Archive for January 22nd, 2019


By J.D. Lafrance

Sometimes it’s frustrating being a Diane Lane fan. For an actress so talented, she appears in a lot of dreck. For every The Outsiders (1983) or A Walk on the Moon (1999), there are three or four Must Love Dogs (2005) type clunkers. Yet, she gamely plugs along, turning in consistently good performances in even the most routine films (Murder at 1600). With Unfaithful (2002), she finally found material that could challenge her by portraying a fascinatingly flawed character in a provocative film. It was a remake of Claude Chabrol’s 1968 film, La femme infidele and was directed by Adrian Lyne, a filmmaker not afraid to court controversy by bringing a European sensibility to sex and sensuality in films like 9½ Weeks (1986), Indecent Proposal (1993), and Lolita (1997). With Unfaithful, he proposed a simple yet intriguing premise: why would a woman with a successful, loving husband and nice child threaten this security with an illicit affair with another man? While his film ultimately conforms to clichéd thriller conventions, Lane transcends the material with a career-best performance that garnered her all kinds of critical accolades and awards, chief among them an Academy Award nomination.


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by Sam Juliano

What some baby boomers would attest were all the rage back in the days when the internet, intricate graphs and multi-dimensional picture books had yet to make their initially inauspicious debuts were globes and encyclopedic end papers sporing world maps.  Both geographical incarnations gave early grade students a general survey of the shapes and sizes of the continents, the four oceans that invariably surround them and dot markers for major cities.  In the less sophisticated examples lakes and seas weren’t noted and all land was shown in one-dimensional mode, flat and with no real differentiation between urban and rural.  While these first impressions gave students only a taste of the geographical pie they often inspired further research and a voracious interest in bodies of water and land forms not generalized in the most rudimentary drawings and designs.  Technological advances in printing of course has resulted in baroque textbook and travel maps, complex volumes with plastic color-coded overlays and globes with mountainous protrusions and oceanic dips.  But even at the present time, most textbooks and learning materials are one-dimensional, though more more intricately annotated.  For elementary school students, the picture book has become an invaluable tool for science, and geography as in most instances the works portray the behavior of humans in and around the locations and outdoor activities that are the prime focus of the books.

One of the most vivid, colorful and wholly irresistible of geographical picture books is also one that is well within the eligible radar of the Caldecott committee, which recognizes effectiveness of art and how it interacts with even the sparest text and in the case of wordless books how well that art replaces words in telling the story.  Christy Hale’s Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World is an ingeniously designed and categorized die cut work that represents deft craftsmanship, eye-filling vignettes and for children and adults alike the interactive fun in turning the pages, morphing from one setting to another from one definition to another, and from land to water and then back.  Hale saves her specific enrichment for the most spectacular fold out of any picture book released this past year, one that serves as a summation of all the pages before it, a place where definitions of the proceeding terms are given and remarkably an extensive addendum of water ways and land forms around the world that couldn’t possibly be included in the basic learning premise of the book, and in fact would be obtrusive if presented in any other way than they were. (more…)

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