t like all black people either.

The beauty of this scene is in the way Elliot answered the question: direct, simple, honest — no hemming, no hawing. Just the TRUTH, so help him God. There is a fabulous court scene monologue that follows, but you’ll have to watch the movie for that. I’m not revealing anymore.

Here’s the thing: Eliot is a white man. I am a black woman. And my response IS exactly the same, especially… when it comes to a pointless, drug addled, irresponsible, festering crap-egg of a black “man” who knocks up a teenage girl, and then discards her and the baby with little or no thought. What a cliché!

Truth is,  I’m inhaling and exhaling deeply and rolling my eyes as I write this post just as I did during the movie, because it pains me to think that anyone, especially an “educated” lawyer — in real life, would stoop so low as to ask this flawed but kind and loving man this illogical question in light of the facts.

Fact is — this wasn’t about black or white. It was about right or wrong.

As I said earlier, I enjoyed this film and I would recommend it. It is rich with so many important realities about the misconceptions and truths each race can have of the other. Plus, there’s just so much humanness: sadness, sweetness, sacrifice, love, stupidity, and humor. And I think it did an imperfectly decent job of handling this emotionally charged race issue even-handedly. Bravo.

P.S. Quite frankly, I still don’t understand why any girl (or woman) would be even remotely attracted to a “man” who flirts with her by referring to himself as “her street nigger.” Mm-hmm.

Call to action: Tell me in the comments below do you like Elliot’s honesty as much as I do? Do you dare call a spade a spade regardless of race?

Fall in Love, the 11th Commandment

It should b a crime against God to deny yourself love. It should be the 11th commandment.

Happy Friday!

Really, is there anything more delicious than being love?! Let me answer that for you?

No!

Today, I’m reminded of a charming movie from 1949 called The Lady Takes a Sailor (affiliate link), starring Jane Wyman and the very delicious Dennis Morgan.

OK, it begins with the typical, impossible 40’s meet cute. He is a top naval engineer working on a top-secret, government mission. She is the trustworthy head of a very serious institute that is in need of more funding to keep its doors open.

She goes out sailing, a terrible storms comes, and she almost drowns. Of course, he rescues her from certain death. But by saving her, he compromises the secrecy of his mission.

To protect his mission, he lies to her, drugs her, and then ditches her on shore. (See what I mean about impossible.)

When she awakes, she tells her story. But everyone thinks she’s gone cuckoo. Her career and credibility is in ruins. So she spends the rest of the movie trying to get the evidence to save her reputation.

After much madcap craziness, she has it! She has the evidence she needs to vindicate herself.

But wait! She realizes as she walks the floors of her big, beautiful, empty house on the lake with only the company of her BFF: She loves him.

Yes, it is a moment of choice: Career/Public opinion — or Love.

As she vacillates, her BFF, played by the delightful, wise-cracking Eve Arden, hits her with the 11th commandment:

Come a REAL cold night — and the biggest business in the world is just so much bookkeeping.”

BAM! Different words but still the 11th commandment.

So I ask you, which will it be? “Bookkeeping” or butterflies? “Bookkeeping” or the ardor of a lover’s embrace? “Bookkeeping” or being flung into the heavens and your every day reality pulverized? “Bookkeeping” or feeling high in love?

I know which one I would choose — what about you?

Call to action: Share your experiences with the 11th commandment in the comments below. I would love to live vicariously through them.

And if you enjoyed this post, check out: I’m finally in love — with my daddy; Love is Radiant, True, Hopeful; and Are you in love?