The Dirty Dozen

June 21, 2010 at 6:02 am (Other) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m participating in a blog hop set up by Alex J. Canauagh today. The question being – if I could only round up 12 films which 12 would I choose.

Tricky question and I had to really think about this and in the end I decided to go with the idea that I was going to be stuck in isolation for the rest of forever. Which movies did I have to take and what combination?

I decided to start with the child-hood classics.

1.  The Dark Crystal – Jim Henson at his finest. An epic fantasy tale told with muppets with some of the most interesting characters I ever met as a child. I love Kira and her matter-of-fact nature as well as her ability to talk to pretty much any animal with a reasonable expectation of being answered.

2.  Willow – Again, epic fantasy. This time it is a combination of Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer who are the defnitely draw though the shield bob-sled over snow we probably could have done without. Fairies, trolls, witches, prophesise, what more could a movie want?

3.  The Princess Bride – Because it is awesome. Fantasy and romance and action and adventure all rolled into one very entertaining story.

Moving on some old favourites.

4. Indiana Jones (If I’m not allowed the entire trilogy I choose Temple of Doom – though many fans think that this is the weak link) – With the exception of the Crystal Skull (which I still maintain is not Indiana Jones) these movies are incredibly fun, action packed and scenic.

5.  Clash of the Titans – The original. Clunky stop-go animation but that vulture is hilarious and this was my gate-way to Greek mythology. Can’t be without this one.

6.  The Trouble with Harry – Hitchcock at his most amusing. I just like the twisted sense of humour.

The B-Grade Collection – I have this thing for really bad horror movies.

7.  Tremors – If I can have all four of the movies I will, but otherwise I would have to choose the second one. Underground monsters that get smarter by the minute and eat anything that moves. A great laugh with one or two jumps thrown in (just so you remember it was sort of supposed to be a horror).

8.  Ginger Snaps – Possibly the best werewolf movie I have ever watched and yet you end up laughing more than being scared by this coming of age movie mixed with horror. I will say that the scariest thing in this movie is Ginger’s mother (creepy).

9.  Scream – This one was a toss up between The Faculty and Scream but Scream came out on top for two reasons. One – it gave us one of the best quotes from a bad villain ever: “My mum and dad are going to be so mad at me”. The second reason is that they made sure the last hurrah wasn’t dragged out. Short and sweet and done.

Finally, the feel good movies.

10.  Elizabeth Town – Most people will hate this choice. Yes, it is Orlando Bloom. Yes, it does start with him trying to commit suicide. Yes, it mostly deals with a funeral. It is light and amusing and by the road trip at the end you are genuinely feeling good about yourself. This is what I want in a movie when I need cheering up.

11. 10 Things I Hate About You – An updated take on the Taming of the Shrew and my introduction to Heath Ledger, I love this movie. It is well done and uplifting.

12.  Just Like Heaven – I needed at least one genuine, sickly sweet movie on this list. This is my choice.

You should head over to Alex’s blog and check out the rest of the blog hop.


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Over the Top Blog Award

February 8, 2010 at 5:31 am (Other) (, , , , )

Last week Carol Kilgore at Under the Tiki Hut passed on the Over the Top blog award to me.

This is a cool award. The rules are that I must mention Carol’s name and blog. Also I must answer a string of questions with one-word only answers and pass the award to five other bloggers here and by leaving a comment on their blogs.

So first I’ll answer the questions, then we’ll talk about passing it on.

Your cell phone? Paperweight
Your Hair? Unpredictable
Your Favorite Food? Chocolate
Your Dream Last Night? Freaky
What Room Are You In? Study
Your Hobby? Reading
Your Fear? Accidents
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Somewhere
Where Were You Last Night? Bed
Something That You Aren’t? Forgettable (hopefully)
Wish List Item? Magic-wand
Where Did You Grow Up? South-East QLD
Last Thing You Did? read
What Are You Wearing? clothes
Your TV? Functional
Your Pets? Kitten
Friends? Possibly
Your Life? Manageable
Your Mood? Reflective
Your Favorite Color? Red
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Fridge

And the five bloggers I’m passing the Over the Top Blog Award to are:

Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder

Alex J Cavenaugh at Alex J Cavanaugh

V.V. Denam at V.V. Denam

Corra McFeydon at From the desk of a writer

Crystal Clear Proofing

Please visit their blogs and you’ll see for yourself how Over the Top they are – and in such awesome ways.

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Avatar – The Movie, The Discussion

January 14, 2010 at 5:25 am (Other) (, , , , , , , )

It kind of amazes me the number of blogs I’ve visited just in the last four days that still have Avatar as a major discussion point.  Admittedly, I really loved the movie (flaws and all) but the movie is beside the point. What really is interesting is how much discussion this movie has generated before its release and continues to generate weeks after its release.   Everyone seems to have an opinion and it is ranging from how brilliant and amazing this movie was, how mind blowingly unique and stunning, etc, etc, to how pedestrian the story was and how bland the characters seem, etc, etc.  Love it or hate it, everyone is still talking about it.

Wouldn’t everyone just love that much discussion about their own writing, whether it be good or bad?

The main arguments for Avatar being amazing (that I’ve come across) are:

  • Visually stunning
  • Dramatic
  • Cool action sequences
  • Characters who become beloved by the end of the movie (though that is a very debatable issue)

The main arguments for Avatar being somewhat underwhelming seem to be:

  • The story is not original (though I’d love to ask what movie anyone has seen recently that has had an original story line)
  • There is an over reliance on special effects
  • The characters are flat and uninteresting
  • Neytiri crying (apparently some people found the sound of her grief irritating – I can’t imagine why. I thought everyone loved ear splitting shrieks)

I loved Avatar. I know the story is not particularly original.  There are moments during it where you could almost swear you were watching a more sophisticated version of Fern Gully (particularly when the forest starts lighting up underfoot) and there are no surprises in the plot. The characters are not fantastic. They are archetypes that are barely fleshed out and in many stories that would annoy me but it isn’t a deal breaker with Avatar. Yes, it is visually amazing, and I really want one of those glowy, spinny, lizard things because they are so cute but that wasn’t why I loved it.

I loved Avatar because it is a strong story, well put together.  Each scene and each character serves a very specific purpose and they all work. You are swept up in the story, you follow along, the tension builds, you reach the climax and you are satisfied with the resolution. That to me is a successful story and the visual effects simple support the story and help to make you believe in a world that couldn’t possibly exist.

For me, the worst part of Avatar wasn’t the storyline, it was the slight extension on so many sequences and scenes just so they could show off the visual effects for that little bit longer than necessary. Look at each of the flight sequences.  Every single one could have been shortened (whether they were in helicopters or on the dragon things) without changing the story in any way.

I am now jumping off the Avatar bandwagon. I’ve watched it twice and I’ve read so many discussions about it and now I’ve posted my own thoughts and I am putting it to rest until the DVD comes out. I would however like to know what you think about Avatar and the ongoing debates about the movies ‘greatness’.

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10 Reasons Why Movies Are Better Than Books

November 26, 2009 at 5:11 am (Other) (, , , , )

So last week I shared my thoughts on why books are better than movies. The post was mostly in response to people who ask me why I bother to read since you can just wait for the movie watch the story faster and with less effort.  I had ten very good reasons and in the comments left there were probably another ten mentioned. That said, I love movies as well.  Not enough that I would ever give up books, but enough that I realise that some stories are better told on the screen than on the pages.

And that is really the whole point.  Juliet Boyd did a follow up to my post asking why we would expect books to make good movies and she raises some excellent points.  With that said I would like to jump into my ten reasons why movies are better than books (sometimes).

1.  Visually movies are more appealing.  To many people a page of text is daunting and dull and they are automatically locked out from accessing the story.  Stories are more accessible to a larger number of people in movie form than as books.

2.  Leif Motifs – you know the music that plays as one particular character comes on screen.  It tells us the bad guy is coming or that the hero is entering the fray and whether we like it or not it gives us a slight emotional charge that just isn’t there when you read it in a book.  If you want the perfect example of this, watch Star Wars.  Luke Skywalker comes on screen, cue either the wistful music or the hero music.  Darth Vadar appears and we have the strong military beat.  Han Solo and we get a sense of whimsy and so on.

3.  Time is of the essence – I read a lot and I read fast but if I were to spend my entire weekend doing nothing but reading I’d be pushing to finish three novels (admittedly I read fantasy and they tend to be huge but still).  If I spend the entire weekend watching movies (unless I’m watching Lord of the Rings or something equally epic) I can probably knock over about twelve movies.  Movies skip out a lot of detail that appears in books, plus they don’t need to describe scenes to you, they just flash a picture and move on.  They are quicker in conveying the story.

4.  Special Effects – Now it has been pointed out that our imagination has no limitations and special effects do so things that sound really good in books sometimes look quite ridiculous in movies.  However, my imagination is limited by my sense of reality and so when a book has a car crash I see a little ding and a bit of broken glass, where as a movie will usually just blow the car up in a spectacular show of carnage.  Logically I know the car probably wouldn’t blow up but watching it on the screen I can go with it.  Reading about it, I will usually tone it down.

5.  The social aspect – You can go to the movies with your friends (and if you don’t mind the evil glares you can talk while watching).  More importantly, you can watch a movie at home with everyone gathered in the one room chatting and eating and it is a very social experience.  I don’t know about you, but when I read, I read.  I’ve had people steal the book out of my hands, throw water at me and clap their hands over my eyes to get my attention while I’m reading.  It isn’t a social event.

6.  Okay I waited until number six for this one and that was very restrained of me.  Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderes, etc, etc, etc.   Don’t tell me you’ve never chosen a movie just because you thought the main actor was cute.  Technically this is part of the visual appeal but I felt it needed to be separate.

7.  Action sequences – yes you can read action sequences but I find them quite dull.  Particularly sword fights.  Please do not describe everything single thrust and parry to me if you expect me to still be reading by the time the battle is over.  However, in movies… they define the show don’t tell theory.  It is a lot more exciting to watch a sword fight than to read a blow by blow commentary on a sword fight.

8.  Previews – I hope I’m not the only person who does this, but I love previews.  Half the fun of going to the movies, or renting a movie, is to watch previews and to find out about other movies.  Sometimes books have other books by the same author or publisher listed, but they aren’t quite as exciting as movies.  I was wondering if now with ebooks and readers whether they could start putting book trailers with books and that would be almost the same but maybe they can’t. I don’t know.

9.  Jaws.  Read the book.  Watch the movie.  Toss the book.  That is kind of cruel given it is beautifully written but the love triangle is dull and all of the character development takes away from the thrills.  The movie focused entirely on the suspense and the thrill and nailed it.  The book, for once, was too cluttered.  Sorry to anyone who loved reading the book.

10.  I kind of ran out at nine so ten is going to frozen coke which I always drink at the movies.  I don’t drink it when reading because the condensation leaves water marks on the pages of the book.  If you can think of a tenth, be sure to add it.

Tell me your reasons why movies are better.

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10 Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Movies

November 17, 2009 at 5:05 am (Other) (, , , , , , )

Okay if you are a reader, you already know the answer to this one.  Why is it that when they turn a book into a movie, the book is almost always (there are a couple of exceptions) better?  Here are my ten reasons:

  1. In books it is easier to see what is going on in the characters heads.  This actually makes character action and motivation make more sense.  Instead of just running through the dark and then for some reason veering toward the deserted and creepy building we can sometimes hear their thoughts and the character can explain and justify their logic.
  2. There are no shiny, beautiful people on the screen distracting you from how the characters should look.  Even ugly characters, when transferred to the screen, are usually played by some beautiful person who has had a bit of dirt scrubbed on their face to make them look dowdy.  It doesn’t really work and it takes away from the character.
  3. Plots make more sense in book form because the point of the book is to tell a story, not be visually spectacular.  I will Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as an example here.  This book had quite a lot of action in it already and yet when the movie was released huge chunks of the story were removed and replaced with even more action.  The entire dragon chase sequence around the school, ending with Harry crashing into the roof did not exist in the book.  It didn’t add a single thing to the story and because of this lengthy sequence the movie dragged on and still didn’t make any sense because key pieces of information were never revealed.
  4. Books are completely portable.  I know people keep trying to tell us they aren’t and that we need to read on computers and all manner of other things, but compared to carting a television around, books are extremely portable.  And yes, we can watch movies on laptops and phones and portable DVD players but when the picture is that small, I have to wonder what the point is.
  5. Books don’t need batteries or a power source to run.  You open them, you read them.
  6. Reading books takes longer than watching a movie.  Some people would argue that it isn’t an advantage to be time consuming but in terms of the cost to enjoyment ratio I would very much like my enjoyment to go for more than an hour or two.
  7. There are never bad special effects in books because you create the images in your own head and they come out flawlessly.
  8. The characters are never destroyed by bad acting (though bad writing is another story).
  9. The soundtrack is whatever you want it to be and you aren’t being constantly forewarned of any actual tension by a spike in the music so you can genuinely be surprised by the next plot twist.
  10. Curl up on the couch with a DVD case in your hand and see how relaxed it makes you feel.

Yes, you may now all proceed to tell me how incredible movies are and how much better this or that movie was than the book.

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Remembrance Day

November 11, 2009 at 5:11 am (Other)

A quick post today and I’m not even pretending this one is related to writing.  Today is Remembrance Day in Australia and I want to send my thoughts to all of those who do take the time on this day to remember.

Thinking good thoughts for the future but not forgetting the past.

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