Wednesday, December 9, 2015


When I went to see it, I didn’t know much about the film, Brooklyn, other than the fact that it was a period piece, primarily set in the borough in which I grew up.  Having lived there in the sixties and seventies, the story, set in the early fifties, was before my time but hey, Brooklyn is Brooklyn.
            The story, based on the novel by Colm Toibin and adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, is that of a young Irish immigrant, EILIS LACEY (Saoirse Ronan) who arrives in Brooklyn circa 1952. Having traveled there alone, her trip sponsored by FATHER FLOOD, (Jim Broadbent) a benevolent priest, Eilis is bewildered and somewhat intimidated by her surroundings. She is also extremely homesick for her small Irish town and for the company of the mother and sister she left behind.
Though she would like to study to become an accountant, Eilis initially takes a job working at a department store where it is suggested by her supervisor (Mad Men’s Jessica Pare) that she shake her depressive state, which is all too apparent in her lack of interaction with customers as well as in her drab appearance.
Eilis resides, with several other girls, in a boarding house run by a no-nonsense landlady, MRS. KEHOE (played with just the right amount of cheekiness by Julie Walters.)  Several of the other girls, more seasoned than Eilis, tease her about her innocence and general “just came off the boat” demeanor.
One night, Eilis decides to attend a dance thrown by Father Flood.  Here she is approached by an earnest young man, TONY FIORELLO (Emory Cohen) who finds Eilis’s unassuming appearance charming. In fact, he confesses to her later, that though he is Italian he attends these dances because he is attracted to Irish girls.
A sweet romance slowly blossoms between Eilis and Tony during which Eilis, no longer depressed, becomes almost radiant. The transformation is subtle but visible. Eilis and Tony’s relationship is only threatened when tragedy strikes and Eilis must suddenly return to Ireland.
Brooklyn manages to do what few films can in this day and age: it truly captures the hearts of viewers.  The performances of the leads as well as the supporting cast are brilliant, and the story itself, while simple on one level, has many layers to it.  The cinematography, particularly in the scenes shot in Ireland, was captivating as well.
Personally, I loved the way the director, John Crowley, captured the flavor of Brooklyn in the fifties and the fact that the authenticity was consistent throughout the film. I recently saw another period piece that, with costumes and period automobiles, went to great lengths to recreate New York during the same period, but neglected to pay attention to small details. For example, the seats in a scene shot in a subway car were modern and framed in chrome, whereas a similar scene of a subway car in Brooklyn depicted the seats just as they were then, upholstered in a straw-like material.  Such details may seem minor, but collectively they add up to the authentic feel a film conveys and how that feeling is delivered. 
Brooklyn, in my opinion, delivers big time.  I would recommend it highly.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year, and thanks for reading Rhodes Less Traveled.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

Thought this was worth a re-post considering the day.

            Today is Friday the 13th supposedly one of the most unlucky days of the year.

            So just why is the day considered to be unlucky?  I researched some possible explanations.  For one thing, in numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

            In the past, some airlines skipped including the thirteenth row (probably fearing that many passengers wouldn’t book it.)  I recall years ago when I worked at Creative Artists Agency, we were situated on the fourteenth floor – there was no thirteenth floor. People working in the entertainment industry, by the way, are as superstitious as those in sports. (Try saying “Macbeth” in a theatre, or “good luck”.)

            As for Friday, it has often been regarded as an unlucky day to undertake journeys, begin new projects or deploy releases in production. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.

            I'm going to take a moment to ask a favor of my blog readers.  If you haven't already done so, would you consider reviewing my book, Groomed for Murder?  It is available for $1.99 on Amazon
( and the reason I am asking now is because a script I wrote based on the story is being considered for another medium and good reviews of the book could only help. (I stress good...remember what your mother said? If you don't have anything good to say.....etc?:)  Would very much appreciate it.

 Have a great weekend and take special care today,

Rhodes Less Traveled

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DID I HEAR YOU RIGHT? (Things not to say to someone who is grieving.)

 Tomorrow will be the tenth anniversary of my husband Rick's passing.  And while in many ways I have moved on with my life, not a day goes by that I don't think of him. Grief is a very personal thing and has no adequate timetable. Words like "closure" are meaningless to someone who has lost a loved one. Very often people find themselves at a loss as to what to say to someone in mourning.

I thought it might be a good idea to re-post the article I wrote several years ago which touched on just that subject:

A few weeks ago, I was stopped by a woman in the market who inquired as to whether I was wearing a fragrance. Thinking I was about to be complimented I told her that I was. She proceeded to inform me of the fact that fragrances cause cancer. (Wait, it gets worse).  I told her that my husband died of cancer and that if I learned anything it’s that death can come to us regardless of the precautions we take and that it is best to live life fully while we can.  Her response?  “Maybe it was your fragrances that contributed to your husband’s death”.

Am I kidding?  I wish I were.  People sometimes speak before they have time to consider the moronic and often hurtful things they say.  This woman was a stranger to me, but frequently well meaning friends and family members have been known to make foolish remarks to someone who has just experienced the loss of a loved one. I, myself, have said things that I have come to regret. Here are some things not to say to someone in mourning:

1.         He’s in a better place. I heard this said of a twenty-year old.  To me, a better place for this kid should have been a rock concert.

2.         Be grateful for the good years you had together. Of course one is glad for the good years; does it make a person ungrateful to have wanted more?
3.         Were you left well provided for? And you’re asking this why?

4.         Did he smoke? (Asked about a victim of lung cancer).  Did he use a cell phone? (Asked about a victim of brain cancer)  These questions are asked to receive the assurance that if one doesn’t ‘partake’ in said activities, one can avoid the same dire consequences.

5.         At least it wasn’t a real baby yet. Yes, this was actually said to a woman who miscarried in her 5th month.

6.         I know how you feel, I’m divorced. As bad as a divorce can be, it is not the same as death. I would ask someone with children who makes this statement, “Do your kids still have a mother or a father?” (whatever the case may be.) In addition to this, some people have, incredibly, said, “Believe me, in my case, death would have been better.

7.         What were her symptoms? Questions such as this are generally asked by those with a touch of hypochondria who are afraid that they might be experiencing similar symptoms.

8.         You can always have more children. Whispered, encouragingly, to the woman who has just experienced a stillbirth. As if having another child could possibly replace the one who has died.

9.          Well, you knew this day would come.  Whether said in reference to someone who was terminally ill or in regards to the loss of an elderly parent, it is an obvious and insensitive remark to make. Of course one knows that an elderly parent is not going to live forever, but that knowledge doesn’t lessen the grief when the inevitable day arrives.

10.       I can empathize; I just lost my 96 year old father. While losing a parent is sad at any age (I lost my own father when I was only fourteen) the loss of someone who has lived a full life doesn’t quite compare to the untimely loss of a relatively young parent or spouse and certainly not to the loss of a child.

11.       You should get another (dog or cat) right away.   To most pet owners, a dog or a cat is a beloved member of the family that cannot just be easily replaced.  In fact, in many cases, the grief a pet owner feels over the loss of a beloved pet might be as strong or stronger than what others might feel for a human being. (This having been said, when someone has just lost a spouse, a sibling, a child, etc., it would probably not be the most appropriate time to bring up the loss of one’s pet).     
12.       Think of it as beginning a new chapter in your life. Though in many ways this is true, it is usually far too soon for a bereaved person to contemplate turning that first page in his or her life.

13.        You’ll be able to move on, real soon, you’ll see.  Contrary to the commonly held belief that grieving occurs in stages (denial, anger, sorrow, acceptance, etc.), it is actually not a linear process. One can feel that he or she has a handle on things and the grief can come back to bite you a year or two or even ten years down the line. The bottom line is everyone ‘moves on’ at his or her own pace and in varying degrees.

14.       At least you have closure. Closure is, in many ways, an empty word when dealing with the loss of a loved one.

15.       I’ll be there for you. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing to say provided you are truly prepared to walk the walk and not merely talk the talk.

Best thing to say under these circumstances, when you’re at a loss for words? I’m so sorry for your loss.

Have a great week and, once again, thank you for joining me on this week’s journey along,



Thursday, October 8, 2015


Producer/director/writer Nancy Meyers creates adult comedies for, well, for adults.  She has cast past hits like Private Benjamin, Something’s Gotta Give, and Father of the Bride, with the kind of actors baby boomers would most likely feel an affinity towards:  Goldie Hawn, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Alec Baldwin.  This, and her gift for zeroing in on the lifestyle challenges associated with that generation (becoming a father of the bride, intimacy at a certain age, retirement) has given her an incredible track record for making hit films or at least films that are likely to draw that particular demographic.
The Intern, written and directed by Meyers, is the story of widower BEN WHITTAKER (Robert DeNiro) who would like to spend his retirement years doing something that makes him feel useful.  Having worked for the greater part of his life he decides to apply for a position as an intern in an online startup company founded and run by a driven JULES OSTIN (Anne Hathaway) Though Ms. Ostin is hesitant to take on a “senior” as an intern, she eventually comes to lean on Ben both professionally and personally.
DeNiro, with the mere raising of an eyebrow, has the ability to play comedy with a subtlety not all actors can manage and much of the appeal of this film rests on his capable shoulders.
Rounding out the cast are a trio of young men (played by Andrew Rannells, Zack Pearlman, and Jason Orley) who are colleagues of Ben and who, rather than dismiss him because of his age, actually look up to him as does Jules. 
Is this a realistic scenario?  Probably not. But Meyers doesn’t necessarily aim for realism; she sets out to create an enjoyable movie that, incidentally, makes one think about our perceptions of marriage, age, and so on. (The young actress who plays Jules’s daughter, PAIGE, (Jo Jo Kushner) steals every scene she’s in by the way.) 
There is one particular instance in which Ben and the three young men set out to steal a computer (the details aren’t important.)  Watching this scene actually made me laugh out loud, something I don’t do very often in a movie theatre.  That in itself would make me recommend this film.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Rhodes Less Travelled, Vivian

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


                1995 was twenty years ago and yet to me it seems like yesterday.  In the past twenty years we have undergone not only a technological revolution, but a revolution in attitudes as well.  Whether it’s the general acceptance of gay marriage or unwed motherhood (hard to believe this was a huge and controversial storyline in the television show, Murphy Brown, back in the nineties) many of society’s attitudes and acceptance of social policies have evolved.
                As with any evolution, however, there are bound to be negatives.  Texting has taken the place of speaking as a means of communicating, the Internet has allowed for bullying while retaining anonymity, and what passes for humor today is often more vulgar than witty.
                I realize that the recently released film, Trainwreck was a huge success and that I am probably among the minority of people who didn’t enjoy it; therefore, my opinions here are highly subjective (but then that’s the whole point of a blog isn’t it?)  Rather than point out what I didn’t like about the film itself, I thought it would be interesting to contrast and compare the female protagonist of Trainwreck, with the female protagonist of the 2001 film, Bridget Jones’s Diary.
                Let’s begin with the similarities.  Both Amy (Amy Schumer) and Bridget (Renee Zellweger) work in the field of communication (of course Amy works for a men’s magazine with the offensive name S’nuff while Bridget works for a book publishing company.)  They are both young, attractive blondes, although neither one conforms to the super thin body type of most film heroines (a plus for both of them.)  
                They are each comfortable with their sexuality and yet here is one of the major differences in how they go about enjoying that sexuality.  While Bridget would like to have a boyfriend and be involved in “an adult relationship” Amy, because of daddy issues that date back to her childhood, prefers playing it loose and free, and she prefers one-night stands. 
                Amy smokes too much, and drinks too much, and puts down her sister for living a more conventional life.  Her foul language, behavior, and general outlook make her a less than appealing character to most of the men she becomes involved with as well as to the audience.  Her transformation into a more likable figure emerges in the last ten minutes of the film but by that time who cares?

                 Bridget Jones also drinks too much, and smokes too much, and sometimes puts her foot in her mouth.  But here’s the difference (and it’s a significant difference.)  Bridget is likable.  She’s vulnerable. She cares about the feelings of others, often to her own detriment. We root for her.

                 Amy comes off as selfish and tends to treat men in the off-handed, casual way in which men are frequently depicted as treating women.  Some might argue that she is stronger than Bridget because she doesn’t take B.S. from anyone and treats men as callously as many men treat women. But these are the men we generally think of as jerks aren’t they?
                 Bottom line is I’d much rather spend an evening in the company of Bridget than in the company of Amy.  But maybe that’s just me.

Thanks for reading Rhodes Less Traveled.  Have a good week and please follow me on Twitter @VivianWrites