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

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."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

There are just some stories I CANNOT WAIT to see come to life. There can be many reasons for this: the production value, the actors involved, the story itself, the source material (books, manga, anime, folktales, songs, etc.), the original storyteller or the new one. Either way, the passion of my Leo nature comes out as my excitement builds. I want to share these stories with you.

First up is the South Korean Drama, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo.

Here is a short preview. Stay tuned for the longer version at the end of my post.

There are a few things from the above list that have lead me to this production. I am a fan of several of the actors and actresses involved in the portrayal of the story. I am also a fan of sweeping historic epics and this will definitely hit the bill. At the heart of it all, though, is the story.

This is the third adaptation of the this particular story. The first adaptation, or I should say a loose imagining, is the 2011 series, Palace. Now, this is how I was first introduced to the concept of a modern women returning to the past and being stuck in a battle for a throne and eventually her love. This production, however, is a lot less politically minded. There is a happy ending as well as a bit more humor involved. Luo Qingchuan uses her 21st Century smarts very effectively in this series and it leads to a bit more of an enjoyable watching experience, if you are looking for something a bit more on the lighter side. However, there is a beheading or two because well, it's the times, right?

The second adaption, Scarlet Heart was on Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS) in China beginning in September 2011. It's original source is the Chinese novel "Bu Bu Jing Xin" by Tong Hua about a modern woman who travels back in time. This particular production is beautiful to behold, but the tragedies that befall Zhang Xiao are just too much for this hopeless romantic. She is often put aside by those who are meant to cherish her for worldly gains that come to isolate them and magnify their own weaknesses. There seems to be an attempt made to rectify Zhang Xiao ill fate in Scarlet Heart 2, but I cannot verify this as yet. I'm still trying to find the last half of the series in English subtitles.

While I can't review this new production yet, I can tell you I have been waiting ALL SUMMER for August 29th. I'll be ready to stream the first episode and will die waiting for the next one to be released. I'll be sure to update my post once the series is over with a couple of thoughts. Until then, this Leo is gonna wait with baited breathe to see the opening credits of Scarlet Heart: Ryeo.

Here is the longer preview I promised.

Hello Again!

Greetings all. It has been awhile. I've been away on a journey of sorts over the years. There are a lot of new interests I now call mine that have made things a lot more interesting.

I hope that by starting this blog again and introducing you to a few new favorites as well as my old standbys that get me through the ups and downs, you will get to see some interesting new books, films, and other fun stories.

I've always really loved stories. I've found that there isn't any part of a story that I don't enjoy. Now, there are genres that I don't have an affinity for, i.e. westerns, war, or horror. However, whether they are filmworthy as stories is never in question. You see, stories can do so much, but at their most simple, they touch your lives.

To that aim, fellow travelers, let's continue on this journey in search of the stories that will touch our lives in ways unimaginable. I can promise you stops in England, South Korea, India, Canada, Japan, France and China, and who knows, we may even spend some time in the States.

Here we go.....