Meryl 157, Trump -6

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I Watched the Golden Globes

Aside from the fact that Hollywood gives and gets way too many awards for what they do, and no one else in any other field gets that kind of accolades, it was a good night. I did see a lot of the nominated tv shows and films, though certainly not all of them.

I was happy for Sarah Paulson for her portrayal of Marcia Clark in The People vs OJ Simpson, which also won for best tv limited series.

I watched The Crown on Netflix, and what really drew me in was both the writing and Claire Foy‘s portrayal of the young Queen Elizabeth, a person who I am generally not very interested in. I was very happy that she won the best actress for a tv mini-series. This mini-series was so well done because of their approach to the inner life of young Elizabeth as she becomes queen unexpectedly, and how she struggled with what it means to her to be a monarch. What was really moving to me was her outrage at not having a proper education, especially because she  had to meet with Winston Churchill every week and discuss politics, which she was not prepared for. The show also won best mini-series.

I have only watched a few episodes of Blackish, and was thrilled to see Tracee Ellis Ross win there. Here is what she said in her speech: “This is for all the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But I want you to know that I see you, we see you.” Right on.

La La Land took everything in the music, musical movie category, as it should. Nancy and I saw it on Saturday. The song, City of Stars, won best song, and is jazzy and pop at the same time, and is captivating. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were perfect as a modern day Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant…not too corny, buy singing and dancing the whole time, and I’m glad they won the best in their category.

Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, which is a very well done most depressing movie of the year. If I were his character I would have killed myself…that’s how tragic this movie it. He stayed in character every single second of the movie, which had to be difficult beyond belief. I was hoping that Amy Adams would win best actress for Arrival, but  it went to Isabelle Huppert for Elle, which I haven’t seen.

The winner of the best motion picture was Moonlight, which after I saw it, I predicted it would, or at least should, win.  Moonlight is a film that is deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that’s breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmaking that stays completely focused on its main character while also feeling like it’s dealing with themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity. And yet it’s never preachy or moralizing. Both Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are about men and masculinity, themes that are not at the top of my list of interests, but I was captivated by both of these films, and strongly recommend that you see them.

The highlight of the night for me was Meryl Streep‘s speech upon winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Now, I agree that she has won too many awards (nobody has given me an award for being the best psychotherapist, nor will they ever) but she really does deserve everything that comes her way because  she is so gifted. What she did with her speech was to call out the President-elect for mocking a disabled person and warned that a free speech would need to be defended. Totally political, and I loved it. Actually, I cried all the way through it. Here is her speech in its entirety:

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Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

Thank you Meryl.

2016: My Favorite TV

cat-watching-tv-alamy-CC6YJ2-335sm0920122016 was the year I crossed over to a large format, high definition, smart tv. Wow! Watching Warriors basketball is possibly better than being there, but I can’t be sure about that. Getting that heavy Sony tv out to the street was hard…especially for the guy I hired. A free sign and a free ad on craigslist and it was gone in 24 hours. Then I had to upgrade my Directv to accommodate the HD…fortunately at no extra cost…love Directv! And now I have On Demand…so I can watch everything I missed.

Here are my favorite shows on tv from 2016:

Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany is amazing as several identical clones. Show raises moral and ethcial issues about human cloning, as well as personal identity. Glad she finally won her Emmy.

The Night Of.  John Turturro is great as a down on his luck attorney in a murder case with political overtones.

American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson. Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark stole the show. Now on Netflix.

Not to be confused with…

American Crime. Felicity Huffman, Regina King, and Timothy Hutton are in the repertory show.  Issues of racism and sexual assault.

The final season of The Good Wife. Saying goodbye to Alicia was hard.

The Blacklist. James Spader makes this quirky show. Is he a sociopath? Is he Liz’s father?

Saturday Night Live. Thank you Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon, Larry David and cast for making the election laughable.

The Rachel Maddow Show. My favorite lesbian. So smart.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He’s so serious and funny at the same time. He and Rachel are the only ‘news’ I can watch.

Eyewitness. A one-story season cop murder mystery, with a female sheriff in small town upstate New York being a foster parent to a gay teenager.

Good Behavior. Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey goes 180 degrees away from her role as Lady Mary. She is a American Southerner, drug addict, thief, and all around con artist trying to get her kid back from her mother’s custody…and that’s just one angle.

This Is Us. A multi-generation family story, going back and forth between then and now, focussed on the three adult children, all fascinating people.

Queen Sugar.  Oprah presents the story of estranged siblings trying to get their farm back in Louisiana. Great female leads dealing dead on with racism. An amazing drama.

Shameless.  This is the 7th season of William Macy playing sociopath drunken father Frank and his mostly adult children trying to overcome their disastrous child rearing. It is one of the best shows ever.

My neighborhood Bernal Heights, San Francisco!

Here are some cool images of Bernal Heights, my neighborhood. You can see most of the City from the top of the Hill and pretend that you are in a little piece of the country in the City. May it live forever!

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My Favorite Books of 2016

imagesAs Ann Patchett, author of several of my favorite books, said in the New York Times last Sunday, “If ever there was a year to turn off the television, throw the phone out the window and pick up a book, this was it.” Not that I complied with her directions about tv and phones, but I did plenty of reading. Here are the best ones:
La Rose by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich is a national treasure, the absolutely gifted writer of Native American characters and culture. This novel starts with a tragedy and searches for atonement. Despite almost being annihilated, Erdrich shows that Native American people and culture is still standing.
The Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead. This book just won the National Book Award. It is the fictional story of Cora, a slave trying to escape the South via the underground railroad, which the author turns into an actual subterranean railroad. It’s about people who are willing to do anything to accomplish change.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. This is an engrossing family drama where two families collide like dominos, where everyone behaves badly, and you are rooting for the kids because their parents are so completely uninterested in and overwhelmed by them.
The Wonder by Emma Donaghue. From the author of The Room, this is an entirely different kind of story. In the mid-1800s an English nurse, trained under Florence Nightingale, is sent to Ireland to solve a mystery: an Irish family claims that their 11 year old daughter has not eaten in four months. The family deems it a miracle. Read and find out.
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny. Another great Louise Penny mystery set in Three Pines, with Gamache at his very best, smart, and built on relationships.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. If you read Olive Kitteredge, you know there will be suffering in this novel…and very powerful. It is the story of a hospitalized writer whose estranged mother is visiting. Lucy has managed to escape her background of abuse and poverty. During the visit her mother is unable to say the words I Love You, but she shows it in her way. Very moving.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. This novel based on a black girl’s reminiscences of growing up with her girlfriends in the slums of Brooklyn in the 1970s. Very fresh with beautiful writing.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan. This mystery novel is about a seventeen-year-old female musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She and her mother try to start life again after she serves her time. More trouble ensues. Fast paced, character driven story you will love.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta.  A young Nigerian girl, displaced during the Civil War, begins a powerful love affair with another girl. The pair discover the heavy costs of living among taboos and prejudices.

A list of Non-fiction recommendations:

At the Existential Cafe by Sarah Bakewell

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi

Untangled by Lisa Donovan

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Highsmith: A Romance of the 50s by Marijane Meaker

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

A surrealistic trip down memory lane by way of the museum

“The Day Beyonce Turned Black”

Watch this from last week’s Saturday Night Live. It’s brilliant…and funny.

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