Sunday, August 28, 2011

Movie Review: Inception (2010)

Now for another positive!

One friend of mine often calls this the best film ever made. I don't know, but I thought it was quite amazing. I only saw it once, and that was when it came out, but I'm now in love with Christopher Nolan as a director and writer. I have yet to see any Batman film, including his ones, and this movie bent my mind in ways you couldn't imagine if you haven't seen it.

A man called Cobb (played by the legendary Leonardo DiCaprio; forgot the character's first name) is lost in a world of dreams trying to rescue his wife from limbo. Cobb and his men go deep into dreams within dreams within dreams, etc., attempting to navigate the forever-shifting labyrinth of the human mind in order to get back home to reality. It's got some pretty amazing stuff, like the ground bending upward and cars upside-down overhead (still driving), and the hotel-hallway fight scene was also spectacular. I'm literally feeling a mental loss of gravity right now thinking about it.

The music was by soundtrack emperor Hans Zimmer, who scored Pirates of the Caribbean 2, 3, and 4, Nolan's Dark Knight (Batman) franchise, The Lion King, Sherlock Holmes (2009), and so on and so forth. I enjoy the famous "Inception Horn" (not sure if Zimmer composed that sound), and I should probably buy this movie's score on iTunes soon.

I also think "Leo" is a great actor, and Dileep Rao (the scientist guy) was in three movies I've seen - Drag Me to Hell, Avatar (blue people one, not airbenders), and this. Sam Worthington was in the dreadful Terminator Salvation, Avatar as well, and the newer Clash of the Titans. My question is, Where did they go afterward? I hope to see them again sometime.

Well then, I suppose that is all.

Final grade: A

Movie Review: Epic Movie (2007)

I debated with myself whether this film was even worth the time to review. Still, I suppose it deserves a permanent place in the Hall of Shame.

When I saw Eragon, this was previewed - and I'd re-watch Eragon a thousand times before ever viewing Epic Movie again. I thought it looked amusing, and that was one of my biggest mistakes ever. One of the least funny things ever, and I wish I had my money back so I could see Twilight instead. Yes, I just said that. That's how bad this was. As Meyer's paperback turd is my least favorite book, I detest this movie thrice as much. Just about all of the jokes involve someone getting stabbed or eating stool, with no other reason for humor. I mean, I don't mind violence, but how is it funny? Mind, it can be funny, but by itself? That's pathetic.

I don't even feel like details. I'm actually feeling fine, but I thought I'd get this out of the way. Cheers!

Final grade: F

Book Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I've done a lot of positive book reviews on here. This one is very negative. Twilight is currently my number one least favorite book - I haven't read too many bad books (I suppose I'm good at judging them by their covers, ha), but this one SUCKED. I don't feel like telling the actual plot, but here's what I thought it would be:

Bella Swan (Swann? Oh, I don't care) falls in love with a vampire who doesn't sparkle. She knows it is wrong but there is no cliche for that yet, so she goes ahead and does it. Edward has a part which threatens to take over and kill Bella (Gollum-like), and he cannot control it. He could attack her once and maybe she'd ward him off with garlic or something. Vampire hunters would come into play, and Edward (being the guy from the preface, no James) and Bella flee, but are led into a trap. He loses it again and lunges at Bella, and is shot at the last moment with a stake of ash or holly, or maybe a wooden bullet. Bella cries over Edward's ruined body and the hunter tells her it was for the best, he is saved now. As she walks away, Bella begins to feel an itch on her neck. She slowly reaches up to touch it and
THE END. No sequels. Every damn book nowadays has to be in a series, it seems.

Probably not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the real thing. But I was severely disappointed: Edward saves her Aslan style, meaning he defeats the bad guys by basically blinking (not literally). Defeats the purpose of conflict and tension, say I. I prefer the bad guys to have the high ground, so that the stakes, too, are higher. Plus Meyer butchered a fascinating concept (see previous post) and taught young girls that abusive relationships are OK. I've heard that all the books end by him saving her, and she does nothing to earn his love. She's lucky (or not) to be with him. As lucky in the being saved sense (not the abuse sense) as Meyer was to publish this trash. No originality, sloppy writing, weak characters, and sexist message. I hear she doesn't read vampire fiction herself because it upsets her to see anything too close to or far from her own fairies. Blegh. And she'd never even written a short story. Makes me and a lot of other honest writers want to vomit, I'm sure. I know it makes me.

And for those of you comparing it to Harry Potter: just don't. It's nothing like that. Not only is in infinitely worse than Rowling's gem, it's a different type of story. As a dear friend of mine says, "Apples to kiwis!"

'K, I'm done.

Final grade: F

Slaying and Butchering

Slaying vampires is freaking awesome. Butchering their concept is not. What has happened to media!? It might have started with Twilight, my all-time least favorite book, but now they have an entire section at the bookstore devoted to paranormal romance. And now, apparently, there is paranormal erotica. If Count Dracula were still undead, he'd bite garlic, stake himself, or maybe run into daylight. And I'm sure Bram Stoker is spinning in his grave.

I think I'll do a numerical list:

  1. They do not bloody sparkle! That is the least menacing thing ever.
  2. Don't date them! They will bite you and have you drink their blood in exchange! Eek!
  3. Why are they made out to be sexually attractive? If I fell in love, I'd prefer my partner to be, well, alive. Ugh.
  4. You YA romance writers are crowding out most chances of us actual fantasy and/or horror writers publishing vampire stories. It's become a cliche and horror publishers are apt to assume that we are writing about fairies as opposed to bloodsucking demons.
  5. What ever happened to the awesome backstories? Satan, the Reaper, werewolves, snakes, bats, crows and ravens, underworld, Hell, necromancy, wolves, spiders, rats, mist, smoke, curses, and so on? Now they are just overdone humans.
  6. As a continuation of #5, where did the scary go? The only reason Edward makes me shiver is that he watches Bella sleep, and teenage girls find it acceptable. Vampires, nosferatus, used to be an emblem of terror. Watch Dracula or Salem's Lot (both the 1979 versions - year of vampires?) and you'll see what I mean. Undead Mina approaching her father under the cemetery and saying "Papa?" (Dracula) and demonic Danny Glick tapping on Mark Petries window (Salem's Lot) are both spine-chilling. The books of both are even better, although I loved the appearance of Kurt Barlow (Salem's Lot master vampire) ,and Count Dracula's ability to crawl down walls was beyond really cool.
  7. Werewolves. I actually thought the ones in the New Moon film were pretty cool, although I have no plans to read it, and I don't consider the wolves to be "were-". They are supposed to change at the full moon, not by will, and they become a wild beast instead of fully-in-control teddy bears. If you want good werewolf movies, watch any Wolf Man film (I've seen the newest one and half the 1941 version), The American Werewolf in London, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, or Van Helsing - VH is not a perfect film critically speaking, but the vampires are really cool, as are the werewolves. It's a fun watch. And it also has the Frankenstein monster and Mr. Hyde - a bit of a mash-up of horror beasts.
I suppose that is all. I have school tomorrow and this is my third post tonight, so I'd better hit the hay!

Long (unlive?) the true meaning of necromancy and vampirism! Sanguis bibimus! Ave Draculea!

Living, breathing love from,

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I should have read this for eighth grade, but shall we say complications arose and I did not. Most of my friends seem to have read it. I read Number the Stars by Lowry a year or two back and it was decent, but I prefer this. I saw Ms. Lowry at the bookstore once but did not meet her; she seemed nice, though.

So I listened to the audio book - four discs, narrated by Ron Rifkin. It's about a Utopian society which doesn't seem so bad until further along, but there's a lot of spoiler traps here. Let's just say the protagonist, Jonas, is selected to be the new Receiver, onto whom the Giver bestows memories. He finds out that the world has sort of stopped, that they are no longer moving forward due to fearful contentment. And that the authorities do awful things and lie about them to please people. (Personally I'd rather be upset and knowledgeable than ignorant and happy, dependably.)

I didn't agree with what Jonas does at the end (literally runs away - I'd have him rebel), so that's minus a star. I know there are some "companion" books, so maybe I'll look at them. They are Gathering Blue and Messenger, the latter of which I also have as an audio file. I did rather enjoy this book. Took me long enough.

Final grade: B

Movie Review: Fright Night (2011)

I wasn't sure if I'd like this film, but I was impressed. It was actually quite funny and dark (a good combination anywhere). The premise is that a high-school boy becomes convinced that his next-door neighbor is a vampire - and he's right. I haven't seen the original, but my parents agreed that this one was better - not that the first was not good, but that this one was more so. And they had a cameo of the vampire actor from said original; I can't remember his first name, but he is, or was - I don't know with these Hollywood people - married to Susan Sarandon. Anyhow, David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) was also in this movie, which increased the awesome points, and the score was by Ramin Djawadi; I'm listening to it now. Spooky-but-fun Halloween-ish sound to it. Mind, it did have some vulgarity and bloodshed, so it's not for young children, but my soon-to-turn-thirteen sister Laura saw it with us and seemed OK.

It had one major plot flaw, which my father had to point out to me: Jerry the vampire (hahaha! JERRY!) ripped out an oil pipe from the Brewster house and set their home on fire through it, even though apparently that would not work in real life as he had severed it. Other than that I had no issue with it. The title does resemble an '80's B-movie (not in particular, it's just a B title. Fright Night? Come on), but don't judge a book by its cover...or a movie by its title. Unless you're in a rush or something. Then it is fine.

I suppose in one sense this is a B movie: I give it a B as a grade. It's not a gem in the art of film, but it is fun and enjoyable, which (as mentioned a few posts ago) increases awesome points as well. I also envied Tennant's armory. Someday, Lewis, someday you will have your own.

Final grade: B

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Sequels

"Call no man happy ... until he is dead." - Neil Gaiman, American Gods

"Obla di, obla dah, life goes on, bruh! La-lala-lala-la!" - The Beatles

Sometimes we accomplish something and feel great about our victory. Sometimes we lose something and despair. Never is it the end. That's what I like about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the novels of Brian Jacques: the adventures continue, as in life. Now I don't mean to contradict my older post "The Serial Killer" - Hollywood certainly does not know when to stop with sequels and remakes and so on - but if done properly, a second story and so on can be great. Not necessarily a continuation of where the last one left off; it can also be an entirely different story in the same universe.

I was very happy when I got out of middle school, but it was not the end. New adversities popped up, and t obe quite frank I am glad they do. Life's no fun without a bit of spice, and while the outcome might not always be favorable, if it was I'd get bored. Olivia posted a while back about the novel Things Fall Apart and how just because Okonkwo dies at the end, that doesn't make it less of a story. (Spoilers, sorry! Too late.) And I agree wholeheartedly.

Life does not end until death. And perhaps not even then.


[insert quote here]

People often ask now if I'm excited for the new school year. Sure. But eager? Well, not as eager as last time, but I suppose it will be fun. Mostly. I still have not received a list of supplies to get, which is frightening, and I despise the way they teach science in my county. I love science, just not in school. But I'll be taking English III - and I love English, in case you hadn't realized - and French I and II. French should be interesting; they probably won't actually teach us the language, more just a few snippets plus some culture and maybe history, but it ought to be fun anyhow. I'm taking the actual language on LiveMocha.

I'll get to see friends. Also unfriends - what I just now decided to call people who would be enemies but are simply not worth it. I find it better not to waste my time with scummy folk. But overall I'm going to welcome another year at Hogw--er, Cary High. It'll probably be over before I know it, seeing how fast these things go.

I need some tea, and the Chihuahua needs an oatmeal bath.

Au revoir,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Arms & Armor

I am one of the most peaceful and loving people you will ever meet.

I also love weapons. Paradoxical? I think not. Weapons, while originally designed to do harm, can also be for display, acting props, sport, etc. I particularly like swords, especially rapiers, but I really prefer not to hurt a fly. Or anything else, for that matter. People who judge me for loving knives and guns must not know me well; otherwise they'd realize my real intent.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Which I Release my Inner Irishman

"Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo!" - An old Irish folk tale I heard in fourth grade

I'm Irish. I live in America, I was born in North Carolina and have always lived there, but I look Irish, sound Irish, and people often ask where I am from. I'm also Scottish-English-German, but those are other topics for now.

I suppose I fit a bit of a stereotype: I love potatoes and the color green, and ginger ale and corned beef (that is, i did while I still ate meat) - but I don't drink and fight, so don't worry. Even when I'm twenty-one or whatever, I don't plan on consuming alcohol. And I'm not a physical person in terms of conflict, although the concepts of fencing and stage-fight choreography fascinate me.

I want to go back to the old country. I went there at age four - my only foreign trip to date - but my memory is quite foggy about it - green fields, castles, sheep, and that's about it. I've seen pictures of countryside landscapes and old-fashioned Irish cottages, both of which are beautiful. Irish goats have long curvy horns, and Irish draught horses are strong and great. Not sure I'd want to live there, because of costs and such - maybe for a year or two, but not for long - I've thought about living in Europe for a year or so, but not sure which country - but visiting would be grand.

I feel a magnetic sort of pull, a homesick longing to see Ireland in all its glory, and it's on my priority list to visit when I get to traveling. That will probably be in or after college, as I don't see much hope for it now or in the next few years. One more thing: Irish/Celtic instrumental music is soothing and dreamlike, and I love it. The only things I can think of which come close to it are the Herb Moore Trio's music and Bruno Coulais's score to Coraline. Now I'm listening to "Lord of the Dance" - and yes, Irish dancing is fun.

- Lewis

Sunday, August 7, 2011


"Who says that I am dead knows nought at all." - Brian Jacques, Redwall

"It is a hopeless endeavour to attract people to a theatre unless they can first be brought to believe that they will never get in." - Charles Dickens

"The adrenaline of a live performance is unlike anything in film or theatre. I can see why it's so addictive." - Gwyneth Paltrow

"The atmosphere of the theatre is my oxygen." - Placido Domingo

Last night I finally made it to some of my friends' rendition of Shakespeare's As You Like It...with Star Wars characters. It was rather amusing to listen to the wit of the clown, and inspiring to watch all of the sword fights, especially the one in the prologue where everyone was fighting with lightsabers. Epic! I found that rather inspiring, which was what the lady in charge said she had hoped. I'm glad they at least know me now at the Applause! theatre. I know a certain fellow who acts in it - very well, I might add - but was rather discouraging many months ago upon my asking about theatre life. He told me the very opposite of anything helpful, which was that I am too old and not serious about my acting since I have no experience.

Now, let's break that pompous statement into three parts. One: I'm too old. One of the above-quoted, Gwyneth Paltrow, was a few years older than I am now when she started. And she's in many movies now, and a damned good actress. I am not seeking Hollywood; it might be nice, but for now I am contented to act and sing on the stage and on local films. Maybe indies someday. My uncle is over fifty years of age and was in a scene from some show with Dan Aykroyd. He also sells cars to John Rhys-Davies. I say, it's never too late unless one is dead. And who says that I am dead knows nought at all! Two: I'm not serious about it. He says that about just about anyone not in Applause!, regardless of other factors. I've known some very good performers who never played with them. It's like saying those who aren't published by a certain house are not serious writers. I am more serious than ever now and I look forward to minoring in theatre and creative writing once I hit college in a few years or so. I plan to act until my bones rot - or burn. I've thought about cremation, but I try not to think of my own demise too often. It should be far away, despite my fascination with death. Three: The bloke claims I have no experience. Wrong again, sir. I rehearsed for a school play in fourth grade before being kicked out - don't remember why, but hey! - I was a kid, so that's that. And in fifth grade I played brave, brave Sir Robin from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and got thrown from the Bridge of Death. How awesome is that?

I will certainly audition if able for the next Applause! play, and the next and so on. I don't let people like that stop me because I'm serious about my acting. I have a camp at the Raleigh Little Theatre starting tomorrow and they seem pretty interesting so far. I plan to join my school's drama club come this school year. And I'll most likely make Applause! at some point. It will be grand to make my return to the stage at long last, and to stay there.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Critical Enjoyment

"A film is--or should be--more like music than fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later." - Stanley Kubrick

"I don't take movies seriously, and anyone who does is in for a headache." - Bette Davis

"You're only as good as your last picture." - Marie Dressler


I think there's a difference between types of good and bad movies. One is whether it is well-written, acted, directed, etc., and the other is enjoyment. Sure, they're contributory to one another, but one doesn't entirely change the other. For example, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had a few plot holes (and I'd  have to give it a C rather than my earlier B), yet it still was funny and exciting. Same with the newer Star Wars films, Eragon (the movie), Van Helsing, and the Inheritance books as well (which include Eragon and don't have bad plots, just somewhat unoriginal ones). There is a book I had to read for school called Anthem (by Ayn Rand) that was terribly lazy in its plot, had ridiculously blown-out ideas, and took itself way too seriously. Not something I'd read for pleasure, yet it somehow stood the test of time and is for some reason hailed as a "philosophical" classic.

Sometimes what we watch for fun isn't award material, but still fun. Also I wanted to mention that a movie based on a book can be unfaithful and still good, if done well in its own right (such as several Dracula films, Stardust, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory [the old one], Frankenstein [1931], etc.) I haven't read The Lovely Bones, but I enjoyed the adaptation. Stanley Kubrick's version of Stephen King's contemporary horror classic The Shining is disliked by many who have read the novel, yet I and many others love it (funnily enough, despite my being a King fan, I haven't read the book). I've heard similar things about Secret Window, another Stephen-King-based movie derived from "Secret Window, Secret Garden" - a novella featured in his collection Four Past Midnight. But Johnny Depp is in it and he's great. Plus I recall the writing and directing being interesting. But who knows? It has been a while.

James Cameron's Avatar is often accused of relying on special effects to tell a story. I disagree. While the story may not have been the most spectacular tale ever spun, there was not much wrong with it. I would say that there are two directors who do use effects to tell a story: Michael Bay (Transformers 1, 2, and 3 - please don't make a 4) and Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). At least Mr. Emmerich does not include as much sexism and racism as Mr. Bay. I think. I don't actually recall, but I won't willingly watch them again, although the effects in 2012 were at least entertaining.

But some movies are just torture to watch, like reading a phone book or tax records in place of a novel. These include Michael Bay films, any parody along the lines of Epic Movie (though I saw part of one Scary Movie installment, and it seemed OK), Son of Godzilla, Land of the Lost (Will Ferrell one), and anything by Tyler Perry. The reason I dislike Perry's movies is that they seem to all resolve in luck, meaning something JUST HAPPENS to go perfectly out of the protagonist's control, like a rich relative he or she didn't know about dying (Meet the Browns, which I was forced to watch once). And the humor is repetitive.

But don't worry, I do like plenty of movies. Just pointing out the not-enjoyable ones for me. I also have to wonder at people who base their opinions off of those of critics, such as my maternal grandmother. Many people I know didn't like the new Clash of the Titans, whereas I thought it was better than the original - a rare case with me. Maybe I missed something.

The point is, people should be free-thinking on media, not love everything but not hate everything either (like someone I know does [the latter]), and take in multiple factors. Don't ruin a movie for yourself because of a couple plot holes. And at the same time, look out for them! And don't love a movie because it's critically good but not enjoyable.

To quote a movie I don't remember the goodness of, but remember loving the book it was based on:

"Yes! That is all!" (Iorek Byrnison (voiced by Ian McKellen [also Gandalf], The Golden Compass, 2007 - based on the novel by Philip Pullman)