Staff Review – Out Of Africa

     Out of Africa is one of those rare movies you can watch over the years and never tire of. Isak Dinesen is a superb story teller, and the cast includes Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as love interests.  It certainly deserves the Oscars it won including Best Picture.

     We love the main characters for their struggles.  All of them have their faults, but they are all people we care about.  Dennis Finchhatten, (Robert Redford), although he loves Karen (Meryl Streep), cannot help himself but disappear into the wild for days at a time.  He also makes money selling elephant ivory. But at the same time he won’t shoot a lioness threatening Karen, unless it got “a bit” closer. And he has a tribesman friend who travels with him. 

     Karen is somewhat of a feminist.  She inherits her family’s fortune only if she marries, which she does with a friend she doesn’t love.  He leaves her, and she runs a coffee plantation in Africa using black labor that she ambiguously both expects hard work from, yet respects at the same time. 

     They have come as privileged guests who were not invited into someone else’s continent and tribe, in this case. Yet, they are not disrespectful, and they do love Africa.

     In one memorable scene, Robert Redford brings a phonograph into the plains and plays Mozart.  He says, “Just think, never a human sound in their life and then Mozart.” 

     I will not give away the ending except to say it is sad and beautiful.  One sees that they loved Africa and each other and the African people, but they didn’t belong to each other or the continent. – Tom

     

Staff Review: The Florida Project


Long after I watched it, I still think about The Florida Project from 2017 staring Willem Dafoe. The small budget sleeper which received many acting nominations and awards for Dafoe  was recognized by both the
National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year in 2017.

Set in Florida the story centers on six year old Moonee  who with her mother lives at the Magic Castle, a faded pink stucco two story motel located along a busy freeway. Without helicoptering parents to squash their freedom Moonee and her friends from the motel are free to roam which also means there is no one to protect them when their curiosity and creativity can have dangerous results. A visually captivating film, the single shot of a sign advertising the proximity of Walt Disney World to Magic Castle is not lost on the viewer.

Dafoe with his weathered face has seen many lives pass thru the motel he manages which serves as housing for poor single mothers who resort to any way to make the rent money from reselling fake Disney World tickets to prostitution. Meanwhile the looming threat is family services will discover these desperate acts by Moonee’s mother and she will lose her daughter to foster care. Dafoe is the stability in the lives of the motel residents both children and adults. But for how long can he protect the children and their mothers from making bad choices.  As consequences unfold the viewer is left to wonder what truly would be the best outcome for Moonee. 

Staff Review

Leadership in Turbulent Times
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Goodwin investigates four presidents who each entered office during a national crisis and how they successfully guided us during that time.   

Abraham Lincoln entered office as the nation was on the verge of civil war.  Teddy Roosevelt assumed office after the assassination of President William McKinley and inherited a coal strike. Franklin D. Roosevelt entered office facing a financial crisis. 

Lyndon B. Johnson became president after the the assassination of president John F. Kennedy and he was able to engineer the passage of more civil rights legislation than any other president.  

All four men were brought up in various circumstances in their early life.   And, they each had their own reasons for entering office.  But, all four wanted to work for the greater good.  

Goodwin writes in a style that makes it easy to follow the political machinations of the time periods involved. Even though I have never been one to pick up a history book.- JW

Staff DVD Review

Disney’s new live action reboot of “Dumbo” is fun for the whole family, but I feel it lacks some of the key elements that deemed it a “classic.” Some of the parts from the original have been edited out to make it more appropriate for modern times, which is great, but I think deviating from the original storyline took away from the film as opposed to adding to it. All in all, it was a great film, but the original animated version from 1941 will always be THE classic. – Children’s Room Staff

Book Review

Rhode Island Memories: The Early Years, A Pictorial History
by The Providence Journal

I so enjoyed this book. I saw it advertised in the Sunday Providence Journal a few times so I ordered a copy from the library. It is a little smaller than a standard coffee table book, so it is easy to hold but that doesn’t affect the quality of the photographs. I was pleased that instead of each chapter being a photographer’s portfolio, or by the town, they split it up by core items like agriculture, education, recreation and street scenes. I was delighted to see so many photos from my hometown! Well done. -Kristin