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review

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Movie Review

    Falsettos: significant and timeless

    falsettos

    Some works of art have clear messages, while others you have to hunt for. Art makes us feel and causes us to think. It should make us ask questions. Falsettos is a musical that ticks all of these boxes.

    What Falsettos is all about

    Falsettos is a two-act musical comprised of March of the Falsettos, written in 1981, and Falsettoland, written in 1990. They’re written by William Finn and directed by James Lapine. The show opened on Broadway in 1992, revived in 2016, and had a national tour in 2019.

    The story surrounds a Jewish family in New York. Set in the early 80s, the AIDS crisis created mass panic and fear. The plot revolves around Marvin. He is married to Trina, and they have a son named Jason. When Marvin leaves Trina for a man named Whizzer, their “tightknit” family is quickly disturbed. Trina begins to lose her mind and starts going to therapy. She eventually falls in love with the family psychiatrist: Mendel.

    Just as Trina starts to pick up the pieces of her life, Whizzer becomes sick. Jason is stuck in the middle of all the conflict. He is frustrated, confused, and starts to act out. Much to his parents’ horror, he states that he doesn’t want a Bar Mitzvah. The “lesbians next door,” Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia, are unconditionally supportive to everyone else. Will this family be able to move past their conflicts to support Whizzer, and each other, through his diagnosis?

    How I found Falsettos

    Personally, I was introduced to the world of Falsettos with the 2016 Broadway revival cast. I was a fan of other projects the cast had been apart of, so I thought I would give it a chance. I was obsessed with the cast recording. Something about the arrangements, the vocals, and the lyrics felt different from any other show. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Will Marvin ever learn to control his emotions? Will Jason push through the chaos and grow up to fulfill his potential? Does Jason only look up to Whizzer? Is Trina okay? What in the world is a “banana-carrot surprise”?  Still, to this day, whenever I listen to the album or watch the filmed version, it makes me think.

    I saw the national tour in Charlotte, NC, and got to meet the cast! The production exceeded my expectations. I was in awe of the pure talent on the stage and the emotion in the room. Falsettos is heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and important. Some members of the audience have memories of the time period, while others weren’t even born yet. I think this speaks to the significance of the story, and shows that we still have a long way to go.

    Why Falsettos is Timeless

    Not everyone was accepting of the story and characters of Falsettos in the 90s, and lots of people still aren’t. That’s why the story, and others like it, should continue to be told. Falsettos is simply an illustration of family; it proves that love conquers all. The family is far from perfect, but they make it work. Every person in the audience can relate to something within one, or between two of the characters. 

    Some things, like acceptance, should be expressed until everyone listens and learns. Life-changing pieces of work stay relevant throughout time, and have the ability to impact many generations because family and love are themes that will never expire.

  • Articles, Books

    Goodreads: A Guide

    goodreads

    What is Goodreads? 

    Goodreads is a website where you can discover new books based on your personal preferences. Because it has so many awesome features, people might be overwhelmed and not really come back to the website. I have been on Goodreads for around 4 years now, and have enjoyed it more each and every year. I am here to explain some of the features and activities that Goodreads has. 

    What are some key features of the website?

    At the beginning of making your account, you can choose which genres you normally enjoy. From there, you will receive recommendations based on this. You can change your preferences at any point after establishing your account. You can add your friends on the website, so you can keep up with what your friends are reading. You can also see their reviews of each book if they choose to review it. This can give you an insight into what people around you may enjoy, and give you inspiration for your next read!

    Each time you want to read, are reading, or have finished a particular book, you can record it on your account. You can even record what page you are on, or what your percentage of completion is. You may also comment about whatever is on your mind, creating a sort of virtual book club that you and your friends can enjoy. You can also follow your favorite authors, and they may share opinions on books they have read as well. You will from time to time get emails about recommendations, but thankfully your inbox will not be infiltrated as they are only sent about a couple times a month. They also have annual choice awards for the best books determined by readers of the website. They have giveaways, quizzes, trivia, and a creative writing format where you can write your own stories.

    My Favorite Feature

    Besides having a book club within your friend group, you can connect with people on the website who love the same books as you and discuss them. You can have a q&a with authors who have opened a forum on the website. To add on to all of this, Goodreads can find local events based on your location revolved around book signings or events/conferences that an author will be speaking at. And finally, my personal favorite: The Reading Challenge.

    Each year, Goodreads has a system that can keep track of the books you have read that year. At the beginning of the year, you can start with a goal of a number of books to read during that year. You can choose anywhere from 1 to 1000. This can motivate you to read while adding a friendly competition between you and your friends to see who can read the most. 

    Pros

    Clearly the pros are that there are so many awesome features to partake in on the website. You can go to it anytime you need book recommendations and it is there. Because so many users are on, you can get backed up reviews from the quantity of reviewers. This is a simple way to keep in touch with possible friends who have moved away or you have lost touch with. It is an easy-going safe website that anyone of any age can use. 

    Cons

    Because there are so many features, it can get confusing. The website also could be slightly easier to use because there are so many different tabs when it could be more organized. The aesthetic of the website is quite bland however it can give a calming bookstore feeling. 

    What are the takeaways?

    With Goodreads, you have the ability to connect with people and share ideas and opinions about your favorite (or not so favorite) books. You can log on at any time and participate! You can have a bit of competitive fun using the features with your friends, and it can get you into the habit of reading. For students, it can help with assigned reading during the summer or during the school year. You can get awesome recommendations based on the books you have liked and disliked, and continue to recommend to others! There are some many features that have so many benefits. It is right there in the name! I hope you choose to check it out and make an account. You definitely won’t regret it! I hope you all are having a great summer. Good reading!

    Check out the website yourself and find your next book to binge read. But, if you can’t find anything there check out our list of 12 Summer reads!

  • Book Review, Books

    Why You Should Read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

    Really, why should you read it? 

    When I picked up this book to read it, it was completely random and it was so much better than I anticipated it would be. It was incredibly eye-opening to real issues that are going on in people’s lives that we don’t realize. I loved this book because not only was it well-written but the story was so relatable and makes you laugh, which I feel like is hard in a piece of writing. Throughout the novel you see the Eleanor develop and grow into a new person, while overcoming her past.

    This book is brilliant in the way it brings to light the effect of loneliness. So many people, especially in the age of social media deal with loneliness. The author based Eleanor’s out of the motivation to show people the effects of long-term abuse, loneliness, and social awkwardness. The author helps you see these issues from a personal level, while being entertaining.

    I think everyone should read this book. Eleanor’s character is hilarious, funny, oblivious, and she doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Her character is inspiring. Even though it is fiction, it shows you a new to see and understand people that deal with these issues. It gives you an inside look into what goes on in their brain and may even help you to not judge someone by the way they look or act. You never know what someone has been through.

    Add this to your book list and you won’t be sorry!

    Looking for other good books? Check out this review of The Book Thief, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=book+thief

  • Movie Review

    Netflix Series Review: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

    If you have not seen the Netflix original series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, then I recommend doing so. It is Netflix gold with its sense of humor and relation to real-time problems with society. I would like to note that there is a decent amount of cursing, and the rating for the show is TV 14.

    The show follows Kimmy, a recently rescued young woman who spent 15 years of her life underground as part of a perverted male’s religious cult. The plot of the show is that she is trying to move on from the past and make a name for herself without the pity of being what is commonly referred to in the show as a “mole woman.”

    She packs her bag and moves to New York City where she finds herself living in an apartment with a seemingly talented, gay, black man, with a delusional, older, white lady as the landlord. The mix of the protagonist’s personality and the other cast members help bring this slightly musical series to life.

    One of the lead writers for the show, Tina Fey, is a known comedian from Saturday Night Live. She is one of my favorite female role models in television, and she continues to create healthy female characters for people to look up to. Kimmy Schmidt not only wants to do what is right all the time, but she wants to make sure that she is helping those around her through her actions.

    The series boasts positivity in speaking up for yourself and trying hard to achieve your dreams. Sometimes life gets us down, and we feel the need to give up. This is where Kimmy Schmidt and Titus Andromedas—her roommate—would tell us to keep trying.

    So, if you’re in the mood for some feel-good comedy about a “mole woman,” then you should check out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

    Here are some comparable series:

    Superstore

                Modern Family

                American Housewife

                Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23

                Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

                The Mindy Project

  • Photography

    GLOW: Season Two Review

    Netflix recently released season two of its original series GLOW, which is set in the 80’s. GLOW stands for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and is a fun show with a group of really well written women characters. This article will go into detail about why I liked season two so much and will give a rating out of ten to indicate just how much I enjoyed it. If you haven’t seen either season, then I encourage you to watch both.

    –SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASONS ONE & TWO OF GLOW–

    THE CHARACTERS

    Debbie-
    This show is overflowing with well written women characters. We see this in the character development that Debbie undergoes as she continues to emotionally spiral due to her recent divorce. The divorce is partially due to the protagonist Ruth sleeping with Debbie’s husband. Debbie’s resentment towards Ruth shows us just how psychotic Debbie can be. During a wrestling match, Debbie intentionally breaks Ruth’s leg in order to prevent Ruth from wrestling for the remainder of the season. Additionally, Debbie has several public emotional breakdowns that are brought on by the stress of divorce. Whether you like her or not, Debbie’s character development into a psychotic cold hearted person is very fitting of her situation. The season ends with her apologizing to Ruth by writing, “I’m sorry I broke your ankle” on Ruth’s cast.

    Sam-
    The director of the women’s wrestling show, Sam, is best described as a likable jerk. He’s a jerk in both seasons, but season two demonstrates that Sam has the ability to be a caring jerk. This caring nature manifests (in part) as a result of having to care for a 16 year old daughter (Justine) that he never knew about until late into season one. He goes from resenting her to genuinely caring for her well being. All of Sam and Justine’s father/ daughter bonding scenes were deeply moving and developed their relationship well.

    Another scene where we get to see the softer side of Sam is when Ruth confesses to knowing why their wrestling show is getting moved to a 2 AM time slot in favor of a men’s wrestling show. She tells Sam about her meeting with a sleazy studio executive who clearly expected Ruth to have sex with him, where she left the situation before they had sex. He sides with Ruth and expresses disgust at the actions of the studio executive. His concern for the wellbeing of his wrestlers is one of the most humanizing things about Sam this season.

    Bash-
    I thought that the wrestling commentator had a great storyline this season. The death of his butler Florian, who is implied to have died from AIDS, is very moving. The way that the show communicates that Florian dies of AIDS is very subtle and appropriate- Bash orders Florian’s room to be cleaned from ceiling to floor with bleach. Essentially, people in the 80’s didn’t understand how AIDS was transmitted, and Bash probably thought he was playing it safe by bleaching the room. Additionally, Bash realizing that Florian is gay is perfect, and it is left up to the viewer to try and work out if Bash was romantically involved with Florian before he died. The implication is that probably not, and that Bash is gay but still not out to himself. This is elaborated on later when Bash unexpectedly proposes and marries one of the wrestlers in order to help her stay in the country to avoid deportation.

    THE COSTUMING

    The show has some pretty amazing wrestling personas with equally as fun wrestling costumes. It also seems to put the characters in 80’s accurate fashion. I think it is worth noting that they don’t try to make the characters look like “hot” 80’s girls, they actually look like they are from the 80’s. Some of the clothing and hairstyles are unflattering, but it’s accurate to the era, and probably what they would have been wearing in real life. Essentially, I appreciate that the show doesn’t pander to much to the male gaze.

    Overall, I loved season two of GLOW. It’s much more manic and energetic than the first, and we got some really great character development in this season. I’d give this season a 8/10.

  • Book Review

    Grapes of Wrath: A Book Review

    In the book Grapes of Wrath, published by John Steinbeck in 1939, a family is forced to move out of their homeland and migrate towards plentiful land. The Dust Bowl posed a great threat not only to this family but all farmers and their loved ones. One important underlying message in the book is the importance of the women in a household. Ma Joad in the story is seen throughout the book as a hero and a mentor.

    First off, she is very welcoming, through allowing strangers (including homeless men) to sit down and share a meal with her. On the journey there, she puts on a fire, makes food, and sacrifices her food in order to give to the poor, hungry children around the camp. (SPOILER) She also keeps quiet when crossing the border to California in order to trick the guards into letting them through because the grandmother was sick when in reality she was dead the entire time. Ma was lying next to a corpse all night! While many believe that the man is the real center of the family, Ma Joad is able to break these types of gender roles and assumptions. Not only is she extremely confident, decisive, and friendly, but she also serves as the literal backbone and center of the family, supporting them throughout the entire experience.

    The book even mentioned her as the “citadel of the family”. She nurtures her daughter, Rose of Sharon, through the course of her pregnancy, while also managing to keep her impulsive and aggressive son, Tom Joad, in the right state of mind. Ma Joad is able to represent all women across the world. She is able to depict the idea that a family would not survive without a woman; a woman is just as important as the male in a household. A woman like her must be able to carry not only physical things but emotional things on her shoulder as well. She is an excellent representation of how women are capable of withstanding hardships and gain strength throughout the way!