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1. Nothing Rotten at the Rotten Tomatoes Panel

Rotten Tomato AudienceStill upset that that movie you absolutely loved got such negative reviews? Fuming that it got a pretty rotten status on Rotten Tomatoes? Posting an angry rebuttable on a message board will just illicit people calling you a “noob,” and perhaps some other more colorful names.

Returning to the convention is the always popular Your Opinion Sucks: Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans. The critics comprised of Tim Ryan, Christy Lemire, Scott Mantz, Alynda Wheat and Alonso Duradle, with Matt Atchity as moderator. Trolls and fans alike can argue with the panel of critics either for or against a movie of their choice, with the audience readied to voice their own opinions with paddles that say “fresh” on one side and “rotten” on the other.

This year, the movies ran the gamut of Ender’s Game, Black Hawk Down, Frozen, and even Grave of the Fireflys. One of the movies that shocked me greatly was when The Goonies was brought up, and half the audience gave it a “rotten” status. The critics too were torn with the movie: Half for it, and half against it. I thought though that the general atmosphere kept a fun and lighthearted vibe. This type of panel is known to create one or two heated debates that almost threaten the removal of somebody, but things remained rather civil.

Most memorable would have to be the first to voice their opinion; a small boy by the name of Gabe. The movie he so passionately argued for was Transformers, saying that the action was outstanding. He then proceeded to demonstrate the action sequences by making shooting motions with his hands and then bomb explosions, all of course complete with ample sound effects. Scott Mantz in particular tore into the boy (with good humor). When given his 30 second rebuttal, Gabe simply said to Scott, “You have no taste!” Gabe as it later turned out is the son of moderator Matt.

Most bizarre was the last person up to pose a movie argument. Standing at the microphone, in what I can only describe as a black muumuu with large red stripes running down the sides of it, was a man who wished to be called “master.” But we’ll call him Zack for this article. Zack wanted to argue against Star Trek: Into Darkness, going as far as to say that the movie was “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” The crowd pretty much cried in uproar, with a few people in rotten agreement, including a couple of the panel members. What ensued was a discussion on how remakes on pre-existing Star Trek movies shouldn’t happen, alternate time lines, and action sequences. Definitely a fun note to leave the panel on.

It was enjoyable to hear the arguments that each person presented for, or against, a particular movie, even if some of them weren’t as sound as others. Thank you critics of Rotten Tomatoes for making an enjoyable evening of not-so-witty banter, and I can’t wait till next time.

~Nicholas Eskey

4 Comments on Nothing Rotten at the Rotten Tomatoes Panel, last added: 4/20/2014
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2. Wondercon ’14: 20th Century Fox Presentation

Maze RunnerFox pictures have a number of exciting movies coming out this year, spanning a number of different audiences.

Guest moderator Ralph Garman introduced the first movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Director Dean DeBlois and surprisingly Jay Baruchel (voice of Hiccup) took to the stage. After showing a completed first five minutes of the movie (which looked fantastic by the way) DeBlois elaborated that this second film of what is to be a trilogy takes place five years after the first movie, showing how our characters and the village have both grown and learned to make living with dragons part of their daily lives. “We also see that Stoick (Hiccup’s father) has changed from seeing his son as an embarrassment, to becoming an overly proud dad that has high hopes for his son. Hiccup can’t deal with these aspirations.” And we’ll be introduced to a new villain, Drago Bludvist, and how he plans to put a permanent wedge between the humans and dragons. How to Train your Dragon is coming to theatres June 13th.

Following next, Ralph Garman introduced the cast of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to the stage. Director Matt Reeves, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis. “This movie follows years after the virus is released from the first movie and humans are extinct, or that they are thought to be,” says Matt. “We see that Caesar now is the leader of his tribe, and he has a family; a wife, one teenage son and a new baby.”

As it later introduced into the film that humans are still alive, it creates a conflict between the two species and inside Caesar himself. “Caesar is an ape, but he also had a human dad,” explained the director. “And he knows how it is to lose someone you love, so he’s empathetic to the survivors. He has to walk a fine line between his feelings and keeping his tribe together. And we see how there was a possibility that two could have lived together, but of course we all know what happens. That’s not a surprise.”

After watching the short movie clip they show us and listening to the discussion of the internal struggles on both the important parties of the movie, it’s difficult to decide who you want to root for. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be seeing theatres this July 11th.
Based off the widely popular young adult book by the same name, Maze Runner is what I see as a futuristic Lord of the Flies. This movie adapted by James Dashner’s book has all the makings of the next Hunger Games, by which I mean futuristic technology set in a forest setting, and the murder of teenagers. The movie does have some exciting action shots for those who like to run and fight, thrown in with a lot of CGI.

Presenting the movie were the director Wes Ball, author James Dashner, actor Will Poulter, and actor Dylan O’Brien (made famous by the series Teen Wolf). The author confessed that for his book a number of influences were the book Ender’s Game, the book Lord of the Flies, the show Lost, and his fear of mazes. “Remember in the Shining with the maze scene? Mazes creep me out. If you’ve ever been in a corn maze then you know.” The anticipated Maze Runner will be out September 19th of this year.

Moderator Ralph Garman introduced a last minute addition into the screening lineup. Coming out this fall is a spy movie called Secret Service. Its notable actors are Colin Firth (famous for many things including his portrayal of Mister Darcy in a BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) and Samuel L. Jackson who will be playing the villain in this movie. Its setting is somewhere in the U.K., and the premise is that it deals with an organization that is funded by private investors as to not be hampered by politics and bureaucracy. The action sequences appear to be a faster paced Avengers, and technology stolen by Spykids. Still a work in progress.

And finally, what the Arena seemed to be waiting the most for, Ralph Garman introduced X-Men: Days of Future Past. The extended trailer and snippet of the movie looked beautiful and action packed. Unfortunately as a last minute change up, director Bryan Singer didn’t show (for reasons I’m sure we all know), but in his stead we had writer Simon Kinberg. He elaborated on things in the movie spanning from the politics in the 70’s, art styles of the bleak future and bright past, and as well as the convoluted concept of time travel. “Even though in the original comic that the movie is based off of they had Kitty go back in time, we decided that Wolverine worked better. James Cameron really helped us with the idea of time travel and how it scientifically would work, so you’ll see a lot of that in the film.”

In part of his final words, Simon Kinberg also added that he hopes this movie will make up for the failures of the 3rd X-Men movie, which was based off of the Dark Phoenix comic arc. X-Men: Days of Future Past will be out May 23rd; Not soon enough.

1 Comments on Wondercon ’14: 20th Century Fox Presentation, last added: 4/20/2014
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3. WonderCon ’14: Warner Bros. Presentation

Into the Storm(Some minor spoiler ahead)

Located in the Arena of this year’s Anaheim Wondercon, Warner Bros. treated us to a sneak peak of three upcoming movies that will be hitting the big screen in the next few months. On June 6th, the 70th anniversary of “D-Day,” Edge of Tomorrow will hit theatres nationwide. Starring Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton, this futuristic world on the edge of ruin has Tom Cruise’s character waking up in handcuffs on what appears to be an army training base. He is then approached by Bill Paxton’s character, an army official. It is explained that Tom Cruises character was charged with impersonating an army officer, and is told he is going to have to join the fray for his punishment. As a surprise guest, Bill Paxton himself emerges on stage of the Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena to outcries of cheers. “My character decides that [Tom Cruise] will be reborn again through battle,” says a grinning Paxton. “It’s his nuts and his life on the line.”

Through the trailer, we are led to believe that Earth has come under an attack from a mechanical alien threat, and that this army base is one of the units brought together to fight them back. “I head a unit called J unit, a rag tag collection of men and women,” says Paxton. Along with some heavy duty weapons, J unit comes complete with exoskeleton like armor suits that the characters run around in for what I imagine is for increased strength. “I had just arrived on set, my first day, and Tom was running around in a prototype of the suit. He yells at me, ‘Hey Bill! Have you been working out? Cause these things are heavy.’” Paxton said that the suits needed to be aided by chains because of how heavy they were for the actors. “It was Brutal.”

But what is the ringer for this movie is that Tom Cruise’s character dies in this movie. A lot. Every time he does, he wakes back up in the past, finding himself again in handcuffs. This Groundhog’s Dayish loop adds an interesting twist to this Sci-Fi flick.

Next up for Warner Bros. they have Into the Storm. Directed by Steven Quale, this New Line Cinema collaboration puts the audience in the middle of a fictitious small town as it is relentlessly hit by what seems like wave after wave of tornados. The film style switches between the use of traditional filming and handheld cameras, creating a more authentic like experience. Some of the actors which were present here at Wondercon were Max Deacon, Jeremy Sumpter, Arlen Escarpeta, and (brace yourselves) Richard Armitage. Yes, Thorin Oakenshield of The Hobbit movies.

After the crowd recovered from their near fainting spells, the director and cast discussed how it was to be on set. “We were in the middle of one hundred-a-mile fans, not to mention strewn debris and falling water,” says Richard. “The water was freezing,” added fellow cast member Max Deacon. Into the Storm will be out this August 8th.

And lastly for this presentation Warner Bros. showed what is undoubtedly one of this year’s most anticipated movies. Ever since the teaser at last year’s San Diego Comic-con, fans of Godzilla have been waiting patiently for its release. As it was announced to the audience, the name elicited cheers from everybody, including this reporter. Director Gareth Edwards was also greeted by equal praise. After showing us about five minutes from the movie where Godzilla meets with an almost equally tall but winged creature, Gareth talked about the overall experience of working on the film.

“I thought that out of everything, designing Godzilla was going to be the easiest part. Cause everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. But it actually was the hardest part, because everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. It took almost a year for his design.” Gareth had the idea to do the designing from silhouette. “Silhouettes are all easily recognizable for what they are supposed to be. I thought we should start with that. We started with a Rubik’s Cube like shape, black on white background. We prodded and pulled each piece, rotating as we went, till we felt we got it.”

Though all three movies do look quite promising, by sheer gauging of the crowd’s reaction I would have to say Godzilla is the most anticipated. The Warner Bros. and Legendary collaboration will be out May 16th of this year. I have faith that director Gareth Edwards with his love of monsters will do it justice, and wash from our collective mouths the bad taste left by its predecessor.

~Nicholas Eskey

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4. Reminder: There was *almost* a JLA movie starring Armie Hammer, D.J. Cotrona and Megan Gale

This photo of the cast of GEorge Miller’s aborted JLA movie shows how close we came to having a very very young JLA movie. Australian tax credit woes and the Writer Strike of ’07-08 scuttled this.

Was it for the best?

Andrew Wheeler has more.

2 Comments on Reminder: There was *almost* a JLA movie starring Armie Hammer, D.J. Cotrona and Megan Gale, last added: 4/20/2014
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5. A Video Essay on Jim Jarmusch: "Dead Men & Ghosts, Limited"


As the silence around here indicates, I've been tremendously busy the past few weeks. One project I managed to complete was a new video essay, this one about Jim Jarmusch's films Dead Man, Ghost Dog, and The Limits of Control. It's now available at Press Play, along with a brief introduction.

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6. Fox and Sony cross-over in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 secret scene — SPOILERS

201404161914.jpg

It seems that Fox—which controls the X-men and Fantastic Four film franchises— and Sony—which controls Spider-Man—have come to an agreement to create their OWN variant earth-2 Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with a cut scene at the end of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Foreign viewers are already tweeting about it. I’ve greyed out the relevant info below.

The “Amazing Spider-Man 2″ opens today overseas, and fans are already buzzing on Twitter over its end credits. The Sony Pictures release concludes with a teaser for the upcoming “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” a new sequence that has been added since “Spidey 2″ premiered in London last week.

The montage, which features a blue Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, is meant to mimic the coda scenes that conclude the Disney and Marvel Pictures juggernauts, including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which introduce new characters.

And yes, it’s a Fox-controlled X-character.

But is this REALLY the start of a titanic cross studio promotion? According to Variety a more prosaic contract detail is the cause. It seems SPIDEY director Marc Webb had a deal with Fox Searchlight, who only let him out of it to make Spidey for Sony on the condition that the movie promote the X-men for free.

So don’t expect to see Spidey in the FF any time soon. That’s ONLY for the comics, folks.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on May 2.

2 Comments on Fox and Sony cross-over in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 secret scene — SPOILERS, last added: 4/17/2014
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7. “The Mouth that roared”: Peter Benchley’s Jaws at 40

By Kirk Curnutt


The novel that scared a generation out of the ocean and inspired everything from Shark Week to Sharknado recently turned forty. Commemorations of Peter Benchley’s Jaws have been as rare as megalodon sightings, however. Ballantine has released a new paperback edition featuring an amusing list of the author’s potential titles (The Grinning Fish, Pisces Redux), and in February an LA fundraiser for Shark Savers/Wildaid performed excerpts promising “an evening of relentless terror (and really awkward sex).” Otherwise, silence.

The reason is obvious. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 adaptation is so totemic that the novel is considered glorified source material, despite selling twenty-million copies. Rare is the commentator who doesn’t harp on its faults, and rarer still the fan who defends it. Critics dismiss the book as “airport literature,” while genre lovers complain it lacks “virtually every single thing that makes the movie great.” Negative perceptions arguably begin with Spielberg himself. Amid the legendary production problems that plagued the making of the movie—pneumatic sharks that didn’t work, uncooperative ocean conditions that tripled the shooting schedule—the director managed to suggest that his biggest obstacle was Benchley’s original narrative: “If we don’t succeed in making this picture better than the book,” he said, “we’re in real trouble.”

Jaws by Peter Benchley, first edition paperback, 1975.

Jaws by Peter Benchley, first edition paperback, 1975.

It’s unfortunate that Benchley gets so little love. In the mid-seventies book-Jaws didn’t simply inspire a movie but was integral to the overall phenomenon. My mother brought home the hardback months before Spielberg even began filming. As the pre-release hype roiled throughout spring 1975, her ten-year old cobbled together $1.95 for his very own paperback, which featured Roger Kastel’s iconic illustration of a massive beast with a mouthful of stalactites and stalagmites speeding toward a naked woman. (The hardback’s cover was toothless, both literally and figuratively; the shark looks like an index finger with a paper cut aiming to tickle its prey). Shortly after seeing Jaws I owned the soundtrack with John Williams’s ominous dun-dun theme; co-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log, which detailed the torturous filming; and a Jaws beach towel, which made me the envy of the pool, if only briefly.

Obsessed, I collected newspaper and magazine clippings on sharks. Following the loony lead of Mad, Cracked, and Sick, I drew goofy, pun-laden parodies (Paws) and became a connoisseur of gory rip-offs (Grizzly, Orca). My paperback was essential to feeding my frenzy. I managed only three matinees before the movie left town. That was as many times per hour as I probably pored over Benchley’s bloodier passages. The urge to revisit scenes would today send a young fan to YouTube for clips or to Google for GIFs and memes. For a pre-Internet, pre-computer kid, however, rereading was the original refresh and replay. I knew Jaws so inside out I could cite the page number where the legs of the boy my age “were severed at the hips” and “sank, spinning slowly,” and I could flip straight to the bizarre moment when the shark hunter Quint insults his quarry’s penis.

I also detailed differences between the book and movie in my journal. (I was an only child; I had free time). The first change beguiled the beginning writer in me: “[Benchley] didn’t like any of his characters,” Spielberg declared, “so none of them were very likable. He put them in a situation where you were rooting for the shark to eat the people—in alphabetical order.”

The director flattened Benchley’s characters into eminently relatable archetypes: the everyman-cop with a near-fatal fear of water, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider); Quint, the aged fisherman (Robert Shaw); and the cocky scientist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). Their counterparts on the page admittedly lack both their comic relief (Scheider’s famous deadpan “You’re going to need a bigger boat” upon first seeing the shark) and their riveting monologues (especially Quint’s tale of surviving the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis, brilliantly if soddenly delivered by Shaw). Benchley preferred his people perturbing, not heroic. His insecure, snockered Brody belligerently spoils his wife’s dinner party; Hooper beds Mrs. Brody; and for bait Quint uses a dolphin fetus he brags of carving from its mother’s womb.

Despite its armrest-gripping terror, Spielberg’s movie is cathartic because man ultimately conquers nature. Like most audiences, I fist-pumped and cheered when Brody blew the shark to smithereens by exploding an oxygen tank. The book’s battle is less intense and yet more primal. Benchley’s captain hurls his harpoons as Queequeg or Tashtego would instead of firing them from a gun, while Quint’s and Hooper’s deaths are cruelly ironic. Maybe it’s because my friends and I had great fun sneaking ketchup packets into the pool to reenact it, but Shaw’s blood-belching final close-up never haunted me as much as the novel’s Ahab-inspired image of Quint dragged to a watery grave snared in his own harpoon line. Hooper’s fate is even more macabre. As the ichthyologist is turned into a human toothpick Brody attempts an ill-conceived rescue by strafing the water with rifle fire. He manages to miss the shark completely yet land a bullet in Hooper’s neck. Long before reading Melville, I intuited that this was how a naturalistic universe mocked humanity.

Jaws remains a very seventies-novel. I rather like that quality, much as, by contrast, I like that Spielberg’s movie hasn’t aged a day. (Thanks to Deep Blue Sea and Sharknado, we know how un-scary CGI sharks are compared to life-size pneumatic ones). Benchley’s book feels the way the first half of its decade did: amorphous and off-center, dubious of heroes, titillated by dirty talk.

Perhaps I might feel differently if I hadn’t read it on the cusp of adolescence, but Jaws reminds me of how novels attuned me to adult frailties. It’s going overboard to say it exposed me to the sharkish side of humanity, but I could recognize Brody’s resentments, Quint’s unapologetic violence, and Hooper’s sense of sexual entitlement in men I knew. A year after I outgrew my obsession I was berated for entering a community-theater dressing room and discovering a very Mrs. Brody-like friend of my family’s kissing a man I knew wasn’t her husband.

Benchley’s novel certainly made me afraid of the water, but unlike the movie, it did nothing to convince me I was any safer on dry land.

Kirk Curnutt is professor and chair of English at Troy University’s Montgomery, Alabama, campus, where Scott Fitzgerald met Zelda Sayre in 1918. His publications include A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald (2004), the novels Breathing Out the Ghost (2008) and Dixie Noir (2009), and Brian Wilson (2012). He is currently at work on a reader’s guide to Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not.

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The post “The Mouth that roared”: Peter Benchley’s Jaws at 40 appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Divergent movie review

divergent poster Divergent movie reviewIn the world of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the dystopian city of Chicago is run through a personality-based system of grouping. The five factions, to one of which every person belongs, are Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Abnegation, with its focus on humility and selflessness, acts as the political power; Amity, the good-natured, peaceful types, are the city’s farmers; Candor, those who value truth above all else, work as the judging body; Erudite are the thinkers and creators; and Dauntless, the bold, are what amounts to a standing army. Children are raised within the faction of their birth but, when they come of age, take a test to tell them where they truly belong. Beatrice (a.k.a Tris) from Abnegation takes her test only to find that she is Divergent — that is, she displays traits characteristic of more than one faction. Divergence is rare, and considered shameful and very dangerous. Tris is forced to dedicate her life to one faction (she chooses Dauntless) and keep her Divergence a secret.

The movie adaptation, directed by Neil Burger (Summit, March 2014), stars Shailene Woodley (from The Descendants and The Secret Life of the American Teenager). Slight and unremarkable-seeming at first, Woodley looks the part of the self-abnegating teen. As the story goes on, she grows into her role as a good YA dystopian female protagonist: sensitive but tough, and the consummate underdog. Woodley is a strong actor, reaching the emotional depths necessary for a character as out of her element as Tris. As the stakes get higher and the situations all the more impossible, Woodley’s Tris remains a hero to root for.

Theo James plays The Love Interest, Four, exactly as we would want him to be played: moody, strong, sexy, vulnerable, and surprisingly funny. Kate Winslet is intelligent and devious as the power-grabbing Jeanine, Tony Goldwyn (Scandal‘s POTUS) is totally believable as an ascetic politician, and Jai Courtney’s Eric is just plain scary. Altogether, the cast delivers an engaging and downright exciting performance, their stories developed over the backdrop of a surreally beautiful dystopian world. I also appreciate some of the content decisions — especially the depiction of sexual assault (in a controversial scene created for the movie) as a very real and constant fear in this society and Tris’s capable, Dauntless response to it.

But I have so very many questions. And while some of them are questions about gaps in the world-building (How does the train keep running? Can anyone be kicked out of a faction at any time? Who is behind all the technological advances in what appears to be a fairly stagnant society?), others raise more problematic issues.

If there is a line between bravery and recklessness, Divergent smashes it to bits. The movie defines bravery as actively choosing to do something scary even though you’re afraid. And yet, the film also portrays Dauntless characters doing scary and downright reckless things without thinking and without fear. I ask you, how can an individual be considered “dauntless” by being both thoughtful and thoughtless at the same time? What is up with the Dauntless, anyway? Why do they run everywhere whooping and pounding their fists? Is that what bravery looks like?

As to costuming — the use of color palettes for the individual factions is very well done, clearly delineating the five groups with visual representation. But… of course the Dauntless are shown as pierced, tattooed, and primarily black-clad. Coming from an individual who is both tattooed and pierced (and who also wears primarily black), I must tell you that tattooing, piercing, and dressing all in black do not a badass make. (Honestly, I’m pretty sure I would be placed in whichever faction is the most cowardly.) Isn’t it time to find another way to show an audience that a group of characters are “dangerous”?

Divergent was an entertaining movie with strong acting, beautiful visual effects, and an exciting plot. Yes, I have questions. Hopefully, the second movie will clear them up for me — because I will definitely be checking it out.

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9. Are Chicanos The New Irish?

Michael Sedano

“I don’t have a culture,” the student complains, “how can I write a paper on my own culture? It’s easy for all them, but what about me?”

I sympathize with the young man and see his resentment dilute with confusion when I tell him he’s a white ethnic and is a member of a culture with its own traditions and communication issues “just like all of them.”

“What are you?” I ask, unnuanced despite a lifetime of having that question shoved in my ear by sundry tipos who look and sound like this student.

I point him in the direction of the cartoon bigotry of Thomas Nast, and ilk, in the latter years of the 19th century. Nast soldiered along in his society’s culture wars between Anglo and Irish white ethnics, calling Irish immigrants everything but a white man, drawing paddy caricatures that dehumanized Irish as apes. It is a social strategy meant to keep the Irish unequal.

The student produces an excellent paper that opens his eyes and softens his hard heart toward the “victim mentality" of the Chicana Chicano students in the class.

When the student presents his oral report, raza students get an eye-opening understanding they’re not uniquely los de abajo in US culture. The class talks about “meltable” versus “unmeltable” gente and the  melting pot metaphor of US culture, and get insight into the power of U.S. mass media to create an ethos that conditions attitudes toward other people.

Today, Irish ethnicity has a most-favored culture spotlight as witnessed in March when St. Patrick’s Day coerces the wearing of green at risk of a pinch, and all manner of folk sport their “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” tee shirt. My orange tee reads “Relax, Gringo, I was born here.”

How’d they do it, the Irish?

They went to the movies. Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald as lovable Irish priests was a major hit in 1944's Going My Way. Fitzgerald’s sentimental old priest steals the movie and ticket-buyers stream out daubing tears and loving the Irish. The 1949 John Wayne movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, features Irish grunts and a lovably gruff old-country Sergeant played by the professional Irishman Victor McLaglen. Wayne goes the full Irish monty in the 1952 megahit, The Quiet Man. Set in Ireland, the movie defines a montón of Irish stereotypes from fiery pelirroja Maureen O’Hara to the hard-drinking Irishmen of  McLaglen and Fitzgerald, a lovable parish priest played by Ward Bond, and an epic comedic fistfight that ends with the Irishmen drunk, unbloodied, and BFFs. Irish were now white.

It’s that moment in history for Chicanos. Not that we want to assimilate, but be seen as gente buena.

Media momentum builds. A few years ago there was Ugly Betty on teevee starring a Latina named America. How can it get much better than that?

This year’s Oscar awards has gente talking about Afro-Mexicans with the emergence of Lupita Nyong'o and her pride in being Mexican Kenyan. Beauty moves the heart of the savage xenophobe, like forcing a bigot or a nationalist to defend a counterattitudinal argument.

Cesar Chavez blazes a trail, but it seems the audience is blazing it right back at the film. People are not buying tickets. It’s tough to sell the story, evidently, since everyone knows how it turns out.

Sadly, there’s a smattering of critics, perhaps envidiosas envidiosos, who cavil that Mexicans, not Chicanos, made Cesar Chavez, that the film put money in Mexican pockets not U.S., that Chavez the man didn’t like wetbacks, and crud like this. Instead of finding ways to like a product, these tipos don’t talk about the film itself, preferring to trash the film on the basis of what it doesn’t do, or how it failed their biopic assumptions. Lástima.

Nonetheless, Cesar Chavez is out there in big theatres buying big ads. People are aware. If only subliminally, the presence of the film chips away at the malice and xenophobia that characterize U.S. culture. No movie is an island entire of itself, that’s my theory. Every frame benefits someone, can become part of the national consciousness. But the producers need to get people into those seats to have widespread impact and build momentum for other films.

In May, Richard Montoya’s Water & Power hits the screens of AMC theaters. I saw Water on the Mark Taper Forum mainstage a few years ago, and dug it. A powerful drama featuring Chicano characters--the members of Culture Clash for example--without being about Chicanismo, Water&Power stands a better chance of finding a big audience than Cesar Chavez has.

I didn’t get to see the preview screening of Water&Power last year when Montoya was gauging public support. I don’t know if the charm, power, and humor I saw on stage have survived the transition to film. One thing for sure, I’m hoping Montoya will bring droves of white ethnics into the moviehouses. He's not taking brown ethnics for granted, making a major marketing effort in the next couple weeks.

It will be encouraging to see raza come in droves to see Water&Power. And for that matter, start seeing Cesar Chavez. Sales drive showings, and heavy public demand can move Water&Power into the bigger auditoriums of the AMC chain, and lure other chains to ante up and cut themselves a part of the action.

2014 has a strong chance to turn back the clock to the 1940s when movies helped WASP culture reconstruct its view of Irish immigrants from noxious foreign scum and thugs to gente buena. "La lechuga o la justicia es lo que van a sembrar" Abelardo wrote. Today, he might add,  "y luego van a los movies."

Water&Power hits the screen El Drinko de Mayo weekend. See you in the auditorium, gente.


View the Water&Power trailer at its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=645374242166934&set=vb.234854799885549&type=3&theater

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10. Las Vegas on the Big Screen . . .

. . . (and sometimes the little screen too)

With Las Vegas’ colorful history of mobsters, swanky hotels, and famous entertainers, it’s no surprise that the big screen (and sometimes the little one too) are attracted to Sin City. There is a lengthy list of films and television shows that have graced our 24-hour town. Some feature actual locations in Las Vegas while others are happy to simply use our city to set the story.

During your conference downtime, check out some of the locations that appear or inspire your favorite films and television shows. Don’t take your directions straight from the silver screen though; be sure to consult a map, GPS, or even a friendly local for the best way to visit these movie hot spots.

How many of these movie and television locations do you know?

Films:

  • Ocean’s Eleven (1960) – The closing shot shows the main cast walking away with the Sands Hotel marquee behind them.  The Sands Hotel is no longer around, but if you go to the Venetian Hotel & Casino you’ll be standing in part of the stomping ground of the infamous Rat Pack.
  • Rain Man (1988) – Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman play blackjack at Caesar’s Palace.
  • Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992) – Filming took place at well-known places around Las Vegas including the Hard Rock Café, Mirage Hotel, and even the original Wet ’n Wild water park (which closed in 2004).
  • Casino (1995) – Filming took place at the Riviera Casino (which served as the fictional Tangiers) but used the entrance of the nearby defunct Landmark Hotel as the entrance.
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) The demolition of the Landmark and the Luxor make a cameo in this comical science fiction film!
  • Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (1997) -This one was filmed at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Strip.
  • Con Air (1997) John Malkovich and Nicholas Cage land at McCarran Airport and later take out the Sands (and a few other landmarks along the Las Vegas Strip).
  • Vegas Vacation (1997) – This film is also known as “National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation”. The Mirage Resort was a major location for this film, but Wayne Newton’s Shenandoah also made an appearance.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – Circus Circus Hotel & Casino and Flamingo Hotel both make a cameo in this cult classic.
  • Rush Hour 2 (2001)- This film took place in the Desert Inn, which no longer exists, but if you stand in front of the Wynn Hotel, you will be standing over the ashy remains of the Desert Inn.
  • Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – Danny Ocean plots to rob the Bellagio Hotel & Casino and the MGM Grand Resort & Casino.
  • The Hangover (2009) The Hangover was mostly filmed on location at Caesars Palace, including the front desk, lobby, entrance drive, pools, corridors, elevators, and roof, but the suite damaged in the film was built on a soundstage
  • Get Him to the Greek (2010) – Planet Hollywood, Red Rock, PURE, and the Ultra Sports Lounge in the Plaza all make appearances in this box office film.
  • Last Vegas (2013) Last Vegas takes place at the Aria Resort and Casino and at Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel.

Television:

  • American Restoration (2010; History Channel) – I was surprised to find out that this History Channel favorite is a based in Las Vegas AND is a spinoff of Pawn Stars.
  • Bad Ink (2013; A&E) – Bad Ink has been filmed in various locations in Las Vegas, but the show is based out of the Pussykat Tattoo Parlor off the Las Vegas Strip.
  • Criss Angel Mindfreak (2005; A&E)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000; CBS) – CSI often visit “The Rampart” Hotel and Casino, but viewers may not know that it’s far from the bustling Strip.
  • Heroes (2006; NBC)
  • Las Vegas (2003-2008; NBC) – Set in fiction, but the show is said to be inspired by the Mandalay Bay.
  • Lucky (2003; FX)
  • Pawn Stars (2009; History Channel) – This show is filmed on location at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Downtown Las Vegas, only minutes away from the Fremont Experience.
  • The Real World: Las Vegas (2002, 2011; MTV) – Las Vegas was so awesome that The Real World filmed here twice. They filmed at the Palms Casino & Resort for the 2002 season, but returned to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the 2011 season.
  • Vegas (2012; CBS)

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_set_in_Las_Vegas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_shows_set_in_Las_Vegas

Submitted by Natalia Tabisaura, YALSA Local Arrangements

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11. A Frozen Mind

Remember in the 70′s when some white-haired old men in polyester suits said that if you spun your evil rock & roll records backwards, you could hear embedded devil lyrics that would worm their way deep inside the unsuspecting soul. Backwards masking! Subliminal hellfire! My friends and I spent hours pulling at our turntables hoping to find something through all of the garbled, warped noise. In the end, the buffoons probably boosted record sales more than anything else.

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But why are we fascinated? Why do we spend time, energy, and emotion looking for bad?

Abe Lincoln once said, “If you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”

Yeah, you don’t have to look hard to find bad. It’s everywhere. So, when you stumble upon it, as you inevitably will, what do you do with it? Shout at it? I can’t find where Jesus said we were to shout at the darkness. What good does that do? “Hey darkness, uh… you’re dark!” I do see the Sermon of the Mount where Jesus said we were to shine a light in the darkness. There is quite a difference between the two.

Matthew5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Shouting only makes noise, while shining a light shows direction.

Shouting creates confusion, light dispels fear.

Shouting is angry, sharing light is love defined.

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My oldest daughter told me about a “preacher” out west who has decided that the Disney movie Frozen is going to make us all gay with its hidden agenda. Before I address him, I want to give you my review of the movie. I really liked it. It was like Up - I had few expectations going in but I walked away loving it. Olaf cracked me up, the story was compelling, and the music was beautiful. Now that the Bluray has come out, I’ve seen it again and I still like it. (oh no, I said ‘come out’, what’s happening to me?) It’s a very sweet story and I think anyone finding an agenda simply has one of their own. They are searching for substance out of shadows.

I had originally quoted some of what the shouter said here, but I don’t want to give air to such blather, especially since he admits he has not seen the movie. I will give one quote for the sole purpose of mocking it:

“If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?…If I was the Devil, I would buy Disney in 1984, that’s what I would have done.”

I read The Screwtape Letters. I know C.S. Lewis, and you, sir, are no C.S. Lewis.

But maybe.  Just maybe… if I were the devil, I’d sit back in an ivory tower and in the name of religion spew ridiculous insinuations that make the church of Jesus Christ seem like a bunch of backwards, unloving idiots that no one in their right mind would want to be a part of. Yeah, that’s what I’d do.

Look around, Rev. Shouterson, this tactic seems to be working.

 

This post is a bit out of the norm for me. I typed it while ticked off and debated whether to trash it. I even made a new (hopefully seldom-used) category called ‘Don’t Blog Angry’ for it when I decided to push publish. Uh, enjoy – I guess?

Photo Credit: Fyrsten (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

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12. Noah in Theaters Today!

Emma Watson's anticipated new film, Noah, opened in United States' theaters today! There has been much publicity surrounding the film, with a lot of promotional involvement from Ms. Watson. If you have seen the film, please share your reactions with us, below in the comments!

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13. Chicanonautica: Across the Border with Roy, Cisco and Jorge

by Ernest Hogan


When I wrote about Disney’s The Three Caballeros a while back, Tom Miller, author of On the Border and Revenge of the Saguaro told me I should look into the Roy Rogers movie, Hands Across the Border. He didn’t know if the State Department had anything to do with it, but there was Chicanonautica material there.

I've always liked the Roy Rogers universe. It’s full of happy trails, and animals that are so intelligent you expect them to talk. It also takes place in time warp: stagecoaches coexist with trucks, jeeps, and atom bombs. It’s a kind of 20th century American dreamtime where the past is upgraded for the newfangled reality. And it often gets downright surreal.

Hands Across the Border is so surreal it should be considered a precursor to the acid western subgenre.

It begins with a song, “Easy Street.” Roy sings it while riding into the town of Buckaroo, as he passes signs saying: CHECK YOUR CARES HERE AT THE CITY LIMITS AND RIDE ON INTO PARADISE and BEWARE TRAMPS, MOUNTEBANKS, GAMBLERS, SCALLYWAGS AND THIEVES THERE IS ONLY ONE PLACE IN TOWN WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME OUR JAIL! All while the lyrics declare that he doesn’t need money, and “Have you ever seen a happy millionaire?”

Did Sheriff Joe Arpaio ever see this?

Roy’s a saddle bum, or migrant worker, looking to earn his keep by wrangling horses and singing. And he does a lot of both as he saunters into a plot that's mostly an excuse to lead into the songs. Trigger accidentally kills the owner of the ranch, then encourages Roy to convince the owner’s daughter to keep the ranch from getting into the hands of the Bad Guy. Animals often act as spirit guides in the Roy Rogers universe.

Like The Three Caballeros, the story doesn’t directly have a “We gotta make friends with Latinos to defeat the Nazis” theme. Duncan Renaldo -- later know as The Cisco Kid on television -- is the ranch foreman, who orders around the Anglo cowboys, but nothing is really made of it. If there was any guidance from the State Department, it’s in the musical numbers. This really kicks in at a fiesta in the Renaldo characters’ town -- they don’t mention which side of the border it’s on.

There are muchas señoritas at the fiesta. Or at least Hollywood starlets in the appropriate regalia -- at least one was platinum blonde. And here we find a serious connection to The Three Caballeros, one of the señoritas sing “Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!” song by Manuel Esperón, with Spanish lyrics by Ernesto Cortázar Sr. that was originally released in a 1941 film of the same name starring Jorge Negrete. Hands Across the Border was released on January 5, 1944. On December 21, 1944, The Three Caballeros premiered in Mexico City, featuring Esperón’s music with English lyrics by Ray Gilbert, making it into “The Three Caballeros.” 

Cultural appropriation? The State Department in Hollywood? Or is this tune just that catchy?

The Mexicans in the town are supposed to help the ranch train the horses for a “government contract” in some way, buy it’s not shown. The military and the war aren’t mentioned. This is a spectacular race/torture test that the horses -- Trigger included -- are put through that includes explosions and a “simulated gas attack.”

I don’t think poison gas was used in the Second World War. What war are these horses going to be used in? We’re in the time warp again. Is this an alternate universe? On does it take place on a future, terraformed Mars?

This leads into an incredible finale. The opening song declares “We don’t have to flaunt our egos, amigos.” For about fifteen minutes there’s an all-singing, all-dancing recombocultural mashup of cowboy songs, Mexican Music (including an English translation of “Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!”), and jazz on a stage with crossed Mexican and American flags, and a white line to represent the border. There’s also a violin and a female singer that sound like theremins. And three guys in dresses.

It’s as if Guillemo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra were doing a time travel gig in the Forties

With Latinos becoming the majority in California, and elections coming up, maybe double features of Hands Across the Border and The Three Caballeros should be encouraged.

Ernest Hogan had a Roy Rogers lunch pail in grade school. He lives in the Wild West, where life constantly reminds him that reality is stranger than science fiction.

0 Comments on Chicanonautica: Across the Border with Roy, Cisco and Jorge as of 3/27/2014 3:19:00 AM
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14. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch debut in sneaky Avengers 2 set photos

Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently filming in Aosta, Italy which has to be tough because one bowl of pasta and it’s going to show in your spandex, but luckily, as these photos show, some of the costumes have pasta-concealing features. Elizabeth Olson said she wasn’t going to go around in a scarlet swimsuit as The Scarlet Witch and she is sure not wearing a swimsuit. Sensible shoes and everything!

These photos are supposedly leaks, although Disney/Marvel usually has things locked down tighter than Modok’s helmet. Jeremy Renner is back as Hawkeye but this is the first look at Olson’s Scarlet Witch and the Disney-verse Quicksilver with Aaron Taylor-Johnson. ATJ gets points for having white hair, and a lightning bolt as opposed to the Evan Peters version from X-Men: Days of Future Past. When that was revealed, I asked “would a spandex suit with a lightning bolt on it look any better?” and I guess the answer is yes. Taylor-Johnson has previous superheroic experience as Kick-Ass, and I have to say, he seems very comfortable in spandex.

More photos here and here, including this bonus shot of Joss Whedon.

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1 Comments on Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch debut in sneaky Avengers 2 set photos, last added: 3/25/2014
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15. New trailer and poster for X-Men: Days of Future Past has a lot of characters

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With time travel and tons of extra characters so Fox can make sure they have them on their Marvel roster, even this new POSTER for X-Men Days of Future Past seems jammed with funny looking folks. N0 sign of Club-Kid Quicksilver though.

And here’s a new trailer from the UK. A quick shot of Club-Kid Quicksilver! Shirtless Wolverine! Morphing Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. And based on this trailer, Halle Berry’s entire role as Storm consists of standing with lightning coming out her eyes.

The movie opens May 24. It’s directed by Bryan Singer, so signs point to enjoyable.

4 Comments on New trailer and poster for X-Men: Days of Future Past has a lot of characters, last added: 3/24/2014
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16. The Giver Film Trailer



I'm back with another trailer! It's been a big week for YA book to film adaptations. The trailer for The Maze Runner was released and Divergent hits the big screen today. And the official trailer for Lois Lowry's The Giver was also released. I have not read The Giver yet so I can't really comment on how accurate it is based on the books. From what I've seen on the internet, there are some mixed feelings about this one. I just borrowed the book from the library though and hope to read it soon. 

Have you read the book? Does this look like a faithful adaptation? I am interested to hear what people think of this one. Happy Friday, all!




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17. Live Q&A on Emma Watson's Twitter

Ever felt like asking Emma Watson a question? She's hosting a spontaneous live Q&A on her twitter right now! Send her a tweet @EmWatson with the #AskEmma.

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18. What is the mystery Marvel movie coming from Fox in 2018?

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Fox announced it future Marvel moviesslate last night, including a sequel to the FF movie they haven’t even shot yet. But Fox has to keep making these movies or else Disney will make them so, full speed ahead. FF 2 opens July 14, 2017. There is also going to be a Wolverine movie on March 3, 2017. Even though Hugh Jackman has tragically revealed that he won’t be Wolverine forever, we’d hope that he’ll still be around and cut as hell for this one. Director James Mangold is on board.

Then there is a THIRD movie set for July 13, 2018 — but the subject is a mystery. Disney piles to pull these “mystery movies” and one was Guardians of the Galaxy and the other was Ant-Man so Fax won’t let a good thing go.

What will it be? Maybe another X-men movie. Or Deadpool. Or X-force. Or an X-men/FF team-up. Or…the Silver Surfer? I mide up the last one but the rest have all been rumored at one point or another. I’d put my money on something mutanty, but we’ll see.

Fox also announced that The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughn and based on the Mark Mallar/Dave Gibbons comic has been moved from March 6, 2015, to October 24, 2014—sounds like a vote of confidence there, as February is a bad time to open a movie.

13 Comments on What is the mystery Marvel movie coming from Fox in 2018?, last added: 3/23/2014
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19. First SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR trailer released

Nine years after the first SIN CITY created a whole new look for the movies, the first trailer for the sequel has been released. Starring Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, Jamie Chung, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Julia Garner, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Jeremy Piven and Stacey Keach, SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR was directed by Robert Rodriguez from a screenplay by Sin City creator Frank Miller. But no Clive Owen. Sob.

The first Sin City was electrifying in its original look, and kicked off the entire trend of basing comic book movies on the actual comic. So many of the visual styles of the first movie have become tropes now, it’s hard to remember just how eyeball searing it was at first. And it’s safe to say the careers of both Rodriguez and Miller haven’t gone in the direction you might have expected since then. But the sequel promises to deliver more razor-sharp black and white debauchery by an all-star cast.

The film opens on August 22.
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20. Lee & Low Likes… The New ‘Annie’

The trailer for the upcoming remake of Annie is out, and we’re quite excited for the fabulously diverse cast! Quvenzhané Wallis, the talented young actress who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress (the youngest nominee ever!) for Beasts of the Southern Wildplays the star role of Annie. Jamie Foxx is cast as Will Stacks, the modern version of Daddy Warbucks, Rose Byrne cast as Stacks’ trusty assistant, and Cameron Diaz plays the dreadful Miss Hannigan.

the cast of Annie

the cast of 2014 version of Annie

We like that the story is updated a bit; it feels less like a copycat of the original Annie and more like a fresh, modern take on the story of the lovable orphan. In the 2014 remake, Will Stacks is running for NYC mayor and strategically takes Annie in for publicity purposes. Annie, of course, thinks that Mr. Stacks is saving her, but… we all know who saves who and how this story ends. Take a look at the trailer below and look out for the movie in theaters this Christmas.


Filed under: Lee & Low Likes Tagged: Annie remake, diversity in Hollywood, Jamie Fox, movies, Quvenzhané Wallis

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21. Giveaway: The Book Thief Blu-ray and DVD, PLUS The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

THE BOOK THIEF Based on the beloved best-selling book comes an “extremely moving” (Leonard Maltin, Indiewire) story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted by a German couple (OSCAR® Winner Geoffrey Rush* and OSCAR® Nominee Emily Watson**). Although she arrives

0 Comments on Giveaway: The Book Thief Blu-ray and DVD, PLUS The Book Thief by Markus Zusak as of 3/12/2014 1:06:00 AM
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22. Old Movies: Across The Pacific - 1941

ACROSS THE PACIFIC stars Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet. It was directed by John Huston and Vincent Sherman.

I had never seen this movie before even though I grew up with a mother who watched movies on TV every afternoon. Growing up I was not a Bogie (Bogart's nick name) fan. I found something else to do with my time if one of his movies was on the TV. However, over the years I have come to enjoy his work.
One night last week I saw Across The Pacific for the first time. Bogie never smiled so much than in this movie. I was surprised at how good he looked when he smiled naturally.
His name was Rick, like in Casablanca (made after this movie in 1942,) but he was not playing his usual tough guy, though his character was that too. In this role Bogie shows his wide range of talents.

Mary Astor is also much changed in Across The Pacific. Like-wise, Mary's role brings fun and shows more of her talent than I had seen in her movies. She and Bogie have a playful rapport in this World War II romantic comedy-drama about spies, the war to come, and ironical since this plot was written before the US war with Japan. The only problem I saw, though not a show stopper in the movie, was when Mary Astor's character happily runs into the hero's arm at the end when her beloved father has just been killed.
On a side note, the original story was written shortly before the attack on Pearl Harper where the plot line was to take place and the movie was to be filmed. They quickly moved the story line and shooting to Panama. The title remained the same even though they were not in the Pacific at all. I loved this movie!       
                                                                                        ~JD

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23. The Bickering Sisters

There once were two lovely young girls, sisters in fact, who lived in a spacious abode that seemed, too often, to close in around them. They were two of four daughters, not the golden-brown edge ones, but the soft, fair-haired, middlest sisters, mixed and squeezed together so much that they couldn’t get along. In fact, they bickered constantly.

Kou-Kou_by_Georgios_Iakovidis

They bickered near, they bickered far

They argued things trivial, humdrum, and bizarre.

“I’m sick of your manners,” one would often yell.

“I don’t like your meddling or dubious smell”

The other undaunted, her resentments would list

And sometimes erupt in a tirade of fists

Finally the lady of the manor (the loveliest, fairest maiden in the land) had had quite enough. She threatened, cajoled, and punished the two sisters. In frustration, she assigned them chores in the hopes of building teamwork. The clever mother’s schemes worked…but only for a season. For the enmity between the two sisters had grown as great and thick as their noble father’s ample chest hair.

He, the master of the house, was wise on his own account and took action to solve the embarrassing bickering once and for all. He tied the legs of the two sisters together with red silky ribbon, telling them to write down ten things each admired in the other. Only then would the ribbon be removed and their freedom attained.

He congratulated himself on his shrewdness and saw to the other important tasks of the manor, little knowing that the two cunning sisters conspired against him. Each composed a flowery list detailing their own most praiseworthy virtues, swapped scrolls, and beckoned their father back to their dungeon. So pleased was he that he released the two fair girls immediately with a tender kiss on each brow.

He boasted to his lovely wife in their bedchamber that night and wondered at how she could possibly resist his dashing charm. While choruses singing praise echoed inside his swollen head, the lady heard the familiar bicker, bicker, bicker from the other side of the door. The master and fine lady gave up! Would the two sisters ever be confidants or were they doomed to dwell in the moat of antipathy ever after?

Alas, one fine day, something came into their hands that brought the two together better than any silk ribbon ever could. It was warm, imaginative, and likable to both parties. They loved this thing, pondered it, and discussed it non-stop. Oft in the evenings, side by side they could be found on a blue, fluffy throne doing nothing but soak up the enjoyment of this thing…together. Yes, together.

An amazing light shone over the humble manor – the light of peace.

What was this wonderful thing of harmony, you ask? What could it possibly be? It was a book, then another, and another. It was literature that bound their squabbling hearts and imaginations together.

The lord of the manor, a brilliant novelist in his own mind, felt it important to pay tribute to one of the tomes that brought reconciliation to his home. To celebrate Divergent’s theatrical debut, I give you Virgil’s take on one of the wonderful works that put hatred asunder.

Not coming to a theater near you….

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Artwork By Georgios Iakovidis (1853-1932)
Imitation Artwork yet unclaimed

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24. From print to screen

Books are always better than their movie adaptations. Always. Sometimes I've been devastated by the director's interpretation of a favorite book *cough* Percy Jackson *cough*. Other times though, the movie offers a different interpretation of the story that doesn't detract from the image I formed in my mind, but add another view I hadn't considered before (The Book Thief!).


2014 is a great year for movie adaptations. 

The Maze Runner, by our own James Dashner, a Utah native, comes out in September. 





Divergent, by Veronica Roth is out in theaters right now.
Here's the trailer as well:





And finally, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is also coming out.




What do you think? Are you planning on watching the movies? Have you read the books? What book would you like to see on screen?

I've read all three of these books and I'm REALLY excited about the movies. I would also love to see The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

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25. The Story of Dido Elizabeth Belle

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I’ve long been interested in the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century. The child of the British admiral John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman (possibly named Maria Belle), she was sent to Kenwood House, the home of her great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield as a young child.  The earl was already raising his great-niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray who was the same age as Dido and so the two girls grew up together with Dido evidently becoming Elizabeth’s personal companion.  While in his rulings as Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Mansfield indicated his distaste for the institution of slavery, in his own household there is evidence that Dido was treated in demeaning ways, clearly not viewed as equal to Elizabeth and others in the family.  You can learn more about her here and here.

Now there is a movie about Dido, Belle, due to be released here soon. Variety has given a favorable review, noting that while it will appeal to Austen fans it doesn’t shy away from addressing the harsher topic of slavery.  The Guardian also weighed in, And below is the trailer. I’m eager to see it and learn for myself as to how successful it is.


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