Writing

Brush With Fame.

Several years ago, when I was still in my early teens, my parents and I visited Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina. I don’t know how we found out about it, but we discovered that Anthony Hopkins was on site filming a scene for what would become Hannibal. I didn’t know who he was at the time, let alone his cannibalistic character, but I was excited at the thought of being in the same space as a famous actor.

As we walked up the gravel drive towards the mansion, a helicopter lifted up into the air and flew up over us.

“He’s probably leaving for the day,” my dad said.

I craned my neck up to watch the helicopter lift higher into the sky. I couldn’t see anybody in there, but I waved anyway. I like to think that he waved back, taking pity on a girl who had never met a famous person before.

As cool as having an almost encounter with a famous person on set is, I probably wouldn’t have remembered the actor nor the movie if it hadn’t been for my dad. He was a big fan of Anthony Hopkins and it probably would have been an experience for him.

My dad died shortly before I was able to bring the DVD home of the t.v. version of Hannibal with Mads Mikkelsen home to watch with him. I wonder if he’d like the newer show or stick with the originals? It’s hard to tell, especially when the remakes get to be just as good as the ones they are based off of.

Some things are best left a mystery, as long as you’re not eaten for it.

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Writing

The Death of Hollywood.

I don’t watch a lot of movies or television in general. I’ve been that way since I was a small child. I just never got the point of sitting in front of the television and seeing flashing colorful images worm their way into your brain. Yes, I do watch it on occasion. And yes, I have my favorite movies and t.v. shows that I fall back on from time to time. But generally, I don’t get it, especially when I see people sitting in front of the t.v. for hours watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls or whatever your show of the week is.

I could give you a whole list of reasons of why I personally don’t watch a lot of things, but today I wanted to focus on one thing that annoys me about the film industry:

They don’t know how to let go of a good thing.

You’ve seen it before: Hollywood finally gets enough brains together and create something brilliant or even fairly successful and then they all sit down a few months later and say “Holy crap, we did a thing. Let’s create a sequel so we can make more money off it. And when we’re done with that one, let’s create another one!” And another…and another.

Jaws. Pirates of the Caribbean. Law and Order. NCIS. And God forbid the superhero movies. They just keep creating another sequel, another season, another spinoff. They create one thing that was fairly good and entertaining and then they beat it to the ground until even the enthusiastic fans start banging their heads on the wall screaming “Make it stop, make it stop.”

That’s just me though. I’m sure there’s that one percent who are saying “But, Ashley…I loved those sequels!” Well, good for you. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it all and helping them make their billions.

I just think that instead of beating the dead horse we need to actually focus on creating good content. Instead of reinventing an old classic or basing a movie off of the creative force of an author, we should just make our own. Make the film industry great again with originality! (Too soon for the political sensitives? I apologize.)

Of course I’m not enough of a snob to stop watching movies altogether, even the dumb ones. But it would be nice to see some originality and variety. Something other than space shows and raunchy humor. Until then, I’ll revisit my old favorites and occasionally watch something new.

 

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Writing

10 Amazing Documentaries You Should Watch Right Now.

I think I made a post before about how I’ve become more interested in documentaries. To me, documentaries can be (and often are) better than fictionalized shows you see in the movies or on television. I don’t know if they’re actually “amazing” but I found them very interesting.

  1. Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided. The story of Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s marriage from before and during the Civil War. Very intriguing dynamic, especially with Mary Lincoln.
  2. Stealing Lincoln’s Body. This studies how obsessed the United States became with Lincoln, even in death, to the point of trying to steal his body and moving it around the country.
  3. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. This was a spine chilling documentary. If you’ve ever seen Monster with Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, you’ll know that a woman named Aileen went around the country murdering men as revenge for the abusers in her past and bringing her girlfriend along. This documentary is about the real Aileen and boy is it scary.
  4. Of Dolls and Murder. Explores a collection of dollhouse crime scenes created in the 1930’s and ’40’s as well as exploring our obsession with murder.
  5. The Short Life of Anne Frank. Only an hour long, but very powerful, gives a brief biography of the most famous Holocaust victim.
  6. Secrets of Stonehenge. Explores the mysteries of Stonehenge and uses historians and archaeologists to try and figure out the real reason why it was built.
  7. Killer Legends. A couple of indie filmmakers explore famous legends and real life stories that could have inspired these legends. When a Stranger Calls and killer clowns amongst them.
  8. Cropsey. Made by the same people who wrote Killer Legends, this film takes a look at an urban legend on Staten Island, New York about a supposed escaped mental patient who hides out in the abandoned asylum and kills people and young children.
  9. Tales From the Royal Bedchamber. This was actually pretty interesting, about how the royal bedchamber was where people came to grant favors from the King and how the royal bed evolved over time.
  10. Finding Your Roots. I don’t if you could call this a “documentary” per say, but I love this show because it focuses on three different famous people each episode and traces their roots back and tells their stories. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is pretty awesome and has a good voice.

I’ll stop it here. If I find that this is popular, I’ll write a follow up to this post.

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Fame Isn’t Everything, Is It?

Alan RickmanI’ll always remember Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. With a book as grand as the Harry Potter series, one can expect that not everything is going to go as completely as you imagined it, but I had no qualms about Alan Rickman. Throughout the series, Rickman made Snape to exactly how I imagined him to be. The voice, the hair, the looks, the everything. He truly brought such a complex character into something solid and real. I also loved him in Sweeney Todd. A dark musical with complex characters, he really knew how to be despicable.

He was a unique man, interesting. I think his voice was his signature. How many have a deep, gravely voice such as his. When I saw him in another movie, I knew it was him instantly because of his voice.

Alan Rickman, when I’m 80 years old, I’ll still be watching you perform and I’ll still be amazed at how perfect you portrayed the characters of my imagination and my grandchildren will ask me “After all this time?” and I will say “Always.” Thank you for bringing such memorable characters to life. I hope you’ll be making stardust with Bowie tonight.

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Writing

Every Day Is a New Beginning

Yesterday I got to talk to C. for about 30 or 40 minutes. It made me happy to talk to him. I wish we could see each other in person, but it’s probably not going to happen this weekend, which makes me sad since he makes me happy. I’m sure everybody’s tired of me talking about it, so I won’t go completely ape about it today.

I’ve got two movies checked out from work that I really want to watch but haven’t made myself sit down and watch yet. They are Life of Pi and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. I know, you’re probably wondering about the latter, but let me explain, or at least try to.

I’m the type of person who enjoys scary movies. I don’t watch them all the time because frankly the horror genre is (and has been) going down on the decline for the last few years, maybe even more. Most of them these days are slasher movies and that kind of thing gets really old. I have a feeling that Texas Chainsaw and all its sequels and remakes is very much slasher, but for whatever reason, I want to watch them. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic in the horror field and I’d like to watch it just to say that I did, even if I don’t particularly like it. Soo…I got The Beginning. I think it was recently made, so it’s not like the original (or even the remake), but we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? I’ll probably come back on here later and say that I didn’t even watch it, because I’m the type of person to check things out at work and then return it because a.) I didn’t have time to watch it or b.) because I decided I didn’t want to watch (or read) it after all.

The other movie of course is Life of Pi. I read the book earlier this year and really loved the author’s storytelling and writing style. I read it because I knew the movie was coming out on DVD soon and knew that it had won a lot of awards at the Oscars this year. It’s been some time since I read the book, but I remember the thrill of reading Pi’s survival and philosophical awakening throughout his time out at sea. The movie probably doesn’t do the book justice, but it’s almost like watching a runaway train wreck, you can’t help but watch it.

What kinds of movies to you like to watch or tend to avoid?

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Writing

A Horror Story, American Style

A while ago, I decided that I wanted to watch American Horror Story. It’s been around for about a year now, but I never really watched it. If you know me well, you know that until this year, I watched very few movies. It’s not that I didn’t like watching movies, it’s the fact that I always had something better that I wanted to do with my time.

But because I’ve been watching a lot of movies this year (a mixture between wanting something to do to relax me after a long week at school and taking classes that made me more aware of media around me), I’ve begun to dig around for movies and t.v. shows that I’ve always meant to watch but never did.

American Horror Story is one of those shows. I knew it was going to have a dark, creepy feel to it, but I didn’t expect the Pilot episode to have quite the intensity that it presented. From what I understand of the first episode, there is this little old mansion in Los Angeles (I don’t know if it’s on the outskirts or in the thick of it, but there you have it) that has had several owners, none of them lasting long. We get a hint of what happens to some of the people who dare go into the building, but we aren’t giving the full story. It then fast forewords to present day when a couple and their daughter purchase the house in order to start a new life. The wife had had a miscarriage and had caught the husband having sex with a teenager, but still decides to move across the country with her husband in order to have a second chance. The girl, feeling on the outskirts as her parents’ marriage disintegrates, begins to cut herself and smoke.

As the episode goes on, you begin to realize that things aren’t what they seem in this new home of theirs. Strange things begin to happen. The neighbor’s mentally ill daughter is able to magically get into the house even when the doors are locked, the maid seems like an old lady to the wife and daughter but a young, sexy woman to the husband, a strange half-burnt man that follows the husband around, strange clown-like figures and psychotic boys.

By the time the episode ended an hour later, I was shell shocked. So many things kept jumping out at me, keeping me on my toes, tense and ready for the next strange event to happen. I think that was the producers and directors’ intent. Put you in a strange, emotional overload so that everything seems to be a downward spiral into insanity. They want you to feel confused as if you were right in the middle of the show with them, wondering what in the world has just happened. It’s almost like a Stephen King novel, where everything isn’t what it seems, that the oddities keep building and building until insanity breaks through and challenges you to question what is real and what is fiction.

I’m interested in seeing the rest of season 1. I want to know who all these myriad of characters are and why they’re here. More importantly, is the new family coming out of it alive? Less sane, perhaps, but alive and doing well? From the last line of “Don’t make me kill you again,” I don’t think life is going to get much better for this American family. I’ll just have to tune into the next episode and sink back down into the next American Horror Story.

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Writing

A Disturbance in the Lucas Galaxy

In case you didn’t know, Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. Now Disney wants to make a seventh film in the series. Many fans are disappointed about the sale and have become fearful about what the new movie might entail. They’re afraid that Disney will screw up the movies more than even George Lucas did with the prequel trilogy.

Unlike most people, I’m actually excited about the new films and will be greatly interested in how Disney will interpret and create the films. After all, Disney is no lightweight, they made movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story (among many others) going back to when Walt Disney first started the company. I’m sure that they could pull of a Star Wars film in great jaw-dropping achievement. Granted, George Lucas will still be giving advice for the films and some of the people who worked with him will be there, but I still think that Disney will have a huge influence on the films.

I don’t know why I have such a high expectation for the new movies. The only explanation I can give is that I didn’t grow up with the original trilogy. In fact, I didn’t watch them until earlier this year (in my mid 20’s). Because I don’t have such fond childhood memories of them, I don’t have any sentimental investment that may or may not be destroyed with this new transaction.

I still have a little bit of apprehension, however. I can understand why people don’t want any more movies being done. First, because the prequel trilogy stinks (I didn’t even get through the second movie). Having that whimsical feel of the original movies shouldn’t be destroyed further by newer movies. This brings me to the second point that Americans have such a hard time letting things go and continue making newer movies (or books or whatever) because they want to continue riding on the success wave. But the thing is, continuing to make movies just because something is good doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be quality (like Jaws or The Exorcist).

The only thing that we can do is wait and see what happens with bated breath. I hope that we didn’t hold it for nothing.

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