Film: The Fault In Our Stars

You know the whole time watching this film, I told myself “Im not going to cry”, because of the subject matter and obvious ending of the film. If you’ve read the book beforehand, then you probably struggled with whether or not you would cry while watching the movie based on if you did or did not cry while reading the book. I tried to read the book, but I just had to to watch the film. I was about halfway in before I was like “ok, I want to see what this looks like cinematically”. Curiosity of sight got the best of me. So yeah, I didn’t know exactly how the film would end, but the story involved cancer and love, so I took a pretty good guess. But, the whole point of TFIOS isn’t about feeling sad for cancer victims though. It’s about love and what two people go through once they surprisingly find it.

I can only speak for myself, but I love romance and rom-coms. I’m a huge fan of films with Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, and Ashton Kutcher. I love watching TV shows with a really great couple and their moments always has a bad ass soundtrack. Lately though, I have had a hard time getting into modern romance films like The Vow. I really hated that movie. I don’t think it gave that couple’s story justice. Maybe it was chemistry of the actors. Or the script. I don’t know. I honestly just couldn’t ‘feel it’. Anyway, after several modern romance films, I gave up and decided that my generation was doomed in the romance department…at least on film.

Then comes The Fault In Our Stars…

I think the hook of the film (and the book) got me interested. The love story is from the perspective of two people dealing with something that I couldn’t imagine going through and I have nothing but love and respect for those having to go through it and go through it gracefully. Life’s a bitch sometimes and cancer is one of its hired henchmen. One of my aunts and one of my uncles passed away from cancer and it took a toll on my family. So right away into the book I was curious to read a personal perspective on living life with cancer.

What I enjoyed about Grace and Augustus was their appreciation for literature (Grace) and video games (Augustus). Even living life without an illness, I find that getting lost in some kind of story helps grasp your own perspective on life itself. I guess it was a meta-kind of way of looking at the story, because that was why I was reading it and soon to be watching it.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort really brought a nice maturity on screen. I love my teen dramas, but I really wanted to see something that could be REAL and I think they were successful at bringing a realness to the story. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. And Laura Dern as Mrs. Lancaster…wow, she was amazing. She didn’t have to speak much for me to feel the emotion. Her facial expressions and overall demeanor contributed a lot to the story. She is one reasons why I loved Jurassic Park as a kid. She just has one of those faces. (Kind of like Jewel Staite in Firefly and Rosamund Pike in Pride and  Prejudice). A face that says sadness and kindness…

I’m sort of cynical about love in life and finding a soulmate. Personally for me, time would have to stop and some sort of weird flux in gravity would have to pull me toward a person for me to even insist that they were my soulmate (This is one reason why I love the film Big Fish). Yes, I know sounds very unrealistic, but I think it has to be for it to be real. I take love very seriously and a lot of movies and TV shows fail to make me believe it, but this movie made me believe it and in it. I really think it was the chemistry of the actors. Their acting wasn’t perfect, but I absolutely did not want to leave the theater and I did not roll my eyes once while watching. I was hooked and got butterflies when they were together.

Anyways, this post is becoming way too long and I just wanted to say in so many words that I liked the film. I need to finish the book now, because I’m sure there are moments that will reach out to me more and things will be more detailed and defined. Hollywood always leaves a huge chunk out, ya know. I say this as someone who loves movies and TV and has studied the art of filmmaking.

All in all, I say watch the movie if you love romance movies or just love movies.

‘Til next time…

Music: “Night Birds” by Ryan Adams

You know something guys, I really love Ryan Adams’ music. I love his very laid-back, soothing, walking-down-the-street-seeing-nothing-but-city-lights sound. His music really makes me feel calm and reflective. It’s strange because when I read articles about his live performances, people are spitting close to calling him a jerk. Well, some of them actually call him a jerk. I honestly think these articles are based on his earlier performances. Ryan has been around for a long time (he used to be a part of the band, The Cardinals) and you know, sometimes musicians have to go through some things for their music to be so honest and soulful. I mean that’s the age old saying right? Drugs, Sex, and Rock ‘n Roll…

Well, I judge music based on what I feel when listening to it and it’s critical that I feel the artist’s soul. I know, that sounds totally cliche. Think about it though, what is music for? What does an artist get from making music? I’m talking a real musician. Why the drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll? No, I’m not appreciating or supporting the use of drugs and overuse of sex as a means to make real music. I’m saying that the music comes from emotion. Powerful stuff. Maybe I’m not making any sense, but in essence, I’m saying maybe Ryan Adams’ jerk-like behavior (according to some music journalists) came from a selfishness that comes with having to fight with one-self  and others to share beautiful music with thousands (maybe millions) of people. I think music is suppose to come from the soul and finding it and performing it isn’t always going to be pretty (I’ll talk about this more with a later entry on Cat Power). From what I’ve read lately though, Ryan is doing quite good. I really want to see him play live someday. I really need to catch up on his newer music.

The main purpose of this blog though is to talk about the song, “Night Birds”. The song is one of many of my favorite Ryan Adams songs. It’s off the album 29 (2005). The song makes me feel like I’m on a beach at night and the waves are crashing. It’s amazing. The song has a bit of eeriness as well with the overlapping of “…into the ocean” towards the end of the track. I can sleep to the song too, which means a lot to me. I hate to have my sleep disrupted and this song definitely keeps me dreaming. The song is just great stuff. Very soothing. Don’t just take my word though, listen to it. If you’ve heard it before, let me know what you think. This won’t be the only time I talk about Ryan Adams so look forward to knowing what I think about some of his other music.

‘Til next time…

TV and Film: Firefly + Serenity

“The Hero of Canton (The Man They Call Jayne)”

So I’m re-watching and catching up on an array of television shows and films and I decided to pop in the good ol’ Firefly. Of course, I can’t watch Firefly without continuing on to the film Serenity. I’m not the only one to say this, but this series is AMAZING! I’m so sad that it only had one season and a short one at that. I mean, the hook is genius (basically space cowboys w/ a steampunk-ish vibe). I love anything and everything Whedon and praise his writing and imagination. The guy is phenomenal, especially if you’re into the nerd/sci-fi culture. His writing is SMART-COMEDY and definitely an acquired taste.

Anyway, I’m no expert in the details of the mechanics behind the show (there are numerous blogs and websites dedicated to the series), but I just wanted to throw out my appreciation of the characters and the story. As an aspiring TV/film writer/director, it’s a type of series that I aspire to create. The fan-culture is BANANAS (amazing)! They/we support and praise the show like no one’s business. I just love the conversation surrounding the series and how you kind of have to be a members only…member to get it. Anyway, I never get tired of Firefly and I am still waiting on Serenity 2! WAAAAAASHHH!

TV: Girl Meets World ‘Pilot’ (Review)

As a lifetime fan of Boy Meets World (a show that defined my childhood) I was quite anxious to see what direction the new spin-off series, Girl Meets World would take. I honestly thought that I would be glowing hot from a terrible mess made of the beloved original series, but needless to say, I’m quite alright. In fact, I actually enjoyed the pilot. Of course there were moments where I I had to roll my eyes, but it was mostly because I am not a kid anymore and I can’t really identify with the new generation of kids and teens.

The show had a ton of mirroring of the original show and a huge nod to Ben Savage’s loyalty to Cory’s humor and a fun take on being a parent – and teacher (two positions of power that he constantly challenged as a boy in BMW). As for Topanga – I am hoping that she will have more personality in future episodes and not be so wooden. Seriously, she kind of just stood, smiled, an nodded in the scenes that she was in. What happened to the spunky, know-it-all Topanga? As for the kids and the students, they were not as infuriatingly bubbly as I anticipated. I totally saw Cory, Shawn, and friends in the new kids. We live in a supposedly post-feminist, post-race, post-bullying, post-gay world, and it’s Disney Channel today not Disney from the 90’s and early 00’s, so there’s bound to be a bit more sugary/light take on big issues like finding one’s identity and choosing your friends wisely. Though the fact that GMW even tackled the big theme of BMW in the first episode gave me hope that the show will go for a more genuine and realistic approach than today’s usual Disney channel shows.

Anyway, I can’t wait to see more of the original characters in future episodes. I mean, what is Eric up to? And why is there a Mr. Feeny educational sign in New York? I will stick around unless the show becomes annoyingly too Disney. I indeed miss the Disney Channel that I grew up with, but the world has to evolve (more like devolve), right? In terms of the show, it wasn’t bad for a pilot and spin-off of such a beloved show.

Listen With Me: Favorite ‘Types’ of Music

Hey, hey, people! So I’m going to start a ‘Listen With Me’ series where I’ll let you all know what I’m jamming or what tune is currently stuck in my head. For starters though, here’s a general sense of what type of music I listen to. Now, my taste changes from time to time, but I tend to stick to songs that are mellow and chill. I also like really upbeat music. I will never stop jamming *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. 90’s pop was a movement for me. Heck, 90’s music was a movement for me! I used to be good at labeling music based on genre, but it gets complicated every now and then. While I do like finding new music, I am more critical of when certain songs/artists come out. I usually ignore the more mainstream fluff that came out after 2007ish, but artists like The Xx and Bastille have recently caught my ears!

A passion of mine is finding underground music, or artists that are just lesser known. I’m also having a hard time even listening to the new Coldplay album (more on that in a separate blog). I’ll actually write a blog after I listen to the entire album for the first time. Below are some examples of what certain genres sound like to me. I’m sure I’m way off on some of them, but here you go.

Alternative – Coldplay, U2, Goo Goo Dolls

Alternative / Low Fi – The Perishers, Modest Mouse, Metric, The Xx (can also be electronic)

Alternative Rock – The Killers, Kings of Leon, Radiohead (well, these guys can be ‘electronic’ too)

Singer / Songwriter / Alternative – Ryan Adams, Cat Power, Beth Orton

Rock – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Staind, Collective Soul

Pop – Michelle Branch, *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys

R&B -Justin Timberlake (though he’s also Pop), Aaliyah

Hip-Hop – Jay-Z, The Fugees

Dance, Electronic, Techno/ Upbeat (these can really be broken down) – Faithless, The Prodigy, Bastille

Soul – Sade, Maxwell, KC and Jojo

Country – *I rarely listen to this genre, but when I do it’s along the lines of…The Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts

The artists that I post about the most tend to be my favorite artists. Also, if anyone has recommendations based on these very general genre descriptions, please let me know!! I like mixes too!

‘Til next time…