Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Busy Bees

Do you know the saying that once you finish school you won’t know what to do with yourself because you’ll have so much free time? That doesn’t seem to be my case. It’s been non-stop running around and playing tag, it seems, with all of the events that I’ve been missing for the last two years. I’m finding that there are so many things to do that I’m planning weeks ahead of time how I’m going to spend my non-work hours. It’s amazing and I’m having so much fun. I’ve spent the last three weekends sleeping on couches as I bounce between Boulder and Story. I’ll be glad to spend the next couple weekends (at least) in my own bed but instead of state or city hopping I’ll be event hopping. For example, this week I’m taking my dog to agility class, attending a lecture on the best practices when investigating serial killers, a lecture by a Norwegian artist, a walk-through by the Norwegian artist, a law school chili cook-off, a public viewing of all the exhibitions in the UW Art Museum, a Cowboy’s vs Boise State football game and possibly a nature hike. I’m having so much fun! But in the middle of all this running around I’ve still had time to do some reading, movie/play viewing, quilting and writing. Below are a couple quick reviews.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarks

I finally finished Jonathan Strange after a month. I have to say that it is a very long book. However, on the plus side it is totally worth reading. A one sentence summary for the book would be two men attempt to bring magic back to a nineteenth century England. The imagery is amazing and the story is great. The characters are well drawn out and interesting. I often found myself interested in what the antagonist was doing and irritated by one of the protagonist’s actions. If you like Austen and dark fiction you should probably read this book. If you just like dark fiction you should still read this book.

The Fall

This movie was a lucky find. I’m still not sure how I came upon it but I remember coming across it once or twice when I was checking IMDB for what movies a couple actors had been in. The more I think about The Fall the more I enjoy it. It takes place primarily in the 1920’s in a hospital. A stuntman after performing a jump ends up damaging his spine and can no longer walk. He is visited by a little girl with a broken arm and begins to tell her a fantastical story about a group of men who have all sworn to kill an evil Governor. The stuntman stops his story at cliff hangers so that he can convince the little girl to steal drugs for him. It was a gorgeous film made beautiful by the cinematography. If anything, check it out for the scenery and attention to detail in costumes and landscapes. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Balinese chant sequence. The story is very sweet and sad. The actors were great, especially the adorable little girl. It kind of reminded me of Terry Gilliam but better. Click the picture for the trailer and enjoy.

Let me know if you have any questions about the movie, events or the book. There was a lot of content I just glossed over.


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Have you ever seen a movie trailer that seemed really interesting and when you found out the film was based from a novel you went straight to the bookstore or library and brought the book back home and set to reading? I did this with the book Never Let Me Go. I watched the trailer out of curiosity and thought it was an intriguing story. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I had a hypothesis about the characters, which made me really interested to find out more. Fortunately one of my friends had read the book and highly recommended that I read it as well.

Never Let Me Go was written by Kazuo Ishiguro in 2005 and was a finalist for the Booker Prize and Arthur C. Clarke Award. It’s such a wonderful novel. Though, I have to say that it is very sad. I don’t usually like to read sad stories but this one was just too interesting to pass up.

The story centers on a group of children that grow up in a boarding school in a secluded area of England. There is no mention of parents and the children don’t seem to know of any life before the school or in the outside world. At first it seems like the children are like any other group of children but there is this weird magical realism to the storytelling that hints to the reader that these children are different and are being raised for a specific purpose. The children are taught that when they reach a certain age they have to give “donations” and after a certain number of donations their lives will be complete. The language is so casual regarding the word “donation” that it is a little confusing at first. The children seem to understand in a naive way what it is but it is not fully explained to the reader/viewer until much later.

It is interesting and sad to see how these children grow up knowing exactly how their lives are going to play out and yet they are so accepting of their fates with only a few outbursts of frustration. It is so tragic to watch/read about their lives but so beautifully written.

I highly recommend this book and I am really excited to see the film.

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**Spoilers** for the movie The Legion

I’m fascinated by Angel and Apocalypse stories. I love the idea of angels walking around us or coming down to protect some special person because that person is key in the up and coming Apocalypse and the survival of the human race. It’s most likely because I want to be that “special” person and how cool would it be to have an Angel hunt you down and protect you from the forces of evil. Okay, if it happened it probably wouldn’t be that cool and you’d wish that you were never chosen but still…cool!

A couple weeks ago I watched Legion and before I get started on this film I just have to say quickly that I haven’t watched The Prophecy yet but it’s next on my queue (right after a movie about a Norwegian farmer who orders a German mail order bride). Okay. I liked the idea of Legion and I was really excited to see Paul Bettany playing Michael and as expected the movie was pretty silly. I laughed quite a bit, which is probably not what the actors and director were trying to get at but hey, at least I wasn’t furiously throwing tomatoes at my television, and I was entertained.

However, here is where I had a problem. The movie had little character development where it mattered. It explained more about the secondary character’s background than the main characters. Of course, the secondary characters were still lacking but I understood more of who they were. I wanted to know more about the main characters. Why should I care about them? Who are they? What makes them so important that Michael would defy God, tear off his wings and join the ranks of Man? I also wanted to know more about Michael.

I was alright with the Joseph, Mary and Jesus concept (cliché but whatever) but I wanted to know more about those characters in this story. Jeep loved Charlie even though she was carrying another man’s baby but I didn’t understand why he loved her and what exactly she thought about him. And what exactly made her and the baby so special? I think this would have been easy to explain or show, which is preferable, but the film would rather show zombie-angel’s, gun fights and fights with razor sharp wings. There were a couple scenes where there was an excellent opportunity for Charlie to speak with Michael, or vice versa, and develop an amazing relationship while explaining plot gaps. But it never happened.  I want more story!

This has been my problem with a lot of movies, and some stories, lately. Their focus is on special effects and fight scenes. I understand that people do want to see the newest advancement in technology – and wow-factor brings in the audience – but it’s the story that makes the movie memorable. It feels like Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies are falling flat and not making money because there is too much focus on the effects. I would love to see more Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies and there can be so much creativity and excitement in them if only someone would take the effort to make a quality movie. I’m tired of remakes, reboots and the easy romance and action story that is so formulaic you barely remember what you watched a week later. Yes, 3D can be cool but if I don’t care about who the main characters are, I’m probably not going to spend the extra $3-5 dollars to watch them run around in a pretty forest.

I find that when and if I go to these movies I lower my expectations for plot and character development so I can enjoy it. I’m not going for the special effects even though I know I’ll be disappointed. However, do the film makers cut back on story because people go for the effects or do people go for the effects because they don’t expect much of a story?

And then again, there are those times where you just need to turn off your brain because it’s been working way too hard.

What are your thoughts about Legion and/or lack of plot and character development in movies? Please avoid talking about Avatar and Twilight because they are just too easy of targets.

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