Sarah Ruhl is a MacArthur Fellowship recipient and a famed playwright. As a professor, she met Max Ritvo, who went on to become a published poet. She recounts the story of their friendship and how they used letters to make a connection and comfort one another while Ritvo faced the end of his life.
Sarah Ruhl, co-author, Letters to Max: A book of friendship
Christmas 1941 came just weeks after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor dragged America into World War II. We talk to historian Stanley Weintraub about how America was getting ready for war while trying to celebrate the holiday season.
Stanley Weintraub, historian, author of Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.
A new movie recently popped up on your Netflix homepage. It’s called Roma, and it’s director Alfonso Cuarón’s passion project. You may know of Cuarón from Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También, or even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In Roma, he tells the story of Cleo, a young maid in Mexico City during 1970 and 1971. She and her fellow maid, Adela, live with a family and end up being the people most responsible for keeping the home together. They cook, clean, they even help put the kids to bed.
Cuarón has been forthcoming about the fact that the movie was inspired by his own childhood. It’s even dedicated to his family maid, Libo. One of my favorite things about Cuarón is how Cuarón filters his memories through Cleo’s experiences. When the Corpus Christi massacre starts taking place outside the window of a shop Cleo is in, the camera doesn’t shift to show this moment in history. It stays with her, and we follow her back into the world through the chaos.
Roma is a Best Picture contender and a Best Director contender, but even more important, it’s a masterpiece. You truly get to know and care for Cleo. You understand her struggle. And further, the film is technically brilliant, with beautiful cinematography and featuring such realistic sound design that I actually turned around in the theater on two different occasions, thinking someone was making noise inside the room, when in fact, it was coming through the speakers. It’s a movie that is well-served to be seen in theaters, but if that’s not an option near you, then that’s where that Netflix subscription comes in handy. Roma is now streaming– Just make sure to eliminate distractions and let yourself be swept up in the story. It’s a trip into the past that is worth taking.