Archive | Past Matters

Rain and Rubies

You know you’re a writer at heart when you’re relieved it’s raining. I’d have complained to the high heavens had it snowed but a sunshiney Saturday would have made me feel just as bad, if also foolish. All I want to do is curl up with another Helena Rubenstein biography and write a section of the larger project gathering dust on my desk. If my city were still the Audrey Hepburn movie it’s been all week long (radiant smiles, radiant sun), I’d have felt too much pressure to carpe diem to actually carpe diem as I wished. Now if I venture out at all, it’ll be to catch that Helena exhibit one more time before it leaves the Jewish Museum March 22. Purples and reds; Polish rubies and art deco ivories; a rainbow of self-portraits and silks. What better weapons to stow in the imagination’s arsenal? Anyway, I am the scion of another enterprising Polish Ruby (my great-grandmother Masha Rubenfire ruled boudoirs rather than vanity tables), and I like to think she and Helena live in the same tree, impatiently shaking fruit at we grown children stumbling through this world without them. Tucking that bounty into my skirts is the only properly grateful thing to do.

All We Ever Wish For

It was one of those days that just kept going and going, and the whole time I had to be on in a very public, TV lady sort of way. By the time I headed home, it was late, and my sense of humor–already eroded by the Winter That Will Not End–had evaporated. Still, when a woman on the subway platform pointed out she had the same hat, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s rare to find another adult who’ll wear the blue-dyed rabbit fur I refer to as my Muppet bonnet. The two of us struck up a chat while her boyfriend–tall, broad-shouldered, with a knitted brow–stood by, clearly not thrilled that his companion’s attention had been diverted. I knew his type well, had made the mistake of dating men like him when I’d been naive enough to conflate size with stability. After a bit it came out we all had been at the same event, and she and I compared notes while he continued to glower. Talking to her while he steamed reminded me of the conversations my mother used to have with female neighbors in the 1970s, all of them talking in lowered voices while glancing over their shoulders lest their husbands catch them lollygagging.

Finally he burst out: “I don’t judge.”

If I’d hadn’t been so fried, I would’ve let his comment go. I saw the quick hunch of her shoulders. Instead, I said, “You can have an opinion without judging.” Continue Reading →

Six Swoony Vintage Meta-Musicals

After decades of being demonized as box-office poison, movie musicals are back – thanks in no small part to the millions of girls and boys still howling “Let It Go” more than a year after the theatrical release of “Frozen.” Last month, “Into the Woods” hit theaters, and audiences flocked to see the likes of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, and Johnny Depp chew up the scenery in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the Sondheim multi-fairy tale extravaganza. This month it was announced that a movie adaptation of the Broadway smash “Wicked” is under way, with Lea Michele and Harry Styles possibly attached. And Richard LaGravenese’s terrific film adaptation of the off-Broadway hit “The Last Five Years” is poised to hit theaters in the next few weeks. Starring Anna Kendrick as a stage actress in a stormy relationship with a writer (Jeremy Jordan), it’s as much about the make-it-or-break-it world of show biz as it is about millennial romance.

To tide us over until these films hit theaters – and because, in general, great new film releases are hard to come by in the dark days of winter – here are six vintage movie musicals about musicals that deserve a second look. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy