Monday, August 20, 2018

Sharp Objects: Adora's Brand of Motherly Love

A Case of Munchausen by Proxy: Patricia Clarke as Adora in Sharp Objects

Last night’s penultimate episode of Sharp Objects answered a lot of questions. And posed a few more. 

Clearly Adora killed Marian. The Munchausen by Proxy diagnosis seems so clear and obvious now, Adora mixer of drinks, the ultimate controlling bitch, mixed up a poisonous brew to bring her daughter Marian to her death. I wish we’d had a few more clues. Or did I just miss them?

In retrospect, one might say Gillian Flynn gave us a hint in naming Adora. As I shared in a previous post, the name Adora means Glory and in Munchausen by Proxy, the individual—often the mother—brings attention— ie,  glory—to themselves by being seen as heroic and self-sacrificing in looking after the very person they’ve made ill. It’s a toxic psychological syndrome any fan of SVU, True Detective or any number of television crime shows is familiar with. 

But what about the other murdered girls? We know from John that Adora was close to both Ann and Natalie. That she wouldn’t give up on them. But where then, does the teeth-pulling fit in? How could Adora, who wimps out at a cut from the thorn of a rose, have done that? Poisoning someone slowly, measuring out their death by the spoonful over time is one thing but the kind of deaths those girls faced couldn't be accomplished by Adora without help.

Is her creepy husband—Do you need me for anything more tonight, dear?—her assistant? He seems so inept, failing at getting Camille to move the car, a task Adora has assigned him. In response to her questioning, his ineffective response that she was always better with the girls. Does that include all the girls? All the dead girls? Would he be up to this task?

Is Vickery, her confidante, her helper? That seems unlikely. He may have helped cover up the killing of her daughter but these murders are on a different scale.

Amma (Eliza Scanlen) looks on as Adora (Patricia Clarkson) and Camille (Amy Adams) talk

Is it Amma? We’ve seen how jealous she can get. Envious of Camille giving Richard, the detective, her attention. A green-eyed monster when her mother actually pays attention to Camille—for a change—at the dress shop. Was she so jealous of Adora's devotion to the girls that she killed them? That seems so obvious that I would be surprised if it turned out to be true.

At the same time, I’m mystified that Amma, so conniving herself, would submit to Adora’s manipulations. Yet when she refuses to take her medicine and submit to her mother’s ministrations, Adora calmly begins to take her dollhouse away, emotionally blackmailing her with the removal of her care, her motherly love and Amma caves, climbing back into bed. I’m not sure I buy the girl being so susceptible to Adora’s tricks, especially as we’ve heard Amma say her mother is so easy to play.

So you don’t need me, huh? Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen

And if Adora killed not only Marion, (and possibly both Ann and Natalie) and is now on her way to killing Amma, how did Camille escape what would seem a likely fate?

A lack of motherly love

Adora gave us the answer to this question herself when she told Camille ‘I never loved you’. That lack of motherly love, while hurtful on its surface, meant Camille was never the object of Adora’s attention. We’ve seen evidence of that, of Adora’s uncaring attitude toward Camille time after time throughout the show: Camille’s flashbacks to Adora inviting Marion into her room, shutting the door in her face. Adora posing with Marion in the photo accompanying the article about the house, leaving Camille out. Hurtful, hateful, unmotherly behavior. 

Camille: Scared for life? Or saved.

That lack of motherly love may have scarred Camille. It also seems to have saved her.

What are your thoughts? I’m all ears.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Happy Birthday Robert Redford: Aging Gracefully on Screen

If you read me with any frequency you may know I have a long-standing crush on Robert Redford. He is, in fact, the only actor I've ever written a fan letter to. That was back in the 70's. Humor me, then, for wishing the iconic star a Happy 82nd Birthday. 82! How the hell did that hunky young hottie turn into an 82-year-old man? Especially when I still feel like I'm that 20 years old girl writing him a fan letter! 

Here's how ...  in pictures that roughly trace Robert Redford's fifty-five-plus year career, we can see Redford mature and age with each film or television part. I haven't included all 78 of the roles that make up his CV, some years he made more than one film, some years, he made none. Some are classics, like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the Presidents Men. Some are crap like The Electric Horseman and The Clearing. The number below each image indicates Redford's age at the time of release—beginning with his first onscreen role, at age 23 ... [warning: this is gonna be a long post!] Watch him grow old along with me? It happens to us all, sooner or later.

Jimmy Coleman
Maverick "Iron Hand" 1960

Baldwin Lane
The Naked City "Tombstone for a Derelict" 1961

Harold Beldon
Twilight Zone "Nothing in the Dark" 1962

David Chesterman
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour "A Tangled Web" 1963

Matthew Cordell
The Virginian "The Evil that Men Do" 1963

Captain Hank Wilson
Situation Hopeless but Not Serious 1965

Wade Lewis
Inside Daisy Clover 1966 

Owen Legate
This Property is Condemned 1966

Paul Bratter Barefoot in the Park 1967

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

Halsy Knox
Little Fauss and Big Halsy 1970

Bill McKay
The Candidate 1972

The Way We Were 1973

Johnny Hooker
The Sting 1973

Jay Gatsby
The Great Gatsby 1974

Joseph Turner
Three Days of the Condor 1975

Bob Woodward
All the President's Men 1976

Major Cook
A Bridge Too Far  1977

The Electric Horseman  1979

Henry Brubaker
Brubaker  1980

Ray Hobbs
The Natural  1984

Out of Africa  1985

Tom Logan
Legal Eagles  1986

Jack Weil
Havana  1991

Marty Bishop
Sneakers  1992

John Gage
Indecent Proposal  1993

Warren Justice
Up Close and Personal  1996

Tom Booker
The Horse Whisperer  1998

Norman Muir
Spy Game  2001

Wayne Hayes
The Clearing  2004

Einar Gilkyson
An Unfinished Life  2005

Professor Stephen Malley
Lions for Lambs  2007

Jim Grant
The Company You Keep  2012

Our Man
All is Lost  2013

Alexander Pierce
Captain America: The Winter Soldier  2014

Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods  2015

Dan Rather
Truth  2015

Our Souls at Night 2017

Forrest Tucker
The Old Man with the Gun 2018
Redford announces this is his last onscreen role.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Happy Birthday Robert De Niro! My brief brush with stardom

Robert De Niro

You know you're old when all your crushes have turned into old men! I’ve been a Robert De Niro fan forever, so on the occasion of his 75th birthday, I wanted to share my brief brush up against the man on the set of Tales from the Crypt. It was 1989, and ...

I put down the phone, hoping no one could see my hand was literally shaking. Bob's assistant, Elena, was calling from New York, wanting to see if I could organize some lunch for her boss. Her boss Bob. Bob as in Bob De Niro. Oh, that Bob. The actor was going to be in LA and planned on squeezing in a quick meeting with Rowdy Herrington, the director shooting the next episode of Tales from the Crypt. As the APOC at Tales, it fell to me to take on the task. 

An APOC—Assistant Production Office Coordinator to the uninitiated—is nothing more than an overworked secretary to about 150 people. Twelve hour days minimum. No overtime. My job meant inputting every single one of those names, phone numbers, and addresses into the Crew List database and keeping it updated. I generated the cast list which included the names of the talent, and the phone numbers for their agents, but never their own phone numbers or addresses. God forbid some prop guy showed up at an actor's door, script in hand, pleading for them to read it. The producers and the A.D.s were the only ones with access to those personal details and they weren't telling. Otherwise, all contact had to be made through the actor's agent and manager. Email addresses? In 1989 we didn't have any stinking email addresses. Cell phone numbers? Please.

The Tales production facilities were located in an old pasta factory on a particularly ugly corner in Culver City. When I couldn't wrangle a p.a. to do it for me—some of the p.a.'s had a mysterious habit of disappearing between errands to hang out on set, my weak delegating skills to blame, I'm sure—I distributed all those crew lists, memo's from any of the plethora of producers, invoices, copies of production reports, phone messages and script changes into large manilla envelopes stapled to the wall alongside my desk. The front of the envelopes cut down to create pouches, the names of the departments—ART—CAMERA—HAIR & MAKE-UP—WARDROBE—printed in big bold block letters in black marker. 

I made hotel and plane reservations for cast and crew coming in from out of town. I purchased office supplies. I faxed camera department orders. I sent pa's off to deliver updated scripts to actors. I took the production reports handwritten in pencil by the AD's on set and typed them up neatly. I made xerox copies of the actor's sides and I fielded phone calls from all kinds of grips and production assistants looking for their next gig. I ordered second meal when we weren't going to wrap before the 12 hour day was over. I asked transpo—nobody ordered the Teamsters to do anything—to go on beer runs for the crew when each episode wrapped at the end of the week. I sent production assistants to the grocery store to keep our kitchen stocked with everybody's special requests. No Yahoo drinks in the fridge? What if producer Joel Silver stopped by? Curses!

And I ordered lunch for Bob De Niro.

Read the rest of the story at

Thursday, August 16, 2018

RESPECT in The Diary of Bridget Jones: RIP Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin has passed away but her music and memory will always remain. The icon’s sounds moved from vinyl to CDs and online streaming services but here at Chapter1-Take1, we remember how her music often made the score. This bit from The Diary of Bridget Jones is one of our favorite looks at how music helps tell the story and how her music, in particular, is embedded in every aspect of our culture.

Just a few bars from RESPECT, a song the whole world knows by heart, serves as a punctuation point in this scene featuring Bridget (Rene Zelwegger) and her misogynistic boss (Hugh Grant). Talk about a #MeToo #TimesUp message!  Bridget, fed up with her treatment from the clueless Daniel finally finds the strength and self-respect to walk out the door. To the cheers and applause of her coworkers. 

The song which began with Otis Redding came to be synonymous with what Bridget—and millions of other women—was seeking. RESPECT. 

Rest in Peace 
Aretha Franklin

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Juliet, Naked: My take on the book by Nick Hornby #review

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Connect with me on Instagram @ChapterOneTakeOne

I enjoyed reading Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked although neglecting to write up my thoughts immediately after finishing the book, I gave up on writing a proper review. The movie opens this Friday on August 17th so let me give it a whirl.

The screen adaptation of Juliet, Naked stars Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd

Duncan is an obsessed music fan, not of the current sounds being blasted on the airwaves mind you, but the sounds of yesteryear. In particular, he is devoted to a now-reclusive rocker by the name of Tucker Crowe (an unfortunate name as I have to rid my mind of Tucker Carlson before I can go on. Knowing the character is played by Ethan Hawke in the film helps.) Duncan indulges his devotion by running a website that has his fellow devotees weighing in on the man and the music 24/7. His long-suffering girlfriend—Tucker is all the man thinks about: On a trip from the UK to the US the couple even took a road trip to see the sights of Tucker—puts up with/humors his obsession. To a point. 
When someone drops a long lost Crowe album—an acoustic version of his mega-hit Juliet—on Duncan, he loses his mind, babbling online about its brilliance.
In contrast, Annie posts a comment that's both critical and insightful. It gets Tucker’s attention and unbeknownst to Duncan, the two—his girlfriend and his hero—begin communicating online. Their connection is strong enough that Tucker eventually comes to the UK to see Annie—as Duncan watches, dumbounded.

What I liked about the book

Nick Hornby’s usual brand of cutting humor. 
Duncan is a foolish, aging idiot so self-absorbed with his music he doesn’t appreciate how much Juliet is living his life, rather than hers. And how she may just be pushed to her limit. It’s a bit like the Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi  lyric—‘‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.’’ 

His empathy and clear-eyed look at men. While Hornby strikes a dark, comic tone he feels his character’s pain. 

It’s time to grow up, Duncan. But we feel for him as well. It’s all too easy to get stuck like Duncan. 

As for Tucker Crowe, our flawed rocker, many of us have a soft spot for a bad boy and Tucker is that. He’s been a bad partner, a bad father. But love, don’t you know, if you open yourself to it, and allow yourself to live it generously will keep you both grounded and give you wings. 

Annie. The girl. Not a girl at all really, but a woman who—as we used to say—has stayed too long at the fair. Hornby has an exquisite sense of our interior struggles, how hard it is for all of us as humans to find connection and like this triangle, stay in place, too scared to venture beyond the confines of that connection. We stay where it feels safe, even when safety fences us in, zaps all the life out of our lives, blinding us to possibilities where we might be our best selves.

Funny, touching, it’s the kind of grown-up love story that floats my boat. 

All signs are pointing to success for the screen adaptation starring Rose Byrne as Annie,  Chris O'Dowd as Duncan, and Ethan Hawke as Tucker. BUT READ THE BOOK FIRST!*

*If you haven’t already. Have you? What’d you think? I’m all ears.

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