On Thursday December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and a volunteer secretary for the NAACP, was sitting in the section of a public bus reserved for black passengers. As she rode, the seats designated for white riders were filled and the driver told her and three other seated black passengers to get up so the whites could sit. She refused and she was arrested.
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired,” she wrote, “but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
A young minister, new in town, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, led the bus boycott in protest of her arrest. It is important to remember how modest the demands were. King’s group did not ask that the buses be fully integrated. They only asked that the black riders should not have to move. When the segregation was ruled unconstitutional, Dr. King circulated a memo to remind the black community that not all white people supported segregation and that they should be courteous, even in the face of insults. He urged them to maintain “a calm and loving dignity” and to “pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry on the struggle for justice.”
Scholastic has some good teaching materials on Rosa Parks and the boycott. Older children and adults will appreciate Angela Basset’s performance in The Rosa Parks Story and Iris Little-Thomas as Mrs. Parks in Boycott.
How can you have a war between humans and machines when the line between them is hard to find?
In the first three Terminator movies, cyborgs from the future were sent back in time to prevent future leader of the resistance John Connor from being born and then from surviving. But in the fourth installment, set in a bleak, apocalyptic landscape of bleached-out rubble and belching fires (but apparently excellent dental care), the time that was foretold has arrived. The Skynet computer network has achieved self-awareness and now sees humans as a threat to its continued existence.
Connor (now played by Christian Bale) is a charismatic rebel who does not work well with the chain of command. He knows that his future will require him to send a man named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) back in time to protect a young waitress named Sarah Connor, who will become his mother, from the Terminator sent to kill her. He knows that Reese, now a teenager, must not just rescue Sarah; he will fall in love with her and become John’s father. A bit of an ontological paradox, but if we were going to worry about that, we’d never get to the explosions and shoot-outs, so on we go.
The machines’ “awareness” and instinct for independence achieves a kind of humanity as the humans’ ruthlessness and desperation makes them increasingly mechanistic. Life is Hobbsian, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” The people and the machines are more alike than different — they can think of little but self-preservation, and humanity is defined not by how something or someone is created but by the capacity to sacrifice for others.
It does not live up to the first two films, which had astonishing special effects, arresting characters, and some emotional resonance. But it does have some enormously cool machines (what I would like to see is these guys up against the Transformers, now that would be a movie!), and an Australian actor named Sam Worthington, an enormously magnetic performer who will also be featured in the upcoming “Avatar” movie (coincidentally directed by James Cameron, who directed the first two “Terminator” films). Worthington is electrifying. He plays Marcus, a character who raises questions about what it means to be human but provides a definitive answer about what it means to be a star.
At Thanksgiving, my mother brought out a collection of about 30 pairs of gloves, most of them her mother’s but a few my sisters and I had when we were little girls back in the days when young ladies wore white gloves to go into the big city, attend religious services, or fly in an airplane. I took home two pairs of wrist-length white kid gloves and our daughter picked out two elegant pairs of opera-length gloves. It made me think of some of my favorite gloves in classic movies. Like cigarettes, gloves give rise to a ballet of expressive movements that can be very evocative and even help to tell the story and reveal the character. These are not wool or leather gloves worn for warmth or protection; these are indoor gloves, worn for elegance. Well, except for the last two.
1. Let’s Make Love You can glimpse Marilyn Monroe wear two pairs of gloves in this trailer for her movie about a wealthy man who tries to shut down a satiric musical show because it makes fun of him. The pair I love is the short daytime gloves she wears in the elevator, while Yves Montand is kissing her and singing.
2. The Age of Innocence Director Martin Scorsese shows us that sex and violence can be powerfully portrayed even without guns and goodfellas. In this story of impossible love based on the novel by Edith Wharton and set in 19th century New York high society, Daniel Day-Lewis kisses Michelle Pfeiffer on the wrist under an unbuttoned glove and it is as erotically charged an image as has ever been filmed.
3. Little Women Older sister Meg loans a glove to her impetuous sister Jo so that they can both be properly attired at a party in this film of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. Jo has spoiled one of hers and it would be unthinkable for well-brought-up young ladies to go out without them, so each wears one and carries one.
4. Woman of the Year Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn began one of the great on and off-screen love stories in this film about the romance between a sports writer and a columnist. The gloves (and hat) she wears to her first baseball game are hilarious.
5. Lover Come Back In this frothy Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy, Day wears 1960’s professional woman chic, beautiful suits and impeccable white gloves.
6. Meet Me In St. Louis Only Vincente Minnelli would think of putting his heroine (Judy Garland) in purple gloves for her clang-clang-clang “Trolley Song” number in this turn-of-the-century musical based on the childhood memories of Sally Benson at the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair.
7. Gilda Rita Hayworth wears long black gloves in one of the steamiest dance numbers in history, “Put the Blame on Mame.”
8. Breakfast At Tiffany’s Watch this movie and you’ll want to wear gloves like Audrey Hepburn, the essence of elegance in this Truman Capote story about two people who have made many compromises but find the courage to build a relationship that will make them be honest with each other and themselves.
9. This Is Spinal Tap This outrageously funny mockumentary about a metal hair band includes a hilarious scene where they get the news that the record company will not permit the art they selected for their new album, “Smell the Glove.” For some reason, they found it offensive.
10. Yellow Submarine Who can forget the Dreadful Flying Glove, one of the most important weapons of the Blue Meanies but no match for the music and love of the Beatles in this animated classic?
Everything is bigger, better, and especially funnier in this sequel to the surprise hit Night at the Museum. In the original, Larry (Ben Stiller) was an unsuccessful inventor who took at job as a security guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History and found that all of the exhibits came to life at night. With the help of Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), and the young Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Larry was able to reconcile the dispute between a cowboy named Jedediah (Owen Wilson) with his neighboring diorama-mate Octavius (Steve Coogan), tame both a dinosaur skeleton and an enormous totemic sculpture, and defeat the bad guys who tried to set him up and steal the magic tablet.
As this film begins, Larry has achieved his dream of success and is doing infomercials with inventions like the glow-in-the-dark flashlight. He is so busy he seldom sees his old friends at the museum and he is shocked to find that they have all been packed up. The museum is going all 2.0 and is about to be tricked up with fancy interactive animatronics. And all of the old exhibits are being shipped off to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, not for display but for storage.
And that is how Larry, the Museum of Natural History exhibits from the first movie, and dozens of new characters from the world’s biggest museum complex in Washington DC, the Smithsonian. Ahkmenrah’s evil brother Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) wants to use the tablet to raise an army of the dead to take over the world. Larry will have to rely on his old friends and some new ones, like Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hadar) to fight Kahmunrah and his allies Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), Napoleon (Alain Chabat), and Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), who is in black and white because he was brought to life from an old photograph.
Yes, even the pictures, paintings, the gift shop bobble heads and the sculptures come to life in this film and there is one sequence where Larry escapes into Alfred Eisenstadt’s classic photo of VJ Day in Times Square, and he later empties the water out of a Turner seascape. The special effects are exceptionally well done, but what makes the movie work is its inspired cast, all having a blast and trying to top each other. Over and over, the same old gag works just fine as the best all-star comedy cast since “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” finds the sweet spot between action and inspired silliness.