Stylish Blogger Award

Look at this.  I gots me a shout out from untra cool Blogger and my friend Emmet at A Book A Day Till I Can Stay.  I’ve known him forever, and he does put the smackdown on his blog.  I’m impressed with the output.  He’s reading my blog too.  Cool.  Now I feel a need to update my blog more.

*You like me. You really like me.*

There are some rules to this Stylish Blog Award.  Gonna cut and paste a little.

  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Once again A Book A Day Till I Can Stay is the joint.  I sincerely appreciate the shout out, Emmet.

 

Ok seven things about myself:

  1. I have a sinister laugh.  People recognize it instantly.
  2. One of my favorite films is Pan’s Labyrinth.
  3. My BA is in Studio Art.  I can paint, draw, print and skilled in black and white photography.
  4. Creativity is what I excel in.  I tend to take unorthodox approaches to resolutions.
  5. I’ve been 27 years old for a long time now.  I suspect when I turn 49 in the far future I will look 32.
  6. I have tri-color hair: Black (dominant), white, and gray (the lesser).   I hate the gray and it shines like sliver.  Only I notice those strands.
  7. Sometimes I skip a latte and go straight for tea.   It’s true.

Other Blogs I read.

I will update this section as I read only a small amount.

Tapetum Lucidum:  This is my homegirl, Kat’s blog.  Love her writing.

Complications Ensue: This is Alex Epstein’s blog.   I love his posts on screenwriting.

Mastering the Pieces: This is Stephanie’s blog.  Her life and ADD adventures.

 

 

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Thesis Update 2011

I’ve been working on my thesis.  It’s been pretty raw writing at the moment.  Nothing looks good in my eyes.  I am more than positive that I will print out what I have so far and revise the material.  I feel a congested in my thoughts tonight, which means its never a good time to look at anything.

I have a few more products and projects to work on, and complete sometime between now and tomorrow.  Everything is in slow motion.  Sometimes I wonder how I will get what I need done, like screenwriting if my mind feels like a hot mess, but I know that with some time, patience, and dedication I can take my work to new levels of productivity.

Also I made myself write this post.  I refused to not write at least a few sentences regarding Cinema Studies, Cinema, and my creative writing endeavors.

 

Revenge Done Quick and Dirty: Faster

Faster, directed by George Tillman Jr. with performances by Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino.  This is a revenge film, and when I heard the old school music in the opening of the film, this opened the door in my mind that Faster should be seen as a grindhouse/exploitation type of movie.

The film doesn’t promise much other than you have a set of killers in the film.  Many of them are in plain sight.  They are all on the unbalanced side.  It does point out very quickly that not everything is on the level, and revenge is not pretty in the least.

He drives and he shoots people. "Driver" is an apt name for the protagonist.

Johnson plays a character with no real name (Driver) in the story that is double crossed, and his partner in crime (his brother) is killed execution style.  Driver lives, and goes to prison.  Johnson’s character is very much a straightforward killer with a Terminator-esque efficiency when it comes to exacting revenge. Case in point when the protag discovers one of the targets is in the hospital in critical condition, he shows up in the hospital and murders him.   Such cold-blooded dedication to revenge gives him a coldness the character needs to pull off these murders.

The secondary characters have some interesting aspects to them well.  Billy Bob Thornton as a crooked cop is more than interesting.   He does drugs, married his snitch, and has that touch of “I fuck up a lot, and I’m barely functional.”  It’s not too hard to see where he gets tangled in this revenge plot.  I dare say the film tried to humanize the character by showing his domestic woes, with a son, and a wife who has drug issues in spite of turning her life around. Whatever pity I held for Thornton’s character dies with him in this film.  The man is pure sleaze, but we know that from the beginning of the film.

Thorton, "The Cop" is sleazy and Gugino (as Cicero) is stuck with him.

More can be said about the killer who hunts Driver.  He’s clearly beaten a lot of personal issues to become a wealthy man.  He however, needs a thrill out of life, and becomes an assassin.  His success has turned to psychosis.  If one looks at him, his character, no matter how refined and determined he is, he’s obsessed with killing.   In a way he becomes the mirror image of Johnson’s character.  He’s willing to hunt and kill, when all he really wants is recognition for his skill from his prey.  Surprisingly, his arrogance does not get him killed.

Interesting that the main characters have no names.  It may suggest they lost their humanity, and therefore should not be known by real names. By contrast, Gugino (as Cicero) is the only character who displays some humanity, and isn’t in on the crimes.   She also has a name.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when our protag runs into a man on his hit list who has turned his life over to God.   I did expect that the man would be killed, regardless.  What I liked it the conversion over to God was sincere.   The original double cross showed that he got in over his head, did wrong and repents.  Slyly the character’s presence is heard throughout this film.   It’s not until Johnson and this character meet do we see how and why.

There is no happy ending in this film, no character to “change” Johsnon’s character’s life with love and support.   It is abrupt and ugly, as revenge can often be.

 

Black Swan: Magic In the Metamorphosis?

Went to see Black Swan with a friend for the holidays. We were thinking this film would be a bit wild, dark, and a little unpredictable.  Directed by Darren Aronofsky, with performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder.   For my own satisfaction, I was more than curious about the use of the doppelganger (the other self) in this film.

What I also liked was the contrast of art and psychosis.  To create and destroy within the film is a chaotic paradox worth digesting.  There’s something sly and elegant at work within this film.  A sublime taste of tragedy that gave me mixed feelings about an ambitious blend of horror, fantasy and drama.    I left the theaters feeling a little cheated with the finale.  That’s not to say I did not enjoy the journey the story took me to.

Portman plays Nina, a ballerina who’s chosen to play both the white and black swans in a production of the “Black Swan” ballet.  While Nina’s perfect for the role of the graceful white swan, she doesn’t not have the freedom to pull off the performance for black swan.  She struggles with throughout the film to embody the qualities of both swans. When Lily (Kunis) appears, I got the impression she is the bad girl of the ballet company, and she was made to be the black swan.

While the turmoil and politics of the dance company stir and make for good backstage drama, Nina mental state takes a dramatic turn as she comes undone.   This doesn’t mean she was stable from the start.  She’s a kleptomaniac, and her mother is emotionally high strung and manipulates her daughter in a bi-polar – let me live through your life – fashion.

The sexual desires of Nina’s psyche come from her attraction to the dark side, and Lily.  As a doppelganger Lilly seems to be the things Nina is not.  Lily is not as graceful, but skilled.  She’s also sassy, a bit crass, and not afraid of drugs.  At some point it appears Lilly is ruining Nina’s chance to be the lead dancer. Lily also represents a certain freedom Nina denies herself in order to be the perfect ballerina.  Nina’s repression is released in this sexual union/fantasy to some extent.  It does not stop the torture and anguish.

The Jungian archetypes are more than interesting to see played out on the big screen.  For those not into psychoanalytical theory that won’t matter, but to see the shadow and the unconscious desires come to the surface held my attention.  Note the use of color in this film to tap into the symbolic qualities of the shadow: While Nina wears the color white in her clothes Lily wears black.

The reason I feel the fantastic should have been stronger is because the audience kept getting hints of it, and that part of having a doppelganger is that a person is going through a metamorphosis.   It’s not that the hallucinations aren’t in Nina’s head, but that we the audience sees them as real in addition to Nina.  I’m compelled to let go of my disbelief a little to see that.

Likewise the horror is about deforming the body via mutilation.   It’s quite disturbing and tragic as the body manifests physical symptoms of the mental breakdown.

Black Swan for sure is a dark film and part of me wishes it were completely a mix of horror, dark psychology, and the fantastic. Ultimately the genre of Black Swan is tragedy, which possibly should have been how it was labeled from the start.

Alice in Wonderland

The Alice in Wonderland film (dir Tim Burton) is not an adaptation of any of the Lewis Carroll books, but rather a continuation of Alice’s life as a young woman.  The transition/growing pains are apparent when Alice (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself at odds with society’s standards (what’s expected of a sane, rational young woman), versus her own eccentricities.   She is also at odds with the people in her life, and herself.

Creepy place, the mind.

The question of “who is Alice” comes forth multiple times in this film.  One could suggest her size changing is the result of her self-esteem/worth.  Even when she towers over everyone, she reacts as if she’s small, timid, and ineffective.  When she makes up her mind several times in the film, she still needs the help of others to obtain her goals.

Lil' Alice and Red Queen

When I fist saw the film (not in 3D by the way), I didn’t know what to make of it.  I was not angry or disappointed, but felt it was very unusual.  Visual wise I was treated to some very Burton-esque imagery where darkness, insanity, and the human psyche are displayed on a playground too sublime for words.

This is Alice’s journey, and the poor girl isn’t even at home in a world that represents her own mind, or parts of her mind.   Alice believes in impossible things, but it takes the whole film for her to get there.   Her final confrontation with the Jabberwocky (nice voice cameo by Christopher Lee) does something a little different, as men usually slay the beast with the ladies swooning.   I did hate when Alice said the line, “off with your head.”  Perhaps it could be seen as her acceptance of the part of her psyche that is the Red Queen.

Don't steal her tarts, or you'll be sorry.

Character-wise there are a lot of oddities.  The Red Queen, (Helena Bohnam Carter) steals the show with her insanity and cruelty.    Anne Hathaway as the With Queen is entertaining as well.   Despite wearing white, and gliding all over the place, I got the impression this queen was high all the time.   In addition to her “highness” she’s very, very dark with her ability to make potions from dead/grotesque things. I was surprised Alice drank one of those concoctions.

The costumes are brilliant: starting from the beginning of the film, with period clothes, and then Wonderland characters.  I was surprised to find out how much of it was green screen, and what was not.  For example, The Red Queen wore an actual costume, but her right hand man, Stane (Crispin Glover), was nearly all green screen.   Granted I expected the animals to be computer generated, a look at the “making of” features shows how little was there for the actors to react to, and the sets were non-existent.

The White Queen.

What I found odd was the use of the Mad Hatter on the cover of the Blu-Ray box.   It gave me the distinct impression that he is the main star of this story, when in fact he is not.   Granted Depp has a lot of fan appeal, I think in keeping with the title of the story, and the fact that Alice must find a way to empower herself, it comes off as a little cynical.  As if her story is unworthy of carrying the movie, yet Alice did carry the film.