Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Mummy


Universal Pictures 2017, Dark Universe Series





After watching the film, The Mummy, I am strangely drawn to my computer to type out this critique. I have not read any other thoughts on the film so I don’t know how it was received by the film community or the audience really. I do know that it didn’t perform well at the Box Office.  However, America was in the midst of Wonder Woman fever and there was no stopping us. (I, myself, saw that film twice in the theatre which is a rare event for my pocketbook.) This may have done a lot for the lack of interest in the film. I feel there was other factor though. 

It seems that Tom Cruise’s personal beliefs, and status may be too much for the American public at this time. Our society has entered a time where we are becoming very polarized to who is what, how they believe, who they believe, and what their beliefs not only mean to them, but what value it gives them in American society.  Mr. Cruise has been loyal part of a religious group that many, both conservatives and liberals alike, find questionable. This seems to have begun to effect how moviegoers choose what movies to go see now. For me, I find this a shame. Looking at his performance as an actor, while there were weak spots in that performance, I enjoyed the blend of humor and pathos he brought to his role. There was even a bit of the swashbuckling adventurer (trust your gut, grab your hat, hope for the best, and jump!) that was seen in so many of the early Hollywood films. As the Dark Universe films are set to bring back more of these classic Hollywood types, characters and elements, I think he helped the series get off to a good start. There were also two great surprise performances in the film for me; one expected and one unexpected.   Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll was just stellar. He has a sneak peek in store for those fans who are anticipating the Dark Universe’s treatment of the Jekyll & Hyde story. I am very glad I got to see it and cannot wait to see him in the role again.  Relative newcomer, Sofia Boutella, had a few surprises up her, well scraps of muslin. For the incarnation of pure evil on earth, we saw some levels of emotion at times. Whether those emotions were genuine or not, you will have to watch the film but I was impressed.

The film had other bright spots, Tom Cruise’s character, Nick, had a sidekick, Chris Vail who performed the character type exceptionally well. I thought that the effects were good, but not over the top which could most definitely have happened. Though the film also had it’s dark spots like editing, at times, and a story that was sacrificed in service of the Mummy legend and where it may be leading in the Dark Universe pantheon. 

This leads me to the idea of the Dark Universe reboot. Why? You might say. It is the idea of the Dark Universe that I find really intriguing. With the films in their announcement: “The Mummy”, “The Bride of Frankenstein”, “The Invisible Man”, and “Jekyll & Hyde” along with the possible additions of “Creature of the Black Lagoon”, “Phantom of the Opera” and the “Wolfman”, there are some really great story potential as well as actor vehicles. There has been some speculation since “The Mummy” didn’t show well in the States the idea may be in jeopardy. However, Universal seems to be thinking global with this franchise so I believe we will see more. I find that exciting. I did have a sense of the old Hollywood horror films as I watched “The Mummy”. It made my nostalgic for those Saturday afternoons with my Mom in front of the TV. I cannot wait to see how they treat the other stories. The studio seems open to exploring horror genre type such as gothic romance for Bride of Frankenstein so we may be in store for some happy surprises or scares as it were. I’ll stay tuned. Maybe you should too. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Best Summer Concert EVER!!

When you love music, you tend to find musicians or bands that just speak to the carefree side that led you to music to begin with. I was lucky enough, this summer, to attend the concert of the musician/composer that inspires me in so many ways, Kwon Ji-yong, GDragon.

Taken by gracefang; posted on YouTube

It was an amazing night. Now, this isn't the first time that I've seen GDragon. I was fortunate enough to have seen Big Bang when they came through for their MADE concert in October 2015. I know I had the time of my life, but I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I don't remember much of it. I do know that I CANNOT WAIT for it to happen again.😍

However, this summer was just about GDragon. He has made and produced a lot of music for Big Bang, but he has also branched out on his own too. We got to see more of who he is and how he wants his music to reach his fans through both the recent release of "Kwon Ji Yong" in June and the MOTTE ACT III World Tour. We are delighted indeed!! 

This recent activity is a precursor to his enlistment in the South Korean military that will probably take place in the beginning months of 2018. This VIP fan will definitely miss him and all of the amazing music that he produces for himself and others. I have faith that he will return ready to surprise, shock, enthrall, and inspire. For now, I will continue to enjoy every new concert video I can get my eyes on and every new heartfelt message he sends to us fans waiting with baited breathe. Being able to enjoy an evening of Live music from my favorite artist made my summer! I hope that spending the summer making live music for his fans, has helped make Kwon Ji-yong's summer too! What more could a devoted fan ask for! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Everyone should journey into the Labyrinth

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the release of Labyrinth, Fathom Events is showing the film on screens throughout the US for two days on September 11th and 14th.

This film is a great memory from my childhood. I feel very lucky that this film was my first introduction to David Bowie. I've always enjoyed musicals. Fantasy films are also a favorite of mine so Labyrinth was right up my alley. It is also amazing to me that the premise of the film comes from a young girl who falls for a story or legend she found in a book like a lot of my favorite stories.

The power of the Labyrinth is that is works as a whole, but it's components are strong artistic endeavors on their own. If you search for the book, which has just been released in hardback by Jim Henson Archives, you will find a novelization that clearly stands on it's own. With the themes of responsibility, love, loyalty, and friendship, it really makes for a great read. As for the music, it is amazing. This is the first soundtrack that I have ever bought. (Now, I have quite a few.) It really works well on its own. The lyrics and music are a moving combination that speak to the soul. The beats in some of the songs are just inspired. I really melt every time I hear "As The World Falls Down".

While the film is full of pomp and spectacle, as only Jim Henson and David Bowie can produce, at its heart, there is a simple story of a young girl finding her way in the world as she becomes the best version of her self - thanks to friends.

I am really looking forward to seeing this film with fellow fans and enjoying another journey through the Labyrinth.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publishers
Release date: October 6, 2015
Source: Advance Readers Copy
Audience: Young Adult

Good Reads Description:

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.


When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

My thoughts on this book:
When I picked up the book to see if I might want to read it, I became maddened myself. I know all about the stories of Nellie Bly's investigations into Mental Institutions of the times, the conditions 
along with their gross misuse as places to put those unfortunate souls that for one reason or another didn't fit into the "norm" of society. Therefore, I became interested to see how a YA fiction book would touch of a time period and subject that is just too infuriating to be believed. However, this book does an amazing job of bringing all of those injustices to life through Graces eyes while giving the reader a mystery to untangle and demons, both real and psychological, to slay. 

At first, we find Grace a victim, but it isn't long before she finds the strength she needs to claim her life for her own. She survives loss, betrayal, and countless other dangers to become a version of herself that can not only protect herself, but those she holds dear. 

I really enjoyed diving into the history of this book. It wasn't dry or hard to read. The story was well integrated in the time period, it's society and situations. It made me angry, but that anger also added a bit more excitement when Grace began to fight back. I was completely in her corner throughout the whole book.

Film Worthiness: 

I think this would transfer to film well. As a period piece, it is a standard production. The interest may be there with the political debates that are going on at the present time. There is a strong undercurrent of the abuse of power in this book. As we go to choose our leaders for the next 4 to 8 years, taking a look at what has happened in the past when power isn't used well might be a popular idea. 
For more information about author: Mindy McGinnis

http://mindymcginnis.com/

On Twitter: @MindyMcGinnis
FacebookMindy McGinnis 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Finally made the call...GhostBusters!

That's right. I finally had the opportunity to see the newest Ghostbusters film. I'll start by saying that I am a fan of the original movies. I remember watching both of them very fondly. I was also there when they released the first one just recently in the theatres. I wanted to see it on the big screen and enjoyed every minute of it. Going to see the "reboot", I tried not to have any preconceived notions as to what to expect. I will admit since it took so long, I did hear people's view on who was the funniest and how the movie dealt with the all female cast.

My impression: I really enjoyed it. I'm very glad that the movie was not an adaptation of the earlier films. It just took the idea of a group of scientific friends who believe in ghosts who wound up chasing ghosts and saving New York City and ran with it. I really appreciated that. A buddy movie should be a buddy movie whether it is an all male or female cast. Comedy is comedy no matter who you are. (There was a bit of a thrill at watching Chris Hemsworth in the role of a male blonde bimbo). His comedic timing was quite impressive and makes me hope that someone will take another leap and cast him in another comedic role where he can have a bit more fun.

Although I have heard criticism that some of the performances were over the top, and that the movie missed the chance to make a statement for Feminism, I think that is a bit much for a summer film.. Was it fun? yes. Did I laugh? Yes. Did I jump? YEs. Did it remind me why I liked the first ones? YES. Did it make me want to be a Ghostbuster? Heck, YEAH! Those gadgets were just toooo AWESOME!!!




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mr. Gene Wilder, Thanks for encouraging my imagination!

Well, the Entertainment world was dealt another blow yesterday with the passing of the award-winning actor, Gene Wilder. I believe, it is safe to say that Gene Wilder has touched about every American living today in some respect or another. His body of work is vast and varied. From musicals, buddy flicks, comedies, and murder mysteries, you could always count on being enthralled with his performance no matter the material, genre, or medium.

There are a lot of performances of Gene Wilder that I will cherish for my lifetime. What I find truly amazing about my memories of this great talent is that they aren't just about the performances. When I look back, I realize that I have been learning about this craft (entertaining) from Gene Wilder every single time that I sat down and watched him. He taught me the "usual" lessons of a great actor: timing, listening, being present in the moment, and how to deliver a line among many other courses. However, I was also learning about nuances and details. How the change in expression can take an actor's intention to a whole new heighten level. How, if you care about your character, the audience will too. None of his performances lacked thought or purpose; therefore, they rang true every time. He was able to reach audience with his sincerity in everything that he did.

Being a natural introvert, there are very few people in this world I feel I would go out of my way to introduce myself to if the opportunity arose. Gene Wilder would have been one of those people. I feel sure that we would have had things to say and I would have left the conversation a better person, and a better artist than I had been before it began. While I'm sad that that opportunity will never come, I am confident that I will keep learn from Gene Wilder every time I watch a performance of his or listen to one of the many conversations on his career and acting that he has left us. For that, I will always be eternally grateful.

Thank you, Mr Wilder. You have inspired me beyond words.




Monday, August 29, 2016

A Storyteller's Ode: Kubo and the Two Strings


There weren't a lot of movies for me to get excited about this summer. However, when I saw the trailer for Kubo and The Two Strings, I knew that my summer movie going would end on a high note.

On a side note, I was able to enjoy the Laika experience here at Universal Studios Hollywood before the movie came out so I was super excited to see how all of the advances in 3D printing and other technology have pushed stop motion animation even further than Coraline and The Box Trolls. I'm really glad I got the chance to go and see this mastery is used to make these amazing movies. 
(see some exhibits pictures below taken by me with permission)



As I watched the film, the first thing that really stuck me was how perfectly matched the story was to the art form. The type of magic that Kubo and his mother were able to wield with the help of a few pieces of origami paper just came to life through the animation beautifully. The style was fluid, graceful and mesmerizing. For animation, as with other art forms or special effects, the details are where the success lies. For Kubo and the Two Strings, from the characters' facial lines to the threads of the strings for Kubo's shamisen, there is no visual detail that is lacking. 

What really draws me to this movie, however, is the story. I feel it is a really a story about the power of stories as memories, and inspiration. Stories help us hold onto our past, remember where we came from and why we are who we are. They also inspire us to reach beyond the past to a something more. To go further then we imagine to achieve feats that, although they may seem impossible, are just more challenging. Kubo's strength as a storyteller not only fuels his own new path to the future; it inspires those around him to reach for more in their own lives. This is the power of a story.

I'm really glad I was able to see both the exhibit and the movie. I hope you venture out to listen to Kubo's tale and "Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear. No matter how unusual it may seem."