The Movie I, TONYA – Was the World Wrong about Tonya Harding?

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, left, and the real Tonya, right.

Tonya Harding was considered one of ice skating’s “bad girls,” but after seeing the movie, “I, TONYA,” I’ve got to wonder about that.  I came home from this movie yesterday wondering about everything I’d ever heard regarding Tonya Harding.

Obviously, the movie is very pro-Tonya, helped by Harding herself, who participated in numerous interviews to help get her side of the story covered correctly.  Maybe it’s time people started to pay attention.

Harding came from a very poor background, but in my humble opinion, that in and of itself does not render a child who wants to skate as much as Tonya did either “bad” or “trashy.”  She couldn’t afford the same costumes as the other skaters.  She couldn’t afford a fur coat.  She wasn’t a little rich girl.  Personally, I couldn’t care less what kind of socioeconomic background an athlete hails from.  The girl was a great little skater from the age of four, period, and that should count for a lot more than what kind of an image she might project if she, heaven forfend, wasn’t coming to and from competitions in some certain “approved” coat.

Please note: this is hardly the first time I’ve heard less than stellar things about the powers that be in the skating community.  They weren’t too fond of another terrific skater, Surya Bonaly, either.  She was also branded “bad,” and also didn’t fit their preferred image of a sweet little skater.  This is ridiculous!  If these kids can skate, they can skate!

Margot Robbie is wonderful in her role as Tonya Harding.  The movie portrays Tonya’s mother Lavona as a real monster, one of those awful parents who believes if they belittle and smack the child around, they’ll make her care more about her performance.  Allison Janney won a Golden Globe Award last night for the role, and she certainly deserved it.  The movie is excellent, and even has lots of funny parts to it, believe it or not, given it’s not only about skating but child abuse, spousal abuse, and criminal behavior.

For those who may be too young to remember, Tonya Harding was an Olympic Team hopeful back in 1994, as was her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.  All hell broke lose when a man attacked poor Kerrigan at the rink where she was practicing by hitting her in the knee with a baton.  It soon came to light that Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, and his ultra-whacked best friend, Shawn Eckhardt, had hired two idiots, Shane Stant and Derrick Smith, to carry out the attack.  Watch for the scenes with Eckhardt, played by Paul Walter Hauser, in them.  I won’t add spoilers, but whoa…!  What a performance!

Harding claimed to be innocent, although the FBI alleged that her handwriting was found on a plan of attack written on a restaurant napkin…

According to this movie, Tonya had no knowledge of the attack.  But it was her career that was ended over it, just the same.  Following an Olympic competition where she came in 8th, a show that went on because the ratings were through the roof when Nancy and Tonya had a skate-off, Tonya wound up banned from skating.

So I’m thinking…did the world view Tonya correctly way back when, or did every reporter who covered this admittedly strange story make a horrible mistake?  Was the FBI right or wrong about the notes on the napkin they said were written by Tonya?  Perhaps the world should take another look at the whole situation.

I, TONYA: one excellent movie!



Ridiculous and Sublime: Julie Andrews in “STAR!”

Julie Andrews in “STAR!” singing “The Physician.”

Yesterday afternoon, with virtually nothing on the television since it was Christmas Day, I watched Julie Andrews in “STAR!” with my parents.

I remembered the movie from when I was a little girl.  I must have been about seven years old when I saw it in the theaters.  It was strange then, and it’s strange yet.

The musical numbers are fantastic.  I doubt there’s any such thing as a bad Julie Andrews musical number.  She knocks all of them out of the ballpark.  Every song in this movie is a sublime treat.

But then, there’s the dialogue.

“STAR!” tells the story of an English actress named Gertrude Lawrence, one who was way before my time.  Aside from this movie, I know very little about her.  After seeing this movie, I wouldn’t want to know much about her, since she is portrayed as a shrill manic lunatic of a woman.  I know she was “Anna” in the original cast of “The King and I” with Yul Brynner on Broadway in the early 1950s, right before she passed away, and if that had been the main thing she was remembered for, it would have been preferable to this strange film.

If this movie was meant to be a tribute to Gertrude Lawrence, it falls flat.  She’s portrayed as ambitious, but not in a classy or admirable way.  From her starting days in the chorus, she cares more about upstaging the other actresses than anything else, walking all over them.  It’s hard to watch that and feel too much sympathy for her.  The Gertrude character is a colossal jerk.

Then there’s the scenes with the men in her life.  “Honestly,” I said to my father during one of the blessed commercial breaks, “it’s hard to watch a movie where you not only don’t want to see the girl get together with the guy, but hope the guy runs like Hell away from such an awful, self-centered, impossible girl.”

Dad agreed.

See what I mean?  It’s sublime in terms of the musical numbers and ridiculous in terms of the dialogue and plot.

Daniel Massey is very cute as Noel Coward, and many of the songs in the show were written by Coward.  They’re great.

I recommend the soundtrack album of this movie wholeheartedly, had it on vinyl as a kid and got it again on CD later, which tells you how much I love the numbers, but unless you want an ear ache bar none from the shrillness of the spoken scenes, give viewing this turkey a pass.

Andrews performing well-done but tragic rendition of the song “Limehouse Blues.”

The Spirit of Scrooge and The Pingry School

Albert Finney counting his money in “Scrooge.” The character’s spirit seems to be running a private school in NJ…

I recently read some terrible articles, and then a full book, about the child sex abuse that went on at the Horace Mann School in New York City.   The abuse was widespread and horrific.  More than twenty losers on the Horace Mann faculty abused the children and this went on over tree decades.  The abuse was later followed by Horace Mann’s appalling treatment of the adult survivors of that abuse by their failure to properly compensate the victims.

I had no sooner finished the book when I found out that The Pingry School in New Jersey is trying to pull the exact same type of stunt with regard to compensating their victims of sexual abuse.  The school is  trying to use what appears to be a loophole in the NJ statute of limitations regarding such cases to get out of paying what they should to their students.  This comes directly after the school first “made sure” they went all over the media claiming “they’re sorry, they’re sorry, they’re sorry” for what happened to the boys who should have been protected while going to their school, but weren’t.

Pingy’s crying “sorry” on the one hand, yet looking for a loophole to get out of making recompense on the other?  Sorry, my foot!  This is ridiculous!  Who is running this Pingry School, anyway – indecent money-hoarders like Ebenezer Scrooge?

For some reason that thought popped into my head as I woke up on this bright and pretty Christmas morning: that The Pingry School clearly has more in common with the “Spirit of Scrooge” than it does with peace, light, and people of goodwill everywhere.  Remember, it took four ghosts to convince Scrooge to part with some of his money and assist Tiny Tim so that the child’s health could improve, but hey, at least Scrooge wasn’t the initial cause of Tiny Tim’s condition.  Scrooge had a change of heart in the end, too.  What does it take to convince the greedy powers-that-be at Pingry to cut the crap and help the children their own staff members went out of their way to hurt?

Note to Pingry, Horace Mann, and any other lax institution where students were victimized and grew up to shout it out loud: decently run schools do not hire rapists!

In the spirit of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and the Solstice, and being the change we wish to see in the world – not to mention helping to create a Happy New Year for the students who were victimized at Pingry – won’t you please sign this petition in their support?  And God bless us, every one!

Sign here:

The Pingry School.  A place of no respect for their students!

Another Good Movie: WONDER

WONDER, in theaters now.

Here’s another good movie of this holiday season.  WONDER stars Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, a smart-as-a-whip little boy with a condition involving a facial deformity.  Auggie gets around the stares and derision of people by usually keeping a space helmet over his head when he leaves the house.  Just knowing that a child would do such a thing as a coping strategy is enough to break your heart.

Auggie has been home-schooled, but now he’s about to enter the fifth grade.  His parents, beautifully played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, decide to send him to a Middle School.

It’s a bit of an ordeal to watch this gutsy little boy as he walks into the school and has to face so many inter-personal problems during his first year, but it’s well worth it.  Naturally it’s a great movie for kids to see, and could especially give pause to the ones who may think they’re being “funny” when mocking other children.

Jacob Tremblay deserves an Oscar nomination for this one!



Darkest Hour, Murder on the Orient Express & Coco

Finest movie of the year so far: DARKEST HOUR!

I love November and December in New York City.  We get all of the movies first and the best ones of the year are always released as close to the end of the year as possible.

The finest one I’ve seen in 2017 is DARKEST HOUR.  Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II in England.  Incredibly, there are those in the Parliament who are hoping to negotiate a peace treaty with none other than Adolf Hitler.  They might have succeeded.  Thank God for Winston Churchill!


Another movie that recently premiered is the re-make of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  I was looking forward to this one, but it was a disappointment.  Oh, the photography is great.  The cast is a stellar assemblage.  But the way it’s written and presented is a confusing muddle.

I saw the original movie back in 1974 at the age of 12 and it was done in such a way that it made a lot more sense than this one does.  I already knew whodunit, but the movie buddy I went to see it with didn’t know the story and was having a very hard time trying to follow the narrative.

If it’s worth it for anything, it’s to see Johnny Depp in a deliciously chilling turn as a villain.

As for the make-up job on Sir Kenneth Brannagh, playing Agatha Christie’s legendary detective Hercule Poirot, I can’t help but wonder if somebody’s actual intention here was to create a spoof of a movie called MUSTACHE ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  The one he sports is so wild it’s a terrifying distraction.

COCO. Fabulous!

And finally there’s COCO.  I can never resist a Disney animated film, no matter how old I get.  They’re works of art, every last one, and this one is no exception.  COCO is adorable.  An adorable little boy from Mexico who wants to be a singer – and comes from a family with a reason for banning music – visits The Land of the Dead on the Mexican Day of the Dead.  His ancestors have the answers to a lot of his family’s current problems and he seeks to solve the mysteries.

Only Disney and Pixar could work a modern concept like facial recognition software computers into a story of the Day of the Dead.  Watch it to see how incredibly drawn the scenes are, in particular all those in The Land of the Dead, where you’ll see tramways, skyscrapers and theaters.  A few villains are on the loose there, too.

It’s a feast for the eyes.  BRAVO AGAIN, Disney!


A Quick Observation About Sexual Predators


Innocent nosiness – or a red flag of something more?

Bravo to all of the people who have been “outing” so many sexual predators lately!  It’s about time they got their comeuppance.  My heart goes out to their victims and I hope they get the justice they seek.

I have one little point that I wanted to add to the discussion.  Twice in my life I have known people who, I came to find out many, many years later, were alleged to be sexual predators.

I say “alleged predators” only in the interest of my own honesty because I did not see anything overt myself.  Strange as the two individuals were, and both were off-the-charts creepy, I have no direct personal story to tell.  Neither one tried to take any liberties with me.  I also did not see anything untoward happening to anyone else.  To put it bluntly, if they were assaulting people, and I’m inclined to  believe that they probably were, from what I heard later, it was just neither done to me or in front of me.  If it had been, I’d have called the cops.

I knew one of them in the 1970s and the other in the 1990s.  One was a female, the other a male.  One allegedly targeted girls and young women, the other boys and young men.  They did not know each other.  Yet in one way their sick behavior was 100% identical.

Both of these monsters were intrusive to the infinite power.  I have never met two more nosy or rude people in my life.  They absolutely gloried in sticking their noses into other people’s business.  This seemed as natural to them as breathing was to the rest of us.  They weren’t just prying; it was more like they each were downright interrogational.   Arrested suspects on television crime dramas are grilled more gently than I used to see each one of those two kooks go after their acquaintances.  In both their cases, there was a franticness about their intrusiveness, too, a sort of panic both were in.  At the time, I thought it was simply trange.  Now that I hear they both might have been predators, it seems more like a major red flag.

What did they seemed to concentrate on most?  It was not just whatever was going on in everybody else’s business (though that too), but what constituted our values.  What made us tick.  The content of our characters, to paraphrase the great Dr. Martin Luther King.

I want to put this out there because I believe that kind of intrusiveness may very well be the red flag of a predator.  It makes perfect sense that such scumbags would consistently try to zero in on the values of whoever they happened to find nearby, at work, at school, and at whatever venue where they happened to be prowling for a victim.  Serial predators can’t function out in the open.  They can only get what they want if they can assure the silence of their specially-selected victims, not to mention any potential eyewitnesses.

The man was very hung up on the fact that I was, as he said derisively, “very, very principled.”  He said it as if this was a bad thing, and for him, potentially it was.

I’m also a rather private person and was that way even as a teen.  I know who I am.  I know what I think and I know how I feel.  I just don’t see the point of always shouting my most personal thoughts from the rooftops.

The woman did not like that one bit.  She kept insinuating that I wasn’t “forthcoming” enough, or words to that effect.  Oh, really?  Well, how much did she think was going on that a teenage girl should have had to be “forthcoming” about?  Think about it.  This was not someone to whom I owed any explanations.  She set off alarm bells in me, though, which caused me to go even quieter around her, specifically.  I figured, at age sixteen, that anybody who’s fishing that much for none-of-your-damned-business kinds of information is definitely after something, even though I wasn’t sure what was going on there.

Had I witnessed any direct untoward actions, for absolute certain, that either one of these flakes was committing, I’d have blown the whistle on them so fast they wouldn’t have known what hit them.  I would have “gone all Jersey” on the one from New Jersey.  I’d have called the police in a New York minute on the one in New York.  And that, I believe, is what was at the crux of the many “values” questions they had about every single person with whom they came in regular contact: they wanted to weed out those of us who aren’t afraid to stand up and call the PoPo.  To predators, the principled ones who aren’t afraid to dial 911 are quite dangerous.  We’re the ones who might just stop them in their tracks.

So if you ever see something, say something – don’t be afraid to be “dangerous” to a predator!   You might find yourself a hero to one of their victims.



CLASS by Lucinda Rosenfeld


Awesome satire: CLASS by Lucinda Rosenfeld.

Ever know one of those cluelessly insufferable people who run around talking about how “the poor need this” and “the poor need that,” yet can’t see how horribly arrogant they are in thinking that they’ve been appointed as “the one” who’s got “all the answers” to somebody else’s problems?

I’ve known plenty of those types.  Want to know a secret?  I’ve never liked them.  You will not like Karen Kipple, the main character, of this satirical book, CLASS by Lucinda Rosenfeld, either.  She’ll make your jaw drop at her own cluelessness.  Her prejudices are vast, yet for all her professed altruism towards “the poor,” she is too dim to see her own outrageous biases.  She starts off a horrible person and gets worse as the book rolls on, yet it’s hilarious.  You’ll wish she were a real person standing in front of you so that you could give her a good telling-off.  It’s a send-up, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and when you’re done reading it, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief and say how glad you are to be  you, not her.

Unless, of course, you’re a Karen Kipple-type yourself…

I highly recommend this book.