Category Archives: Film Reviews

The Patience Stone

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In response to my 2-part poem “Devil #3”, (If you haven’t seen my poem about being abducted, you can read it HERE and HERE,) I received a comment from Joe at http://whatigottasayaboutit.com/

This post angers me. It sickens me to think about how barbaric men can be. I’m also saddened that this sort of thing continues to go on every day. I read the comments from your readers and my heart sank. Then I got to thinking of all the men who might have suffered similar experiences. Women are not the only ones who are affected by the patriarchy that is world wide. If you ask me, patriarchy is the biggest problem the world has to face. I’m happy you escaped unharmed, both in this story and in your Naive in Africa story. However, I wish you never had to experience this in the first place. Thanks for sharing this Judy. I think I’ll re-blog this.”

This is my reply to him:

Thanks, Joe.  In my life, I’ve known more supportive, gentle men than the self-centered horrors depicted in these few writings, and I know that in addition to the fact that men, too, have been abducted, tortured and killed, that in being expected to go to war,  men (and now women) have traditionally faced horrors of being forced to kill or be killed as well.

I am thankful every day not to have been born into a culture where women are traditionally at the mercy of whatever men dictate.  If you haven’t seen the film “The Patience Stone,” I highly recommend it.  The subtitles are horrible but the message gets across visually.  An incredible film. “Change doesn’t come through guns-it comes through culture, and women change the culture,” says Atiq Rahimi, director and co-writer of “The Patience Stone.”

Now I would like to share that recommendation with all of you and to hear what you think of the film.  It is set in Afghanistan and I don’t know who did the subtitles.  Here is the further comment I sent to Joe regarding subtitles:

Joe, I think I’m going to post your letter and my reply to you. I would love to have more people see “The Patience Stone” and then to hear their discussion of the film. If you can get beyond the horrible subtitles–-and in places I was grateful for the humor they infused which appropriate or not, helped to lighten things up a bit-–this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen in terms of getting a point across that you had to dig for a bit.

See a trailer for “The Patience Stone” HERE.

See the entire movie online HERE.

A Message for Henry Selick

The Prompt: Make It Count—You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to (for example: the President. Kim Kardashian. A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?

A Message for Henry Selick

In our age of information—
and also instant confirmation
of every little truth and fact,
it’s necessary to react
with some protection, I understand.
The famous of us take a hand
to protect themselves from the clamoring band
of those who call for their attention
to win a conference or audition,
an interview or invitation
to meet for food or a libation
as a means to talk about
ideas that we have need to flout.
And so I see why I could not
reach the person whom I sought
to pitch my Christmas storybook.
The plot is good. I have a hook.
The characters are funny and
the artist has an expert hand.
I even know the person who
I wish to do my pitching to.
But he’s grown famous through the years
and our acquaintance is in arrears—
his movies scarier by far
than any of my stories are.
But readers tell me that in a pinch,
my Christmas story beats the Grinch!
A Christmas classic the film would be
if only Hollywood could see
the book that no one yet has seen
because my Facebook notes have been
seen by no one and I have not
a way to advertise my lot.
So here I make a heartfelt plea
for Henry Selick to contact me!

(To further jog your memory:
Your wife Heather had a job
teaching with my husband Bob.)

The book is Sock Talk: A Christmas Story, and you can see more about it here.


Blog Sock Talk

Railroaded and Blended: Thirstless in a Bloodthirsty World, Sober in a Laughless One

Railroaded and Blended: Thirstless in a Bloodthirsty World, Sober in a Laughless One

Every day, our children are mesmerized by computer games where they hunt down and kill. TV shows go from violent to horrific—all echoing a world made increasingly more warlike as the war games of children grown into the war games of politicians and financiers who seek political and financial gain by first vilifying and then “going after” their enemies.

It is not my dreams, but rather my waking world that’s tortured by the bloodthirst of our world. At night, in my bed before sleeping, I fear for my own breathing and have to go outside for the comfort of cool night moving air. That scene from “The Bridge” where a child is buried alive with water slowly filling his crypt—will not go away. I am stuffed to strangling with earth’s cruelty.

My dreams remain my own, so it is not sleep I fear, but rather that time before sleep when I release hold of my consciousness and let my mind drift into worlds I am half-conscious of. That’s when I give way to thoughts of my own death, jerking myself back from fears of what comes next.

I don’t share the world’s appetite for torture, violence, killing and revenge. I want to scream “Please! Stop!” and run in the opposite direction, for I can’t follow where the world’s mania leads us. And this is why, when a friend asked me to go to a movie with her and suggested “The Railway Man” with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, I pleaded for a chic flick instead. My uncle died in the death march on Bataan. I saw the “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “A Town Like Alice” and have read about how the real life and death of women prisoners of war was minimized by “Paradise Road.” I’ve read of the horrors of those Australian nurses marched into the sea and shot, the rapes, deprivation, starving and executions.

This is why I said, “No more!!!” when my friend asked me to see that particular movie, wherein former POW Colin Firth goes in search of one of his Japanese captors. This year I have read two books dealing with the tortures of the slave trade and two more about the Spanish inquisition. I simply cannot take any more tales of torture and man’s inhumanity to man, and so it was that I chose the movie “Blended” starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler and my friend agreed to attend this “light comedy” with me.

This is how we came to be sitting in a theater in Ajijic, Mexico, with approximately ten other viewers similarly misinformed as to the utter dross and simplistic humorlessness of this movie!!!!! (Suffice it to say that all tortures are not physical in this world.) This was the singularly worst movie I have ever seen in my life. I love Drew Barrymore and most of Adam Sandler, but the script and acting in this movie were horrible! Add to that the ridiculous slapstick of the sterotyped African Disneyland that passed as an African adventure. I would add “offended” to the other adjectives that describe my reaction to this movie: namely, “unamused, bored, sickened and amazed.” The children were obnoxious, the plot implausible, the African characters one-dimensional stereotyped farces. What was that African singing group that showed up at any given moment furnishing a (not-funny) Greek chorus effect during various mini-climaxes during the movie?  Not since the black-faced minstrel has such an offensive stereotype been presented.

I must admit that my friend loved the movie. She laughed throughout, and must have wondered why I sat unsmiling and laughless throughout the entire movie. There is a certain amount of insult in finding fault with a book or movie or TV show that someone else loves, and I felt like a Scrooge when I was asked how I liked the movie and had to admit I HATED IT! Fed up to the eyebrows with the violence and torture that seems to be increasingly necessary to hold our interest in both our media and games, it was I who had suggested we go to this movie instead, and perhaps I was forced to pay for my need to bury my head in the sand for a few hours.

Not wanting to be influenced by what I read, I have deliberately not gone to IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes to see whether the critics agree with my review of this horrible movie, but as I draw toward the end of my diatribe, I will now do so and be right back with some of their thoughts:

Rotten Tomatoes Review: “Lurching between slapstick and schmaltz without showing much of a commitment to either, Blended commits the rare Sandler sin of provoking little more than boredom.”

Washington Post, Stephanie Merry: Each sweet moment is inevitably punctuated by some in-your-face joke that’s at least as stupid as the preceding moments were heartfelt. Blended has other problems, too, including some faulty editing and a typically predictable finale.

Reel Views, James Berardinelli: “What’s missing from Blended? Two key ingredients: it doesn’t touch the heart and it doesn’t tickle the funny bone (at least not often enough). “

Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Labrecque: “In Blended, his (Sandler) comic flab has never felt as thick, and this hackneyed “family-friendly” entertainment feels less like a movie than a bad sit-com re-run.”

Portland Oregonian, Stephen Whitty: “He(Adam Sandler) plays it so low-key there’s nothing much for him to do, apart from the clueless-dad shtick and some awkward comedy.”

NY Times, A.O. Scott: “Most of Blended has the look and pacing of a three-camera sitcom filmed by a bunch of eighth graders and conceived by their less bright classmates. Shots don’t match. Jokes misfire. Gags that are visible from a mile away fail to deliver. “

Meta critic, B. Jackson: “I loved earlier comedies by this duo but this looks like they were here just for the paycheck. Also, based on the screenplay, the writers must have been working on a tight deadline for their high-school drama class.”

USA Today, Caludia Puig: “You have to work hard to make an African vacation seem unpleasant. And Adam Sandler nearly pulls it off in Blended.”

Not all critics hated this movie and some fans, including my friend, loved it. Having lived and traveled in Africa for years, I perhaps found the Africa scenes more insulting and deprecating than most. But this movie lost me long before it got to Africa!

The Prompt: When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?