Our Mutual Friend (BBC, 1998)

I saw this miniseries (based on Dickens’ final novel) a while ago, and was VERY impressed by it!  There is glam, grit, unconventional romances, and many quirky characters.  There are several plots intertwined.

The stand-in for the viewer (or perhaps the author) is level-headed gentleman, Mortimer Lightwood (Dominic Mafham, pictured right).  Though the entire cast is strong, the standout actor is Paul McGann (pictured left w/ mustache).  This is b/c his interpretation of aimless gent Eugene Wrayburn, who falls deeply (and unexpectedly), in love is SO natural.  The voice, snobbery, and swagger show that he has BECOME the character.  Eugene and Mortimer are both barristers and best pals, though Eugene is not interested in furthering his career.  He’s dissatisfied w/ life- searching for some purpose.

Lizzie Hexam (gorgeous Keeley Hawes) is a shy beauty who works w/ her father on the Thames River.  They search the water for dead bodies- YIKES!  She saves up to send her younger brother Charley to a decent school, realizing that the slum is no place for a bright boy like him.  Hawes can convey LOT w/o speaking, as this role demands.

While Eugene starts out carefree, quiet and serious John Harmon (Stephen Mackintosh) has a definite plan when he comes to London from the West Indies.  His dead father left him a fortune; he also had plans for his personal life- an (arranged) marriage.  John says his last name is Rokesmith, takes a job as a humble secretary to Mr. Boffin, who made his fortune from dust heaps.  (Yup, that’s historically true!)  John finds a room to rent from the humble Wilfer family.

Though Bella Wilfer (petite/fiesty Anna Friel) was born poor, she yearns for more.  She doesn’t like the idea of the arranged marriage to a stranger, BUT likes the idea of being rich.  Like Eugene, Bella (a “Daddy’s girl” w/ a sense of entitlement) changes her character over the course of the story.  Friel fits her role VERY well, showing different shades of a young woman in (and out of) high society.

Fans of tall/handsome David Morrissey (recently seen on South Riding) may be surprised to see him cast as a VERY jealous/repressed baddie here.  He plays Bradley Headstone, a teacher at a boys’ boarding school who develops a dangerous obsession.

Because gals LOVE bags…

This is the bag (Coach SoHo Signature Satchel) that I bought  for my mom for Mother’s Day.  I had some funds from selling a few of my old DVDs (on eBay), so it was a V good deal!  Mom doesn’t worry re: designer brands (usually Nine West stuff suits her), BUT this is a nice everyday bag w/ several pockets and compartments for ALL her stuff, plus a book (b/c she reads a LOT these days). 

Aren’t these colors GREAT!?  I saw a woman on the Metro w/ a similar bag (same cool colors) about 2 months ago and wanted something like it.  I got this purse (used) from a college grad who’s downsizing.  The Coach Blueberry Poppy Spotlight Handbag is patent leather.  The inside is bright yellow w/ pockets for cell phone, iPod, etc.  I esp. like the little pockets in front of this bag.  I hear this is a RARE design, so I’m glad to have found it on eBay.

 Coach Madison Op Art Dot Sophia Bag & Mini Skinny Wallet for is good for nicer occasions.  But the bag looks V elegant and can be used everyday- will go with many outfits.  The interior is a GORGEOUS deep blue!

Two Brief Reviews: Island in the Sun (1957) & The Ghost Writer (2010)

Island in the Sun (1957)

Though this film’s take on interracial romances and politics is dated to modern folks, Island in the Sun was a groundbreaking piece in its day.  It wasn’t shown in the Southern movie houses, of course.  The film (which was a special project of Zanuck’s) is beautiful to look at; it was filmed in Barbados and has an attractive/talented cast (including James Mason, Joan Fonatine, Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Joan Collins, Stephen Boyd).  However, I sense that a LOT of material was left out (or perhaps edited out) to please the censors.  


Mason is a wealthy French planter who wants to run for governor of the British-ruled island; his opponent is Belafonte’s labor organizer (who’s popular w/ the people).  Mason’s family has been on the island for 3 generations, owns a LOT of land, and hires many to work it.  Also, Mason has a jealous streak in him, fearing that his cool/elegant wife may be cheating. 

At a party at the governor’s house, the sophisticated Fontaine is intrigued by the idealistic/well-spoken young Belafonte, who she knew as a humble waiter in her girlhood.  Dandridge, a smoking-hot local who works at a pharmacy (drug store), comes as his date.  (They are old pals, not a couple.)  She catches the eye of a new official on the island, played by John Justin.  Unfortunately, Justin fails to create chemistry w/ Dandridge- a BIG waste!   

Another newbie, played by Ben Hur‘s Stephen Boyd, begins a romance w/ Collins, who plays Mason’s flirty/bored little sis.  She wants to travel, see England, and meet people (as company is limited on the island).  Boyd and Collins are capable in their roles, BUT most of their romantic scenes are TOO timid- another waste!   

There is more going on than what I’ve mentioned, so you MAY want to check it out for yourself.  (It’s a piece of important American film history.)


The Ghost Writer (2010)

I HIGHLY recommend this film; it’s like modern-day Hitchcock, directed by Polanski.  After the mysterious death (perhaps suicide) of another writer, a second ghost writer (played by Ewan McGregor) is suddenly chosen to help write the memoirs of a former British PM, Steven Lang (Pierce Brosnan).  At the urging of his agent, publisher and company lawyer, he reluctantly travels from London to Nantucket (off-season).  He reaches the Lang’s current home, an ultra-modern/super secure compound, after a LONG journey.  

First, he meets Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall, playing a Brit), Lang’s gorgeous assistant.  She says that the manuscript (which is locked up) can’t leave the compound, much to his suprise. Ruth (Olivia Williams), the brilliant wife of the PM, comes in while he’s reading the draft copy.  He admits to her that the book needs work, but it’s not all bad.  Steven, who prefers to run and play tennis, is anxious about something and distant from his wife.          

This film creates a certain (forboding) mood that is reminiscent of old Hollywood suspense films.  There are NOT many characters or many things going on at once, BUT it’s VERY engaging!  Williams is just a rare gem- a beautiful actress w/ a LOT of  guts, strength, and screen presence.  Brosnan does a FINE job, and McGregor is perfect as the somewhat skeptical/nervous/Everyman character.  It was fun to see Tom Wilkinson playing a snobby American academic.  Eli Wallach makes a brief cameo appearance- at the age of 94!  The main issues in this film are VERY current and controversial, too.

I got quoted!!!


Osama bin Laden is Dead: D.C’s South Asian Muslims React

By Anna John

May 4, 2011

Afshan Khoja, a Muslim of Pakistani descent who lives in the DC area, was in tears after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

“It wasn’t because I was happy about bin Laden’s death, it was because suddenly all the things that September 11th have done to me, my religion and my country, came back to me: The fear of being asked questions while traveling; the immediate requirement to defend my religion not only when people asked why Muslims hate America, but also when terrorists did anything that could remotely be associated with Muslims; the feeling that somehow, I’ll always be ‘the other’ in America.”

Mou Khan, a Bangladeshi-American, also found herself reflecting on September 11th, after learning of bin Laden’s death.

“I remember exactly where I was when I first heard that a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My memories are deeply personal, like when a schoolmate I didn’t know called me a terrorist…now, confronted with the news that Osama bin Laden, the man behind the tragedy, has been killed, I find myself conflicted.

“I cannot find it within myself to celebrate violence and extrajudicial killing, no matter how strong an urge for vengeance the trauma of September 11th left me,” said Khan, in reference to the celebration that took place in front of the White House as news broke of bin Laden’s death.

“I find myself deeply uncomfortable with the unbridled nationalistic celebrations that broke out across the country. Was it all worth it now that we know bin Laden’s blood has been shed? Is speaking up and asking questions during this fervor unpatriotic?”

Khan was not the only one with questions. News outlets like NPR asked, “Is It Wrong To Celebrate Bin Laden’s Death?

Khoja wondered about the aftermath of such public displays of patriotism.

“When I heard the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” I felt fear. I don’t understand why, but I wanted to lock my doors. This morning I heard about vandalism and graffiti at a mosque. Between yesterday and today, three people have already asked me why the Pakistani government didn’t know that Osama was in Pakistan for years – I don’t know!

“The fact is, regardless of this news, none of that has stopped. This may be a significant blow to a terrorist network, but for a Pakistani Muslim living in the US, I’m not sure if it changes anything.”

Emma Khan (no relation to Mou Khan) whose family is originally from Bangladesh, said she thought all the singing and shouting was understandable. “Sometimes, people want to get together for huge events like this; it’s a victory for the US.”

Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wasn’t surprised at the public celebrations.

“That is almost inevitable in situations like this. I think it’s a temporary phenomenon based on the ten years it took to track down Osama bin Laden. I hope it doesn’t spill over in to hyper-patriotism.”

Shahid Buttar, a local performance artist and civil rights lawyer worried that other issues were being obscured by the focus on bin-Laden’s death.

“While it’s an exciting national security development, it does very little to address the ongoing constitutional crisis that emerged after the 2001 attack. I hope it allows the restoration of sanity here in the U.S. I’m glad (President) Obama is achieving gains in the war on terror, but the idea that we’d meet the death of any individual with chants of ‘USA, USA!’ reflects a shallowness in our understanding of these events and their implications.”

When the President addressed the nation, he emphasized that the war on terror was not a war on Islam:

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Ibrahim Hooper said, “I think he struck the appropriate tone and clearly said we’re not at war with Muslims. I think he hit it just right.”

But Khoja said it will take more than Presidential words to address how Muslims are treated in post 9/11-America.

“While the administration did make specific statements supporting Islam, I feel like there’s a lot more work to be done. Ten years of dealing with hate crimes, backlash, alienation and “otherization” will not just go away. But I do think that this is an opportunity for us to take a step back, learn from our mistakes, and perhaps revisit some our values – of tolerance, diversity, acceptance, justice and peace. I hope that we’ll find a space and forum to do that.”

Update & what I’m watching now

Hi all!

BREAKING NEWS: I just read around 11 p.m. tonight (on Twitter & CNN web site) that Osama Bin Ladin is DEAD!!!  Wow, after ALL this time!  I’m sure we’ll hear more about it in the A.M.


I didn’t write ANYTHING on the blog in April, can you believe it!?  I meant to, but was feeling a BIT lethargic (about everything, NOT just blogging).  I REALLY need to concentrate on eating better this month; it seems like I lose motivation easily.  (I feel heavier than when I was in NYC- 2.5 yrs ago.)  Also, I need to weigh myself to see the REAL damage.  Thankfully, I’m still the SAME size in clothing!  But I hate buying clothes lately b/c things don’t look quite right.  

Yesterday, I came across David Garcia’s blog (Keep It Up, David) re: his battle w/ weight and his plan to eat better/exercise.  You may have seen him on Ellen; he was a production assistant on her show.  I added him to my blogroll.  His story is VERY inspirational; he’s lost 150 lbs. in about a year!        

As for the apt/roommate(s) search- it’s on again after a LOOOONG break!  The bad news- rents (in DC metro area) have risen in the past 6 mos.  And this isn’t just in ONE area, it’s everywhere (or so it seems).  Also, I’ve recently decided that I want to find a place where I can have my OWN bathroom.  My mom (yes, she’s still in Indy ‘burbs) keeps saying that I don’t NEED to move, but I WANT to!  I don’t think adults (who have decent jobs/some savings) should live w/ their parents.  (No offense to any singletons who still DOES live w/ their relatives, BUT it’s just not for me.  As some of you know, I’ve lived w/ my Dad since December 2008.) 


American Idol (Fox) – My fave is boy-next-door 16 y.o. traditionalist country singer, Scotty McCreery, from North Carolina.  I want to adopt his as my 2nd lil bro!

Game of Thrones (HBO) – This is a NEW series starring Sean Bean (who I love), Lean Headey (a lovely Brit), Peter Dinkage (American), Harry Lloyd (up-and-coming young Brit), and MANY more talented actors of all ages.  I wasn’t TOO impressed with the 1st ep, BUT the 2nd ep totally wowed me!  The sets, locations, and costumes are AMAZING to say the least.   

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC) – This show, which I watch pretty religiously, is STILL going strong.  They are focusing more on Olivia these days (which I like).  I think it’s irritating to keep switching ADAs, though, and heard that Casey Novak will be back soon.   

Treme (HBO) – Veteran character actor David Morse and Jon Seda (who seems to NEVER age) have joined the emsemble cast for S2 of the critically-loved show.  Go check it out!