Word of the Night: Star-crossed

star-crossed \ STAHR-krawst, -krost \  , adjective;

  1. thwarted or opposed by the stars; ill-fated: star-crossed lovers .

romeo and julietThe phrase star-crossed was coined by Bill Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. But pre-dating the Bard’s dramatic offerings, romantic pairings have been star-crossed since boys began meeting girls and boys began losing girls. Samson and Delilah, Antony and Cleopatra, Lancelot and Guinevere are some of history and literature’s doomed couplings.



Recent additions to the pantheon of tragic lovers are Heathcliff and Cathy, Scarlett and Rhett and Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater.


And let’s not forget all the boys meeting and losing boys and girls meeting and losing girls. Yeah, I’m thinking of you Ennis and Jack.







And then there’s these two.  Alex-Piper-orange-is-the-new-black-35506832-1272-711

With the exception of the romantic comedy, a genre so close to extinction even SNL parodies seem hopelessly dated, I can’t think of a cinematic or small-screen couple that isn’t doomed from the start. maggie and glenThe jury is still out on Maggie and Glen from Walking Dead, but I think it’s safe to say with the zombie apocalypse closing in around them, this relationship isn’t going to end well.






Then we have Carrie and Brody on Homeland, or as I like to call the show, Who’s Going to Mess with Carrie’s Medication This Year? By the end of the third season we were all beseeching the stars, thwart them for God sake! Put them out of our misery. homeland





On Game of Thrones, the star-crossed lovers are easy to spot – anyone who’s on screen at any given moment: Ned and Catelyn; Cersei and Jamie; Tyrion and Shae; Jon and Ygritte; Rob and Talisa; Daenerys and Dragon… Daenerys-Targaryen-s-dragons-dragons-31250242-500-333

However, if you looked up star-crossed in the dictionary, and I did, by all rights there should be a picture of Mary and Matthew from Downton Abby. Stay tuned in February to see if Anna and Mr. Bates take their place.




Finally A Zombie Movie the Whole Family Can Enjoy!


A few critics are taking shots at Brad Pitt’s post-apocalyptic epic World War Z for its PG 13-Rating.  Apparently there were script and production issues that blew up the budget to 200 million.  Conventional, if not cynical, wisdom presumes the only way Mr. Pitt will see a profit is to fill the seats with as many 12 year-olds as possible.  Interestingly, another summer release one would assume to be tailored for the youth market, The Lone Ranger, is driving the kiddies from the theaters in droves.  Something to do with a beating heart getting ripped from someone’s chest and being used for a light snack.  Well, the name of Lone Ranger’s director is Gore Verbinski.  Parents, there’s your first clue.

As for World War Z, I found myself cheering the restraint shown by the filmmakers.  When I say it’s a zombie movie the whole family can enjoy, I’m not necessarily talking about the kids.  In fact, the action and suspense sequences are probably too intense for most children.   On-screen blood was virtually non-existent in Jurassic Park, but I didn’t let my four-year old see it.  He had to wait until he achieved the battle-scarred age of at least 6.  But I do think World War Z will appeal to a wider audience than the usual horror movie fans who welcome the sight of spilling entrails the way K-mart shoppers warm to the glow of a blue light special.

As I watched scene after scene unfold where the potential for a disturbing image was suppressed in favor of the action taking place off camera, I felt as if director Marc Forster made a zombie movie just for me.  I’m a huge fan of the undead.   Sadly for me, I haven’t seen all the genre has to offer simply because I have a very low tolerance for guts and gore.  Lucky for me, Walking Dead tends to telegraph when something truly disgusting is about to appear on my screen, so I know when not to look.  Ecstatically, jumping-up-and-down triumphantly for me, I was able to watch every single frame of World War Z.

Pollyanna that I am, I see the reason for this as being beyond the desire to make a profit. That reason, I suspect, is the sensibility of producer Brad Pitt.  I’m not suggesting Pitt is squeamish.  In adapting Max Brooks’ book for the screen, Pitt and his band of screenwriters  threw out the unique convention of the source material – first person accounts from multiple survivors – and focused on a single protagonist to capture the essence of Brooks’ theme:  “This shit could really happen, and if does, we’re pretty much screwed.”

In Pitt’s War, a virus puts all life as we know it in peril.  That’s not a new plot devise in the zombie genre, but what is different here is that these ghouls seem more interested in spreading the virus and moving on to the next host than consuming flesh because brains and intestines are yummy.  What we end up seeing on screen are hordes of zombies making lightning-fast strikes.  The horror is the spread of the plague itself, not necessarily the eating habits of its carrier.

I attribute this creative decision to Pitt because of a general sense of his political and environmental activism.  The most chilling and memorable line from the movie suggests the real culprit is Earth herself, trying to rid herself of bothersome humans through all sorts of nasty means.  What could motivate Mother Nature to do such a thing?  Dead Dolphins and other man-made calamities shown in the opening credits offer a hint.

I could be wrong.  Maybe the reason the movie is as light on the stomach as Lactaid is because the filmmakers really do want kids to see it.  But not all kids.  I wonder if the six years it took Pitt to get Z to the screen didn’t have as much to do with production woes as it did with the ages of his children.  The oldest is now 11 and the youngest are 5.   That means he should be able to take the entire brood to see it sometime next year.