Film & TV

A Film By The Elder Statesman

Tomate from The Elder Statesman on Vimeo.

I am a fan of The Elder Statesman, the California-based, homemade-luxury brand from designer and CFDA Fashion Fund winner Greg Chait. Not surprising, since I’m a fan of anything original, and the idea of building a luxury brand around knits that, in another context, and with a lesser execution, might feel merely “outdoorsy,” is not just original, it’s audacious, and I love people who have the audacity to do whatever the heck they want, so expecting the world to stand up and take notice that the world goes ahead and does.

Tomate, the film embedded above, captures everything that’s quintessentially California about The Elder Statesman brand. It makes me want to crawl right in and take up residence in this Elder Statesman life, where silly and sunshine seem quite enough. It’s a mood movie, and just the right inspiration before I dive into a day of my own creative work.


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Orange Is The New Black’s
Laverne Cox On The Freedom
To Be Who You Are


“Orange Is The New Black” actress Laverne Cox held forth on the Katie show with enormous charm and grace on how focusing on the genitalia of transgender people distracts from the real issues that transgender people face.

Katie may have intended to satisfy her audience’s prurient curiosity, or she may have just meant to educate — and educate Cox did, asserting that “the preoccupation with transitioning and surgery objectifies transpeople” and distracts from “the real lived experiences” of transpeople, and the reality of their lives, which is that they are so often the object of violence, that  they face discrimination disproportionately to other people in the LGBT community, that the unemployment rate among transpeople is twice the national average, four times for transpeople of color, and that the homicide rate in the LGBT community is highest among transwomen.


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Why 12 Years A Slave Is
The Greatest Work On
Slavery The World Has Known




12 Years A Slave is the greatest work of art about slavery that the world has ever known or ever will know. That was my assessment when I first saw the film nearly a month ago, and that’s my assessment now.

It’s taken some time for me to wade through the sea of emotions I felt in the wake of seeing 12 Years A Slave and engaging the critical conversation around it. I saw the movie at an industry screening and Q&A with the film’s director, Steve McQueen, the British fine artist turned filmmaker of African descent who’s previous films are the Michael Fassbinder starrers Hunger and Shame, and three of the film’s stars, the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the lead role of Solomon Northrop, the American actress Alfre Woodard who plays a former slaved turned planter’s mistress, and the great discovery of the year, the Kenyan born-Yale educated actress Lupita Ngong’o, who’s riveting turn as the slave Patsey has earned her a place in the acting pantheon. Ms. Woodard rightly tipped her hat as well to her white co-stars, whose courageous work was as essential to McQueen’s accomplishment as was that of the African diaspora stars — representing three continents! — who shared the stage that night. I want to make special note of the work of three of those actors, starting with Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s riding high this moviegoing season with lauded performances in three important films, 12 Years A Slave, The Fifth Estate, and the much anticipated August Osage County, which received a long and rousing standing ovation when I saw it on the Broadway stage. The miracle of Cumberbatch’s work as the slave owning Ford is his ability to imbue his compassionate master with genuine humanity and fellow-feeling towards Northrop, whom he clearly understood as his equal or, as he seemed to understand, his better, but who nonetheless did nothing to restore Northrop to the freedom from which he knew he’d been stolen, opting instead to use Northrop — his property no matter how that came to be — to satisfy his debts. 


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The Killing Season 3 Finale:
Two Brilliant Hours Of TV


Last night marked the Season 3 finale of The Killing. Veena Sud and crew (the show’s creator and her team of writers and producers) delivered up two brilliant hours of TV. It was a tour de force of acting, writing, directing, and all around storytelling, a master class for anyone curious, as I am, about the things that TV can do.

Of course reasonable people might disagree. In fact, the LA Times’ Blake Hennon skewered the episode here, though for my money, Hennon commits the same era regarding The Killing that one of my TV writer friends made about the last season of Homeland, that other brilliant, emotionally-heightened serious that captures the reality of life through the fine art of exaggeration: he imagines that the far-fetched isn’t ripe narrative fodder.

True enough, a person in her right mind would not carry on an affair with terror suspect Nicholas Brody, the way Claire Dane’s Carrie does on Homeland, and she would not wander into the clutches of nefarious casino owners with something to hide — with no backup to boot — the way Mireille Enos’s Sarah Linden did in The Killing’s Season 2, but since when are characters in fiction in their right mind — and since when is creating a character, or story, that’s larger than life a narrative crime? What is fiction, after all, at least in literature and movies, if not always on TV, but a heightened, compacted, dare I say exaggerated rendering of reality, one that, by refusing to hew to the dictates of common sense, illumines the essential folly of the human condition in ways that a plodding mimicry of our lives (as the more cautious among us actually live it) cannot.


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Dreams and Stepping Stones:
My First Appearance On
HuffPost Live

One of my dreams is to build a speaking career and to also do a bit of in-front-of-the-camera TV, perhaps hosting a show, or doing something I haven’t thought of that’s yet to be revealed.

Well, yesterday, thanks to an introduction from the HuffPost Live post Nancy Redd (one of the loveliest people I’ve met), I had my first opportunity to appear on HuffPost live in a minor supporting role on HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski’s show. She had Nurse Jackie star Adam Ferrara in studio (he’s playing Jackie’s love interest this season, for those of you who watch the show), and I was invited to pop in to hangout and ask a question or two. I’ve done radio before, but this is my first piece of on-camera “tape” and I’m over the moon to have been asked, and to have had the opportunity to stick my toe in the on-camera waters with such a kind and generous host and star. Fun was had. And now, onward!

P.S. If you’d like to see the video in its natural environs (and if you click on “Expand Segment Info” you can also read a little blurb about me, click here.


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