Shakespeare’s Henry IV – Conflict between Father and Son

 

Guest blogger: Patricia Robertson

Henry 1Shakespeare has a keen understanding of the human psyche, including family dynamics. This is apparent in the 2015 Michigan Shakespeare Festival (July 11-August 16) production of Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, masterfully combined and abridged into one bringing out the best and highlighting the conflict between King Henry and his son, Hal, Prince of Wales. henry2

This familiar family saga ends with Prince Hal requesting that his father’s advisors’ treat any sons he has as they treated him, a touching tribute to his father. Thus the wound between father and son is healed and doesn’t continue to the next generation unhealed and without recovery, as so often happens.

Family struggles are the stuff of life. The love and acceptance of fathers is essential to the well-being of their children. In telling the story of a conflict between father and son, Shakespeare’s play resonates today as a universal human theme.  If you are in Michigan at this time, please take advantage of the opportunity to see this festival!

Note: Patricia Robertson has released her novel, Still Dancing, the sequel to her novel, Dancing on a High Wire, and is looking forward to writing the next book in the series during NaNoWriMo this year. She blogs about life and writing at http://patriciamrobertson.com .

Posted in Theater: plays and musicals, Travel (Domestic) | Leave a comment

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“Trainwreck”—A Comic Collision

 

images“Trainwreck” is the best and funniest rom-com since “Bridesmaids”, another hilarious feminist film by Judd Apatow, known also for bro-coms like “40-Year Old Virgin”.  And like previous Apatow productions “Bridesmaids” (see my June 20, 2011 review) and “Girls” , “Trainwreck” is both funny and a little sad. The scenes that are the most memorable and vivid, however, are comic fireworks. Written and starring Amy Schumer, “Trainwreck’s” humor is raunchy, pushes the boundaries of conventional one-liners, and is as sexually explicit as Schumer’s Comedy Central TV series.

Amy Townsend (Schumer) is the daughter of a cantankerous, alcoholic dad (Colin Quinn) with infidelity and commitment issues. Amy follows in his footsteps. Disagreements with her younger sister about Dad’s assisted living expenses become a key indicator of Amy’s attitude toward the deeply unsympathetic man and the way he helped shape the mess she became. But it’s all too clear that Amy’s commitment-phobia, compulsive drinking, and pot-smoking are masking deeper wounds. As a staff writer for a low-brow men’s magazine, Amy gets assigned to interview Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports doctor to the elite like LeBron James (who surprises with impeccable comic timing). The reason for the assignment: she hates sports.

Schumer and Hader have unbelievable chemistry together. Hader’s goofy Mr. Nice Guy channels Tom Hanks in his early career. And he plays perfectly to Schumer’s fear of intimacy and seeming invulnerability. That’s the basic theme here: about rejecting those we really desire before they have a chance to reject us. The why-try-if-we-know-how-it-will-end-up syndrome.

And what a comic team Schumer and Hader make! Funny or serious, they approach every scene without skipping a beat in timing. Open, fearless, undefended, masterful. And the supporting cast (Tilda Swinton, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Brie Larson) give hilarious and moving performances. What every great comedy requires!

In one scene poor Aaron is imposed upon by Amy, who is afraid she has a deep need and desire for him, so she picks a fight: “You go down on me too much!” she yells, desperate to criticize him, before the joke turns around again: “And don’t try to spin this into a reason for not going down on me.”

Some jokes may not be for all tastes, but Schumer is a juggernaut for women in comedy as much as her predecessors: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Lena Dunham, most of whom have been supported by Apatow. And, beat for beat, “Trainwreck” is one of Apatow’s most consistently funny and charming films ever. I want to see more Amy Schumer!!

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2 comments on ““Trainwreck”—A Comic Collision

  1. Andrea liked it, but thought it not funny enough. I loved Trainwreck. LeBron was fantastic. The scene with the sportscaster attempting an intervention on Hader almost worked, and was unexpected. I’d see it again!

  2. Glad you liked it so much! I agree–I definitely would see it again, when it comes out on Netflix! Thanks for commenting!

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“Muscle Shoals”–Music Muscle from the Deep South

Muscle Shoals A [This movie review can be also seen at Josephsreviews.com where I was a guest blogger on July 17,2015)

A 2013 documentary about an Alabama musical legacy, “Muscle Shoals“,  brings to light a group of musicians who never had their day in the sun.

Two iconic recording studios in the tiny town of Muscle Shoals Alabama—FAME (est. 1959) and its spinoff Muscle Shoals Sound (1960) —became the “must have” sound for, among others, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Etta James, and many other Rock-and-Roll legendary artists. The magic of a group of background musicians, who called themselves the “Swampers”, some of whom were classically trained, were the touchstone of FAME. The Swampers were all white. Keep in mind this is the early 60’s.  FAME

 

 

 

 

“Muscle Shoals” is the love story of American music roots in the Deep South. For this viewer, some of the most spellbinding scenes focus on Rick Hall, the pioneer and open-minded founder of FAME studio. , Rick Hall’s own poverty and family upheaval perhaps allowed him to empathize with the racial hostility young music artists of color faced in most of the US, not just the south. Before the Civil Rights Movement really became a force shaping US history, FAME gave some of our most creative musicians their break in the music business. The movie gives the impression that the principals of FAME were unaware of the significance of their race-neutral music production.

Hall brought black and white music together. He produced signature music: “I’ll Take You There” and “When a Man Loves a Woman” by black musicians unknown at the time.

“Muscle Shoals” bears witness to how Hall’s color-blind passion for music infused a magnetism, mystery, and magic into the music that became known as the Muscle Shoals Sound. The filmmaker allows the key players to speak for themselves, with many cameo interviews of the legendary including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and Etta James. On its own, the cinematography of Muscle Shoals, the backwater town along the Tennessee River is an eye opener. And “Muscle Shoals” is not to be missed for its music history, racial progressiveness, and its imagery. A visceral and magical vision indeed!

Postscript:

) The original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios building is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and maintained, by the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. Their goal is to turn the historic building into a music museum.

2) FAME is still owned and operated by Rick Hall and his son Rodney Hall. Beats Electronics, after seeing this movie, is underwriting the renovation of FAME to support young musicians.

3) Actor Johnny Depp is developing this movie into a TV series, according to Variety (July 8, 2015).

Posted in Unhealed Wound | 1 Reply

One comment on ““Muscle Shoals”–Music Muscle from the Deep South

  1. I loved this movie. It made me want to take a trip down south. After this we watched some music videos of Tom Rigney and Flambeau. I have watched it twice.

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