Sunday, 19 September 2021

One Beautiful Second


Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

As TIFF '21 draws to a close, I am once again reminded of how much I love this art form. There is a lot of garbage that has found its way to celluloid over the years, but that hasn't diminished how wonderful the movies truly are. Superheroes and comic books notwithstanding, there are so many stories worth telling and viewing that I am very grateful for one of the world's best film festivals that brings them all together for a fortnight. And in my hometown...bonus.

It is in this heartfelt vein that TIFF '21 chose for its closing gala, director Zhang Yimou's love letter to cinema, One Second. This breathtaking and visual masterpiece was scheduled to be released at the Berlin festival in 2019 but it was pulled because of what was described as "technical issues." The film world is fairly certain that the Chinese government was none too happy with some of the portrayals of mid-1970's Maoist China and demanded cuts before the film could be screened. Two years later, we have the final product but I'm left wondering what ended up on the cutting room floor. All of that backroom drama was for naught because what remains is a visually stunning and heartwrenching depiction of a man who escapes a labour camp to see a film that has within it, a glimpse of his long-lost daughter. Along the way, we are treated to magnificent and striking desert landscapes and a cast of characters who tie themselves to his quest for their own personal reasons. There is a harshness to the setting to be sure but there is also a true adoration for the power that film has, both as entertainment and propaganda, and what can occur when movies are communally viewed. 

We absolutely loved this film and were so grateful to be among the first audiences in the world to view it. The first digital showing happened at the same time as the theatre screening. We saw seven movies this year at TIFF and this is the only one that I wish we had seen in person with other patrons. I missed the oohs, aahs, and knowing glances of fellow movie buffs.

Dawn and The Husband give One Second two huge YUPS. See this movie.

**And that's a wrap on TIFF '21. We hope that we can do it again next year in person.**

Saturday, 18 September 2021

A Hot Mess From France and Love and Loss From Britain


Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

It was double feature day. We built in a hiatus for Yom Kippur and, as a result, had some trouble fitting in the movies we wanted to see. We have done doubleheaders before at TIFF. Usually, it means sprinting from one cinema to another and arriving breathless and sweaty for the second film. When one does TIFF digitally, a two-film day merely requires a ten-minute break to pee and gather snacks. In all honesty, we would have been happier with one movie because the first one was a hot mess.

We have entered into the world cinema phase of our TIFF '21 experience. We always like to choose films from the foreign language repertoire for several reasons. Filmmaking is a worldwide art form. In our experience, films that are made outside of the North American (read: American) lens are usually fresher, more original, and with stories that we have never before seen. They are more often than not independent and outside of the studio system. American filmmakers will often snatch up the best of these and remake them in watered-down English language copies. For my money, it is always important to check in on the world cinema selections at TIFF. That said, our first foray this season into this genre was a bomb. France is the story of a narcissistic, fame-loving television news reporter/anchor who cannot seem to ever get enough adoration from her fawning fans. She puts her work over family, is egged on by her social media-obsessed assistant, and is an empty vessel for anything other than her own narratives. She stage directs her reports, re-positions her interview subjects to manipulate the stories, and is more of a celebrity than a journalist. How many times can the audience watch her take selfies with fans? It grows mouldy very quickly. There is a real opportunity here for director/writer Bruno Dumont to create a real satire on the problems of modern television journalism but unfortunately, he veers off into so many tangents and subplots that the movie loses its centre. New characters pop up without explanation and crappy things happen for no reason. Bond girl Léa Seydoux is dour and miserable as the leading lady and she changes her clothes so often, it felt more like I was watching a fashion show than a film. (I counted at least 12 different coats. Who in the world has 12 different coats?) The movie is a morose morass that left us wondering why we wasted over two hours watching it. If we didn't have to read the subtitles, we both would have been sound asleep. 

Dawn and The Husband give France two hot and deep NOPES.

We fared far better with our second film of the day. I generally love a good British period piece and Mothering Sunday checks off all of the boxes. Featuring wonderful performances by promising young actors Odessa Young and Josh O'Connor (The Crown), Mothering Sunday is a steamy adaptation of Graham Swift's novella set in inter-war Britain. The film follows Jane, a young maid in service, through three generations as she navigates life, love, and loss all while developing her inner artist. This film is one of the most sensual and frankly hottest movies I've seen in a long time and yet, every scene was directed with sensitivity and purpose by Eva Husson. She literally strips her characters naked and it gives their conversations and movements a tinge of ache and realism. But above all, Mothering Sunday is about loss and how we cope with grief. In one extraordinary scene, Jane's boss, played masterfully by Olivia Colman, is recalling her own heartache at the loss of her son during the war. She comments on Jane's upbringing in an orphanage and tells her to be grateful for it. "You are totally bereaved from birth. You have nothing to lose and never shall,” she tells Jane during this poignant exchange. Of course, that is a simplistic view of one woman's anguish and the film's future tragedies prove that grief is never definable. While we see Jane mature as both a woman and an artist, we never really see her art but we know that it is superb. Mothering Sunday isn't a perfect movie but it is a really good one and I loved that such accomplished actors like Colman, Colin Firth, and Glenda Jackson took small supporting roles simply to be a part of it. I urge you to see this film. It is well worth your time.

Dawn and The Husband give Mothering Sunday two very enthusiastic YUPS. We both loved it. 

**Our last film is this evening. The final review will be published tomorrow. Thanks, TIFF.**




Friday, 17 September 2021

The Good House? Eh, Not So Good.


Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

It isn't unusual for TIFF to collide with the Yamim Noraim. They both happen at the same time of year, so overlap is often an inevitability. When we looked at the calendar and the schedule of movies, we knew that Wednesday and Thursday were going to be problematic movie-viewing days. You know, Yom Kippur and all. But, we also really wanted to unwind after the big Jew day with a film. We specifically looked for something that wouldn't overly tax our intellect and that appeared from its description, an easy watch. We thought we found it in The Good House.

Based on the 2013 novel by Ann Leary, The Good House stars a wonderfully acerbic Sigourney Weaver as Hildy, a functioning alcoholic real estate agent in small-town New England, who is trying to keep her life from spiralling wildly out of control. Directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky use the cinematic breaking of the fourth wall to allow Hildy to narrate her own story to the audience. At times, her lack of self-awareness is cloying and frustrating. But in the hands of a skillful actor like Weaver, it actually works well. The town is populated with an assortment of very one-dimensional characters that seem to have little to do other than act as a foil to Hildy's poorer instincts. Much of the stellar supporting cast is wasted as they weave in and out of Hildy's life and I was missing a deeper dive into how these people might enrich Hildy's life and story. 

The one exception is the always phenomenal and screen-eating Kevin Kline who plays Hildy's longtime neighbour and obvious wannabe paramour. Kline is outstanding as always but the story is so wildly broken that he can't save the script from its inconsistencies. Kline and Weaver have obvious chemistry. In their third onscreen pairing, they keep the film from descending into total chaos. Good acting can often save a mediocre film and in this case, it certainly does.

I wanted to love The Good House. I simply didn't.  I loved the idea of seeing an older woman run through the entire gamut of life's turmoils play out in a movie. Weaver's Hildy is stressed, messed, and dressed. She longs for sex and company and comfort. Older women in movies are often one-dimensional mothers and grandmothers. Hildy is both of those but so much more. Unfortunately, the film falls flat and never seems to understand how to bring the story full circle. 

Dawn and The Husband give The Good House two disappointed NOPES.

At least we didn't have to tax our brains too much after a day of Zoom davening.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

The Eyes Have It


Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

If you would have asked me before this year's edition of TIFF if I would have even considered watching a movie about former 80's icon and fallen evangelist, Tammy Faye Bakker, I would have sent you packing to the deepest ends of purgatory. As someone with enough mileage on her to have lived through that bizarre period in history, I thought that I knew more than enough about Tammy and her grifter husband Jim to last me two lifetimes. As founders of the Praise the Lord (PTL) network, these two swindlers preached the gospel of prosperity and greed all whilst bilking their gullible followers out of hundreds of millions of dollars. As the Reagan Revolution brought together fiscal conservatives and the Christian right, the Bakkers were gleefully lining their own pockets while helping to pioneer the over-the-top televangelist style of entertainment. While Jerry Falwell Sr., Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart were all railing against gays, liberals, and feminists, the Bakkers were building theme parks and Tammy Faye was at the centre of it all. With her weird outfits, bizarre make-up, and over-the-top perkiness Tammy Faye Bakker was the butt of thousands of jokes and late-night monologues. I honestly thought that I knew her story.

I was wrong.

In 2000, a sympathetic documentary was made about Tammy Faye that pushed past all of the camp and trashy nonsense and revealed her to be a true believer in the teachings of Jesus who fell for a charlatan. The documentary is credited as source material for the new film The Eyes of Tammy Faye starring an unrecognizable Jessica Chastain. It was Tammy who talked about helping the poor and building houses for children with disabilities and for women with abusive spouses. While the Falwells of the universe were relishing in the "gay plague" of AIDS and pushing women into the background, Tammy Faye was inviting AIDS patients onto PTL to talk about their disease to try and help educate her viewers. It was Tammy who innately understood her God and the quest to make the world a better place all while her husband was swindling the flock. Tammy Faye certainly wasn't blameless. She was a narcissistic publicity hound who had problems with addiction to prescription drugs, but she was also far more interested in the religious part of her ministry than was her hypocrite of a husband.

We see the entire film through Tammy's eyes and Ms. Chastain expertly keeps the film from crossing over into the freakish. I honestly wanted to punch Andrew Garfield's pompous Jim in the face more than once as he used his false piety to build an empire. Keeping the focus strictly from Tammy's perspective gave the movie a sense of enduring pathos and the viewer really feels every emotion that she does when the house of cards crumbles. Ms. Chastain is a revelation behind pounds of make-up and latex and she managed to do the impossible for me, which was to make Tammy Faye Bakker a sympathetic character. This performance is a guaranteed Oscar nomination.

While The Eyes of Tammy Faye does feel a bit like Oscar bait, the pathos and care of Jessica Chastain elevate the film to another level. 

Dawn and The Husband give The Eyes of Tammy Faye two YUPS.

**Note. We are taking a few days off for Yom Kippur. See you back here on Friday.






Monday, 13 September 2021

It's Difficult to Be Human

Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

We found ourselves home on a dreary Sunday afternoon and decided to add a movie to our TIFF '21 repertoire. The beauty of this festival is that tickets remain on sale throughout the fortnight of screenings and single films can be scooped up on a whim. It is even easier with the digital additions, so yesterday we decided to watch one that I had previously wanted to purchase, The Humans.

Stephen Karam has taken his intimate and increasingly smothering 2014 Tony award-winning play and masterfully transformed it into something deliciously conceptual for the screen. It is a rare thing for a playwright to take on the role of screenwriter for film adaptations but it is even rarer still for a playwright to sit in the director's chair. Karam must have been a pure pain in the ass to the studios in his lobbying for the job. In the q and a after the screening, he talked about coming into the initial meetings armed with hundreds of photographs to outline and better conceptualize his vision. His foresight is a success as he transforms what was already a psychologically gut-punch of a family drama into something even more sinister and revelatory. His camera work that moves effortlessly from garbled cross-talking and narrow hallway shots to blackened closeups of the rotting walls of the stifling apartment, is a metaphor for the crumbling of the family we see before us. There is a sense of horror and dread that descends upon the audience as we can almost feel the pain that the characters are going through. A series of creaks, bangs, and blackouts coming from the ageing infrastructure only heightens our trepidation.

The cast is a stellar ensemble. Led by Tony winner Jane Houdyshell who reprises her award-winning role as the matriarch and the always undefinable Richard Jenkins as the anxiety-ridden father who is trying and failing miserably to hold his family together. The talent is unsurpassed. Beanie Feldstein is just a joy to watch practice her craft and a special shout-out has to be given to a wonderful Amy Schumer who absolutely shines in her first dramatic turn. Rounding out the cast are Steven Yeun and June Squibb. There are a lot of acting nominations in that sextet. A lesser group of actors could have made this piece feel stilted and junky but this group has obvious chemistry and it shows in the finished product. 

It takes a lot of guts to make a movie during a pandemic lockdown that is as claustrophobic as The Humans is and at times it is difficult to watch. There are definitely some slow parts and while I believe they are deliberate, this is not a movie for the casual movie-goer or the escapist. The Humans requires some deep thinking by the audience and that isn't always everybody's cup of Diet Coke. It is yet another film that required some deep marination after viewing and it took me some time to appreciate the majesty of the work. The Husband wasn't so sure and is still coming to terms with what he saw.

Dawn gives The Humans a YUP. The Husband isn't yet ready to decide but his ambivalence is more about the structure of the piece and not the acting or the subject matter. He is on the fence.






Saturday, 11 September 2021

It's TIFF Time, Once Again

Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six.  Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.

One of the reasons that I love TIFF so much, is because of the opportunity to see a film in its pristine state. The critics haven't yet gotten a hold of it and haven't ruined my viewing experience with their opinions and spoilers. For the most part, the movies at TIFF haven't yet been "internetted". So it was with great excitement that we sat down last night to watch the latest offering from one of my all-time favourite directors, Jane Campion. The Power of the Dog seems at first glance, easy enough to understand. The story of two rancher brothers working the land in 1925 Montana is a story that we think we have seen many times before. But, there is a prickliness and uneasiness that attacks the viewer from the very beginning, like we know something is going to happen but we are never sure what or when it might occur. The sparseness with which Campion treats Thomas Savage's 1967 novel almost knocked me over and I was laid bare by the harshness of the continual toxic masculinity that would have surely been muted in the hands of a less skillful director. The raging undercurrent of sexual suppression seems like the perfect complement to Campion's earlier work in The Piano and the two movies almost seem like bookends.

The cast and the acting are stellar. Benedict Cumberbatch is haunting as the miserable and bullying Phil. His name will surely be mentioned come awards season. Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, and newcomer Kodi Smit McPhee are all stellar and play their roles sensitively and heroically. The chemistry between the grizzled and angry Phil and the sensitive, brainy McPhee is obvious from the beginning. They circle each other like boxers in a ring, waiting for the other to strike first. There were a few slow moments in this cerebral Western-noir but after stewing about it for almost 24-hours, I realize that the quiet moments were emotional setups for what was to come.

Jane Campion hasn't been in the director's chair for a feature film in almost a decade. (She did helm the tv miniseries Top of the Lake which I highly recommend.) The wait has been worth it as The Power of the Dog is a fine film that requires the audience to do some marinating after viewing. I wish that there had been a q and a session after the screening because I still have so many questions still unanswered. The Power of the Dog is a Netflix film and will be available to stream in December. I urge you to stay away from the critics and spoilers until then and decide for yourselves. The ending is worth the two hours.

Dawn and The Husband give The Power of the Dog two hearty YUPS. 






Wednesday, 11 August 2021

My First Letter to Talia


My dearest Talia,

I started writing these letters shortly after Molly was born. I wanted to record my feelings of joy, excitement, pain, sorrow, trepidation, and mostly the immense pride that I felt watching my grandchild make her way into the world. The letters evolved into birthday missives that I plan on continuing for as long as I am able. I realized that as much as I was writing these for her, I was also writing them for me. I wanted her to have a tangible record of what her grandmother was feeling, hoping, and praying for during a specific moment in time that coincided with her growing up. You can call it my slightly self-centred gift to my granddaughter. It is really easy to get caught up and bogged down in the little things that happen every day. I wanted to zoom out a bit and focus on the big picture of what I feel is important and how that might impact the lives of my children and grandchildren.

Talia, it is now your turn to receive your very first letter from Bubby on your one-week birthday. I will admit that I wasn't quite ready to write this post. I thought that I'd have a few more weeks. You were obviously very anxious to make your world debut. The rapidity and punctuality with which you made your entrance made me hopeful for the future. Sometimes, just showing up on time is half the battle with much of what we have to deal with in our lives. We show others how much we care about them, their time, their efforts, and their experiences when we are prompt. It is a sign of great respect to be timely. You taught us all a great lesson this week. We have been living in an era where the passage of time seems to have lost its relevance. You reminded me that it still matters.

We are living in the most uncertain period of my lifetime. You are being born into a world that is currently being ravaged by disease, a climate apocalypse, and an acute lack of intellectualism. There is simply no communal trust in expertise anymore. Everybody is an authority on everything. A logical and unheated conversation about practically anything is almost impossible these days. We have untethered ourselves as a world community from a central and agreeable set of facts. We have spent the past eighteen months bathing in our own emotional wastelands and have forgotten how to interact with one another outside of a few meaningless posts on social media. Everybody is exhausted and so many are angry. It would be easy to just give up and pretend that nihilism rules. But, I refuse to do that. I will go down swinging working for and in defense of a productive and healthy future for you. You and your sister matter so much to me that the idea of conceding defeat to a bunch of intellectually corrupted twatwaffles is anathema. Education matters. Integrity matters. A strong moral code matters. Science matters. Collective responsibility matters. Family matters. The world is very messed up right now but when I look at you, I see hope. I think about what you can accomplish. You have the potential to see and create the next century. As long as I have the ability, I will move heaven and earth to defeat those forces that want to make that path difficult for you to traverse. There will always be people who want to delay and obstruct progress. There will always be people that care more for their own power and bank accounts than they do for society at large. I look at you and I offer you a solemn vow that I will do what I can to move these people out of the way so that you and your generation can fulfill the promise of better days. I swear that I will make you proud.

The name you carry is one of strength. I wish you could have known your great-grandmother Temmy. We lost her less than a year ago and I know that she would have loved you with all of her heart. She was proud, stubborn to a fault, difficult at times, and one of the strongest women I have ever met. She didn't have an easy life. Her physical challenges and her emotional baggage could be exhausting at times but she never ever gave up. She was a fighter until the very end. She desperately loved her family and she supported all of our decisions unfailingly, even if she didn't agree with them. This past year has been very difficult on your Zaidy. Losing her in the middle of the pandemic without a proper ability to grieve has been unbelievably miserable. You are her direct legacy. Always wear your name with pride and know that the person from whom it comes was a true Eyshet Chail, a woman of immense valour. 

I need you to know that your parents are two of the finest people I know. I realize that I speak from a place of extreme bias but I'm pretty sure that many others would agree with me. They care so much about so many and are doing whatever they can to make your's and your sister's lives easy, comfortable, and safe. I wanted to give them this shout-out because I am not certain as to when you might read this and I know that there will be times ahead when you will vehemently disagree, argue, and test their limits. You need to know that they love you unconditionally and that they will never stop communicating with you even if they are angry. It is the first rule of family. Never stop talking even when they make you crazy. And if you ever just need someone else to listen to you or a shoulder to cry on in times of difficulty, you can know with certainty that I will be that person. I can't promise that I will always agree with you but I will always hear you out. Beware. I am an opinionated bitch but we tough women need to stick together.

You have the great good fortune of having a ready-made best friend here waiting for you. Molly is so excited that you've finally arrived. She has broken in your parents for you and has made these initial days and months a bit easier by equipping them with the needed parenting skills. If you two play your cards right, she will be your playmate, confidant, co-conspirator, comrade-in-arms, and a sidekick for the rest of your lives. A sibling is the person who knows you from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. They are the ones who know you best throughout your entire life. No parent, friend, or spouse can ever know you as intimately or deeply as a sibling. Be there for her and she will reciprocate in kind.

Here are a few early lessons that are moral imperatives. 

1. Never dismiss any kind of music without thoroughly listening to it. That said, autotuning is for the lazy musician.

2. Always dance like you don't care who is watching.

3. Eat for fun and nutrition. One without the other really sucks.

4. Be comfortable in your clothing. 

5. Treat the earth with care.

6. Be a rule follower and a rule breaker and understand the difference. 

7. Love animals.

8. Add colour to everything.

These first few months and years will be exciting. We will discover all that you are and will learn about who you are meant to become. I will attempt to curb my judgemental tendencies and give you the space you need to grow and develop organically. You are blessed with terrific role models. Ask them for advice, watch what they do, and then formulate your own decisions. Mistakes are ok. Just remember to be empathetic, sympathetic, attentive, curious, and just stubborn enough, but with the ability to admit fault when needed. I have never felt such peace as when I looked upon your face for the first time. For the first time in almost two years, I have hope again. I won't ever take that for granted.

In Judaism, we believe in L'dor Vador, that in every generation we must teach our children and carry on our heritage and faith. Never be ashamed of who you are. We are a resilient people.

I love you to the moon and back, Talia. May this first year bring us only good things. 

Kein y'hi ratzon. May this be God's will.

Love, 

Bubby