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We all join Maria Altmann in her pain, on her shivering, almost unbearable journey down one of the darkest memory lanes not just of her youth, but in all of Modern history, echoing the memories we are ALL DESTINED TO CARRY ON IN OUR OWN DNA

The emotions, ethos and events portrayed so accurately, so vividly – flashbacking beyond time into our minds – it is heart-breaking, really…

To us all, descendants of the victims, it is a deep pain engraved deep within our hearts.

For all time.

And a longing to be reunited with the lost loved ones that may never come to pass, no matter the amount of rejubilating man-made justice (or the archives hosting countless paintings, letters, pictures or personal belongings and whatnot, constituting the bits and pieces of our families’ neshames, of our families’ souls… forever lost.. deserted, shattered), delivered against all odds.

There is no way to restore MILLIONS of lives – taken away to be never reborn in the generations to come and family stories to follow; they had no offspring to continue the line and tell their stories – and the WORLD cherished by us, but destroyed brutally by the Nazis, shall their names be eradicated from the face of the Earth.

But there is a CALL of DUTY FOR US ALL to Remember, to NEVER FOFGET.




A Calling that Mr. Shoenberg and Mrs. Altmann so courageously pursued. In and out of Austria, in and out of brutal past, ‘facing the ghosts…’ and the “incontestable” indifference of the present. Giving voice to those whose names were shutted out in the tunnels of history…


Such is the sad, painful truth… the movie proclaims, all so brilliantly!

THE CLOSING SCENE A MASTERPIECE – the picture and her beautiful sitter COMING ALIVE…



Yet to the Jewish audiences around the globe it is not a mere promise – or a case – of a possibility of a long-awaited justice, a Victory making history 68 years on that sets a precedent; it is a mirror of our national tragedy and trauma, enhancing the pain that will live on in the generations to follow, resurfacing it… bringing it alive, the gaping wound – NO GENERATION GAP HERE – open sore.

To be never healed.


LIFE is ‘priceless’ FOREVER MORE.



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The Magic of Italy! “Under the Tuscan Sun…”

Impressions of one adventurous and artistically inclined young woman.


by Stacey Mazur,

totally taken in… with Italy

18668 Under-the-tuscan-sun

#Signs #Love #Lovely #Beautiful #Amazing #‘Dare alla luce’ [1]

‘UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN’ is a brilliant movie. I absolutely loved it!

It is so beautiful that I actually cried (shedding those happy tears).


Because of the lovely nature, because of the lovely affair, because of the lovely… Italian life.


Thanks to this marvelous Work of Art I am now absolutely in love with Italy and all things Italian.

Totally and completely. To the very depth of my soul.

Sono assolutamente innamorata dell’Italia e tutte le cose italiane belle! [2]

Including the gorgeous, adventurous, sensuous Mediterranean men.

For Raoul Bova is just so goooooood.


“Diane Lane’s American character is smitten with more than the scenery after meeting Raoul Bova.” — Lawrie Zion


Leaving the subject of the amazing Italian men aside though, this movie is in the end a ‘must’ experience: a must-see, a must-admire, a mustabsorb.

For ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’

And this — is not some picture, it’s the picture.

THIS — is an absolute MASTERPIECE.


It will capture you by the magical beauty of Tuscany, Positano and Rome — con la bellezza di Roma… [3] — by the miraculous beauty of the Italian life itself — colorful, vivid and impulsive.

under the tuscan sun

MAGICAL. Mesmerizing.

…By the fabulous beauty of nature, and the amazing inner beauty of the Italian people, by the beauty of the Italian culture itself.



It tells love stories.

This movie proves vividly that Romeo e Giulietta [4] could only ever be born in Italy. Loro sono adesso [5] the present-time Polish Pavel and the Italian Giulia who are absolutely, helplessly and desperately in love. Despite all the odds.

And the passionate determination of Pavel’s to prove that he is no worse than any born (AND bred) Italian man is — in and of itself — striking. Striking enough for him to win over his own Juliet’s heart.


And no wonder: the show of ‘throwing a flag’ is completely amazing; nothing short of mind-blowing, breathtaking.

The scene with limoncello (ann.: – lemon liquor), too, is absolutely fantastic, just as all the other magnificent scenes set against the backdrop of the spectacular Italian scenery.



As is undoubtedly the childish lady in a fabulous outfit who loves hats, which along with an ‘uno gelato’ (ann.: — an Italian-style ice cream) make her happy.

“There’s nothing like a fountain and a magnum of French champagne to put you right again,” says Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) quoting Sylvia of the legendary Italian “La Dolce Vita”, herself steeped in frivolous fountain water. Only, the French champagne here being the luscious and divine Italian limoncello instead.


Lindsay Duncan who portrays this extravagantly frivolous and exquisite British lady, with a mysterious Italian soul, is extremely elegant (if not vividly provocative) in her performance.

As is Diane Lane (Frances) — so funny and moving yet simply hilarious. Just as she always is.


And so are the cheezy lines in the screenplay:

Marcello (Raoul Bova): ‘you’re probably one of those crazy American women like Charlie’s Angels…’

Oh yes, INDEED. She truly is.

And so much more.

M.: ‘… you probably think that I want to pull you up—‘

Frances: ‘to pull me up?? [puzzled look] ah.. to pick me up, pick me up!’

So humorous. So passionate. So natural.

Yet so dramatic, so deeply beautiful in her own vulnerability — all at the same time. Just as she always is, in all of those perfect trademark-performances she happily gives.



“Never lose your childish enthusiasm, and things will come your way.”

— Katherine

Oh, and they absolutely do.


As landscapes change, and seasons come and go, the main heroine herself will unwittingly undergo a miraculous transformation from a sad, desperate yet funny and ironic, and (in being so) a typically American woman called Frances into an incredible, fabulous Italian donna Francesca.


And in the end… she’ll get her wish.




Love and family, in the very house under the Tuscan sun that once used to be deserted, restless; rebellious, empty, wild. Just like her.




Now, it’s a cozy place where Love rules. Just like in her heart.


And a previously immovable old man (with the flowers) she was so curious about finally pays his regards to her.




But this movie is no more American than Italy (‘il bel paese’) itself is, with its world-renown and non-exportable ‘la Dolce vita’ and ‘il bel far niente.’

For it managed to capture the spirit, the soul, the essence, the very character of the delightful Italian life.

Once again I can’t help thinking that Audrey Wells, the director and screenwriter of the picture, is in fact an absolute genius.

Italians say that ‘il primo piacere della vita è essere italiano.’ Che vero!!! [6]

And as this marvelous picture shows, their whole culture is filled with love; it is full of love — for children, for people, for delicious food, for music — for Life.

Joy or la gioia then is nothing but the essence of being Italian.



[1] dare qualcuno alla luce — to give birth to sb., to bring sb. into the world

[2] I am absolutely in love with Italy and the beauty of all things Italian!

[3] With the beauty of Rome…

[4] Romeo and Juliette

[5] They are

[6] ‘The greatest pleasure in life is being Italian.’ How true!!!

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Jane Austen Regrets…



“My canvas is just a little bit of ivory, two inches wide, on which I work with so fine a brush.”


based on the movie ‘Miss Austen Regrets,’ a beautiful film [and a romantic drama by BBC] uncovering the drama of Jane Austen’s personal life, visualizing on the big screen the green luxuriance and openness of England’s space and giving us, the viewers, the readers, the worshippers of her infinite talent [to all those who worship her talent beyond time], an insight into the life of Jane Austen and into her world; into her heroes’ era, her characters’ way of life.


Jane Austen Regrets… But who doesn’t regret something in their life? Not just for a second? Not just for an instant? Not for a split moment? Is it at all possible not to regret anything in one’s life? entirely? Hardly, for that is not human nature. And what is? Jane Austen knew better.

Royal England of the early 1800s… These were the years when Jane Austen, the Writer, was born. It was the time of setting convenient marriages and joining fortunes, a time when a woman, unmarried, was considered a failure in her life, as if the roles of a faithful wife and good mother were the ones she was only ever capable of performing in a society.

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

(Chapter XII, Jayne Eyre)

An excellent example set by Miss Jane Austen proved that wrong, terribly wrong, in fact. Her ‘career’ span 6 masterpieces — novels delivered with such sparkling beauty, clever humor, and those ever-witty, forever-quoted lines that they won even His Royal Highness King George IV’s sincere admiration.

Still, despite their unquestionable literary excellence, during her lifetime the authoress’ books enjoyed quite a moderate success and popularity, and none had her name on them — titled to have been written “By a Lady” AND YET THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN OUT OF PRINT since.

BUT TRUE TALENT could only be ever fulfilled through sacrifice. And she had made that Sacrifice — of true human Happiness of her own.

But even though she had never in her entire lifetime been happily married [or married at all, for that matter], never did meet her own Mr. Darcy; never did give birth to any children—who might have turned out just as brilliant as she did herself—the literary legacy she has endowed the world with, the contribution she has made to the British nation (and the entire universe of readers) is inestimable, insurmountable. Immense.

Her stories are her children, and they are simply genius.

“They are my darling children… I send them out into the world to compete with the likes of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron… And yet, I have accomplished so little in my life. I have seen so little. My work is so small.”

In fact, she had accomplished LOT. Her work had liberated women, marking the transition from the 18-century neo-classicism to the 19-century romanticism in English Literature.


Her books provide us with the cultural background of her era, of her time; they enable us to dive into the culture and atmosphere of her century all the while taking in all the mannerisms and manners of those days; absorbing them in, getting a feel of them.

And in the end, who doesn’t regret something done or ‘forever not done’ in their life? in hindsight? 

At the dawn of our days, we’re all likely to reflect upon our lives and past behaviors, wishing to undo our past mistakes, wishing to have made the right decision, the right choice at the right time, of knowing-it-all beforehand… In the end, we’re all wishing to turn back the hands of time and live our lives differently, in one way or another.

[But we can’t. That is THE TRAGIC TRUTH.]


In Jane Austen’s nature, however, there was a talent unique and yet unprecedented in the entire history of English Literature. A talent for uncovering those elusive, carefully crafted features of the very nature of human relationships, for bringing them to light through the art of melting words and sounds, and for resurfacing features of human nature hidden so gracefully — skilfully and masterfully — to her readers’ delight and to the clever judgment of theirs, and to the appreciation of all those descendants to come.

How very brilliant, in that, indeed, she was.

And though she had never once in her entire lifetime, ever been abroad, enjoying much the rural placidness of their comfortable cottage in Chawton (which provided a safe haven for her to write), the insights into the inner worlds of her characters are deep and voluminous, as ever, and have been winning the full, utmost Readers’ attention at all times.

‘Passion is made for the young. It fades so quickly. Comfort remains, friendship remains. But the fuss we make about whom to choose… And love still dies, and money still vanishes. And every woman, spinster, wife, widow, every woman has regrets. So we read about your heroines and feel young again and in love and full of hope as if we can make that choice again. This IS the Gift which God has given you. It is enough, I think.’

Enough it is:

Jane’s Ageless. Her work is Timeless.

Regret Be An Old Lady.

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The delicious taste of “Chocolat”: movie review

114The delicious taste of “Chocolat”: movie review

An exquisite taster

The film was released in 2000, and is a fine way to show how one charming, single mademoiselle (and simply a good person) can change the conventional life in a village, for the better.

The movie is a joint US/UK production and was considered “One of the Best Pictures of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times. 

It was the 2001 Oscars— and Golden Globe-nominee for the best picture, the best leading actress (Juliette Binoche), the best supporting actress (Judi Dench), the best screenplay and the best soundtrack (Rachel Portman).


This romantic melodrama (and certainly a lovely comedy) is set in Flavigny, a French medieval city dating back to the 10th century, which portrays the placid French town of Lansquenet, where life is all peaceful and quiet. Traditions are expected to be strictly followed, and the church is its central foundation stone — around which the whole life of the village revolves, as if events took place in a somewhat medieval Europe. Nothing seems to have changed since then, nothing much… Anything that can disturb the order of things is considered a taboo, a threat, and is not welcomed by the mayor of the town, who is himself deeply religious.

Fortunately for him, so far things are going along their ordained path… 

That is, until one cold winter day in 1959… a charming traveler is brought in with the sly northern wind, a wind of change… — a lady who’s going to settle in the village for a while… renting a patisserie and the apartment above it.

And from that moment on, nothing is ever going to be the same…

That very moment being the point-of-no-return, — Indeed.

The time for change comes when she opens “The Maya Chocolatier,” starting her own business in what-one-would-consider the most inappropriate place for this of all — the orthodox village. Neither is the timing perfect — with the upcoming season of the Big Lent, it becomes a major problem for the mayor. And he is going to deal with it, no matter the cost for his lovely, dear guest.

Even if it means losing her business.

But by Easter, her business is still running, whereas for the mayor things are getting out of hand.

He tries to turn the villagers against her, saying that she’s indecent; she is “a bad influence.”

But Vianne manages to make friends with almost everyone in the village, in the process — changing their lives for the better, bringing vivid colors into the previously monochrome life. In the end, she turns out to be “a good influence” after all, including the one she had made on the mayor himself.


Initially, Comte de Reynaud is strictly conservative, even austere, with a condemning look strewn over his face.

Vianne herself is by no means conventional; she’s been travelling with her daughter, living in different places, all around the world: Andalusia, Vienna, and before that — Athens, — Pavia.

At night she tells her daughter stories not of princesses and princes on white horses and in white carriages but of “The Princess and the Pirates”!

And when the mayor, welcoming them into the community, kindly invites Vianne and her daughter to Sunday Mass for worship, she thanks him for the invitation but says they don’t attend.

She then also asks him to call her Vianne, as she had never been married!

And when one of Anouk’s schoolmates asks the newcomer-girl about her father, she says that she sure has one; they just don’t know who he is.

None of this really fits into the catholic framework of the conservative, provincial town they’re guests in.

As legend has it,

Mother and daughter… are fated to wander from village to village…  dispensing ancient cacao remedies… travelling with the wind, never settling down, just as Chitza’s people had done…  for generations.”

No wonder that Vianne, Chitza’s daughter, now herself a mother, wandering from village to village, from country to country, from land to land, with her daughter, Anouk, has a knack for guessing people’s favorites. Not only is each chocolate she makes a piece of art in itself, and has its own unique flavor, but she instantly knows whose favorite it is. And thus far she is doing very well.

[That is] Until… a mysterious and handsome Gipsy Roux comes ashore the dull green waters of the river on his boat. He appears to be a hard nut to crack. She just can’t seem to guess his favorite.


The handsome and brilliant Johnny Depp is at his most macho portraying Roux, playing the Spanish guitar gracefully. And by some mysterious, vague, foggy chance of fate he happens to play the same guitar tune that Vianne’s mother used to sing to her as a lullaby, in her long-time-gone childhood, — the tune a nostalgic echo of the memories, mystically, masterfully mirrored back at her many years on.

But Roux is an outsider, and making friends with him means making enemies with others; yet Vianne, interestingly, somehow seems to even welcome that challenge.

The mayor stands up to such defiance, eventually losing the battle. Feeling devastated, he finally lets things go, in the end finding himself strangely relieved.

Gradually, life in the province of Lansquenet changes unbelievablyenormously — the village is now free of the tranquillité, and Vianne — of her wanderer’s destiny. Roux is magically back in town, brought in with the southern summer breeze, and back with Vianne, to stay  she finally discovers his favorite… Josephine takes over Serge’s bar, turning it into… a new café. Pantoufle’s bad leg miraculously heals and ‘he hops off in search of new adventures.’

In the closing scene, we find the mayor’s ever-so-austere monument stretching in a fine and forgiving, lenient (if albeit somewhat indulgent), permissive and kind smile, symbolizing the Happy Ending, brilliantly mastered and achieved.



The scenery is most mysterious… and inspiring. It feels as if the wind itself is an unspoken character, a ghostly figure in the story whose (outspoken) presence indicates a twist in the story, a major change yet to come, the change that can be felt in the frosty air… noticed in the slight motion of the cameras… almost tangible, palpable, sensed…


The mysterious music — shifting from scene to scene is yet another, everpresent character of its own. Inspiring, enlightening, and at times intriguing, it bears the Gypsie, the Spanish and the Ancient Mayan motives; creating an incredible atmosphere, introducing into this picture a unique, wonderful spirit which makes it certainly one-of-a-kind, so much filled with a European feel.


The original movie soundtrack can be deservedly considered a masterpiece in its own right.


The characters are typically European themselves, and are very natural.


The cameraman’s work is also most brilliant by far! The entire imagery is reminiscent of the medieval times… Beyond doubt, one could, truly, hardly find a French village more authentic to portray a conventional lifestyle of the French countryside in the whole of France.

249So, if you get the chance, you should certainly see this movie; it is a fine film in itself, simple yet mysterious. What it has to offer is the actors’ charming and natural performances, breathtaking scenery and irresistible, vivid images of the Chocolatier. Surrender to its seductive taste and aroma. Plunge into the mysterious and legendary atmosphere of the European city covered in mist. Feel its aroma of m y s t e r y . . .  

Discover the ancient Legend dating back to the Ancient Mayas that still lives on in the 20th century. Feel the delightful taste of “Chocolat”.

For it’s quite worth tasting…

delivered by Stacey Mazur

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Harlequin’s Super Romance “Her Sister’s Keeper” by Julia Penney

Review of Harlequin’s Super Romance

“Her Sister’s Keeper” by Julia Penney

by Stacey Mazur




            Harlequin’s “Super Romance” story “Her Sister’s Keeper” by Julia Penney is more than a simple romance; it is a riveting detective story spiced up with an enormously compelling love line. It keeps you guessing till the very end.

            After the first few pages, you feel absolutely captivated by author’s compelling writing and the eloquence of her style; you are completely absorbed by it: you simply cannot put the book down. It is a breath taking read.

            The plot is completely unpredictable, always twisting, holding the reader’s attention to the last, totally captivating.

            The first twist strikes when a dead body is discovered in one of LA’s hotel suites registered under the name of Ariel Harris, Melanie’s sister and the rising star in town, who is missing along with her new-born baby. But, as it turns out, the dead body actually belongs to another woman…

            From that moment on the narrative is full of breathtaking turns, twisting all the way throughout the story.

            Truly, the book leaves you feeling overwhelmed; the twists of the plot  breathless… It manages to successfully combine love drama and detective story.

            Surely, after reading this, you will be longing for more of Julia Penney.

It keeps you guessing till the very end.

A mind-blowing read, a compelling story.  This book really absorbs one… 

The book is written so eloquently… Totally moving… truly absorbing…

Reading this book, you cannot fail to be totally absorbed by its compelling writing and the awe-inspiring twists of the plot that leave you gasping… for more.

It is a one-sitting read.




            The main theme of this book is the kidnapping of the main character’s sister, Ariel, along with her newborn baby, by the old, childless and emotionally unstable Russian immigrant.

            The first two chapters describe the acquaintance of the two main characters, Melanie Harris and Dr. Mattson (or simply Kent).


            The story is set in the Los Angeles district.

            Dr. Kent Mattson is juggling two jobs, one in LAPD as a police officer and a forensic psychologist, another as a shrink in order to have a ‘healthy bank account’ and to be able to support his family estate in Chimeya; he lost his wife Susan seven years ago to an accident and still hasn’t moved on with his life.

            Melanie Harris is a Hollywood actress attending Dr. Mattson to keep a promise to her best friend, Stephanie Hawke, in receiveing help from a professional. This should help her forgive her sister for what the latter had done to her in the past, thus releasing her demons. She won’t forgive her sister Ariel for hiding her past-affair with her fiancé until the very last moment.


            The events of the past linger in M-264765977elanie’s’ mind as she seats herself comfortably in Kent’s office. The session’s drawing to a close, and she still hadn’t uttered a single word. However what lingers on the Doctor’s mind isn’t a way to help her either: his mind keeps returning to the crime scene he had witnessed that morning. As Melanie continues to insist on paying for the session in full, Kent receives a phone call from his LAPD boss, Carolyn Murphy, — there’s another crime scene yet to observe.

            He rushes to the spot, but it turns out that his car had been stolen, and luckily there’s Melanie to give him a ride. As her car’s stuck in the parking lot, she follows Kent to the hotel, and there, in a two-bedroom suite, she discovers a dead body… of her friend Stephanie… Her sister Ariel who checked in last night under the surname Harris was with an infant, and they are both missing…  and this is just the beginning… of this truly captivating story. — That will take your breath away, leaving you literally… gasping… for air.


            There are two main lines of relationships in the book: the first is the developing relationship between the main characters  Melanie and Kent — themselves; the second  Melanie’s relationship with her family  the one that’s present and missing, and that which has passed and is now in her past. Confronting the demons of her past does, indeed, mean saving her sister.

            As they’re struggling to unpuzzle the mystery of Ariel’s disappearing, the relationship between the two main characters is constantly developing and transforming. As they go exploring each other throughout the whole story  during and after the investigation of the case.

            What is more, the story gives an exclusive insight into the adrenaline-filled life of an LAPD officer and the whole department he’s working for, which alone, being the proverbial-and-everyday antonym of boring, is beyond the ordinary, on a daily basis.


           The main characters are most likeable, convincing and believable…

            What is it that makes them so?

            Apparently, the author’s literary talent: the narration shifts from one character’s point of view to that of another  providing an insight into their inner worlds. You simply dive into the diverse, controversial worlds of the main characters, thus exploring them from the inside.

            The description of the events taking place in the story is woven eloquently into the narrative. Such an exquisitely involving literary technique adds a certain flair to the overall writing style.

            Plus, it’s an exceptionally emotional read, appealing to a wide range of human emotion. Exploring the deep and complicated relationships between characters, complex in themselves, with each other as well as with their own selves, a reader (no matter how wordly) can always find something to relate to.


            One of the best things about this book yet is undoubtedly the way the author unfolds the story, unveiling the characters before us, bringing in new details on their lives and the case as they are being uncovered by the main characters themselves,  holding the intrigue of ‘her sister’s keeper’ up to the last page, up to the very last minute, up to the last awe-striking moment, up until the final breathtaken sigh…

            Truly, the book leaves you feeling overwhelmed; the twists of the plot  breathless. It manages to successfully combine love drama and detective story.

           Surely, after reading this, you will be longing for more of Julia Penney.

            What comes to this book, I personally enjoyed it to the fullest and would recommend it to anyone fond of exploring a detective story and a novel with an enormously compelling love line, all melted into one great piece of literary art…..

Now, sit back and relax, letting the whirlwinding world unfold before you, swallow and enthrall you, inviting you for an exhilarating read of a lifetime.

Fasten your seatbelts.

— And finally 

Prepare to be blown away by Julia Penney’s compelling novel…

For it will

— Completely

 blow your mind


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