Book Club

I was at a dinner party a little while ago where someone asked me if Iʼd read Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I had absolutely wanted to, but in the chronic frenzy of my life, Iʼd forgotten all about it. I couldnʼt believe I was messing up an opportunity to appear au courant. But now I have read it, and if there is such a thing as redemption in this world, Iʼll get some now by telling you about it.


Little Known Films: Il Divo, the Spectacular Life of Guilio Andreotti (2008) Italy 110 mins

In Rome, at dawn, when everyone is sleeping, one man is awake. That man is Giulio Andreotti, the 41st prime minister of Italy. He's awake because he has to work, write books, move in fashionable circles, and last, but not least, pray. Calm, crafty and inscrutable, Andreotti was synonymous with power in Italy for over four decades. He died in 2013 at the age of 94.


Little Known Films: Monsieur Hire (1989)

France 81 minutes.

FINALLY available on DVD and on the late Roger Ebert’s list of Great Movies comes one of the best French films ever made and only now being widely seen. Monsieur Hire based on a haunting short story by Georges Simenon, directed by Patrice Leconte (The Hairdresser's Husband), and starring Michel Blanc, tells the story of a quiet, tidy middle aged man who runs a small tailoring business in Paris. He bothers no one and, in return, is persecuted by his neighbors for his aloofness - they bang on his door, throw flour over him, and whisper under their breath when he walks by. It’s true that he seems indifferent to this abuse but this doesn’t explain why he endures it. In fact the reason is simple - Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire). Every night he returns home to his darkened apartment, cooks a boiled egg, puts on the same piece of classical music, and stands at his window, staring across the alley and into Alice’s apartment. She is a young woman and the attraction seems obvious but, somehow, this is more than simple voyeurism.



The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) is a non-profit cultural arts center dedicated to: presenting the best of independent, documentary, and world cinema; promoting 21st century literacy; and making film a vibrant part of the community. Located on a 47,500 square foot, three-building campus in the center of Pleasantville, the JBFC is just 30 miles outside of New York City and 25 minutes from Palisades.



Books are the quietest and the most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
Charles William Eliot

Books & Greetings, located at 271G Livingstone Avenue in Northvale, opened on July 7th of 2007. In addition to the latest “must-read” books, there’s a greeting card section, a well stocked toy department, and an assortment of gifts such as lotions, candles, candy and stationery. Owners Kenny Sarfin and wife Michele who live in Tappan, chose the Northvale Square mini-mall because it provided ample parking. Sarfin had previously worked in Manhattan at a family-run Hallmark store that had been in business for 49 years.


Little Known Films: Haute Cuisine (Les Saveurs du Palais)

France 2013, 95 minutes
WARNING: This film should not be watched on an empty stomach

THIS BEAUTIFULLY FILMED and briskly paced biopic is based on the real life case of Danièle Delpeuch, a modest, provincial chef and restaurant-owner who in the late 1980s was summoned by President François Mitterrand to be his personal cook at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. Danièle becomes Hortense (Catherine Frot) and Mitterrand becomes the President, played by the 87-year-old non-actor Jean d'Ormesson, better known as a writer and journalist (in the latter role he was, for many years, one of Mitterrand's fiercest adversaries). The President has developed a hankering for the traditional regional cuisine he knew in his youth and decided that Hortense is just the woman he needs to provide him with “the best of France.”


Water, Water Everywhere

So was it love at first sight? I asked Palisades resident Joanne Barak. After she and her husband Tuvia had seen a collage at Andrew Goffe and Jeff Levin’s home down by the river done by renowned local artist Christina Biaggi they commissioned her to create a similar collage for their new Palm Beach condo. “No,” Joanne answered, “but I distinctly heard music in my head when I first walked in and saw Christina’s collage wrapped around a large column off the main hallway." It was a stormy day and her seven by twelve foot mural, appropriately titled, “The River,” captured the mood of the Hudson River out the window just beyond it.



Stuffy English private school classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is preparing to retire early due to ill-health. Considered a supercilious bully by his students and a stuffy buffoon by his colleagues, the Crock, as he is known, or worse, has distanced himself from all human emotion, due, in part, to his wife, Millie (Jean Kent) having an affair with one of the younger — more popular and lenient — masters, Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick). However, when a student, Taplow (Brian Smith), thanks him with a gift of Browning’s translation of Agamemnon, the Crock’s feelings are reignited and he confronts his utter failures as a teacher, a husband, and a man.


Little Known Films: Halloween Edition

The Uninvited Guest (El Habitante Incierto) 2004, Spain, 108 minutes.

What would you do if someone came to your door, told you it was an emergency and asked if they could use your phone? You give them a moment of privacy to make the call and then you can’t find them. You search the whole house. Nothing. You hear noises at night. You search again. Still nothing. Days pass. You begin to forget. Then you notice someone is using your razor, your towels and even sleeping in your bed when you’re not home. In fact, someone is living in your house.


LITTLE KNOWN FILMS: Remember Me, My Love (Ricordatidime) 2003 125 mins.

This bittersweet Italian drama delves into the lives and loves of a modern dysfunctional Roman family whose individual aspirations pull at the seams of their increasingly fragile bonds.


Litle Known Films: America: From Freedon to Fascism

Documentary 2006 105 mins.

This ground breaking and very controversial documentary created quite a stir at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and until recently was very hard to find in this country. Determined to find the law that requires American citizens to pay income tax, the late producer Aaron Russo (“The Rose,” “Trading Places”) set out on a journey to find the evidence. Neither left nor right-wing, this startling examination of government exposes the systematic erosion of civil liberties in America since 1913 when the Federal Reserve System was "fraudulently" created. Through interviews with U.S. Congressmen, a former IRS Commissioner, former IRS agents, FBI agents, tax attorneys and authors, Russo connects the dots between money creation and the federal income tax.


The Strange Bedfellows Play Shakespeare

Shakespeare isn’t just for children anymore. The Children’s Shakespeare Theater, started in 1999 by Diana Green, is in its 14th season. The group started with 17 children, quickly grew to 42, and is presently numbering 80. But why should the children have all the fun? Many of their parents also wanted to become involved in theater after seeing how much their children were enjoying it. Diana formed an adult group “The Strange Bedfellows.” Begun about two years ago, the group started with evenings of scenes. Their performance was a fundraiser for The Children’s Theater. They followed the evenings of scenes with the complete abridged works of Shakespeare (37 plays in 90 minutes). It’s success led to doing their first whole play, Much Ado About Nothing in the Fall of 2011. It was done as a Western. This was followed by A Midsummer's Night Dream set in the 1960’s. The group just performed The Winter's Tale in January.