Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

Surround yourself with art

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Art
Tags: , , , , ,

SplatterAs a creative person, it is so incredibly important to immerse yourself in a creative world. Surround yourself with other people’s creativity — whether it’s their writing, their drawings, their music, or something else entirely. Living in an artistic environment will transfer some of their energy and creativity into your personal space, guaranteed.

I experience this all the time. I track down artists that I enjoy and like them on Facebook, follow their Tumblr, or add them on Twitter. Most of them time they’re just freelance artists. Sometimes they have regular jobs, and sometimes they have made it enough to turn their hobby into a full-time gig.

If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what it.

My favorite artist is Karen Hallion, who creates incredible works of art, my favorite of which are her Doctor Who/Disney mash-ups. It reminds me to think outside the box (pun intended) and to maybe try to put two things together that might at first seem as though they don’t work. You might be surprised by what you discover.

Looking at art gives me the same sort of feeling that reading a good book does. You get those goosebumps and that swelling feeling in the pit of your stomach. That’s what inspiration feels like for me, and it’s such a great feeling to have. It reminds you that other people are doing exactly what you want to do, that it is possible, and if you can just put in enough effort and enough hours, you’ll be able to have what they have.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one doing the inspiring some day.

This all comes down to feeding your muse. Do it in whatever way works best for you, whatever form of art gets her excited and ready to create. I prefer looking at art and reading books, but others enjoy writing to music or watching a good movie. Whatever you choose, do it often.

What do you choose to surround yourself with in order to inspire you? Do you have a favorite artist, writer, or musician that you usually turn to?

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1fun
noun \ˈfən\

: someone or something that is amusing or enjoyable : an enjoyable experience or person

: an enjoyable or amusing time

: the feeling of being amused or entertained

I should preface this blog post by saying two of the other girls and I had a fantastic discussion on Book Hype yesterday about the merit of Young Adult fiction. The episode won’t be out until tomorrow, but be sure to check my Facebook page or the Book Hype Twitter for the link when it goes live.

Although I would like to hear what you have to say about the topic, that’s not what I’m writing about today. I wanted to mention Book Hype because we often have great discussions about a variety of topics that don’t have easy solutions. Talking about matters complexly is something that I love to do, and it’s something that I devote a lot of time doing on behalf of Hypable.

But what about having fun? Have we forgotten about that? If so, I suggest you reread the definition again.

Like I said, I have no problem with really digging in deep when it comes to having an intellectual conversation. That’s something that I think needs to be done. But what about just enjoying a story for the sake of it being a good story?

This has really been brought to my attention lately with the recent 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, along with conversations taking place about Catching Fire and Teen Wolf, among many, many other things. Fans of these stories seem to be getting more and more critical. They’re forgetting that the main focus of the story is to entertain. Where has the fun gone?

I’m not saying that all stories are meant to be fun. Many of the themes in the Hungers Games trilogy certainly aren’t. But what happened to soaking in the words of a good book or TV show or movie? Why do we have to cut down the authors and writers and directors for some of the smallest details?

Even when those details aren’t so small, why do we have to overthink their meaning and make judgments on those people as human beings? Is that fair? I don’t think it is.

A lot of it harkens back to the fact that we as a species just love to complain. We’re never satisfied. We always want more. That’s great to an extent, but why should there be so much hatred toward your favorite stories? If you spend more time complaining about them than enjoying them, I think you’re doing it wrong.

While I think everything should have an underlying meaning that can spark conversation and action, I also think we can’t forget about how fun a good book or a good television show or a good movie can be.

What do you think?

catching fire posterBottom Line:

Rent it, buy it, or don’t bother? — Buy it.

Details:

[No spoilers.]

Did anyone expect Catching Fire not to be amazing? Because it was. But it also left me a little overwhelmed. I loved the movie, I truly did, but part of me is still looking for something. Something more? Maybe. Something else? Possibly.

I don’t know what it is, and I can’t explain it. I’m not disappointed, not in the slightest. But I’m hoping to see it again soon. I think that will help me get my thoughts in order.

But no one has time for that now! You guys want to know how the movie was, and I’m here to tell you that it was spectacular.

Cinematically, the movie was beautiful. District 12 was drab and full of sorrow, the Capitol was lively and full of color, the arena was sprawling and dangerous, and the CGI was impeccable. There really are no complaints here.

The acting was, of course, spot on. We have to talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance because it stole the show every single time. She’s so great at moving between the truly emotional scenes, whether she’s scared or upset, and the hilarious scenes, of which there are plenty. Her interactions with the other tributes, particularly Johanna and Finnick, are laugh out loud funny. She makes the best faces.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta really stepped it up in this movie. He’s exactly the Peeta I pictured from the book, and the more I see him, the more I’m convinced Suzanne Collins actually based the character off of the actor. Liam Hemsworth was great as Gale, even considering his limited screen time. Haymitch and Cinna continue to be some of my favorites, and I really thought Effie’s emotional scenes were particularly touching.

The Victory Tour was poignant, and the Games were frightening. I often found myself tensed up in my seat even though I knew exactly what was going to happen. That’s the mark of a great movie.

And speaking of being a great movie, this truly was a fantastic adaptation. I haven’t read the book in a while, but a lot of little details that stuck out in my mind were in the film. There was one particular scene that was missing, but in the end I actually think it may have been an asset for viewers who hadn’t read the books.

The highlights for me were just the beauty and scope of the movie and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. That ending shot right before the credits roll… Wow. You can see every thought and every emotion on her face, and it sent chills down my spine.

Let me know what you thought about Catching Fire in the comments. Remember that while this review was spoiler-free, the comments won’t be. I look forward to discussing the movie with you guys!

Potterheads accepted the end of Harry Potter. The books were over. The movies were finished. Sure, there was a Wizarding World theme park, and exhibitions here and there. And, let’s face it, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

So, no. Harry Potter was never dead. It was never gone. It was still alive and well, albeit pushed to the back shelf, to be visited regularly, but to never experience anything new.

Until. Now.

I’m sure you’ve been camping out on a mountain peak if you haven’t heard the news yet. There will be more Harry Potter. (Kind of. We’ll get there in a minute.) Within thirty seconds of the announcement, people all over the world were like this guy. If I owned a set of robes, *I* would have been like that guy.

But that didn’t stop me from freaking out. All day. My mind was like a sieve. Work? Screw work! WE HAVE NEW HARRY POTTER.

*ahem*

The basic rundown is this. J.K. Rowling is going to be writing a new series of films based on the life of Newt Scamander and the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s going to be set in 1920s New York, and it’s going to be awesome.

That last bit was my commentary. But still fact.

So, no. It’s not Harry Potter, per se. But it’s set in the same world. And I kind of like this idea better. For one, it’s written by J.K. Rowling. She’ll have exclusive rights over the scripts. That means everything will be accurate according to what’s in her head. It’s every fan’s dream realized. Secondly, this won’t touch what we already know. It’s not a remake, a reboot, or a re-anything. It’s not even a prequel, really. It’s its own entity, and it expands the universe.

Like I said. Every fan’s dream.

All we needed was a reason. We were waiting on the sidelines, happy with what we had, grateful for the time when the entire franchise was still developing. You could never get rid of the Potterheads, but we quieted down a little bit. We stopped walking the streets in our robes. (Well, most of us, anyway.)

But we’re back and in full force. There’s going to be more Harry Potter. New Harry Potter. And if I wasn’t excited for anything in the upcoming years (and there’s a lot in terms of films, in just 2015 alone), this was the cherry on top of an already extra large sundae.

Harry Potter was, and still is, a phenomenon. It’s a world event. It was my childhood. I already had the spark of an avid reader and a writer inside of me, but Jo fanned that flame and made that fire burn with a vengeance. I owe her a lot. Many people do. And we get to continue to bow down in her presence for many years to come.

To say I’m excited would obviously be a bit of an understatement.

What do you think, friends? Yay or nay to more Wizarding World? Do you care about Newt Scamander’s story? We’re covering all the news on Hypable, with plenty of featured opinion articles as well.

Lost Years of Merlin CoverThe Lost Years of Merlin book, and the accompanying series, is one of my favorites of all time. I mean, it’s up there with Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson.

If you haven’t heard of it before, please do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s by T.A. Barron, and it deserves to be better known than it is. It’s the story of Merlin before he became the infamous wizard and mentor to Arthur, before he knew exactly what he was and who he could become.

I would call it YA, but it reads more like an epic. Something closer to A Song of Ice and Fire (from what I’ve heard, at least, I haven’t read it yet) than Harry Potter.

And they’re making it into a film. This both excites me beyond words (read: asdfghjk; !!!!!) and terrifies me.

I mean, what if they mess it up? What if everyone thinks it’s a dumb movie? What if it flops and they don’t get to make the second, third, fourth, and fifth films? I’ll be devastated. No, really. I’ll have to take off work for bereavement.

It has the potential to become huge. WB is pooling its resources and really hopes to make this The Next Big Thing. I don’t know if it will be, but it definitely has the potential.

Part of me doesn’t want them to make the movie. No movie would be better than a terrible one (see: many people’s feelings about Lightning Thief). And if the movie is terrible, maybe they won’t even give the books a try. That would be a travesty.

On the other hand, I really, truly, absolutely want them to make it into a film. I want it to be epic and wonderful and perfect. Great casting, great locations, great writing, and great CGI. I want the world to take notice of the movie and then subsequently take notice of the books. Because that’s where the true magic lies, and that’s where all the praise should go – back to the author.

I want the ability to see all the characters that have lived in my head for so long to become corporeal on screen. Is that too much to ask?

I’m sure I don’t need to ask this question, but has there ever been a movie adaptation of book that has meant so much to you that you’re unsure if you want to go see it or not? Which one was it? 

How was that for alliteration, eh?

Ong Bak PosterI just recently watched Ong Bak, which is a great movie about a man named Ting who is forced to fight to get the head of a sacred statue back to his village. It stars Tony Jaa, who is an amazing martial artist, and incorporates one of my favorite fighting styles, Muay Thai. I recommend seeing the film for some grade-A fights, which is always helpful to watch if you have some fighting sequences in your novels.

But today I want to talk about why I love foreign fighting films. I’ve been trying my hardest to watch as many as I can on Netflix, and I found some that I have truly fallen in love with. I’ll watch pretty much anything Jeeja Yanin is in because I think she’s incredibly talented, and I always love seeing a girl doing her own stunts and totally kicking butt! I also recently discovered Tony Jaa, and I think he’s amazing. I can’t wait to see more of his movies.

The main reason why I love foreign martial arts films is because the fighting is almost always superior to American-made films. The sequences are more complex and more beautiful. It’s not just about throwing punches and who can take the most hits before they fall over, it’s about your skill set and your ability to adapt to your opponents’ style, to truly defeat them using your mind and your body.

I find the sequences to be far more realistic, both in how they play out (i.e. when someone gets punched, they don’t get knocked out cold for the rest of the scene, they actually get back up and try to keep fighting) and how they look. From the movies I’ve seen, a lot of the times these actors are taking real hits. It’s a lot more dangerous that way, but it also makes for some incredible shots.

Another reason why I love them is because they have far more respect for the art than most American films do. In so many of these action films we have here in the States, people get beat up and blown away by guns and no one really thinks about the impact it makes on a person. It’s just entertainment. And that’s fine. It really is. I love action movies, and I think they serve their purpose. But films like Ong Bak often portray the main character as a reluctant fighter, and I think that’s important. A lot of the time it isn’t about revenge, it’s about self defense. They have a respect for what they can do, and they know how dangerous even one punch can be. It’s something I’d like to see more of in all kinds of movies.

While the storylines aren’t always the greatest (for example, if I were to watching Raging Phoenix  again, I’d stop about three-quarters of the way through and pretend it ended there), that’s because the highlight of the film is the fighting. If you can get past the cheese and the silly dialogue and the not-always-solid writing and just focus on the talent of the actors and their skill sets, you’ll find movies like Ong Bak to be incredibly enjoyable and enlightening.

Do you like watching foreign martial arts films? Which ones have been your favorites? Least favorites? Do you have any recommendations for me? (Preferably something I can find on Netflix Instant!)

Ten movie cliches I can’t stand

Posted: April 12, 2013 in Movies
Tags: , ,

Just about every movie or TV show is filled with some sort of cliche. And, you know, it’s not always a bad thing. One or two movie cliches seems to be the norm per flick, and sometimes you just have to put them in there to get from point A to point B, or to show what you need to show in terms of character development.

But, most of the time, they’re just annoying.

Hence, my list of ten movie cliches that I can’t stand (in no particular order):

1. When a character rips his shirt open. This only works when you’re the Hulk. Other times, it’s just an obvious ploy to get the main character shirtless. Most of the time I don’t complain. But usually it’s just unnecessary.

2. When a character looks up and yells, “Noooooo!” Look, if my best friend died in my arms, I probably wouldn’t even be able to speak. There’d be tears and snot and general disgustingness. I wouldn’t look up and yell at the heavens, shaking my fist at the universe. This also wouldn’t cause me to get up and seek revenge. I’d probably spend the next six months confined to my bed wondering if I would ever function normally again.

3. Super obvious product placement. You know the kind I’m referring to. It’s when the camera lingers just a moment longer on a bag or a piece of technology and you can clearly see the logo. Now, I totally get why product placement is necessary – especially for low budget TV shows. But, come on. There are better ways to do it than the main character not-so-subtly holding out the iPhone for everyone to see a text message that they could’ve read out loud for more dramatic effect. Get creative, people.

Buffy is Awesome4. When a character just has to get in that one-liner right before they kill someone. This drives me bonkers. I’m sorry, but no. You’re not going to hesitate before you shoot the guy that murdered your entire family just to say something witty. You’re going to put a bullet in his brain and be done with it. With that being said, the only time I’ve ever actually enjoyed this was on Buffy. It works on this show because it’s actually part of Buffy’s personality, and the dialogue often pointed it out and made fun of it. That sort of self-awareness makes it okay in my eyes. Plus, Joss Whedon.

5. When someone has to crack their knuckles before they get into a fight or begin torturing someone. What? Is this supposed to make them look tough? Like, all of a sudden it makes them more badass? Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. And it always makes me look at the bad guy as the dumb brute hired to be the muscle. You’ll notice the people with brains don’t usually do this.

6. Insta-love. And, in addition to this, trusting someone the minute you meet them. It’s hard to pull off an on-screen relationship that runs at the right pace. On the one hand, one of the major focuses of the story is probably the romance between the two main characters. You don’t want to drag it out too long because your audience wants to get to the good stuff. However, making two strangers fall in love at first sight is super unrealistic. And it’s been done before. A million times. In the past five years. Literally. It’s hard to find balance, but I usually like to err on the side of slow-burn rather than insta-love.

7. When someone is dying, they have enough time to say something witty or heart-wrenching, but not enough time to tell you highly important secret information. I mean, come on. My first objective if I was riddled with bullets would be to tell you who shot me, not to apologize for whatever I did that got me into that situation in the first place. Screw forgiveness. I’m dead. I don’t need it anyway. Avenge me!

Jawbreaker Poster8. The “ugly girl” is never ugly. Like, seriously. I enjoy makeover movies like Jawbreaker and Mean Girls, but those girls are not awkward and ugly. And a little bit of makeup always transforms them into super models. Obviously nothing much can be done when you’re working with beautiful or high-profile actresses, but a little bit of normalcy would go a long way with the plebs (ie. me).

9. Saying “I love you” brings the main character back to life. They’re dead. They’ve flatlined. You’ve given up hope. Banging on his chest and shaking him back to consciousness hasn’t worked. As a single tear falls from your eye and onto his face, you whisper, “I love you.” That final admission, that thing you had been holding inside this entire time, has seeped out. His eyes flutter, he coughs, and says he love you too. …………Yeah, right.

10. Good guys rarely get shot…no matter how many times they’re shot at. Okay, really? You’re an FBI agent in a firefight with members of a notorious gang, all armed with semi-automatic weapons. You’re dodging bullet. You’re rolling on the ground. You’re jumping from one place to the other. And you never get shot. Yet, you manage to take them all out one at a time. Life is just not that clean. It’s actually one of the reasons why I respect Firefly so much. Those guys get shot and cut and beat up all the time. And the doctor has to fix up their wounds. It’s realistic. Plus, you know. Joss Whedon.

What are some movie cliches that really bug you? Any that you’ve seen pulled off well, like those witty one-liners in Buffy?