Category Archives: Movies

A Wild Time at the Movies

Oops50 is happy to welcome a new contributor, Donna Molofsky.  Donna lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband Barry and dog Sally.  She is a former minister in the United Methodist church, but her life has taken many twists and turns since then.  One of her latest gigs was caring for her elderly mother who had dementia. Welcome, Donna, and thank you for this review of Wild!

Donna Molofsky
Donna Molofsky

Life makes you want to scream sometimes.

For therapy, is it better to scream or take a long hike?  Reese Witherspoon does both in the movie Wild, which is in theaters now.

She plays the role of Cheryl Strayed, a woman hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in an effort to exorcise some demons that are holding her back in life.  I immediately identified with this woman although our journeys are completely different.

For one thing, Cheryl is a woman in her twenties, and I am a few decades older.  She deals with the tragedies in her life by doing drugs, sleeping with strange men, and ruining her marriage – things I probably would not do.  But it is the nature of her life tragedies that makes this woman and her story so easy to understand.

Reese Witherspoon in "Wild"
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

After growing up with an abusive father, Cheryl faces her mother’s death from cancer when her mother is only in her forties. Laura Dern plays the strong but fragile mom beautifully. Cheryl needed her mother more than ever, but suffered from crippling grief.  I have been working through some serious losses over the course of the last two or three years.  My mother died after a long struggle with dementia. Six months later a  close cousin committed suicide. Most recently, I lost a job that I cared about.  After these difficult times, I have had such a range of emotions – from sadness to disbelief to anger.

Witherspoon plays this role with such honesty.  At the start of her journey, she has no idea what she is doing.  Later, she exudes loneliness and suffocating fatigue.  Her burden is symbolized by the heaviness of her pack.  Some kind souls help lighten her load.  Some look and walk away.  All the while, she has to balance self-reliance with trust and asking for help when she does not want to .

As a viewer, I was so anxious for this character.  I so wanted her to make it, to reach her goal! But I was worried that she might be killed on the trail, assaulted, or bitten by a snake.  By the end of the movie, I was drained.

Witherspoon and Dern are both nominated for Academy Awards for this film.  I hope other women will get to experience this movie and scream at some of their own demons.

 

Promises, a new novel by Casey Curry

Casey Curry, author
Casey Curry, author

Let me introduce you to, Casey Curry, wife, mother, and educator who has just published her first novel, Promises.  Curry is a master at weaving together fragile family alliances and with four aspiring African American daughters growing up in a military family all over the world, Curry has tons of material to not disappoint her readers.  Like her protagonist, Pamela Sloan, Curry is a woman over 50, and the wife of a naval officer who takes us on a thirty year journey full of family secrets and promises.

I mention that the daughters are African American because it was that one fact alone that piqued my interest enough to read the book.  It made me realize how little I knew about Black families in our military.  Truth is, I had not read much about military families in general, and must confess, had only seen films about families coping with war and death as a young adult – starting with WWII, Viet-Nam, and now Iraq.  Films or TV series that stand out are: Coming Home (1978); MASH (the 70’s); even Hogan’s Heroes from the 60’s and all those had an all white cast – or at least that’s how I remember it.  It wasn’t really until Glory (1989) and Red Tails in 2012 that Hollywood portrayed African American families in the military.

Casey Promises CoverSo, Curry’s book allowed me to enter a world I knew very little about.  What did I find?  Having grown up with two sisters, I found the relationship between the siblings to be not all that different from my own EXCEPT mine didn’t involve military espionage, family sacrifices, or vacationing on the Vineyard.  Interwoven between the daughters’ stories is Pamela’s story, their mother whose past is nothing like her daughters.  Raised by a father because her mother was either absent or should’ve been, Pam managed to marry well while her half-sister struggled as a poor single mother with an ungrateful and selfish daughter.  The contrast between Pamela’s tight knit family and her sister’s rather sad existence with her spoiled daughter is significant and what stories are made of.

I think Casey’s story will resonate not only with readers who have struggled with an empty nest or who are military wives but with women of all ages who have struggled to protect their family.  The whole time I was reading Promises, I kept thinking this would make the perfect Lifetime channel movie – one of my guilty late night pleasures.

Casey Curry is the Director of Creative Writing at a fine arts magnet school in Tampa, Florida where she teaches poetry and fiction to high school students. She holds a B.A. from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and M.Ed. from Norfolk State University in Virginia. She is a 2012-2013 National Arts Teachers Fellowship (NATF) winner. The novel, Promises is her second book, and was born out of the NATF project, formerly funded by The Surdna Foundation. Ms. Curry is married to a retired Naval Officer and is the mother of three adult daughters. Her youngest daughter, Tori Rose, was the inspiration for her first book, I Remember You Today, and died of a brainstem tumor at the age of three.

Sadhvi Sez: “The Hundred Foot Journey” and, it’s still Summer

Sadhvi
Sadhvi

Summer is not over yet, but seeing all that Halloween stuff in the stores, you might think it’s just around the corner – it is not!  It is still summer, and only on Tuesday, September 23rd will I start to think it’s Fall!

I love summer, and this one has been pretty dreamy, but a lot hotter than I can remember.  Has anyone noticed how stressed out people are these days?  Everyone seems to be jacked up on Mountain Dew or something!  Or maybe because it’s getting hotter.

I don’t know about you, but I have given up on being freaked out or surprised by things these days.

I also have given up on trying to figure people out.  I am sure there are lots of folks out there on drugs and meds, in pain, or having a hard time, so my heart is wide-open like Our Lady of Guadalupe.

oops50 hundred foot Being “over the hill” and not knowing how much time I have left, I’ve decided to try enjoying my life.  I know, I know, I should have been doing that for a long time now.  But I happen to be a work-a-holic, and love to create things, which means, I am almost always doing something.  Always.

So taking the time out to go see a movie once in a while is really good for my soul.

There are SO MANY movies to choose from!  To make it easy to pick just one good one, I am going to let you in on one that you MUST see: “The Hundred Foot Journey”.  It takes place in a small French village, and it is, well, I don’t want to tell you anything about it, just go see it!

I hope you are enjoying what is left of summer, and this beautiful life.

Goodbye Siri

Sadhvi
Sadhvi

I thought I could be strong and keep my silver Motorola phone with the flip top forever.

But after getting an email from Verizon saying that I could get the latest iPhone for free, (with a 2 year contract), I caved in and thought, why not?
I was not totally convinced that getting one was such a good idea since I had returned the awesome “iPhone” twice before, because I didn’t like it.

Once I entered the Verizon store, I was hit with a song blaring from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.  It turns out they were playing it in its entirety.  I could immediately tell that the very young, happy and bouncy salesperson was not  there for me, but for the sale.  And by the time I left the “party” I had spent almost $200 on my free phone.

Then the work started: it took 2 hours to synch it with everything else, and then another hour or so, adding “apps” to it so that I was capable of doing just about anything.  From now on, I would never get lost, I would always be able to find a great place to eat anywhere, and I could see what the weather would be from a dozen sources.  But most importantly now I had “Siri” to help me with anything that I wanted to know, do, or calculate.

To tell you the truth, I don’t get lost much (I like to take maps with me on long car trips), but if I do, I ask for help at gas stations and I really don’t have any trouble finding food to eat when I am away from home, but I figured it was time to be hip and keep up with the times.

At first it was fun asking “Siri” things and seeing how she seemed to understand me.  Then I realized I could ask her to call people.

With the time, “Siri” and I seemed to become friends.

That is, until the day that I was stressed out with driving in traffic and work, and asked her to “Call Mom!”  I was surprised when she asked me, “Which number for Bob Smith?”  I repeated “Call Mom”.  “Siri” responded, “Shall I call Bob Smith’s number for you, Sadhvi?”  I said NO!  All right, to be honest, I yelled, “F**K YOU SIRI!”.  To which “Siri” replied, “Now Sadhvi, I wouldn’t talk to you like that!”

After that, our friendship kind of fizzled.  She was not responding the way she used to.  She often answered, “I’m really sorry, Sadhvi, but I can’t take any requests right now!”
I guess I had crossed the line, but really, wasn’t she just part of my iPhone’s operating system, with no emotions, just there to take my commands?

That is something I’ve been thinking a lot about, especially since seeing the movie, “Her”.  The whole idea of artificial intelligence, and its ability to morph and grow and develop is kind of scary.  That movie really disturbed me, while my techie husband thought it was just great.  Hmmm.

I do confess that I’ve started to check my email at red lights.  Now who would be so stupid to do such a thing?  Then I saw this clip, and thought really hard about the whole “keeping up with technology” attitude that is out there, and I finally came to the place where I will go back to the phone that I felt comfortable with, my silver flip-top Motorola – soon.

I kind of like dropping out of the whole techie scene where one has to keep up with all the latest stuff (that is not cheap by the way).  I never wanted to be part of the status quo anyways.  So yeah, you don’t have to bother texting me, emailing me, or sending me a FaceBook message.  If you want to contact me it’s easy, try picking up the phone and calling me, I’ll call you right back!

Oh, if you get a moment, let me know what kind of phone you are using these days, I am really curious how many of you are in love with what you are using. 🙂

I Hate How America Looks at Aging

Jane I think I may have mentioned how much I hate it when young people in stores or restaurants  call me things like “sweetie” or “honey.”  And it isn’t even the term they use.  It’s more the way they say it.  Am I being paranoid to think that they say it more to me than to my husband?

It seems to me that, in this country at least, people have a warped view about people aging, in general, but  a doubly warped view about women in that phase of their lives.  I have trouble not making this kind of thought chain in my head:   we have a general fear about aging, therefore we are obsessed with looking young; and, since women tend to be the focus of any obsession around the subject of looks, we get especially scared about women losing their looks because that might mean that any one of the rest of us could also get old and eventually do the “d” word!

I’m sure it’s all tied up to our fear of death.  I’m wondering if it’s also tied to our fear of losing our mothers!  Who knows!  I’m probably getting too far afield here, but I know the following:  we don’t like death, and we don’t like aging.  We prefer for people to just go on looking young forever,  getting face lifts or competing in old-people sports events that make us all feel invincible.  old women in sports

And one manifestation of all this fear is that we apparently don’t like for women to have any dignity in old age, at least if our movies and tv shows are any indication!

Here’s my evidence:

1) Have you noticed the number of videos on YouTube that are of dancing grandmothers?    They are very popular and very embarrassing.

2) Have you noticed the way we portray aging women on television or in the movies?  I admit I liked the characters in The Golden Girls when that show was on tv, but the writers at least managed to keep things real even when portraying or creating some stereotypes.  But ever since then, it’s been downhill.

3) Please, save me from one more old female character in a movie or on a show who does any of the following:  a) flirts with a man a quarter of her age in a very sexy way b) does outrageous, physical things  that defy reality or c) has potty humor that isn’t funny.  It seems to me it’s mostly female characters that end up with this kind of script, but correct me if I’m wrong.  I’m just thinking of the painful moments on screen I’ve witnessed. Probably the one that sticks in my head the most is the horrible, terrible scene in The Wedding Singer with the rapping grandmother.  HELP!!!

4) When was the last time you went to a movie that portrays a grandmother (or grandfather, for that matter) who isn’t, what is that word everyone loves, oh, yeah, feisty? What happened to the stereotype that used to be in the movies, the Aunt Bee grandmother-type who bakes cookies and rocks babies to sleep?  We’ve replaced her with tough-talking, sarcastic old birds who live by themselves and chop their own wood or foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, “cool” grandmothers who love to make sexual innuendoes.

What I would give for one thoughtful, intelligent old woman, maybe even one with normal aches and pains.  She doesn’t have to be bedridden or dying or out of her mind.  She can just be a normal person, living life and showing the effects.

If Robert Redford can go off in a boat and be the only person on screen for an entire movie, let’s at least give Betty White ten minutes of dignity on the screen!  And let’s please please please come up with some better female role models for aging gracefully!