Schumacher Blooming Branch in Blue

Jackie & the Myths we Create

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Last night, after some evening Christmas shopping for my in-laws and dinner at Eataly’s Pesce (Salmon with gremolata for me, pasta with lobster for him, and anchovy toast for us both) we hopped uptown to City Cinemas to catch Jackie.

It was an impeccable film in every single way. The interiors, fashion, styles and manners on display are swoon-worthy even in the midst of the tragic story that unfolds, but that tragedy is undeniably the core of the film- amplified by Jackie’s dignified and devastating reaction to her husband’s death. The film is also framed by Jackie Kennedy’s interview with Life Magazine a week after her death, wherein she describes the president’s love for the musical based on the novel, which featured the line, “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” She goes on to say “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot,” a pivotal association that has symbolized their administration forever.

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A few ideas that have stayed with me after watching:

One, just how young she was, both when she entered the White House as First Lady at 31, and at 34 when JFK was assassinated. Her poise, as the film shows so artfully, is something she both consciously worked on and practiced in some instances (practicing speeches on Air Force One), and one that tears through in others (when she orders the arrangements of the funeral and snaps at the Life reporter to tell her story as she demands it is told). It was a reminder to me that at my relatively youthful age there is little excuse not to match such poise, and that infinite strength lies within what we see as even the shallowest of wells.

Second, I was utterly taken by her love for history and beauty; her first major project as First Lady was to restore the White House and track down, piece by piece, original items of historical significance befitting it.  Prior to the Kennedy years, departing presidents took these items with them after their time in the White House, leaving it barren of the objects that comprised its legacy. Jackie Kennedy privately raised the funds to restore the space and its collection, and lobbied that these furnishings and items of interest be retained as property of the Smithsonian to ensure their continuity in the home. There is much said in the film about this being the house of Lincoln, and that the space should reflect the great men that reside in it. It made me particularly sad to envisage the future of this great home and its inhabitants, and the detriment to our country’s wonderful legacy.

On a more personal note, it’s worth acknowledging that prior to raising these funds for the restoration, Jackie tore through her initial budget of $50,000 – in concert with her society decorator Sister Parish- in a matter of days; something which was not very appreciated by her husband. This is a recurring theme in the film and made me laugh because I can relate to the boundless desire to surround myself with beautiful things, and said disappointment of my significant other. But it is worth noting in both cases that both JFK and my own dear husband always come around when they see the finished product; I always knew the latter was pretty presidential!

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of both Jackie Kennedy and the film is the idea that we create the mythology that surrounds us. Glamorous, traditional, Motherly, Royal – or Modern, Feisty, and Independent. Kennedy modeled her husband’s funeral after Abraham Lincoln’s, and in doing so cemented John Fitzgerald Kennedy as one of this country’s great men. Lady Jeanne Campbell acknowledged as much in the London Evening Standard, noting, “Jacqueline Kennedy has given the American people…one thing they have always lacked: Majesty.”  As my husband noted when we stepped out of the theatre “I had no idea that these images cemented in our minds- John John saluting his father’s casket, and the procession to his grave, were so expertly created by Jackie herself.” Nor had I. Perhaps the most interesting idea of all is that that fact does not diminish the power of the visual that it created, and the feeling it engendered even decades later.

In the end, it’s a powerful portrait of the potential for a young woman to move mountains, and cement her family’s place in history. And it is a rather sad portrait on an America that once was, and one that we may never recoup.

Schumacher Blooming Branch in Blue

The Screen

Growing up my Dad collected movies- first VHS and then DVD, and he has hundreds of old and modern classics alike that we love digging into when home over the holidays. I’ve carried the torch for love of movies and more recently, incredible TV series with movie-like quality. Below are a few things we have been enjoying this past week.

 

Moonlight

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We saw Moonlight Friday night at the Angelika and it was exquisite.

Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, it tells the story of Chiron, a young black man, in 3 chapters providing glimpses of his life in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The film has rightfully received universal acclaim and has the 4th highest score of all time on Metacritic (and a rare 98% on rotten tomatoes)- obviously, we had to see it.

It was a haunting and subtle portrait of the lives of Black Men in this country and the societal, economic, and structural constructs that make it near impossible to live. Mahershala Ali (playing Juan, a drug dealer who takes young Chiron in) was my favorite character in the film, and the moments between he and the young boy (played by Jaden Piner) were heart wrenching and funny at once.

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The Night Manager

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The Night Manager was another instant favorite that we tore through in one weekend. The sumptuous surroundings (Majorca, Monaco), beautiful people (Tom Hiddleston as British spy, Elizabeth Debicki as Jed the consummate golddigger), outstanding acting (Hugh Laurie as billionaire arms dealer/philanthropist Richard Roper), and intriguing plot lines sucked us in from the first moment. I am so sad that this is only a miniseries because I could watch it endlessly and never tire of it; needless to say, you should do the same.

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New York Story

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New York story, a standup set by Colin Quinn, is phenomenal and had us crying with laughter at some points. It’s a phenomenal lesson in New York history packaged in politically incorrect musings on how various immigrant populations contributed to what is currently known as the “New York personality.” Our friend Tom recommended this one and we have never disliked a recommendation of his, so I am more so bearing the torch here than paving the way, but regardless, it is the funniest thing I’ve seen in recent memory.

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Jackie

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Finally, tonight we are going to the City Cinema uptown (reservable and reclinable seats? Yes please!) to see Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in the days following Jack Kennedy’s assassination, and I couldn’t be more excited to see this. Years ago I read Grace and Power, the Private World of the Kennedy White House, and like most sentient humans, I have been fascinated by them every since. I am most excited for the fashion but I suppose I will report back on the acting too, if you are into that sort of thing. Which, if you’ve done me the service of reading this far, you may be! I will report back.


    		
    		    	
Schumacher Blooming Branch in Blue

A peruse you can use

Reading Rainbow

what-im-reading

 

1) What to do when you marry a psychopath who uses shell companies to hide $400 MM dollars from you? Lawyer up. This story is absolutely fascinating, and unfortunately, not over.

2) The Westworld timeline theories, explained. Thanks be to God. A must read for any fans of Westworld.

3) A recipe for Aunt Jane’s Kentucky Bourbon Balls. Because why not?

4) The Secret Lives of American Workers: Interviews with 100 Americans on the meaning of their work. I can’t wait to read them all. Continue reading “A peruse you can use”