Thankful

ImageI know it’s cliche, but it really is the little things in life that can make you smile ever day.  So I wanted to say that I am thankful to anyone who has ever read, liked, or commented on one of my posts.  I know it’s silly, but one of the reasons I became addicted to blogging and social media was to make friends with people all over the world.  

Just know that every time you leave me a note, I have a little dance party in my head. 

Happy Thanksgiving!  

 

 

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[LINK] How will they make ‘Mockingjay’ PG-13?

[LINK] Entertainment Weekly: How will they make ‘Mockingjay’ PG-13?

 

Great little article on EW about The Hunger Games, the MPAA, and our attitudes towards violence in books and violence on screen.  

‘Mockingjay’ is full of just as much politics as it is heart-rending warfare, it’s just that instead of being forced into the Games by The Capitol, Katniss joins the Rebellion.  It’s got a lot more rhetoric and thoughts on violence and war than the other two books, but it’s the finale to the series and Suzanne Collins is trying to make a point.  War is hell.  Yeah, not the most original point but something we always seem to need to be reminded of.  War is hell and no one wins, they just survive.  

It’s dark, yes. It’s bleak, yes.  Some say she went too far with [all the spoilers] but you know what?  Why sugar coat war?  “Oh, it’s a book for young adults, why so much violence?” — um, who do you think is out there fighting your wars for you?  

I wish they had not decided to split ‘Mockingjay’ into two films.  It’s clearly just a grab for cash by the execs and has nothing to do with artistic choices.  And it will hinder the pacing of the movies because they can’t be 100% faithful to the book without worrying about losing the “target demographic”.  They need to make something as fast paced and compelling as ‘Catching Fire’ and, as much as I love this series, ‘Mockingjay’ is slow to start and depressing the WHOLE WAY THROUGH.   So Part I will need to keep that pacing so that people will want to come back for Part II, which can go back to embracing the pain.

I’m not sure what to expect from ‘Mockingjay’ Part I and I know it’s kinda early to panic but ‘Catching Fire’ was just so good, I’m already fretting.  I’m going to try to keep the faith that the writing team and directing team have a vision and a plan for where this is all going.  

 

Book thoughts: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick (2013)

Gorgeous
Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not really sure how to begin to describe this book. It has humor and mystery and romance but not in the stereotypical YA way that is so popular right now. There’s a magical element but I would never call it fantasy.

The Plot: Becky Randle would never consider herself someone special. She lives with her mother in a trailer in Missouri. Her mother is very fat, like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” large, and Becky spends most of her time sitting next to her on the couch, watching gossip shows and eating junk food, just living day to day, not sure what to do with herself since graduation. Then one day, her mother dies. While cleaning out the trailer, Becky discovers a box that should hold an engagement ring, but inside she finds a phone number and a note from her mother urging her to say yes to life.

Becky dials the number and later that week she is flown out to New York City and has a meeting with Tom Kelly, the world famous designer. Kelly makes her an offer. He will make her 3 dresses and when she wears those dresses, she will become the most beautiful woman in the world. Becky is skeptical to say the least, but the note from her mother makes her take a chance so she agrees to wear the dresses and see what happens.

Yes, this plot outline sounds stupid on paper and this book could easily have been a bit of Cinderella retelling fluff. But instead Rudick crafts a sweet, smart story not just about growing up but maturing. About understanding the difference between attraction and love. And how beauty and fame transform our world and those around us.

It’s beautiful and honest. It’s a perfect metaphor for growing up, growing out of that high school obsession with physical beauty and growing into the person you will be as an adult.

favorite movies: The Last Unicorn

favorite movies: The Last Unicorn

I’ve talked before about the magic of movies that can actually survive from childhood into adulthood. It’s a rare film that can appeal to you when you’re 8 and still appeal to you when you’re 32 and not just because of nostalgia.

The Last Unicorn is another one of those movies for me.

LastUnicorn51

If you went looking for Peter Beagle’s classic fantasy novel at a bookstore or library, you would find it tucked away with the rest of the adult books, not in the children’s collection. It’s curious that it was turned into an animated feature, though how else would you have brought to life a magical world of unicorns and giant red bulls back in the early 80s?

As a child, I watched this movie the same way the unicorn experiences her adventure. She is confused by the thought that anything bad could happen to her or her kind. She sets off to find the other unicorns, not really concerned for her life since she is immortal but she is very naive. I think as a child and a pre-teen living in the cozy suburbs, this was how I felt too. I believed in all the magic in the world and that everything was possible. Why would fairy tales exist, with their happy endings, but to give us hope for the future?

What do men know?  Because they have seen no unicorns for a while does not mean that we have all vanished!

What do men know? Because they have seen no unicorns for a while does not mean that we have all vanished!

But when you watch the movie as an adult (or read the novel), you can feel the odd melancholy hidden between the lines of each page and you understand why this story endures. One of Schmendrick’s last lines is the beautiful quote: There are no happy endings because nothing ends.

You shake your head at the unicorn’s innocence, remembering how that felt and knowing there is no way it can last. It hurts when Schmendrick transforms her into human form, taking away that innocence immediately because being human is painful in a way an immortal creature could never understand. Another scene that always breaks me heart is when Molly Grue confronts the Unicorn and cries out at her for not appearing until now.

Where were you when I was new?  When I was one of those innocent, young maidens you always come to?  How dare you, how dare you come to me now, when I am this?

Where were you when I was new? When I was one of those innocent, young maidens you always come to? How dare you, how dare you come to me now, when I am this?

When I was a kid, I understood that Molly was upset, but it wasn’t until I was older that this moment really made me ache. How you believe so hard for so long, how you prepare yourself for some kind of magic in the world and it feels like it will never arrive, and when it does, it’s usually long after you have given up. Or you think you have. The magic of the Unicorn does not come from her casting any sort of spells, but from the joy she brings to those she meets. Schmendrick wants to badly to impress her, to be a true magician for her. Molly is just so happy to be near her, something that she associates with being young and worthy and pure. It restores her in a way, gives her hope for other parts of her life.

Then, of course, there is Prince Lir. He’s a tragic figure in the book, but hearing a young Jeff Bridges voice him…it’s perfect. Bridges voice is strong enough that you know Lir is a young man who can handle himself. But when he speaks to Lady Amalthea, you can hear his voice waver, the uncertainty because he thinks he is talking to a mysterious woman. But by the end of the story, he is stronger than before, especially once he understands what is going on. But like Schmendrick and Molly, Lir draws confidence when he is close to the Unicorn, her existence inspiring him to become more than just a Prince but a Hero.

lastunicornquote

If you’ve never seen or read The Last Unicorn, I’m urging you now to add it to your list. If you watched/read it as a child, pick it up again, you will be surprised. Even the soundtrack (by 70s folk rock band America) still sounds good. It is a beautiful story that deserves more attention and discussion. And though it makes my heart ache, by the end of the movie, my faith in magic and how we can find it if we believe in it, is restored. The Last Unicorn is a modern classic and worth adding to your shelf.

Unicorns are in the world again.  No sorrow will live in me as long as that joy - save one, and I thank you for that part too.  Farewell,  good magician.  I will try to go home.

Unicorns are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me as long as that joy – save one, and I thank you for that part too.

movie thoughts: This Is the End (2013)

This-is-the-End-Movie-Poster

Stupid, gross, crude, immature…and hilarious.

Seriously, if you’ve seen anything with these guys in it, you know that the most of the jokes will have punchlines involving drugs or sex. No one should come to this moving looking for anything remotely intellectual. Instead, put this movie on when you want to have a few drinks and then laugh your ass off (because if you’re too sober, you’ll just feel like a horrible person for laughing at some of these jokes LOL). Nothing is sacred. You have been warned.

In the end, it’s all about how much these bros love each other. I laughed a lot – it was endearing to see these guys poke fun at themselves. And that finale? Try not to get spoiled. It’s brilliant.

(side note but I feel like someone out there somewhere must be writing a paper on all of these all-male thirty-something friendship movies that seem to only be able to exist in this world of raunchy comedy (because once you’re old , you get Last Vegas). To that psychology/anthropology/American Studies grad student out there writing up this paper as a senior thesis, I salute you!)

movie thoughts: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

thor the dark world poster On a whim this afternoon I decided I would go see Thor: The Dark World. I had heard relatively positive reviews and had liked the first movie okay, but really I think I just wanted an excuse to eat a bucket of popcorn and get away for a couple of hours.

It did the trick.

It’s a ridiculous superhero movie but it has a lot of heart and humor and it flies by, even at the 111 minute mark. While I felt that the first movie had a lot of moments that dragged, this one never felt that way, with plenty of action and just enough of a plot to make it interesting. I somehow managed to avoid spoilers, maybe because I don’t watch as much live TV as I used to, so I wasn’t inundated with commercials.

The script and directing were done right, along with the editing, keeping fight sequences interesting even though you can really only do so much when it comes to giant not-quite-immortals beating the crap out of each other. But there was enough going on with the characters to make these sequences work.

I think the cast of this movie really elevates it beyond what it could have been. Hemsworth IS Thor and when you put him in a room with Anthony Hopkins, he manages to hold his own. Tom Hiddleston manages to steal every scene he is in and I didn’t really mind. Chris Eccleston and Idris Elba were strong supporting cast and even though they didn’t have a ton of screen time, it’s like their mere presence in the movie made it better. While I still feel Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth do not have the on-screen chemistry of other Marvel couples (Paltrow and Downey Jr. for example) I felt that their attraction was a bit more believable in this one. Kat Dennings is back as Darcy and she cracks me up for some reason so I didn’t mind seeing her again. Stellan Skarsgard is always awesome. And it was a surprise to see Chris O’Dowd and Zachary Levi!!! It made my little fangirl heart extra happy (even if Levi looks very silly with blonde hair and I spent the whole movie going ‘wait…he wasn’t in the first film…was he???’ (he wasn’t – Fandral was originally played by Josh “Charming” Dallas))

Speaking of being slightly distracted by geeky things, I think the overwhelming popularity of fantasy and science fiction films may have rotted my brain. During the opening battle when Thor first appears, all I could think was “He’s fighting Dovakin in Skyrim!” because *EVERYONE* had a silly hat with horns or some other armor that looks like it was forged by a leathercrafter trying to level up. Then there was the scene in Asgard, looking out on the lake, which was a bit too close to the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin and Padme are “hiding” on Naboo. And another **spoilery** scene in the movie gave me Revenge of the Sith flashbacks…with a dash of Tangled thrown in. Seriously, it felt like Disney was just raiding all the saved files from previous movies!

But apart from those moments, I was totally absorbed by this movie and I really enjoyed it. Of course, we are set up for another sequel, because Marvel is going to milk this cash cow for as long as it can, but even with that slight bit of a loose end left out there, this movie ranks high for me in the Marvel superhero list.

Here’s hoping Captain American: Winter Soldier is just as entertaining!

Idea Channel on PBS/YouTube

So I may or may not have been googling around for deeper meanings behind my current obsession Adventure Time when I stumbled upon this little gem of a YouTube channel. But oh my glob, I spent a chunk of time watching episodes today and I LOVE IT!

IT SPEAKS TO MY VERY SOUL!

It is apparently part of a PBS online channel because I was able to watch them through my PBS app on Xbox (which I <3).

Warning: once you click through to the channel page, I cannot guarantee you won’t be sucked into an epic time-sink…of AWESOME. Everything from “Is Math Real?” to “Is Doctor Who a religion?” — it’s pure nerd ‘nip.

If you have not seen this channel before, you’re welcome.

If you were already aware of it, I say “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT?!?!?”