Monday, January 25, 2016

Divergent (2014)

Is it just me or does every popular Young Adult, or YA, novel take place in a post dystopian society? Well, the stories usually begin when the societies within this post dystopian world are seemingly at peace after great unrest several years before. Then everything goes to shit because of one teenager or group of teenagers. Sounds like The Hunger Games and even like Divergent. (Maybe I should write a novel like this that takes place in a dystopian NJ… wait it’s been done in South Park and is pretty much like that in some parts already… dammit!). Unlike The Hunger Games, the story of Divergent is not set off entirely because of one teenager but it does involve a bunch of teenagers who see their entire world the way they knew come crumbling down at the hands of greed and power.
            The story begins on the day when Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are to choose their new factions. Their world is divided into five different factions: Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Candor, and Abnegation which Beatrice and Caleb belong to. When children turn sixteen a test is given to them to determine what faction they can go to or if they could stay in their own. Once that test is over they then go to a ceremony where they choose what faction they want to go if they want to switch. The only thing is they can never see their families again if they leave them behind.
            Beatrice is nervous about her test. She loves her brother and their mother and father but she just does not feel like she truly belongs in Abnegation. For the tests the kids are given a serum that create a simulation in their mind but the proctors can also see. Beatrice’s simulation is strange and different. So different is her simulation in fact that the proctor tells her to leave quickly that her tests are inconclusive and need to be changed. Her test came back that she could either be in Dauntless or Abnegation and if people found out she could be killed.
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            She is tortured about what she should choose. Beatrice does not want to let her parents down she does truly love them. She keeps thinking that her brother will stay. At the choosing ceremony Caleb chooses to go to Erudite which totally shocks Beatrice. Now she is truly tortured over what she must do. Following her gut Beatrice chooses to go with the Dauntless.
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Image result for divergent movie
            Dauntless are crazy buggers. They run around all fearless and create a little chaos wherever they go. The faction is also the one who guards the city’s huge wall. None of the new initiates are guaranteed a place in Dauntless they have to pass tests of all kinds. If they do not make the cut at the end of initiation they could be factionless. Beatrice struggles for a while against her fear, instinct, and other people to rise in the ranks of the initiates. She also struggles with her feelings for her trainer Four (Theo James)
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            Almost as soon as she is initiated into Dauntless war begins. The Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) has managed to get help from Dauntless to overthrow Abnegation and possibly even the other factions. At the initiation ceremony the former initiates are all injected with a serum that is a mind control serum. Beatrice or Tris as she chooses to be known as, is immune to the serum because she is Divergent. She watches as her Abnegation people are slaughtered. Even her parents fall in the attack.
            The cast was pretty good. Shailene Woodley is such a great actress. She is one of my favorite young actresses around today. She is so good in whatever role she plays. I thought Woodley was perfect as Tris, you could believe that this girl could be timid yet be able to totally kick your ass. Theo James, my god this man is so beautiful! He was a good Four but Four is supposed to be eighteen and I think James is in his early thirties. That is my only complaint and really it is not much of a complaint. Ansel Elgort was not really in this movie too much. Even if he was I do not really have an opinion of him as an actor. Miles Teller was also in this movie as Peter who, I guess, is one of the movie’s antagonists. The character of Peter is so much better in the book. Like there is a reason you do not like him in the movie but in the book there is a gigantic reason why you HATE him. Miles Teller is great in whatever role he is in just like Woodley is. Acting seems to come so naturally to him that he fits into whatever character he plays. Kate Winslet was good in the role of Jeanine Matthews. There is a “but” to this, since Winslet was cast I am pretty sure her character’s role was greatly expanded and I feel this expansion took away from other aspects of the story. The expansions also sucked for the character as well I think. I have to give a big mention to Maggie Q who played the test proctor Tori. Even though her role was small I have nothing but praise for her. She fit right in the Dauntless world.
            Now, is it just me or does it seem that a girl is always the main character in these post-dystopian societies and they are the ones who bring change or that change happens when they come around? I do not want this to sound like a complaint because it is not. I am all for girls/women becoming stronger people and helping to bring about change for the better I think it is super empowering to teenage girls or women who read them. Maybe I do not read enough YA books or watch enough YA movies to know what the hell I am talking about.
            Divergent was pretty good. Usually I am alright with the differences between book and movie but with Divergent there was so many smaller moments that were left of the movie from the book that some parts just did not make sense. I will not go too deep into the differences between book and movie. If you are cool enough and would like to see a discussion my friend Lizzy and I had about the book and the movie check out our video review here.

            Divergent is definitely worth seeing at least once. 
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Yves Saint-Laurent (2014)

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Fashion history is one of my passions in life. I love seeing the evolution of fashion and style and the men and women who changed fashion each decade in the 1900s. I see fashion as an art and like artworks I find fashion so compelling. Every stitch, every color choice, every choice of patter and material, all tells a story. They can tell the story of their creator’s ideals and beliefs n what fashion is and what it can be. In the case of some designers like Alexander McQueen clothes can tell the story of the inner turmoil and struggle the designer suffered through in their life.
            I am not a fashionista in the slightest but I have such a deep appreciation for clothing and what they can do for us.  I wish I had a nice job and the money to be able to buy gorgeous pant suits and skirts and shirts and have cocktail parties and gala openings to attend so I could wear gorgeous dresses. To me fashion is not so much about showing off flash and cash and looking desirable. It is about finding that one outfit or those few outfits that make you feel fabulous and give you a power strut and boost of confidence.
            So now that you know I have a deep love and appreciation and passion for fashion history you now know why I chose to watch the 2014 biopic Yves Saint-Laurent.
            The biopic begins with Saint-Laurent’s take-over of the House of Dior when Dior passed away in the 1950s. Saint-Laurent ushered in beautiful clothes of his own designs while still keeping with Dior’s vision. Sometime later Saint-Laurent has a break down and is pushed out of his position at Dior. With the help of his partner Pierre, Saint-Laurent is able to open his own house and become one of the greatest fashion designers of the Twentieth Century.
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            Saint-Laurent was also a troubled man between being gay and drugs and alcohol. He struggles to get himself together while creating clothes for women all over the world.
            Yves Saint-Laurent was not too bad of movie. I was more interested in seeing what went into making and designing the clothes rather than his personal life. But alas, the scandal and personal life of the rich and famous are what attract people. I see getting into someone’s personal life like this gossip and I HATE gossip. I would always much rather focus on what a famous person, be it a designer or actor/actress or singer, is known for. The story here kind of takes a look into some of what inspired Saint-Laurent such as his African-inspired collection and his middle eastern-inspired collection and even his most famous Mondrian dresses. I do not know much about Yves Saint-Laurent as a designer. He is one designer I have yet to fully research. But, even though I was not too much a fan of this biopic, after watching it I am very interested into researching Saint-Laurent very soon. I love the cuts and experimentation and inspiration of his clothing.

            Yves-Saint Laurent is worth watching at least once. With all biopics they are never really as good as the true, full story you find with research. I can only hope this biopic sets off your curious nature and leads you to find out more about this creative, troubled, brilliant designer just as it has for me. 
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Crow (1994)

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"If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever."

            A lot of revenge movies usually fall along the lines of a couple were very happy together and then the couple is robbed or something shady goes down and the girl in the couple is killed and the guy is left alive. The guy is devastated and left a different after the girl dies and then he goes all vigilante looking for justice and kicking some bad guy ass. (Seriously, did I just explain a whole bunch of superhero movies and revenge movies or what?). The only revenge movie I can think of that is a little different and darker is The Crow.
            On Devil’s Night, the day before Halloween, rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancé Shelly Webster are killed.  Shelly has been raped and beaten and Eric has been shot, stabbed, and thrown out of a window onto the street. For thirty hours Shelly suffers and finally dies.
            A year later on yet another Devil’s Night a crow lands on Eric’s grave. A moment later Eric comes shooting out of it. He has been brought back to life to avenge his and Shelly’s deaths. Eric returns to their apartment and he gets painful flashbacks to the night he and Shelly were murdered. With help from the crow where he can see whatever the crow sees, Eric tracks down the gang one by one and kills them all. He finds out the person who ordered the hit on him and Shelly is a ruthless crime lord who controls all the crime and drug deals in the city called Top Dollar.
Image result for the crow 1994
Image result for the crow 1994

            The Crow is a movie I had been wanting to see for a couple of years now. I never knew what it was about all I had ever seen of it was the poster. I finally sat down to watch it and I really liked it a lot. I liked it so much, in fact, that I am adding it to my list of favorite movies. I liked how it was a revenge movie but it was different with Eric coming back from the dead a year after he died. He was freaking dead he was not alive or hurt for a year he was freaking dead, he came back, and kicked some ass! One think that kind of drives me nuts with revenge movies is that the guy seeking revenge has a conscious about killing others or whatever have you. Eric did not care, he just killed all the bad guys and that was awesome! I think the whole atmosphere and subject matter was dark but, to me, there seemed a lightness to it at the same time. It did not feel as heavy as some of the other revenge movies I have seen. That could just be me thinking that, who knows. The entire movie from start to finish was really, really good. I like everything about The Crow and I cannot wait to watch it again. The Crow is definitely worth watching if you have not already.
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Monday, January 11, 2016

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

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“Well I'm not a scientist. But I know all things begin and end in eternity.”

            At the risk of sounding like a pretentious asshole, yes I have watched and am reviewing The Man Who Fell to Earth because of the passing of David Bowie over the weekend. I do like David Bowie as an artist I have quite a few songs on my iPod but I am not in any way claiming to be a massive Bowie fan, I leave that to my brother Anthony. Anthony is not only a huge fan of classic rock he is also a huge, massive movie fan. He is currently getting his degree in film studies and would like to get his PhD in the subject (he’s the one who should really be running a movie blog and a YouTube channel, but alas he has a life and actually works really, really hard). Some time ago he worked cataloging his college’s DVD collection and was able to use a program the film department had to upload them to the computer. One of the DVDs he was able to upload was The Man Who Fell to Earth. Anthony was going on and on about how much he loved it that when he came home for break one day he let me put the movie on my computer. I feel bad that it took David Bowie dying for me to finally sit down and watch The Man Who Fell to Earth.
            The story begins with an alien going by the name of Thomas Jerome Newton (Bowie) crashing down to earth. He has come down to Earth to bring water back to his planet. To get the water to his planet Thomas has brought down some patents that he brings to a patent lawyer. The patents for pieces of technology bring Thomas a fortune.
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            Unfortunately, things and people come into Thomas’s life that do not allow him to return home and his family that he left behind has died.
            I am not going to go into too much detail of The Man Who Fell to Earth because I got a little lost and a little bored with it after a while. Forgive, I have ADHD and this movie was about an hour and a half way too long for my attention span to withstand. What I was able to pay attention to I liked it. I liked the direction by Nicholas Roeg it was different and interesting. David Bowie did an excellent job with his acting given that it was his very first movie. Apparently, Bowie said he acted based off of his mood the day he showed up to set. And you know what, it worked very well. I think what kind of turned me off to the movie after a while was the actress who played Mary-Lou. Or maybe it was just the character. Either way I could not take her she annoyed the crap outta me!

            The Man Who Fell to Earth was not a terrible movie. I looked up the story and looking back on watching it the story is not bad. I will say it is worth watching at least once. 
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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Silent Sundays: The Idle Class (1921)

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The world has always been concerned with class and high society. We all think people of high society have it all: the money, the fame, the glory, the power, and whatever the hell their hearts desire. But of course all of those things can only make them happy for so long. At the risk of sounding cheesy, without love all of those things do not matter. In The Idle Class we see that love, not money, is all anyone really wants in life.
            It is summer time and all the rich and idle head down to Miami for some sun. Edna (Edna Purviance) is one of those idle people who has come down for vacation. Her husband (Charlie Chaplin) is already at the hotel. From her telegram to him he is apparently a drunk who does not really pay attention to her. While trying to get down to the lobby to meet Edna the husband walks out of the room without his pants on. He gets back to his room just as Edna has walked in and ran to the bedroom. Edna sees him in his suit and hat in bed and thinks he is drunk from the night before. She writes him a letter that she is staying in another room for a while.
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Image result for the idle class 1921
Image result for the idle class 1921
            Another person who arrived in Miami is The Tramp (also Charlie Chaplin) via the baggage compartment on the train. His first day around the resort he plays a round of golf. As in all of Chaplin’s films the round of golf gets crazy and silly when The Tramp makes a very big guy stumble and fall all over the place. He has to chase after the golf ball and he just happens to see Edna riding by on a horse and he falls madly in love with her.
            That afternoon Edna writes a letter to her husband hat if he attends the costume ball being held at the resort she will consider staying with him. The husband dresses up in a suit of armor complete with a helmet that of course gets stuck and he cannot get it off. Meanwhile The Tramp has gotten into a little mix up and he has to run away from a police officer. He manages to evade the officer and runs into the ball. He also just so happens to look like Edna’s husband and one of the resort employees tells him someone is waiting for him. The Tramp cannot believe that the woman he had seen riding a horse earlier in the day is waiting for him. He is even more thrilled to be sitting with her when she begins to hold his hand.
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            Edna’s husband comes down to the party and starts attacking The Tramp and then gets kicked out. The big guy from golf earlier in the day is also at the party and it turns out he is Edna’s father but since he looks a lot like Edna’s husband the situation is alright until The Tramp says he and Edna are not married.
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            Of course the truth comes to light that The Tramp is not really Edna’s husband and he is yet again all alone.

            I really, really liked The Idle Class. I thought it was really funny and I liked all the little jokes and gags Chaplin threw in it. What I really liked about it though was how all Edna wanted was for her husband to be better and love her. The Tramp is kind and I like how all he wanted was to be loved too. The Idle Class is one of the best Charlie Chaplin I have seen and I really hope you all go watch it as soon as you can. It is available to view in full on YouTube
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