In Tune With June

I looked forward to season four of “Big Love” having followed the HBO series from its premiere. It helps to understand the story if one tunes in at its beginning. “Big Love” follows the polygamist, successful, Mormon businessman, Bill Hendrickson, his three wives and the dynamics of the relationship and the convoluted story arcs. In addition, much of the action deals with tackling problems outside Bill’s three-house suburban home. There are assorted dramas and constant power struggles among the three wives.
Wholly original, “Big Love” explores the involving institution of marriage through this typically atypical family (huh?). I’ve watched all the people in Bill’s life continue to evolve and continue to grow and struggle. Admittedly, I’m addicted to this TV series. HBO makes it easy since it repeats each episode during the week at different times and days. OK? I know it’s soap opera of sorts – but so much more. “Big Love” is entertaining, thought-provoking and imaginative. I am really interested in seeing how the plot will unfold and where the talented writers and skillful cast will take us.
When you see a film and have trouble following the twists and turns, do you get annoyed? That’s my reaction. That is until I think and think about the movie and suddenly it falls into place. Such was the case with Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces” (appropriate title, too!). it’s a nourish tale that is filled with extended flashbacks, a convoluted plot that resists encapsulation, but I’ll try.
“Broken Embraces” is a story of sex, cinema and fate. It unfolds as it shifts from present to past and back again. That’s what confused me at first. Ah, but the film has a visual delight – Penelope Cruz. She is a pleasure to watch as her character goes from loving daughter to her boss’s mistress, to hooker, to cheater and to mistress again. Cruz’s beauty and charm makes it work.
“Broken Embraces” is a lavishly mounted film with, in my opinion, too much drinking, drug use and a great deal of smoking. Its three major sex scenes are obscured either by bed sheets or furniture – still it’s an overheated sensualistic melodrama that’s intriguing. If you enjoy a movie that covers love, jealousy, betrayal and tragedy, then this Spanish film will appeal to you. There is a drawback and one that happens too often when a movie fan in Bayonne wants to see an independent or foreign film. Those films do not play at the South Cove’s Frank Theatre. I had to travel to Teaneck to catch “Broken Embraces.” Was it worth the trip? Yes!
Frequently, I find myself quoting from two poems by Robert Frost. Although I was a pre-med student at Ohio University, I took so many English courses that I graduated with two majors: biological sciences and English. Frost was and still is my favorite poet. Recently a newspaper story caught my eye. It said that a forgotten Robert Frost manuscript turned up in the basement of a Masonic lodge in Massachusetts. Pardon aside to Bayonne’s Masons – have you looked in your basement lately?
Robert Frost started teaching when he was only 17. Teachers didn’t need credentials in those days, and besides, Frost had pull. Teaching was the family business. His mother and his father were both teachers. Oh, yes, I must remember to tell my granddaughter, Melissa, that Frost enjoyed a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (Melissa is a freshman there, lucky girl!).
Last month there was a beautiful exhibition at the Poet’s House, N.Y.C., entitled “Robert Frost’s Annual Christmas Card.” It featured illustrated chapbooks of Frost’s poetry sent out as holiday greetings by the revered poet. The Poet’s House is a home for all and its beautiful new building on the banks of the Hudson River is well worth a visit to Battery Park City. If you are old enough to remember the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961, it was Robert Frost who performed a reading of his poetry. He was 86 years-old at the time. He died two years later.
Frost’s epitaph quotes a line from one of his poems: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” One of my favorite quotations comes from “The Road Not Taken,” a paean to individualism and non-conformism. Open to interpretation, it seems to illustrate that once one takes a certain road there is no turning back – “I took the one less traveled by, and that had made all the difference.” Another favorite (among many) is: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” – “but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” I’ll drink to that one – a Pinot Noir, please.

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