Posted by Joy Bennett
Photo courtesy lemonvilleunited.ca
Wishing all my readers (both of them!) a wonderful and warm Hanukkah, and Happy Thanksgiving! We all have so much to be grateful for. May your table be filled with warmth, smiles, and laughter, and may the years draw friends and family even closer, held in the Light of God's love.
12.14.13 at 8:51 pm | Handel's Messiah sung by the audience at Disney. . .
12.10.13 at 8:35 pm | A. Scott Berg discusses his new biography,. . .
12.9.13 at 7:39 am | The great Kobe Bryant returns to play with the. . .
11.28.13 at 5:18 am | Have a wonderful Hanukkah!
11.15.13 at 7:09 pm | The lovely and talented Annette Bening discusses. . .
11.4.13 at 1:30 pm | Horseracing at its Finest
November 15, 2013 | 7:09 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
Annette Bening, photo by Joy Bennett
This past week the venerable AFI Fest 2013 has been going on, one of the most important film festivals around. Tuesday night I was fortunate enough to see Annette Bening at a panel discussing her work and life with Arie Posin, the writer and director of one of her latest films, A Face of Love. Mr. Posin did a very nice job handling the interview, and their rapport and mutual respect was obvious. For a review of this film, see my article at IFQ Magazine which will be posted soon.
The Egyptian Theatre, where the event was held, was packed and soon Ms. Bening appeared, looking freshly elegant in a simple black dress and short light brown hair. She is slender and petite, but has a certain undeniable strength about her. You don’t want to mess with her. Yet she was charming and bubbly during the panel discussion, and the audience visibly enjoyed her talk.
She talked about how she got interested in acting. In San Diego, where she is from, she studied it in college and performed in student productions during school. After studying acting in college and a conservatory, she worked in the theater, and moved and still does move back and forth between film and the stage. Her memorable roles include pivotal roles in American Beauty, Bugsy, The Grifters, and many other notable films. She said she was always from a young age determined to act, and studied extensively which helped her prepare for her impressive career.
She was asked for some acting tips, and she said it’s important to listen. She said there is always a battle between having self-confidence and doubting yourself. She still has doubts to this day, despite her many successes. She talked amusingly about the difference between stage and screen acting, and also talked about how important it is to always reach deeper, and connect with the emotional impact of a scene or a role above all else. She is a charming and most engaging actress, and the range of her talent is evident from the variety of her roles.
This excellent film festival AFI Fest 2013 just ended Thursday November 14th in Hollywood, for more information visit afi.com/afifest. They have lots of film screenings, discussions, parties, and plenty of opportunities to learn about and enjoy films in a very special setting. The festival is held in the heart of Hollywood at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, etc.
November 4, 2013 | 1:30 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, November 2, 2013, photo by Joy Bennett
Last Saturday I was thrilled to be given press access to the Breeders’ Cup Horse races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the largest purse of any horse race in North America, and the second largest in the world. It attracts thousands of people of all stripes, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. However, there were a total of twelve races that day, all very exciting, all wonderful to watch.
The Breeders’ Cup is a lot of things to a lot of different folks. For some it’s a way to make money, for some, they will lose painfully. It’s the poetry and pageantry of these magnificent animals, all competing at the top of their field. It’s the beauty and elegance of the racetrack itself, one of the most comfortable and well appointed anywhere. It’s the fashion. Beautiful people everywhere parading in the latest fashions, adorned with colorful hats and fascinators, all uniquely different and stylish. The weather was perfect, it was mild and sunny, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. The food was tasty too, and the liquor was flowing freely, although everyone seemed to be well behaved.
At the Breeders’ Cup there are different seats for different people. Sitting in the most expensive seats you might find a Sheik or a celebrity. Yet I’m sure there were people in the parking lot, unable to afford even the cheapest ticket, but willing to bask in the reflected light of the racetrack. Like everywhere else in America there’s a place for everyone, and everyone has his or her place.
What was most striking to be among many things of the day was the obvious affection and devotion the owners, trainers and jockeys displayed for their horses. You have to genuinely love these wonderful animals, they become almost like another family member, being with them year after year. And as time goes on, the history and emotions get more and more intense.
There were also lots of folks wearing blue wristbands in support of the California Retirement Management Account, a non-profit created to raise money for retired California thoroughbred racehorses. For more information on this important non-profit, visit www.carma4horses.org.
I briefly met the beaming bugle player, who has been blowing his horn here for over 25 years!
And I won the one race I bet on! I didn’t bet again, knowing my beginners luck would quickly evaporate.
I also gained new respect for the hard-working photographers (my husband being one of them) who have to catch lighting every time with the quickness and importance of these big races. You miss a big shot, and you likely won’t be here again.
There were some very nice folks there, some from near me who were celebrating the day, enjoying themselves, not minding if they won or lost, just happy to be here on this beautiful day. The famous jockey Laffit Pincay was there too, who at one time was one of the most winning jockeys in horse racing.
This track is also where the famous horse Seabiscuit won, which was written about in a great book Seabiscuit: An American Legend and later turned into a wonderful 2003 movie called Seabiscuit starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.
Horse people are unlike anyone else. They remember, they are loyal, and they are devoted to the sport and their animals. Many lose fortunes trying to find that elusive winning combination of the right animal, with the right jockey, the right trainer, and the just the right track and weather conditions. But when it happens, as it did for the upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it is amazing. The horse, Mucho Macho Man, ridden by jockey Gary Stevens, had a surprise upset over the favorite. The trainer, the first woman trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup Classic, overtook in the last moment the famous horseman’s Wayne Lukas’ long shot Will Take Charge. It was magic.
November 2, 2013 | 7:11 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Author Erica Jong, photo by Joy Bennett
Erica Jong is one of those iconic writers whose work has literally changed the world. Her most famous book, Fear of Flying, has sold 20 million copies worldwide. So I jumped at the chance to cover her reading and talk with Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession). It was put on by Live Talks Los Angeles, a wonderful series that brings noteworthy individuals to our area in very well-produced talks. Author Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, did a wonderful job moderating the discussion.
Erica is very striking in person, with a gorgeous mop of thick blonde hair, still attractive at middle age, and extremely kind and personable. She’s also quite funny, and said that when her assistant was typing up the first draft of Fear of Flying, she could her hear her assistant laughing hysterically while she was working on typing it up in the next room.Erica said she was “terrified” working on and publishing Fear of Flying, she was afraid of the “fear of self-exposure” that such close to the bone, honest writing brings up. But nevertheless, she did it, and the world and relations between men and women have never been the same since.
She talked about feminism, and how with the ‘second wave’ people have become aware of women’s issues, but there is still a great need to give women equal pay for equal work, and provide opportunities at all levels for women in the working world, and to educate women all over the world. She mentioned that it was amazing to her that all over the world, wherever women had read her book, it was clear to her that women everywhere all want the same things. They want to get an education. They want freedom to choose what happens to their bodies, and they want safety for themselves and their children. “We have raised consciousness, but we have not yet achieved quality. We need to.”It was a pleasure meeting and hearing this dynamic and influential woman read and discuss her life and work. The 40th Anniversary edition of her novel Fear of Flying is now available for purchase everywhere. The audience eagerly lined up in a huge queue afterwards to buy and meet this amazing woman.
The talk was organized by the genial Ted Habte-Gabr, producer of Live Talks Los Angeles, a remarkable series of talks in our area. For more information about Live Talks LA, visit livetalksla.org; for more information about Ms. Jong, visit her writer’s website at ericajong.com.