Now that I have time to partake in summer reading, I’ve been working on sorting through my giant to-read list to determine what will take precedence this summer.
I’m close to (finally) finishing J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and when I finish that, my next non-project read will be Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, which I can’t believe I’ve never read. I also hope to complete the next read for my From the Film Back to the Book reading project, Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as Diana Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, about which I’ve heard nothing but good things.
Rosalind Russell, a favorite actress of mine, was born today in 1907. To celebrate, she is the subject of this month’s Discovery post. This turned out a bit longer than some other Discovery posts, as Russell’s career was quite long and varied, and I wanted to give it a proper tribute.
Studio publicity still of Rosalind Russell (public domain) – via Wikimedia Commons
I quite honestly discovered the genius of Rosalind Russell by accident. On my odyssey through the films of Olivia de Havilland, I stumbled across the little screwball comedy Four’s A Crowd, with Errol Flynn, Russell, and Patric Knowles. I didn’t think much of Russell. I vaguely knew she was the woman from His Girl Friday (which would have been my first Roz film had the public domain copy I downloaded from the Internet Archive to bring with me on a summer trip not had a bad audio problem), but then I watched The Women – and the rest is history. Russell’s character in The Women is the zaniest person I’ve seen in a movie, and Russell’s off-the-walls performance hooked me from the first frame she was in. After that, I knew I had to see all there was of Russell’s comic genius. Along the way, I learned that she was quite a good dramatic actress, too.
At intermission at the BAM Harvey Theatre during its production of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder last Saturday, my friend turned to me and said, “You know? This talk of climbing high makes me think of Safety Last!” I politely agreed, adding to myself, since I had finished reading the play a few days previously, “You don’t know how right you are.”
The night before going to see The Master Builder, this friend and I had a Harold Lloyd marathon of films DVRed from Turner Classic Movies’ Lloyd night the evening before. It had been her first time seeing Safety Last!, with its thrilling building-climbing climax. (For those of you unfamiliar with Safety Last!, it’s the silent film that contains this iconic clock image.) Naturally, any talk of climbing tall steeples in The Master Builder would hearken back to that.
My friend didn’t know how curious of a connection this was until the end. The texts explore building climbing and the quest to achieve heights in opposite ways. While Lloyd’s character is an accidental hero, Ibsen’s character defiantly tries to show that he is greater than he is.
Today, I bring you my first post in my new From the Film Back to the Book project, which I introduced here.
As I began to explore the films of Vivien Leigh, I eventually found The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which is notable for being Leigh’s last true starring role, and thus I watched it with immense curiosity. When taken alongside Leigh’s portrayal Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire and Mary Treadwell from Ship of Fools, Leigh as Karen Stone seems like part of a trifecta of women chasing lost youth.
In The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Leigh plays an aging actress who, on the way to Rome, lost her husband and is now seeking some sort of purpose in life. She finds something – not exactly “purpose” – in young Paolo, played by Warren Beatty, and embarks on an affair with him as she drifts through her new life in Rome. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, here is the original trailer:
When the Tribeca Film Festival was running this year, I knew I had to go to at least one screening. I poured over the options and made my decision: I would go see the documentary The Genius of Marian. Chief among the reasons for my choice was that I felt somewhat connected to the subject matter.
A fitting tribute to mothers, The Genius of Marian is a beautiful new documentary about a son chronicling his mother’s struggles with Alzheimer’s. Pam White has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Her mother, artist Marian Steele, also suffered from the disease before her death.
The Genius of Marian functions on two levels: on one, there is Pam working on a book about her mother, a process with which her son, director Banker White, helps her; on the other, White makes the film as a tribute to his own mother, chronicling her struggle with the disease.
My grandmother suffered from dementia the last few years of her life. Although I know that Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t quite the same thing, they are similar enough that I always feel as though I sort of understand Alzheimer’s stories.
I was a preteen when my grandmother started to have her problems. I remember what it was like for my mom to watch her mother slowly lose touch with the real world. Towards the end, my mom observed that my grandmother wasn’t really suffering; she had created her own world. It was those around her, who knew what she had been like before dementia, who were quietly suffering.
It’s taken me a little over nineteen months, but today, I am publishing my 100th post here on Many Media Musings.
When I started the blog back in September 2011, I didn’t know what would become of it. I thought there was a very realistic chance that I’d abandon it after a few months.
But I’ve soldiered on. As much as I’d like to write more, I’ve settled into an approximately once a week schedule (barring the last few weeks). And honestly, I’m okay with that.
Blogging for me has become a happy escape. This is my little space to talk about what I love and to learn more about others’ perspectives in a more casual environment than academia provides. And the blogging community, I’ve found, is a wonderfully supportive one.
Rediscovery is feeling I don’t experience often enough.
It’s the thrill of seeing something through new eyes, of gleaning new wisdom and new appreciation from it.
I recently had this experience while rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Before I jump into my newfound love for the book, a little bit of background:
I first read the Great Gatsby when I was 16 in my advanced English class in junior year of high school. Junior year English was an odd year for me, as I had trouble connecting to many of the works we read. The Great Gatsby was no exception.
I found the book to be tedious at best, pretentious at worst. I remember discussing the symbolism – the colors, the ash heaps, those eyes – with several of my friends but finding them too heavy-handed for my liking.
I can’t tell you why I disliked Gatsby other than that I just didn’t “get” it. I understood what I was supposed to appreciate, but it didn’t click.