Silver Linings Playbook

When my friends approached me about my Thanksgiving Eve plans, I figured we’d all end up at some bar or another in Royal Oak or Ferndale. By 9 p.m. we were all too tired from the day to really have fun in that scene, and so instead, we opted to see a movie (admittedly, this was my initial reaction).

Deciding what to see wasn’t so hard — we vetoed one friend who wanted to see Twilight (never happening), and decided we didn’t have the energy for Lincoln — we settled on Silver Linings Playbook.

Glad we did. First of all mad props to author Matthew Quick and screenwriter David O. Russell. The dialogue at the core of each characters’ performance was brilliantly written. A mix of banter and emotional rants makes for a movie full of chemistry.

Of course, chemistry relies heavily on the actors who are cast. I was actually surprised at how well the movie flowed. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper delivered phenomenal performances. I’ve never been overly wowed by Cooper — and will never forget his cameo in Sex and the City, or his appearances as part of the student audience on Inside the Actors Studio —  but this performance earned him major stage creds in my book. He pulled what I like to call a Meryl — Meryl Streep has an impeccable command of each role she assumes — and made this role his own. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, has added another film to her roster proving just how versatile her skill is.

Robert De Niro was better than ever as an OCD-fueled father who just wants to bond with his son — and have the Eagles kick the Cowboys to the curb.

In a small, supporting role, I was pleased to see Chris Tucker make a comeback sans Jackie Chan. He was crazy and lovable, and even busted a move or two himself.

The actors accomplished something rare, in that the audience felt what each respective character felt at any given time. When Pat (Cooper) was angry at the point of a bi-polar breakdown, we felt as hurt and confused as he did — almost like a crying baby, you feel compelled to help.

This movie is perfect for the holiday season, in that it is totally and completely unthemed to it. Instead, it’s a feel good film — in a crazy kind of way — that delivers everything from wit-filled humor to passionate anger, and you will leave feeling thankful, which is what this season is all about.

For the trailer, see below. And to check out the awesome Facebook page for the film (shared with me by my movie marketing genius friend), click here


Thankful, I am

I flew home on Tuesday, not sure of what to expect this Thanksgiving holiday. This had always been my Bubby Cyrille’s holiday, and when she passed away three years ago, I felt much of this particular holiday’s cheer would have passed with her. Fortunately — and not abnormally — I was wrong.

With my dad having had major surgery, and my Zaydie Sam not as strong as he used to be, this Thanksgiving will prove a challenge, along with plenty to be grateful and thankful for.

  • I’m thankful for my amazing family — my mother, for always supporting me; my father, for sharing his unsolicited pride in my success; my brother, for indulging my neurosis and for listening to me randomly rattle off recipes I want to prepare; my sister Anne for encouraging me on my Weight Watchers journey; my sister Amanda (and brother-in-law Dave), for being there for professional advice, and overall sisterly support. We have all come so far, but without each other, we’d be empty and lost.
  • I’m thankful for my wonderful job and incredible colleagues — I made a move this year to our parent company, and in so doing, had to adjust to a new team and new overall professional dynamic. I’ll always miss my old team (although now we’re all housed under one roof!), but my new one has proved to be delightful. I’m thankful for the way we all work so well together, through brainstorms and general effective leadership.
  • I’m thankful for my incredible friends — without the support of my friends…without their phone calls, texts, IMs, and Facetime requests…I’d be a much less interesting person. Thank you for pushing me to be more adventurous, to do things I would never normally do, and to embrace life as it comes my way.

Tonight, we’ll dine at my Auntie Phyllis’ — because that’s tradition, and we like that in my tribe — we’ll see family and friends (some old, some new). Most sentimental of all is that with my Bubby gone, my mother will recite the poem that her grandfather — Zaydie Fred — wrote for my Bubby when she was in the fifth grade.

Thanksgiving Day comes but once a year, but always it is full of cheer. There is but one who rouse this day, who this one is, I need not say. But just in case there is some doubt, it is the turkey gobbler I speak about. For the rest of us Thanksgiving Day is a time to fuss, a time to pray and thank God we live in the good old U.S.A.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, and continuing my Michigan vacation.
So, let’s turn the tables. Tell me, what are you thankful for?

Home for the Holidays

Cover of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles ...

Cover via Amazon

I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Detroit again this year — something I’ve worked hard to be able to do each year since moving to New York. Some traditions have changed — especially since the passing of my grandmother — but it’s still nice to spend time with my mother’s family, especially over the holidays.

I grow nostalgic during the transition from summer to fall. To help get me through, I pilfer through a series of movies that I associate with this season only because there’s a certain coziness to them:

  1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  2. The Great Outdoors
  3. Home for the Holidays
  4. The Holiday
  5. Love Actually
  6. Home Alone and Home Alone 2
  7. The Addam’s Family
  8. Problem Child and Problem Child 2
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  10. Julie and Julia
  11. Something’s Gotta Give
  12. It’s Complicated
  13. Manhattan
  14. It Runs in the Family
  15. French Kiss
  16. In Her Shoes
  17. The Odd Couple
  18. National Lampoon’s European Vacation
  19. Curly Sue
  20. Father of the Bride (the Steve Martin version)

Inside Secrets of a Jewish Mother [partial book review]

I have a unique family. I have so many relatives within a one square-mile area that we had a float in our city’s Fourth of July parade called Dozens of Cousins. Some of my favorite memories involve weekly Friday night dinners at my Great Auntie Phyllis’ house, where she successfully piles 30+ people, week after week, stuffing them full of all things good and Jewish — from matzo ball soup to brisket. Surprisingly in-time for dinner, my Great Uncle comes home from the hospital — head-to-toe in surgical scrubs — to talk bones with some aching relation. He has an orthopedic practice with his three sons and one daughter-in-law. We sit, we eat, and we schmooze. This weekly gathering is nothing compared to Rosh Hashanah dinners, or Thanksgiving. Every dinner ends with my Great Aunt and her dear friend Mary-Joe hand-counting how many people came and how it differed from weeks and years in the past. This year’s holiday was different. Still lots of food and family, but my grandmother’s absence (she passed away last Thanksgiving) was a noticeable and uncomfortable void.

After my Bubby Cyrille’s death, Jewish holidays became difficult to celebrate, and I was dreading moving to New York to spend my first Rosh Hashanah away from home. I had an apartment, a job, and a reasonable amount of good friends from work. I even had family. My New York family is great, and incredibly hospitable, but no dynamic can possibly replace that of my Detroit roots.

On Rosh Hashanah, I was invited to dine with the delightful Wexler family. I had done some work with Lisa and her radio show in the past, and in a quick e-mail exchange, I had mentioned not having anywhere to go for the holiday. Like any good (and typical) Jewish mother, she insisted that I join her family. I hesitated responding at first, because while we had welcomed many a wandering friend into our home and my Auntie Phyllis’ over the years, I never thought I’d be in that position of need.

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