Tag Archives: review

2012: A (Quick) Year in Review

31 Dec

2012 is ending in less than seven hours, so I thought I’d take a look back at all the momentous (or, at least, momentous to me) things that happened this year. Think of this as the equivalent of a holiday card where I update you on all the shit that happened, except I’m not wasting paper and I don’t have to write so many addresses on so many damn envelopes.

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Co-directed The Vagina Monologues. What a rewarding experience! Probably the best experience I had all year, in fact. It was a great collaborative process, filled with so many fabulous females and a kick ass co-director. I learned a lot about myself along the way, both as a person involved in the practice of theatre/performance art and as a woman. I even wrote up my very own Vagina Monologue by the end of the process, which I’m extraordinarily proud of.

Completed another 365 picture challenge. My picture blog isn’t completely up to date right now, but I guarantee you this was another successful year of picture taking. I plan on embarking on a third year of this project, and this upcoming January I’ll be doing an art show using all the images I’ve taken thus far.

WordPress. I managed, for the most part, to successfully keep this WordPress alive all year long. I know it’s been kind of dead since summer ended (I learned my lesson about posting once a day for four months straight: it burns you out). Anyway, I’m proud of how I’ve been able to keep it up (heh heh) all year long. Hope I keep at it next year!

I went camping. AND I DIDN’T GET KILLED BY A BEAR. YAY.

Mountain Goats concert. I haven’t been to many concerts in my life (for shame), but I’m lucky in the sense that all the concerts I’ve gone to have been amazing, and this one was no exception. I had the privilege of going with Zach, and it was an amazing, cathartic experience. There’s something so healing about rocking out to your favorite songs played live.

Fanfiction. And that is all. (For now.)

The (stupid) crush. The most momentous aspect of my love life this year was that I had a five month long crush that went absolutely nowhere because, while the guy himself wasn’t stupid, the whole process of me liking him was stupid, stupid, stupid. And yeah. That was about the extent of it. My love life was rather boring this year. No me gusta.

Freelance writing. This year I got three (count ‘em, THREE) writing gigs online, one of which even paid me for several weeks (and still does on occasion). Writing for Tough Pigs, Buzz Patrol, and Cool Gizmo Toys has been an absolute treat and a great start to my future as a writer. I look forward to writing more for them this upcoming year.

I read 50 books in one year. Fuck yes.

My cat passed away. This one’s quite sad. We couldn’t find my beautiful cat, Annabelle, back in September and eventually had to assume she had run away. Then earlier this month our neighbor found her, buy, unfortunately, she was dead. While Annabelle drove me crazy on several occasions, I had her for over two years and loved her with all my heart. I can only hope she’s in a better place now (where there are lots of carpets to scratch up and no one to yell at her for doing so).

Applied to graduate college. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

Death Anxiety. Heeeeeeeeeey here’s something I didn’t really talk to anyone about because it’s a super depressing subject and I don’t want to make other people sad but that’s okay because I worked it out on my own but it really explains why I spent a while being depressed. Oh boy! Fun times!

Ran the Color Run. Another rewarding experience! I ran the entire 5k with Nate, and by the end of it looked like Kermit the Frog. I’ve done a much better job taking care of my body this year. I run three or four times a week and exercise almost daily. The next step is being more careful about what I eat.

Got a sweet tattoo. I’ve had tattoos on the brain since I was a freshman in college. I had several designs in mind for a long while, but I eventually landed on the idea of a Muppet tattoo (pictured on the left, which reads “couldn’t we ride?” above it). Though the main question I get asked about it is “Oh, you’re a cyclist?” I don’t mind. It’s a tattoo that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m already in the process of planning and saving up for my next one (probably gonna be this behind one of my ears).

Tumblr Popular. I’m not going to delve into this one, but this year I went and gained a lot of Tumblr followers… a shocking amount, really. I know this sounds like a dumb thing to be happy about, but fuck you, I’ll be happy about whatever I so please. All of them have gotten pretty popular recently, and the tumblr I started less than a month ago has already gained 406 followers. The Muppet tumblr, which I’ve been maintaining for fifteen months now, officially has 1,735 people following it. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Did SantaCon for a second time. Here’s a picture of me incredibly intoxicated hanging out with Nate, Pimp Santa, and some girl on the phone. The only thing I remember about the taking of this picture was that I really wanted to sit in that chair.

Obsessions. Let’s face facts: I am the queen of obsessing over things. There were quite a few obsessions to be had this year, but the ones that particularly stand out are: Downton Abbey, Jurassic Park, and The Hobbit. Then, of course, the Muppets are still at number one.

Italy. What a wonderful, gorgeous trip. This was the second time I’ve visited Italy in my lifetime, but unlike when I went at the age of sixteen I felt like I took so much more away from it this time around. We visited Cortona, Assissi, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Pisa, and I took over a thousand pictures while we were there. We were only in the country for a week, but it was beautiful and amazing and I can’t wait to return again. I’m also in the (slow) process of teaching myself Italian.

Tough Pigs. So, technically I joined up with Tough Pigs in December of 2011, but I think it counts more as a 2012 thing, so shut up. I could write an entire blog entry about my love of Tough Pigs, but I’ve already done that (twice). I would just like all my Tough Pigs, and Muppet friends in general, to know how much they’ve touched my lives and made me a better person. You guys are amazing, extraordinary people, and I’m so thankful to know you all. Thanks for making life so groovy. I’ll never think of socks the same again.

Why Tangled is the Best Thing Disney’s Done in Years.

4 Sep

The other day I was tumblin’ on Tumblr, like every other waking second of my entire life, when I came across a gorgeous photoset of .gifs on my dashboard for the movie Tangled. Underneath the photoset a Tumblr friend had written, “[Tangled’s] actually a classic for me already. Dunno why, it just…works.”

This got me to thinking, because he was absolutely right. As a film Tangled does work. It works really fucking well. So here, about a year and a half late, are my thoughts on as to why I think Tangled works:

Tangled is the smartest thing Disney has made in a years. The comedy is accessible to both children and adults, never dumbing down the humor or playing it obvious. The plot is enticing to everyone, as it tells a well rounded story. There are epic sequences, truly tender scenes, gorgeous music, and lots of laugh out loud moments. Overall, it’s just a really fun movie to watch.

Not only that, but all of the characters are likable. This is not always an easy task to accomplish (even for Disney), but there’s not a single character in this film that you can dislike. Rapunzel’s a bit ditzy and silly, but she’s also brave, strong, and vulnerable, which are all the ingredients you need to make up a powerful protagonist. On top of that, she’s also spunky, creative, sweet, emotional, and adorable. Flynn comes off as a douche at first (albeit a likeable douche), but the more the film goes along, the more he opens up and we see him for who he truly is. Pascal and Maximus? Lovable upon first sight. The thugs and rapscallions are fun and a great comedic addition to the film. Even Mother Gothel is likable half the time. Sure, she doesn’t exactly treat Rapunzel well (hence the locking in tower), but she’s also sassy and funny – not to mention voiced by the phenomenal Donna Murphy – making it impossible not not like her for at least a portion of the movie.

Then there’s the music, which, as stated previously, is gorgeous. The score is wonderful, and there are some awesome songs in it (‘I See The Light’ was nominated for an Oscar). Then again, honestly, would you expect any less from Alan Menken?

I’m always amused when I come across guys who liked Tangled a lot, because they always seem taken by surprise by this fact. I guess upon first glance Tangled might seem like more of a “girl” movie to some, but it’s really a movie anyone can enjoy, despite age or gender. On that note, I didn’t think I was going to like Tangled at all from the trailers that I’d seen. I didn’t even go see it in theaters, despite numerous friends telling me how amazing it was. I wish I had though, cause I would’ve gone more than once. Without a doubt.

Also, and this is something I’ve ranted about before on several different occasions, but I think Flynn and Rapunzel are one of the more realistic romantic relationships Disney has ever portrayed. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the love at first sight method that Disney tends to play up in the majority of their films, but in Tangled you’re actually able to see the progression of the relationship. Take into consideration that the main action in the majority of Disney films takes place in only three or four days. There are, of course, exceptions (Mulan and Tarzan are two that come to mind), but for the most part we’re expected to believe these characters meet and fall in love in such a small amount of time. With Tangled I really did buy it. There’s obviously a disregard between Rapunzel and Flynn from the very start, which carries on for about the first half of the film. At the same time, it’s also clear instantly that they’re attracted to each other on some level (what with her observing him after he’s passed out and him giving her his famous smolder). Then suddenly they’re on this whirlwind journey together and they slowly begin to trust, and even like, each other more and more. What’s great about Tangled is that you can actually pin point the exact moments when Rapunzel decides to trust him and where Flynn decides she’s not all that bad. We also get to see them go through some incredible intense moments together, leading them both to show levels of vulnerability that maybe they’re not used to, which leads them to open up to one another. Because they actually are able to open up, the progression of them slowly starting to fall in love comes off in a very believable way (you know, as much as a movie about magic hair can be believable at least).

Not to mention the ‘I See The Light’ scene is one of the most romantic, gorgeous scenes I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. I shit you not.

Tangled is a truly remarkable film, and the best Disney has made in years. I realize if you haven’t seen it yet, by this point in the entry I’ve probably spoiled the majority of it for you. Even so, you should go watch it ASAP. It really is worth checking out.

Book vs. Movie: The Secret of NIMH Edition

14 Aug

Yesterday I wrapped up the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats on NIMH for the first time in my life. I had been given the book as a present when I was a kid (not sure by whom, most likely my mother or my godmother), but had never gotten around to reading it. After closing the book, I went directly to my Netflix Instant Watch queue and pulled up the movie version of it, which I had not seen since I was probably seven or eight. I dove headfirst into the book, not remembering any of the film’s plot, and I started the film not knowing if what I had just read lined up with the movie at all. Here’s my final verdict between the two:

I prefer the movie of NIMH to the book.

It’s rare that I’ll willingly admit that a film is superior to the book. The only movies I go on record stating as my personal preference is the Lord of the Rings series, but even I know that the books are amazing, I’m just too lazy to get around to reading through them.

The Rats of NIMH though. It’s as though the author, Robert C. O’Brien, had this amazing idea for a story, and then wrote it in the most boring voice possible. Going into the book, while I couldn’t remember the events of the film, I did remember how much I enjoyed watching it. I know this is a book meant for young kids (eight to twelve year olds, according to the back cover), but that honestly means nothing to me. I still love YA literature, despite being twenty-two. Wrinkle in Time and Where the Red Fern Grows are meant for ten year olds, and I reread those books as often as possible. Even in their simplicity, I find great joy in YA fiction (in fact, the majority of books I’ve read this year have been YA). That being said, I didn’t take very much joy away from NIMH. I liked it well enough, but a book that should have taken me two days to read took me over a week, as I got ridiculously bored with it and put it down without touching it for days on end (I blame the back story portion, but more on that later).

The movie, though, does justice to my memory of it. The film version is exciting, fun, daring, and offers characters with an immense amount of personality that was truly lacking in the book. It not only reinforces my love of kid’s films, but my immense adoration for one Mr. Don Bluth.

Here follows ten reasons why I prefer the movie version of NIMH to the book version any day (it’s chalk full of spoilers, so you have been warned):

1. The movie made the story creepy. That is something the book truly lacked. Yes, the rats were taken off to NIMH, but then the book goes into great detail to explain how the pain from the syringes wasn’t all that bad and how the scientists treated their subjects well. Even the owl wasn’t creepy, which was a bummer. Of course, this is surely how Robert C. O’Brien intended for his story, probably in hopes of not frightening any children; however, I think it works much better with a scary tone to it. Without it the book feels flat, predictable, and droll, whereas I found myself on the edge of my seat a couple of times during the film despite already knowing the outcome.

2. Speaking of aspects that work well in the movie, MAGIC. There’s definitely a sense of the mystical in the film, what with the glowing eyes and the magic pendant and the Beauty & the Beast-esque mirror. As I read the book I kept waiting for the magic to kick in and it never did, leaving me utterly disappointed. I’m not saying the book doesn’t work without the rats having some kind of magic touch, I’m just saying it works better when they do.

3. The movie got it right by doing two things differently with Jeremy the crow: 1. Giving him more to do, and 2. making him the comic relief. In the book, Mrs. Frisby saves Jeremy, thus justifying him taking her to see the Owl and… that’s it. I think he’s mentioned once or twice more throughout the book, but he never makes a return appearance. Seeing as he’s on the cover of my edition of the book, I kept expecting for him to return and play a larger role, but apparently he was only needed to get Mrs. Frisby from point A to point B. Now, maybe the movie fleshed out his character for the sole reason of casting (the amazing) Dom Deluise, but I’m very glad that they did. Jeremy sticking around in the film felt justified, despite the fact that he didn’t really add much to the story after flying Mrs. Brisby up into the tree, but that didn’t matter because he was given the purpose of comic relief, which he served marvelously. NIMH is a dark film (much darker than the book), what with dying children, lab tests on animals, and sword fighting rats (lawl), and Jeremy brings a lot of light to the darkness. I clearly remember him being my favorite character as a child… though, that might have more to do with the fact that Dom Deluise was in all my favorite movies growing up and so his characters instantly became my favorites .

4. I really like that they kept Jenner alive in the film. It was nice that the story had an actual antagonist that wasn’t the fucking weather. I realize they only kept Jenner alive so that the kids would have a distinguished baddie to spew their hatred at, but it worked. For starters, it gave us insight on the democracy the rats had built in their society (which truly shows how they had turned into human-like creatures even more, considering the film carries out an assassination of a political figure plot line, whereas the book does not). Jenner also gave the film a much more tense ending as opposed to the book, but more on that later.

5. Mrs. Brisby’s kids actually had personalities, unlike Mrs. Frisby’s kids. In the film they are each defined by their age and their outlook on everything that is going on, which was really nice to see. In the book, her kids are kind of just there and don’t do much of anything. I guess the kids in the film don’t do much of anything either, but at least they’re entertaining while they’re doing it. (Also, Martin, the eldest son, was voiced by one Wil Wheaton. Bad. Ass.) Know who does do a lot in the film though? THE SHREW. In the book the Shrew warns Mrs. Frisby of moving day, then comes back to bitch at the Rats for trying to move the mouse’s house without her being there. Know what the Shrew does in the film? JUMPS ON A MOTHERFUCKING TRACTOR AND DESTROYS IT INTERNALLY, THUS SAVING THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY BRISBY. Then she comes back and takes care of the kids like a badass while their mother is off saving the Rats and stuff. Seriously awesome character.

6. The film did a great job playing up the evilness that is NIMH. As mentioned in point #1, the book takes a lot of time to explain that while, yes, the scientists did take the rats off the street, they treat them well in captivity and have no intention of ever hurting them, just enhancing their intelligence. In the film the doctors are portrayed as sadistic and frightening. Heck, in the end of the movie it’s made very clear that men from NIMH are coming to get the rats, whereas in the book it’s never revealed if the men who show up are from NIMH or just exterminators (though it’s pretty obvious they are from NIMH). The point is, in the books I found that I did not hate the scientists. I certainly didn’t want them to win, but I had more of a “Hey, they’re just doing their job!” kind of outlook. In the film? Did not want them to succeed. At all.

7. When it comes to the comparison of Mrs. Brisby and Mrs. Frisby, I choose Brisby. The movie showed Mrs. Brisby as a more fleshed out, rounded character, which almost never happens in the case between books vs. movies. In books you expect all the awesome details about your favorite characters sure to be left out in the film. Not this one. In the movie we see Mrs. Brisby’s abundant love for her children, how scared she is but willing to tackle the most frightening events (from heights to owls to cats), and how she isn’t really accustomed to constant association with animals outside of her nuclear family. Do we get this in the book? Yeah, a bit, but we’re kind of told bluntly by the author and, well, that’s it. Not to mention in the book when Mrs. Frisby is trapped in the cage Justin has to come in and save her because, hey, she’s a woman, apparently she can’t save herself on her own; whereas in the film Mrs. Brisby uses her smarts and saves herself like the badass that she is. She’s also a much more sympathetic character in the film, but at the same time so much stronger as well. Mrs. Frisby gets emotional about her husband’s death… what? Once? Twice? In the opening of the film, it is shown (not told, shown) how Mrs. Brisby’s still devastated over the loss of her husband. I don’t think this makes her a weaker character. Having a lead role show great depths of emotion and sadness, while still allowing them to tackle some really freaky shit in order to save the ones they love, is a really great character in my opinion.

8. Back story is essential for any good film or book. After all, the characters had lives before the story began, and it’s important to know how they got to the point they’re at. My problem with the book is that it takes 69 pages to tell exactly what happened to the rats of NIMH. Normally this length would seem justified if it were, say, a longer novel; however, as the book is only 233 pages long I kept finding myself going, “I get it. They learned a lot. Yup. Reading. Mazes. Fascinating. Get back to the story.” It also didn’t help that the retelling of all that happened to the rats was written very dully (this seems to be something I like to complain with, so here it is: Robert C. O’Brien’s writing style is boring. There. I said it). Now in the movie? The movie covers the rats back story in three minutes, tops. Could the movie have benefited for delving a little deeper into the back story? Mayhaps, but they kept it nice, simple, and straight forward, and after having to drudge through the back story in the book, I was thankful for that. The book’s back story could have been thirty pages shorter, in my personal opinion.

9. The movie stayed pretty true to the story, except for the ending. In this aspect, I like how, instead of leaving the audience wondering if Justin was killed or not, we know that Justin and the rest of the rats live. I also liked that they killed Nicodeamus. I liked Nicodeamus, don’t get me wrong, but I thought his character’s death benefited the story so much more than the hypothetical death of Justin. Again, assassination of a political figure is a huge thing to tackle for a kids movie, but the film did it well. The movie as a whole was a lot more violent, which is fine by me because it made the film a lot more exciting, which brings us to the last item on our list…

10. The movie’s ending was a million times more exciting than the book. In the book the rats sort of just move Mrs. Frisby’s house, carry out their escape plan, and then it ends abruptly. In the film they throw in the element of the cinder block home, with Brisby’s kids still inside of it, starting to sink in the mud, thus implying that the kids she’s trying to save may very well die. At this plot point I actually found myself clutching my face going, “Of course this is going to end well, but holy fuck, how are they going to get out of this alive!?” That, to me, is the sign of a good film.

I guess now I can talk about the very, very few things about the film that didn’t enthrall me. There are only three things that come to mind as of right now:

  1. The film could’ve been longer. Yeah, I said it. I would’ve loved a more fleshed out telling of it, with even more mystique and magic to it. I wouldn’t have minded if they branched off further from the book and added in more elements to the story. But hey, it’s a kid’s movie, so I understand the need to keep it short and to the point.
  2. I do think the pendant, when used to save the kids, was kind of a cop out. Still more interesting than what happened in the book, but I think more attention should’ve been drawn to Mrs. Brisby not understanding the pendant’s use throughout the film, so there would have been a bigger pay off when she finally understood she needed it to save her children. It was given to her early on, but she didn’t talk about it again at all until the end of the film when she uses it to save the day. It just felt random and, gah, I guess it’s the screenwriter in me that wants more justification for the pendant being there (and an explanation of how Jonathan even got a fucking magic pendant in the first place).
  3. I loved Mrs. Brisby’s classic red shawl (a throw back to the book),  but when it came to the rats, I’m sorry, but some of them were dressed really silly. They were wearing tunics. And robes. And wigs. Jenner had on a cape. A fucking cape. I guess it was to reflect how far they’d come as a human-like society, but I could not take it seriously that the farmer had never spotted a rat before and gone, “Huh. I wonder why that rat is wearing  a cape. And is carrying a sword.” On that note, I should also say that the rats sword fighting was a little goofy. Don’t get me wrong, the pay off of the sword fight was important (when the one rat threw a dagger at Jenner I fist pumped the air), but watching it I had an eyebrow cocked the whole time, thinking to myself, “… Huh… Sure… Okay… I guess I’ll play along..” Honestly, the one purpose I truly saw of the sword fight was that it made Justin an even more attractive awesome character.

So, do I like the story of NIMH? After reading all the above it should be obvious that, yes, I do, like the story when it’s delivered in the right medium. I don’t think it was intended to be a kid’s story, or at least not a kid’s story written by Robert C. fucking O’Brien. I realize a kid’s story is how it was originated, but the material works so much better on film. Actually, you know, I think NIMH has great potential to be rewritten as a story aimed towards adults, not kids. I would’ve loved a darker, more gritty aspect in my reading. Hell, I would’ve loved more back story if it had been more fucking interesting. Not to mention it would’ve been nice to get some more exposition on Mrs. Brisby’s life, some more adult humor (any humor would’ve been nice, actually), and a more lavish use of language. When it comes down to it, as I’ve stated throughout this entry, that was my number one problem with the book. The way it was written. It’s as though Robert C. O’Brien thought to himself, “I wonder if I can take this really interesting story idea and write about it in the most boring use of the English language as possible.” Mission accomplished, Robert. You succeeded.

And you know what, if it came out that they were going to do a remake of NIMH someday, I would not complain. If a future film followed in the footsteps of the first film, added more depth and darkness to the story, and made it longer? I’d be totally down for that movie existing.

A friend asked me this morning if it’d be a waste of time to read the book, and honestly, that’s not up for me to say. I know I’ve spent this entire entry complaining about how the movie is far better than the book, but I do still respect the bones of the story. Robert C. O’Brien laid out a really wonderful story, despite his dull style. This is all also my personal opinion. I have friends who really love the book. Plus, as another friend pointed out, “If there had never been a book, there never would have been a movie,” which is a very good point.

The fact of the matter is NIMH is a great story when it’s done right. It is also a prime example that sometimes the book isn’t better than the film. I know a lot of people of people might not agree with me on this, but I’m standing by my opinion on this one. I don’t intend on reading the book again anytime soon, but will I most likely rewatch the movie multiple times in the years to come? Sweet Bunsen Honeydew, yes. Yes I will.

(Side note:, do yourselves a favor: Never watch The Secret of NIMH 2. I loved it as a kid, but yeah, definitely not a good film. At all. Sorry Karate Kid, William H. Macey, and Eric Idle, but you all wasted my time by making that film.)

My review of The Hunger Games

22 Apr

Ah! I’m finally writing up this review! I definitely meant to do this all of this past week but I kept putting it off… Whoops!

Anyway, I saw The Hunger Games last Sunday and I absolutely loved it. As someone who has read The Hunger Games more than once (and finished the series), I thought it was a very faithful adaption and a very well made movie. There were so many wonderful things about it; however, I’m only going to write about my five favorite parts of the film. But first…

(And yes. There are spoilers)

THREE LEAST FAVORITE PARTS

1. Katniss in the Capitol. This film banked on how much Katniss dislikes and doesn’t fit into the Capitol, which was great. It’s very true, and they did a wonderful job portraying it… but I feel like it was taken a step further in the movie. Mainly… well, okay, when it came to the food. I would’ve loved a scene with Jennifer Lawrence cramming her face full of food and indulging in that lamb stew Katniss loves so much. It’s a definite part in the book and, I dunno, maybe I would’ve liked some happiness? But I understand the movie only had an umpteen amount of time to get everything about Katniss in whilst in the Capitol and they wanted to display how much she dislikes it, so, okay, I understand.

2.Peeta the Underdog. Let’s face facts, Peeta is the ultimate underdog. His love for Katniss and his personality make him liked by all readers, but he’s still got a lot against him in the books. However, in the first book he has such good rapport with Haymitch during the training. In the movie I felt like a bit of it was lost. I guess the filmmakers just wanted to keep Katniss at the center of attention, which is understandable.

3. Not enough Rue. This is the only one I’m still kind of peeved about. Rue’s storyline lasted about ten minutes in the film, and even then she wasn’t on screen very much. It felt too rushed. I did talk to a friend who saw the movie and never read the books, and she said she had no problem relating Katniss’s relationship with Rue to her relationship with Prim, which I suppose is good. It still peeves me though. Rue’s such an important part in the books. I just wish she could have had a couple more minutes of screen time. Just one more short scene is all I would’ve wanted.

Anyway.

Now here’s all that I ridiculously loved!

FIVE FAVORITE PARTS

1. Jennifer Lawrence. If you watch this movie and say “Nope, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss makes no sense” then there’s something truly wrong with you. She was brilliant. Her range of emotion was perfect. She said so much without saying anything at all. She really tapped into the character of Katniss. I loved her relationship with Primrose and her mother. It spoke volumes, just by some of the actions Lawrence did. Yup. It’s official. I’ve definitely got a lady crush on her now. (Don’t worry, Emma Stone. No one will replace you in my heart.)

2. Peeta + Katniss. This was pretty spectacular. When Peeta ascends the stairs up to the platform when his name is chosen and his eyes first meet Katniss’s and, GAH! The girly girl in me was freaking out. Josh and Jennifer did a really nice job taking the relationship from the page to the screen. My only complaint? Not enough kissing. In the book, after a certain point in the games, all they do is kiss in order to get more sponsors. One kiss though? Come on, Gary Marshall, way to not play the fan service card.

3. Cinematography/Special Effects. There were many splendid film making choices that went into this film. The use of silence, especially in the beginning in District 12 while showing clips of what day-to-day life is for the people in The Seam. The part with the Tacker Jacker venom was trippy and exactly how I imagined when I read the book. I’m not normally a fan of the shaky camera effect in films, but for this one I thought it worked (for the most part). Especially when someone was fleeing being, y’know, killed.

4. Execution of Exposition. One problem books turned movies seem to have time and time again is translating all the exposition onto the screen. A lot of the time it comes out as really boring, bogged down dialogue between characters. This movie, however, did a great job weaving in the pieces that don’t necessarily get discussed in the scenes. Mixing in the interview with Seneca and Flickerman throughout the first quarter of the movie to explain the games, Seneca’s conversation with President Snow to express the fear of a rebellion (which really helps set up the next film), the dream Katniss has about her father, the flashback of Katniss and Peeta’s first interaction, and so on.

5. Binging the World to Life. Nearly everything was how I imagined it was in the books, and if it wasn’t how I imagined it I still went, “Woah, yeah, not what I pictured, but so much better!” The actors all perfectly suited their characters (especially Effie and Cinna), the layout of the Capitol, the beginning of the riot in District 11, and so on. The two parts that stunned me the most were District 12 and the technology behind the games. The technology was so much more advanced than how I pictured it in the books, but it was just… wow. Being able to bring burning tree branches down with a push of a button? Genetically creating the hounds via a computer? Astonishing. And District 12 was so much like how I imagined it in the book that I spent the first fifteen minutes of the film in tears. (The only three things that didn’t mesh for me? Haymitch (always imagined him more… robust), the hounds (weren’t they wolves in the book?), and the Cornucopia (y’know how it was big and metal? Well in the book I always imagined an actual Cornucopia. Like the one that’s the center piece for Thanksgiving meals. I realize how stupid that sounds in comparison, but still.))

And that’s what I thought about The Hunger Games! If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should.

My Journey Through “The Fault in Our Stars”

26 Feb

(SPOILERS AHOY! PLENTY OF SPOILERS FOR “THE FAULT IN OUR STARS” BELOW! SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)

I’m just going to say now that I don’t write reviews. I write love letters or I write long rambling monologues about how much I detest whatever it is I just watched/read. One or the other, nothing in between (unless specifically requested/required by some greater power, ie. school).

This, oh this though, this is going to be a love letter through and through.

I first heard of John Green (technically) two and a half years ago. A good friend told me I needed to start watching the vlogbrother videos because I was definitely Nerdfighter material. I remember watching one video, thoroughly enjoying it, and then not watching more. No clue why I didn’t continue. Maybe the amount of videos there were to go through intimidated me, or maybe I thought I had something better to do with my life than watch two older men geek out about things. I was silly and naive and did not know better (obviously).

Cut to last fall, I noticed a tumblr friend was posting all of these lovely, beautiful quotes from something called Looking for Alaska by someone by the name of John Green. I became intrigued and, after doing some much needed googling, discovered that he was one of the infamous vlogbrothers I had watched so long ago and that he was also a novelist. I ended up purchasing Looking for Alaska and this last January I read it in less than three days. I fell in love with John Green’s writing right then and there, and have very recently began going through the vlogbrother videos (over 900 to go…meep!).

But this isn’t about vlogbrother videos and this isn’t about Alaska. This is about The Fault in Our Stars.

I could go into a lengthy ramble about how this book is damn near perfect and pinpoint how every detail of the book made me feel. I could spend entire paragraphs devoted to the traits of every characters, how every theme and motif works brilliantly, and how I now have the desire to travel to Amsterdam quite badly. No, instead I’m going to tell you all five things that this book does right.

1. I could not put it down. As I stated in yesterday’s entry, I never read books cover to cover. This is because, quite honestly, after reading a few chapters of a book I get bored (blame the internet). That was not the case for this book however. I think the quality of a book is really shown in the locations a reader indulges in the book. If it’s a book someone reads at their desk or in bed, meh, okay, but a book someone reads in random locations of their house? Obvious signs of a book people can not put down! I read this book in seventeen hours (would’ve been eight if I didn’t take an hour off for homework, an hour for Castle and dinner, and seven hours for sleep). Here are all the locations I read it in:

  • A grassy hill outside of my school’s gym
  • Work
  • The desk in my bedroom
  • My kitchen floor
  • My living room couch
  • My bathroom
  • My bed (under the covers)
  • My kitchen table
  • My bed (on the opposite end)

Yes, from five o’clock yesterday til ten o’clock this morning this book did not leave my side. Literally. I had it on me all seventeen of those hours, even when I was in bed. At one o’clock in the morning I was fighting with all my strength to stay awake, but I was so fatigued and exhausted from my previous night of drinking that I caved. I lay the book down on my bed and fell asleep. I then woke to my alarm blaring at 8:30am, but reset it for 9am. And there I was, my cat nuzzled up in a ball betwixt my chin and my chest, and Fault slightly pressing up against my back. And as I took that extra half hour to slowly urge myself to wake up, I fantasized. I fantasized a world in which Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters were not sick. I fantasized that they were well and that they went to an amusement park on a date and Hazel did not have to carry Philip and Augustus had both his legs. I fantasized all of this with a smile. Then, as nine o’clock came, I arose and my smile faded as I looked down at the book that had slept next to me all night, because I knew that there were no amusement parks that awaited in the last seventy pages of the book. There were no miraculous recoveries, no lack of Philip, no sudden grown-back leg. And yet I read, because I simply could not stop.

2. I gave a hoot about every single character. This is rare. Usually there are characters in books who I positively cannot stand, but just like in Looking for Alaska Green has managed to create a world where everyone is, on some level, likeable and relatable. The parents of Hazel and Gus were marvelously realistic and incredibly enduring. Isaac may have been my favorite character, since I found his view on life (no pun intended) pretty astounding. I, of course, adored Hazel and Gus, and their brilliant wit and charm. Even selfish Monica and grumpy Van Houten I couldn’t bring myself to dislike. I cared about all of them. I cared so much that when possibly the most beautiful part of the book happened I broke down in tears repeating to myself, “I don’t want her to die. Please don’t let her die.” (Oh how wrong I was.) Another great thing about Green’s characters was that I was able to visualize each and every one of them, which I’ve realized lately I can only do with books where I am seriously invested in the people. This book played out almost as a movie in my mind. I saw Hazel as Mae Whitman, Isaac as Eric Isenhower (yes, Orin from Parks and Rec), and I had my own complete image of Van Houten constructed. The only character I could not quite visualize was Augustus, and that’s only because he’s too perfect for my imagination to construct.

3. The writing is beautiful. John Green has a way of changing my outlook on certain words. With Alaska it was the words “after” and “great perhaps”. For this book, it was the words “okay” and “everywhere”. But that’s not even it. The way Green writes is just so beautiful and there are sentences that absolutely take your breath away. Here is an example:

There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten, and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.

Seriously. That is so beautiful. And the book is filled with deep, meaningful quotes so much like this one. I would love to go inside John Green’s head for five minutes, just to see what it’s like.

4. I cried. Me crying during movies? Not an uncommon occurrence. I cry at almost every movie I watch, including ones I’m not overtly fond of. I’m a very visual person, so just throw on a sad scene, or, hell, even just a slightly sad scene played with a really gorgeous score and you’ve got me in tears. I cried during Clerks II for crying out loud. I don’t, however, cry too often during books. Just the ones I’m attached to. Hunger Games, Green Mile, Looking for Alaska, Harry Potter, and The Lovely Bones are books that have made me cry before, because they offer up a story that is so much more than just a story. This is precisely what Fault did. Green created a world where these characters instantly became real to me within a page of their introduction. They were fleshed out, thought out, and well written, so I cared when something awful (or something wonderful) happened to them. When Gus delivers some not so pleasant news to Hazel I was in the bathroom doing well, erm, some business, and I quite literally threw the book on the ground and started sobbing. I’m pretty sure I haven’t reacted that way to a book since Catching Fire where I literally screamed while waiting at a bus stop.

5.  It made me hate John Green. I hate him for his talent. I hate him for making me laugh one moment only to make me cry several seconds later. I hate him for being my personal Peter Van Hutton and making me want to know about all the characters after this story ended. I hate him for making me realize that, no matter how hard I try, my own writing will never be on the same level as his because he is so goddamn amazing. Of course, as you’ve most likely realized, I don’t hate John Green (though I am green with envy). This book has just ensured that I will be purchasing Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson Will Grayson sometime in the not so distant future, because I simply cannot get enough of that man. John Green is pretty much everything I hope to one day be as a writer. The one thing I can take solace in is that I’m probably a better slam poet than him, but for all I know he could be an amazing slam poet and, honestly, I wouldn’t be all too surprised (I bet he could write a better Muppet poem than me, which slightly breaks my heart).

So. There is my love letter to The Fault in Our Stars.

And if you’ve read this whole thing but have not read the book (didn’t you see the spoilers warning?!) I strongly suggest you go out and purchase yourself a copy because, oh my goodness, you will not regret it.

Now back to watching vlogbrother videos and avoiding my Moby Dick homework.