Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lesbian Film Review: Disobedience

**Warning! This review contains some spoilers!**

This weekend I was lucky enough to get to go see Disobedience, the new forbidden lesbian love movie starring Rachel McAdams and Rachel Wiesz. It was playing as part of the "Magnolia at the Modern" film series at The Modern Museum in Fort Worth.






If you're unfamiliar with the premise, here's what it's about in a nutshell (taken from the blurb on The Modern's website):


"A photographer (Rachel Weisz) returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for her childhood attraction to a female friend (Rachel McAdams). Their reunion soon reignites their passion as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality."






The first thing that struck me as noticeable about this film was its dark, bleak tone. Rachel Wiesz's character, Ronit, receives notice that her father, a prominent religious figure in her Jewish home community, has died. She returns home to a mostly cold reception by her estranged family and friends. It quickly becomes painfully obvious that she was cast out, and as the film progresses, we discover it was due to a scandal involving Rachel McAdam's character, Esti. 

Fitting with the bleak tone are the colors of the film, or rather lack of colors. The director used neutrals both in setting and in costumes. Except for a few select scenes, it sticks with this colorless palette, but the scenes that do have splashes of color are those in which the Ronit and esti connect in a fiery way. Even the simple act of sharing a cigarette brings a little burst of literal and symbolic flame to the scene, and the two actresses pull it off so that it's effectively erotic. There are nice little artistic touch here and there like this throughout the movie.

As one would expect, it doesn't take too long for Ronit and Esti's total re-connection to happen, and boy does it happen, and on a deep, soulful level. Their performances are exquisite. I didn't just witness it distantly on screen; I could actually feel the passion between them. It was the kind of desire that we can only hope to experience in our short lives - that reckless sort of love that transcends all logic. But along with feeling their love comes a foreboding tension. Esti is married now, and so the two women must hide this rekindling of their affair. I was terrified from the get-go that they would get caught, which made a lot of the film uncomfortable for me.

We do get to experience a hell of a love scene though... Oh, that love scene! What a gorgeous, erotic physical consummation of these two women, who clearly desire one another above any other thing in the universe, and you can absolutely feel it. This moment in the film is also an amusing foil to a previous love scene between Esti and her husband, which clearly was just rote, passionless duty for her.

I won't give away the details of the ending, but I will say that I have mixed feelings about it. I both liked and disliked how things wrapped up. There was one powerful moment in particular, involving Esti's husband, Dovid, played by Allesandro Nivola, that brought me to tears. He, like the two leading women, gave Oscar-worthy performances in this film. This movie will leave you thinking about its characters long after you leave the theater.

Finally, I want to mention the soundtrack. It's a haunting, beautiful piece of work. It fits the forbidden love theme very well. 

If you get a chance to go see Disobedience, do so. It is a highly emotional, sometimes uncomfortably tense, yet ultimately powerful love story that I think will definitely get some attention during awards season. 


Thanks for reading!

-Scarlett


***

Do you love F/F romance stories? Please visit my official website: www.scarlettknight.org.

  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Good Relationships Need Good Soil

I've heard it said that relationships are like flowers.

Flowers need the right amount of sun and water in order to grow. Relationships similarly need love and attention in order to grow. But they also don't need too much sun or water. Otherwise, they wither and die.

I've seen troubled relationships transform into beautiful bonds when people simply pay more attention to each other and give one another the perfect amount of both space and care.

But what about the flowers that get the right amount of sun and water, and they still die?

What about those relationships in which we feel we've done everything right, but things still feel so wrong?

Perhaps it's just bad soil...

I've been living in my current house for the past 5 or so years, and I have had the worst time getting anything I plant to grow in the flowerbeds out back. Weeds grow, but I don't want weeds! I've tried planting all kinds of things I desire: hostas, zinnias, herbs of all kinds, even succulents. Nothing stays alive! I've had to plant things in separate planters with store-bought soil in order to grow anything. And it took me about 5 years to realize that it wasn't me -- I wasn't the one messing up. I wasn't the terrible gardener; I'd been doing everything right.

It was just bad soil.

And this realization also hit me. Relationships also need good soil in order for growth to happen. Sometimes, no matter what we do, certain relationships are just not going to work. It doesn't matter how much we love them or how much attention or space we give them. The flowers will always die. And it's not due to any fault of our own. Sometimes the other person simply doesn't have the fertile ground, or the foundation, for a healthy relationship to even take place. So what do you do?

You take all the wonderful things you have to offer another person, and you find better soil!


-SK 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pick Up Line Fail: "You're In the Top 40..."

Many years ago when I was still in college, I found myself in a bit of an awkward situation. I used to house-sit for extra cash, so I was staying at a client's house for about a week during the summer. One night while I was there, the client's college-aged son decided to stop by and throw a party for himself and his friends. By default, I was invited, awkward as it was, and before long, everyone had broken into the liquor cabinet.

The client's son, whom we will call "Chan," was friendly enough, even though I felt mildly wierded out by the whole situation. He seemed really into himself, bragging about this accomplishment in college and that. I can't say I liked him very much, but what could I do? I was kind of trapped. After several drinks, however, I was feeling more relaxed about everything, and Chan invited me to go out to dinner with him and his friends. At first I declined, but everyone insisted, so I gave in and went.

We went to a steak house, and it was rather nice. I had more to drink, so by then, I was finding myself on the verge of being hammered. When I reached into my purse to pay for my check, Chan intervened and covered my bill. I began to get slightly uncomfortable, but again, the booze was flowing, so I went with it.

About half an hour later, I found myself back at the house, sitting alone with Chan in his expensive new SUV, which he had earlier bragged about. He was playing some lame contemporary rock music for me, insisting these bands he liked were the best on the planet. After the third song or so, I started to realize that Chan's interest in me might be more than platonic, and I started to try and peacefully find a way out of this unfortunate situation. This was hard because I was house-sitting for his parents, and he technically had access to the house.

Somewhere along the conversation, he made his intentions with me obvious. Turning the music down, he turned to me in the SUV. I tensed up, preparing for the worst. Then, he proudly informed me, "You are one of the top 40 most attractive women I have ever met."

I already wasn't remotely interested in him romantically, but that line took my lack of interest to a whole new level. I remember staring at him, blinking, with an incredulous smile on my face. I remember saying, "Wow." Inside, I was thinking, "What the hell? Massive ego alert!!"



image from pexels.com



I mean, where exactly was I on this world renowned list? Was I number 31? Number 38? What requirements did I meet to somehow get on Chan's illustrious Top 40? Was it my hair? My boobs? My smile? What poor girls didn't make the cut, and why? What could I do to make the top 20 or top 10?

Okay, in all seriousness, please. Don't use this line on anyone. It's...it's...just, please, don't.

After his "compliment," I got pretty quiet and distant, which I hoped would be a cue for him to leave me alone. Alas, he didn't get the message. After going back into the house, he actually cornered me in one of the bedrooms and tried to kiss me. At that point, I promptly pushed him, ran out of the room, and told him over my shoulder that I was not interested in him like that in any way shape or form. Sorry! I barricaded myself in the master bedroom where I'd been sleeping and locked the door.

It wasn't soon after that that the party was over. Chan and friends left me to my house-sitting duties and to tend to what I already knew was going to be a massive hangover.

But despite the fog the next day, I never forgot that pick-up line!

Has anyone ever used a line on you that made you want to roll your eyes? Do share in the comments!

XoXo

Scarlett





Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Impact of Books at Different Times in Our Lives

Have you ever read a book at a young age and didn't like it, but then you re-read it later in life, and suddenly it resonated so powerfully that you couldn't imagine not liking it before?

This happened to me when I re-read Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

It impacted me so much as an adult that I integrated it briefly into my novel The Art House.

If you've never read The Awakening, it's about a woman who is constricted and conflicted by the societal roles placed on her as a female. She wants her freedom and wants to feed her soul, not just play a role that the world tells her she needs to play. In short, it's a feminist novel. This is a concept that I somewhat grasped as a teenager. I think I was 17 years old when I read it in high school, but the overall theme was still too deep for me to fully appreciate at such a young age. In fact, I skimmed the book, read the Cliff Notes, and didn't do well on the exam. It's funny because I fancied myself a rather mature 17-year-old; however, I see now that I was still pretty much an ignorant kid with so much left to learn.

Then, lo and behold, over a decade of life experience and some years as a married woman later, I picked the book up at the library. It was almost like it was calling to me from the shelf. So I gave it another shot. And wow. I totally got it the second time around. 

It was a really cool experience for me, and it made me wonder what other books I might have read in high school or college that I didn't care for, but that I might possibly really like now.

Has this ever happened to you before? If so, what book did the trick?


XoXo

SK


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Unicorns and Bisexual Monogamy: 'The Art House' Turns Two!

This month marks the second birthday (aka publishing anniversary) of my contemporary novel The Art House. In honor of this book's special day, I wanted to do a blog post about it and include one of my favorite unicorn images. This is from the cover of Heavy Metal Magazine, which I love:






The Art House is a contemporary novel, not a paranormal novel, but it does include lots of unicorn imagery. The main character, Janelle, used to have a recurring dream about a unicorn. This is due to seeing a sculpture years ago done by the mysterious artist (and main love interest in the story), Edgar. In the novel, she meets Edgar when she stays at his famous "Art House" to do a feature story on him, and those interesting unicorn dreams start happening again while she's there. The dreams ultimately end up having a deeper meaning, which you'll find out if you read the book (**wink, wink!**)

The other thing I wanted to have a quick chat about is the bisexuality of Janelle. In this story, she is a bisexual woman who has repressed her bisexuality all her adult years. The circumstances that happen in the tale encourage her to finally embrace it. This is in part due to the gentle nudging of her new friend and associate of Edgar's, the beautiful model Trixie.

But believe it or not, there is no threesome action in this book. No FFM scenes at all. The experiences that Janelle has with Trixie and Edgar are totally separate. This is an issue I wanted to bring up, concerning bisexuality, especially bisexual characters in fiction, and the assumptions people may have about them.

It seems like most erotic bisexual fiction involves threesomes. And it's true that some bisexual people are polyamorous and/or have threesomes and are perfectly happy with it. My character Trixie is in an open relationship. But there are plenty of bisexuals out there who are simply attracted to people of both (or all, if we're talking about pansexuality) genders. It does not mean that the person needs to be with multiple genders at one time. It simply means that the person is open to having a relationship with someone of either sex.

A lot of people who have read The Art House have told me they were surprised at the novel because it ended up being a very different book than they originally thought it would be. Not only is there no BDSM as one might assume from the sexy mask on the cover, it is a story about a monogamous bisexual rediscovering her soul, or in other words, a woman rediscovering what makes her heart truly sing. And it isn't just about rediscovering love and lust. There's also artistic passion and overall life's purpose. There's a lot more to the story than just sex.

Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of steamy sex in this novel... (**more winks**)...but it's not only a story about that.





If I have succeeded in piquing your curiosity, The Art House is available at multiple online retailers:


PAINTED HEARTS PUBLISHING 

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK

SMASHWORDS



Thanks for stopping by!


XoXo

Scarlett

Friday, March 2, 2018

Why We Should Make Time for Reading

Images from pexels.com


I remember when Borders went out of business years ago. It was one of my favorite stores ever, and I had many happy memories there. There was (and still is) something so relaxing about being able to go to a place that sells shiny new books and magazines, where you can go alone or with a friend and get a coffee and a pastry and walk around or sit and chill with all that wonderful art surrounding you. So losing it was definitely a bummer.

Luckily for me, I lived in a big city, so we at least still had Barnes & Noble. I preferred Borders, but B&N would do as an okay replacement, even if it was located at our busy mall.

Fast-forward to now, and it looks as if B&N is barely holding on. I'm getting more and more coupons in the mail from B&N, which is exactly what happened with Borders before they went kaput. I have also been following the news and have read about the mass lay-offs and the tacky way they have been done, and also how their most recent quarter was disappointing. Supposedly they're working on some ways to stay afloat, but who knows if they'll be able to last much longer.

The problem may be the price of their books. It seems almost everyone is purchasing cheaper books via Amazon these days. I have been guilty of shopping at B&N, only to get ideas for things to read and then buying them on Amazon later. I don't do that anymore because I am trying to support the store, as it seems their days are numbered, but I'm just one out of millions of people who probably buy primarily from Amazon.

Another reason the store might not be doing well: people don't seem to be reading as much anymore.

In an age of constant data overload where we compulsively spend all our free time reading articles and social media posts on our computers and phones, it's not surprising that people don't have time for books anymore. Also throw in Netflix, which releases a binge-worthy new show every five minutes, and everyone's free time runs out with no room for reading novels or short story collections.

But there are many reasons why we should resist the urge to spend all our spare time binge-watching shows or mindlessly scrolling the web, and why we should read a book instead. According to an article on inc.com, there are nine ways that reading fiction can actually make you a happier and more person - and who doesn't want to be happier in an age where stress is king? I'll list the ways below, but if you want more details on the studies that produced the results, you can read the article --> here <--

Okay, here they are:

1) Reading creates empathy and understanding in readers.

2) Reading is a great way to combat stress.

3) People who read regularly actually sleep better.

4) Readers see improved interpersonal relationships.

5) Older readers remain sharper mentally.

6) Reading creates open-mindedness.

7) Reading (specifically fiction) increases vocabulary.

8) Readers are more creative people.

9) Reading gives you pleasure.






I hope that bookstores don't completely go away because I love the physical experience of being in a bookstore; however, as technology advances, and we see more and more e-books, we may have to say goodbye to most of our old-fashioned bookstores. Does that mean e-books are evil? Actually, no, I don't think so at all.

I don't think there's anything wrong with reading e-books on electronic devices. In fact, if more readers could be open to the benefits of digital books, it might even help out the planet! E-books are super convenient (you don't even have to leave your couch to buy one), many are cheaper than physical books, and they aren't as destructive on the environment as paper books. As technology has advanced, the screens are easy on the eyes and battery life is a lot longer than it used to be. And one more thing: it saves space! You can carry an entire library on one tablet!






But whether you're a paper book reader, an e-book reader, or both, we should be mindful about making time for books in any format. If the studies are correct, (and I believe they are from personal experience as a daily reader), we will all be better off for it.



Do you still make time to read? Do you find it gives you any of the benefits mentioned above? As always, feel free to leave a comment!


-SK


Speaking of reading, have you browsed my books at www.scarlettknight.com? And thanks so much for stopping by!