Reading and watching

Apologies for neglecting this site. I read all the time but recommend only what I like. I pile each “winner” on my desk until I get to three.

I’ll start with two non-fiction, which read like thrillers…

She Said, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

I read three national papers daily. I’d read every thing out there — much of it written by Kantor and Twohey — about the investigation into predation by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, and with it the swift fallout for other powerful men in media. As a victim of sexual assault and workplace stalking, each revelation — Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Les Moonves — felt like a win for women. 

Did I need to read the book? Yes. It’s the vital testament that sparked a movement.

Kantor and Twohey, who’d never worked together before, become a formidable team at The New York Times as they piece together a damning portrait of a serial predator protected — ironically — by settlement agreements he’d made with victims. It’s a comfort to know that these reporters were fully supported by colleagues and superiors at the Times, and appropriately lauded. The two shared the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with Ronan Farrow.

Catch and Kill, by Ronan Farrow 

This is a parallel investigation of predation by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, told by Hollywood royalty (Mia Farrow mother, Woody Allen father, Frank Sinatra may have fathered him). Kudos to Farrow, whose investigative work is questioned and held up repeatedly by NBC executives. Fascinating.

When NBC won’t run his piece — they say it’s not up to their standards — Farrow takes it to The New Yorker, where it’s eventually published. At the same time, Farrow and the women sharing their stories are stalked by Black Cube operatives (former Israeli intelligence agents) employed by Weinstein. Crazy.

Brooke Nevils’ account of workplace rape and sexual abuse by Matt Laurer broke my heart. 

On to fiction…

The Dutch House, by Ann Padgett

This is the story of Maeve and her brother Danny (the narrator), who live in the Dutch House, a magically beautiful manor in the Philadelphia suburbs. Their mother abandons them to do charity work in India; their attentive father and loving housekeepers raise them in understated luxury. Father remarries and dies; with that, their stepmother banishes the two. They’re smart, educated and resourceful, so the siblings eventually thrive. This book is a love letter to New York City, Columbia University, the Upper West Side, and the uniquely entrancing Dutch House. How this story wraps up is achingly sad, complex, and moving. I loved this read.

On to movies…

I knew I’d like Pedro Almodovar’s Pain & Glory, and I did. The story flows, its colors — blue and red — inform and delight. This is the director’s life: poverty, creativity found and lost, sexuality, drug abuse, celebrity. A wonderful film. Rarely am I sympathetic to heroin users…

I didn’t think I’d like The Joker and mostly loved it. Again, the color! Joaquin Phoenix dancing on a Bronx stairway is an image I’ll never forget. The movie is violent, but the violence is understandable. 

Another film I deeply enjoyed, when I wasn’t sure I would, is Judy. What a life, and so much of it fraught. Renee Zellweger becomes Judy Garland. Hers is a knock-out performance. Too, I appreciated the film’s structure, which gave us Judy’s early days as a teen actress but mostly focuses on the last few months of her life, when she’s performing in London. 

Closing with mindless tv….

I blame Trump and all the shouting on television news for my consumption of Modern Love. They’re half hour vignettes based on The New York Times column. The best (People magazine ranked them differently) is “When the Doorman is Your Main Man”. Runner up is “Hers was a World of One,” about a gay couple who take in the homeless pregnant woman who will bear their child. Andrew Scott, aka the hot priest from Fleabag, plays the reluctant father to be.

And then there’s the critically damned Mrs. Fletcher. It’s a seven episode series based on the Tom Perrotta book, which I devoured. The series has been universally panned. No matter: for me, the first episode went down like warm soup on a cold day. I know that’s cliché. So is the show.

Thanks for reading…

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