Longbourn Showdown: Which Pride and Prejudice Version is Better?

Today in my Jane Austen confessional, I admit that I love both recent modern adaptations of Pride and Prejudice–that is to say, both the 1995 BBC version, and the 2005 Keira Knightley version. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, particularly when it comes to casting. I was recently mulling over a glass of gin, watching the lime wedge twirl around inside of it and muttering about what would make the perfect adaptation if only I could breed the two versions and add my own bits. There was a lot of wild gesturing, especially when I got to the bits about the Darcy performances. And since that seemed to keep me distracted for a couple hours, I figure it’s probably time that I put fingers to keyboard and organized my thoughts on the matter, sans gin.

Just to make this fun, let us do this in true showdown fashion. Like Thunderdome, but with more ribbons and carriages.

Elizabeth Bennet

Lizzie BennetsJennifer Ehle vs. Keira Knightley

Neither are the perfect Lizzie whom I pictured while reading the book. Ehle’s take on Lizzie is a little too sweet and coy. What is supposed to be a slightly cutting and wry wit is softened maybe just a tad too much. Whereas, Knightley goes too far in the opposite direction, making Lizzie a bit too moody and angry, and worst of all, not terribly clever. Appearance-wise, Knightley is almost entirely wrong. I do love her wardrobe immensely, but she is far, far too skinny for this role and would have been considered sickly looking for the time. In contrast, Ehle is much more fitting. It is only a shame that they did not allow her looks to be a little less formal. I wanted my Lizzie to have a just slightly feral look to her–not quite as buttoned up and pinned as her peers. Still, though I loved Knightley’s chemistry with her Darcy, this one hands down goes to Ehle!

Winner: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet

Best Elizabeth Bennet


Jane Bennet

The Better Jane Bennet

Susannah Harker vs. Rosamund Pike

Sweet, shy Jane. This is not a terribly challenging role, I imagine, but it is nevertheless important to pull off the perfect tone. Lean the wrong way, and Jane acts like a simple fool, or worse, a simpering lump of clay. And this is where Harker treads ever so slightly. Both Janes are all sweetness and humility, but Harker fails to demonstrate even the mildest passion, even when Jane is hushed away in a bedchamber with her little sister. Too sedate. Pike, on the other hand, was able to achieve the coyness and gentleness of spirit, while still seeming ensnared by the idea of romance. That extra breath of life gives Pike the edge. Plus…you know. Come on, let’s just out with it: There were some beauty issues with Harker. Allow me to declare firmly that Susannah Harker is a true beauty. But the 1995 styling did her no favors–especially in the hair department–and her pregnancy during filming altered her delicate facial features into a more mannish appearance. Trust me, she has my utmost sympathies on this count. While I dislike neither Jane, I must choose but one, so here it is.

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Review: The OA

Mid-March, 2017 and Netflix has a brand-new original series out. It’s in the same vein as the incredibly popular and oh-so-delicious Stranger Things, in that The OA is a one-season wonder. An entire series of goodness packed into a single bingeable season (which may or may not have a sequel). And we are meant to greedily scarf it down, all the while in suspense of where this series is going and what on earth (or beyond?) the “OA” is.

The Safe, Nimbly-Pimbly Spoiler-Free Review

Let’s get one thing straight, fans of Stranger Things: This isn’t nearly as good. This will not be a cult classic and you will not be messaging your friends that they have just got to see this new amazing Netflix show.

The Premise:

First, since you don’t want spoilers, let me tell you, it’s hard to even give you a basic show premise or even assign it a genre without signaling where it’s headed. Sufficed to say it ventures into sort of a sci-fi / fantasy / psychological thriller with a slight Biblical twist (though not so overtly that it made me blow chunks).

The OA stars little-known actress Brit Marling and her shiny blond hair that is never mussed, and her dimples that never sag. Once you understand what the show is trying to tell you, it’s perfectly clear why she was cast. Her character, Prairie, is a young 20-something who went missing years ago and mysteriously reappears with a story to tell. So right off the bat, Netflix hooks you with the “what has happened to Prairie that she’s so messed up?” mystery. And just to turn the screw, it turns out that when she disappeared, she was blind. And now? She’s NOT!

The OA 2

What It Reminds Me Of:

The unraveling of the mystery in full is the entire season. And it keeps you wondering and guessing and really attached. The suspense, along with themes of kids riding bikes around a neighborhood and forming important misfit connections to serve a central purpose that eludes the logic of adults, heavily parallels Stranger Things. But the wee characters in The OA aren’t quite as precocious or likable. Maybe that’s because they’re supposed to be sad, even beaten down.

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The Greatest Movies of All Time According to The Haunted Coconut

I guess I am a list maker. Ranking, rating, reviewing. Love it. And conceding that this is the case, and that my love of entertainment and fun has left me swirling in a vortex of lists, I had better include the most ubiquitous one there is: The Greatest Movies of All-Time! [echo, echo, echo!]

So here it is, my highly subjective list that is based on criteria including:

  • Star Power
  • Quality Performances
  • Re-watchability
  • Quotable Lines
  • Music
  • Clever Writing
  • General Enjoyment

Notice what isn’t on this list: Award and box office numbers. Toss out academic ideas about what was most influential on other filmmakers, which movies defined certain eras, or which roles were the high watermark for a certain performer’s career. I care little about benchmarks or importance, and more about the personal experience–specifically, my personal experience. In fact, the last criterium on my list–“General Enjoyment” is probably the most heavily weighted. Even if a movie is considered a cinematic pile of shit, if it is ceaselessly entertaining, then it matters. A lot. (This is something the Academy Awards will never understand.)

So without further drudgery, I submit to you my list of the greatest movies ever made, according to my own completely subjective, yet excruciatingly perfect opinion:

1. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II

Godfather

Fredo’s banana daiquiris, Sonny’s bridesmaid, the cannoli, Kate’s willful ignorance, Moe Green’s eyeball, the priest renouncing satan, Michael reaching behind the chain toilet, a young Clemenza helping himself to a rug.

2. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

The caucasian cocktails, Jesus bowling over the line, the lingonberry pancake-eating nihilists, the porno sketch on the notepad, Dude dancing to a Willie Nelson song, the ferret in the bathtub, and the fucking rug that tied the room together.

3. Spirited Away

spirited away

The soot sprites collapsing under their coal, the alarmist frog being eaten and spat out, the valuable railway ticket, the giant baby hidden in the pillows, the soak tokens for the big tub, the paper birds hitching a ride, a young girl who loves a river spirit, and our beautiful No Face who needs to stay with Granny for his own good.

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The CNN Wolf Blitzer Drinking Game!

If you can’t get enough CNN in your week, and Wolf Blitzer with his monotone run-on sentences has you all alight, then you, friend, are the perfect candidate for the Wolf Blitzer Drinking Game! Jazz up your evening news-viewing experience, invite friends to join! After all, if you have to see Trump’s ugly mug on a nightly basis, you might as well not be sober. Let’s get Blitzered.

(And drink responsibly, without the driving afterward.)

Okay, the rules! Very simple: Take one drink (a sip or a shot) whenever Wolf Blitzer says the following:

  • “Stand By” or “Standing By”

  • “As it were”

  • Wolf makes a straight-faced bad pun (i.e. “Kim Jong Un-believable…”)

That’s it. Any more and you would die.

That’s It! I’m Starting a New Political Party: The Women’s Party of America

I am traditionally an American Democrat. I voted for Barack Obama. I voted for Al Gore. I even voted for John Kerry. Sigh. And yes, I voted for Hillary Clinton. But after this last election, I am disgusted by the Democratic party here in the United States. Shy of pure acrimony only for Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC, I actually have a major beef with Democratic voters.

I’m looking at you, tree huggers. Liberals. College students. Bernie Bros. Various racial and religious groups. Union workers. Parents. You all blew it. You didn’t show up to vote. Or you cast a “protest vote” for someone other than Hillary. Your Jill Stein vote or attempt to thumb your nose at “the system” by writing in Bernie’s name just meant that you successfully disconnected yourself from reality and responsibility. Good job. You and your principles left the rest of us holding the bag and a cold reality where we only had two choices this election. And you couldn’t pick one. Not even to save the Supreme Court. Not even to save your health care or the planet. Not to save your drinking water or prevent military escalation. Not to save Big Bird or Meals on Wheels. You and your principles took a vacation from reality and now we are all paying the price. Now we have the racist pussy-grabbing lunatic calling the shots and charting the course for all of our futures. Screw you guys.

The media and Democratic leadership sits around and tries to explain away the horrible loss by saying that us Democrats didn’t speak to “average Americans”. Screw you guys again. That isn’t what happened. We have always fought for the “average Americans”, to feed them, to make sure they have health care, to protect their drinking water, to make sure their kids get an education. To make sure they’re safe at work and they can retire comfortably after a long, hard career.

But the other party put out a loud message of FEAR. If you hurt, if you don’t have as much money as you want, if you don’t feel as safe as you want to, then there’s someone to blame–usually a brown someone and/or a Democratic someone. A lot of old, white Americans who are afraid of losing their identity and their privilege (the privilege they swear they don’t have in the first place) gobbled it up. Yes, someone to blame! And someone to stop the machine and turn back the clock. Screw hope! Why build when this demagogue is calling for destruction!

And what did we do in the face of this populism and fire and chaos? We brought a very moderate, plain platform to America through an extremely (intelligent and qualified) uncharismatic candidate who had been handing us the same message for the last 25 years or so. We showed up to a knife fight with a wet noodle.

Now, of course, our precious naive youth are trying (TOO LATE) to affect some sort of radical change of their own. Shame they didn’t show up six months ago, eh? I watch these well-meaning activists march and shake their poster boards, some of them sobbing with righteousness and desperation.  Most of them in silly costumes. And…I have no fucking idea what they’re fighting for. They’re still swinging wet noodles around, chanting mixed messages, and bringing forward no leaders.

Step One: Protest
Step Two: ??
Step Three: Bitch on Facebook
Step Four: Protest vote on election day

I’m done, Democrats. I’m out.

I’m forming my own party. The Women’s Party of America.

Everyone is welcome everywhere on the gender spectrum, but we’re going to do things the WOMAN way from now on. After all, we’re 51% of the population. Why the hell aren’t we in charge? We’re mothers, managers, executives, and laborers. We do it for less and we have to fight harder to do it.

Here is the platform:

Objective #1: Health Care

Health care for all. We demand a single-payer system that guarantees medical coverage to every single US citizen. This will be paid for through higher taxes (a little scary word for a chunk of money you were already paying as “premiums”–we’re just giving it a new label).  We are going to take care of everybody–including women’s services for reproductive care and cancer screenings.

Objective #2: Mental Health Care

People with mental health concerns aren’t going to slip through the cracks anymore. We, as a society, are going to pay for their treatment and their medicines, including state-of-the-art facilities, and better access to therapies and medications. This will reduce illegal drug consumption, crime, domestic violence, and even domestic terrorism. Mental health is paramount for a safe, healthy, civilized society. And right now, we have nothing. No priority. No help. This will change with women in charge.

Objective #3: Daycare Discounts and Maternity Leave

Children matter to all of us. Even if you aren’t a parent or a grandparent, children matter. You don’t want them growing up to be unemployable, ignorant, or psychotic. So let’s make sure they’re fed and taken care of. Part of doing this means significant subsidies for daycare, and encouraging more employers to set up in-house day care facilities.

And then there’s maternity leave. We demand 16 weeks of paid maternity leave required by law for all full-time employers. We also demand the same amount as unpaid leave, with job security, for part-time employees.

Objective #4: Education

We are going to put a significant emphasis on improving our schools to be globally competitive, through both increasing spending, and improving efficiency for every dollar spent on pupils. Because a college degree is now required to get most jobs that pay a living wage, public universities will now be tuition-free.

Objective #5: Infrastructure

In an effort to become more environmentally responsible and reduce our oil dependency, we will aggressively pursue mass transit systems throughout the United States where they do not already exist. This will support better access to employment, health care, child care, education, and culture.

Objective #6: Investment in Innovation

The only significant tax cuts that businesses will receive (aside from in-house daycare credits) will be related to research and innovation fields. We recognize that we cannot compete globally for manufacturing jobs in a sustainable way, so we will push for the best thinkers, innovators, and research jobs and projects to come to the United States. We will invest in training programs specifically designed to retrain workers without requiring a four-year college degree. In doing so we do not try to cling to the past of dangerous polluting industries and energies, but instead embrace the future and lead the way for the rest of the world.

It is Time.

These are our priorities. Not building up an even bigger military. Good news, we’re ladies. We have nothing to prove about penis size. And we are not interested in cutting help and protection for Americans. Us women, we are nurturers, innovators, thinkers, and fighters. We refuse to play by the penis rulebook anymore. Women unite!

Welcome to the Women’s Party of America!

 

Remaking Groundhog Day

I cannot explain it. I have been obsessed lately with the idea that the movie Groundhog Day needs to be remade. With Bill Murray.

There, let’s get that first detail out of the way right now before too many of you roll your eyes about 80s and 90s classics being remade with peppy new soundtracks and overloaded jokes about texting a Twitter to make it au courant. I in no way advocate for a remake starring Mark Wahlberg or Melissa McCarthy. No, we need the man back. The funniest goddamn man on this planet: Bill Murray.

With that in mind, just consider all the ways in which we could elevate a cute, schlocky early-90s comedy into one of the greatest films of all time. The plot is already there–it’s a classic tale of magic, human nature, and redemption. We just need to strip away some of the varnish, the bouncy 90s soundtrack, and all of Andie MacDowell’s vests. And Andie MacDowell, who seriously is just a terrible actress.

People, I have a vision. A grand vision about how this could be brilliant. But there are rules. And none of these rules can be broken, or my adolescence will be retroactively ruined (more than it already was).

Rule #1: It Must Star Bill Murray

The excellent news is that the plot is not reliant at all on him being middle age. As of this posting, he is 66 years old, and the story will still work just perfectly. No reason he can’t have late-in-life new love, right?

bill-murraycurrent

He is still pitch-perfect, devilishly handsome, and the only man who can pull of this role properly. I don’t even know why I need to lay out this argument.

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Tax Squirrel Explains: The Difference Between a Tax CREDIT and a DEDUCTION

It has come to my attention lately that most taxpayers don’t really understand the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction. That’s perfectly okay; it’s confusing…and boring. I mean, not to me. But I think taxes are fun, so I’m clearly insane.

But you need to learn this because IT MATTERS. There are some politicians out there, including President Trump, who want to sell you on the merits of various deductions or credits. But a lot of the time, you’re secretly being screwed with your pants on!

Don’t get screwed with your pants on. Learn the difference. And then be the person who makes an educated choice at the polls, and shows off at dinner parties.

To help with this teaching moment, and because this is such a boring topic (I guess), I’m going to bring in the furriest little tax professor ever, my good friend, Tax Squirrel and his little squirrel friends.

tax-squirrel-credit-deduction1

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