Archive for the ‘ Giffone ’ Category

When Children Fail, When Parents Love: Keys to a Good Christmas in “Everybody’s Fine”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

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by Susan Giffone [author, academic]

I don’t know about you, but when the subject of Christmas comes up, a lot of people tell me that they plan to spend the holiday with their extended families.  And yet, very few of them seem happy about that.  It seems Christmas with family falls somewhere on the emotional spectrum between paying bills and giving birth to conjoined triplets.  No one has said to me, “I can’t wait to go home for Christmas because my family is so warm and inviting, like Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.”  In an age renowned for tolerance, I find this distressing.  Agape love, the queen mother of Christian ideals, is easily understood by everyone, from the most eminent psychiatrist to the simplest simon, to be the soil in which humans thrive.  Everybody loves unconditional love.  Why is it so hard to give?

Everybody’s Fine, the latest offering from writer/director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine, Nanny McPhee), shows viewers vividly what can happen when we see and accept one another as we truly are.  (more…)

Review: Answer Man

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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by Susan Giffone [author, academic]

July is the time for magazines at the grocery checkout to offer recipes for “lite” this and “easy” that.  George Gershwin’s famously observed, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” Answer Man, a light romantic comedy with a 1940s feel, will open, appropriately, on July 24.  In spite of its heavy-seeming premise, the film is mostly an excuse for taking your sweetie out for dinner and a movie.  Because “Answer Man” is only 95 minutes long, perhaps you can add a walk afterward along a tree-lined city street. (more…)

In This House We Groan: a review of ‘Is Anybody There?’

Friday, April 17th, 2009

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by Susan Giffone [author, academic]

Times are tough.  To make ends meet, a middle-aged couple  decides to turn their house into an old age home.  Their ten-year-old son Edward is displaced from his room, mum is overwhelmed with the day-to-day management of the business, and dad, it seems, is busy nursing bitterness and a low self-image.  The boy seethes with resentment.  As he witnesses the passing of several residents, he develops a fascination with death.  Another family suffers the stress of the recent economic downturn.

Although Is Anybody There? takes place in 1984, in Hornsea, England, it manages to feel rather like 2009. (more…)

Heroism vs Celebrity: a Review of JCVD

Friday, November 7th, 2008

by Susan Giffone [author, academic]

What is a hero?  Jonathan Swift wrote, “Whoe’er excels in what we prize, appears a hero in our eyes.”  In “JCVD”, writers Frederic Benudis and Christophe Turpin explore the concepts of talent, celebrity and heroism.  They choose as their subject the beefy Belgian karate expert cum action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose exceptional talent in the martial arts led to a very busy and lucrative film career.  Since 1983, he has appeared in some three dozen movies, punching, kicking, chopping and shooting his way to stardom.  On the way he has gained a reputation for a life of excess, including drug use and multiple divorces.  It goes without saying that Van Damme’s movie persona is visceral, not cerebral.  His films are largely over the top fantasies in which the hero’s cool daring and physical prowess win the day. Is Jean-Claude Van Damme a hero or merely a celebrity? (more…)

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