Friday, April 14, 2017

The Last Jedi ~ Star Wars 8 Official Trailer

  It's out everybody! So happy right now I actually might be in a good mood when I go to work. I'm really liking this trailer--but before I delve into it, here's the vid:

  Ok first off. The cinematography looks so freaking awesome. I have a gut feeling that this movie will be beautifully made, whether or not the story disappoints us. Second of all, I'm actually happy Abrams won't be doing this movie--don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of most of his movies, but I thought Force Awakens didn't have the gravity it needed to jumpstart the next films. There's a balance to the gravity and levity, and while I enjoy the movie immensely, I felt that it was too...made for teens. Let's put it that way. I don't know how to word it. What I was hoping for was something more of a blend of what Rogue One turned out to be, mixed with the healthy amount of levity. Awakens didn't have that gravitas--but The Last Jedi looks like it will definitely hit on it more. Rian Johnson, the director of Last Jedi, has been quoted as saying that this one will be more upbeat than Empire Strikes Back.

  There's a couple thoughts I have on that. It's been proven that before things get better, things get darker. It's all a part of a balance, especially in trilogies. So if they're going for another Awakens, in focusing a lot on levity and fun, I'm not going to be pleased. But if it has that sort of balance that The Two Towers did for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that would be perfect. (Two Towers is the only movie that is a middle film, and that I like just as much as the others).

  It has been confirmed that Carrie Fisher's scenes will remain untouched. I'm so happy about that--as a diehard fan of the iconic character (and the actress herself! I'm still heartbroken) I couldn't be more overjoyed that they will leave her last performances as they are. Pure and untouched. We can at least have that. I'm very curious what her story arc in this movie will be.

  CBR has put forward some pretty fascinating theories about the upcoming film. It is definitely worth the watch! There are a couple other points that I will cover in a later post.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beauty and the Beast ~ A Personal Review of a Classic Redone

  Along with a lot of other people I was over the moon excited when I found out about a live action Beauty and the Beast back in 2014. I remember the very moment actually! I was in the living room of the family I was babysitting for and they always had the Today Show on in the morning, and the movie was announced. I was so excited. I had seen Cinderella, fell so in love with it, so the thought of a remake of Beauty and the Beast (my favorite Disney Princess movie) was enough to make me do a little dance inside.

  Spoilers Ahead.

 BUT. I did have some qualms. I mean, doing Beauty and the Beast again? Doing an even better job? I have a strong belief in taking something and showing what it means to you, while staying true to the story. You can show a unique vision while still holding the essence, the soul of the story. I was excited/nervous about choosing Emma Watson for Belle. She has the brains for it, no question. But at the same time I could picture her being a scary Belle too. Haha! I was excited about everyone else in the cast--Obi-Wan being Lumiere, Gandalf being Gogsworth. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Teapot. Others. DAN STEVENS. I can tell you, my mom and I were excited about that one. And Luke Evens as Gaston! Olaf as LeFou! I did fear that a modern rendition of the Beast wouldn't have the same "oomph" as the original. The original is so perfect on so many levels.

  But I have to say, that I so enjoyed the film. Bill Condon's version was gorgeous, fun. Humorous. But it did the thing I was most afraid of. It drew way to much off of the original. I was happy when they said that there was going to be a mix of new and original songs, and that Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were returning. But the weakest part of the movie was the beginning, and so much felt "the same" in a way that I wasn't happy with. Some of it was funny, and I have to say that the best innovation of this part of the story was the realistic depiction of what made Belle so odd--she was an educated woman, and she was actually spurned and scorned for endeavoring to teach a young girl to read. This was a very real issue of the time, and was a great device in the first act. One of the brilliant ideas of the movie, that made the storyline real.

  But I have to say that it actually took me until the song in Gaston's tavern to really get into the movie, to be pulled in and happy. There was real oomph in that performance. They changed up the beat in such a fun way in part of it, incorporating more of a social celebration and rhythm, it was just so catchy and fun! After that point it just kept improving. I was just having fun. In a lot of ways the story still felt "laced together" if you will, but the new elements in the story added more meaning, and definitely an explanation to the Beast's origins. And the sins of the house. Something that was definitely missing from the original. And the ending was just great. I did think that there were minor things that could have been done better, but overall I was so pleased with the ending that I didn't care all that much. Everyone was human again and gorgeous, happy endings for all. (Except for Gaston, rotting somewhere broken to bits). I loved the dance, and how it involved everyone this time--everyone with someone they loved, happy that they were granted this blessing. Belle's dress was gorgeous--I can almost say I like it more than the classic golden ballgown. And Belle asking the Prince if he could grow a beard? Priceless. Just priceless! And that little growl! Now honestly it was just so cute and appropriate that it's one of my favorite parts.

  Overall, it was a great movie. I'd give it a 6.5. I still hold that Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella still holds the crown of the Disney live action remakes. There is nothing in that movie that I would change. The best thing about Beauty and the Beast was the beauty that it did uphold. It did show real love, rather than sentiment. While it took a bit too much from the original, (some of it felt word for word) this movie still had its wonderful, beautiful elements. Definitely worth the theater visit.

  ~ Elora Shore

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Logan ~ Hugh Jackman's Last Stand

Got to see Logan about a week ago.  I've been struggling with doing my Logan review because for the most part I just sit here and mourn, rather than figure out what to get down. After seeing the trailer awhile back, I was thinking, "Oh this is going to be so fun--it's going to be gritty, action-packed, have that gravitas and humor in just the right places...." Well. I didn't expect so much of the gravitas. Oh and your are forewarned. Spoilers ahead.

  First off, lets start of with some context--the context of most of us, I'm sure. I was a kid when I saw the first X-Men movie. Fell in love with Wolverine--he has been my hero. He represents the beast within the man perfectly, and I've always had an eye for that. For land's sake The Call of the Wild was my favorite book when I was ten, and my favorite part was when Buck confronted Spitz and broke his legs--then let the pack eat him. Favorite part. Wolverine--was like an even better version the tragedy of the man wrangling his inner beast, letting him loose--trying to find a line to walk. Like I said. My hero.

  WAY TO BREAK MY HEART GUYS!! But man, what a hell of a story. And can I just say, just the level of perfection and balance in this movie is staggering. Nothing was out of place. The makers had a solid vision. And saved the best for last. And honestly I had to berate myself a bit, because when you know that an actor wants to do his final performance, and a franchise wants to continue with a character--they are handled a certain way. Why did I not assume this outcome?

  The story begins with Logan working as a driver for hire, is taking care of Professor X in the middle of nowhere and is trying to scrape enough together to get themselves a boat so they can live on the ocean in peace, and have a bit of peace and perhaps happiness.

  It hit on so many levels--the weariness that Logan feels, the desperation and sadness--the rough bleakness of their current situation. Professor X, old and suffering from Alzheimer's--having seizures that paralyze people. Mutants are all but extinct. Their history is now the stuff of comic books--and who will remain to tell the real story? Because all does come to dust. It does, and we get to witness it to a full extent. There's a bit of hope, but it's just because mutants aren't quite extinct. But the ones we loved are. Way to rip open my heart and lay it bare.

  So Xavier convinces Logan to care for Laura, and get her to where she needs to go. What follows is so incredibly human--for more than any previous films. There's the anger, the irritation, the fighting, mixed with the humor. It was so superbly balanced, which was definitely a need for a last film. Logan loses Xavier, has to battle a version of himself, and defend a little girl who by all accounts has to be his own. And in the final battle sequences (where several displays of mutant power had me cackling with joy), there is the ultimate in father-daughter moments. I mean, honestly--fighting side by side and ripping into baddies? One of the most satisfying moments ever.

  But of course it ends for old Logan. And while it is debated what his last words are in reference to, I like to think his smiling " that's what it feels like..." is because for the first time ever someone called him "daddy".

  And it is so appropriate that Laura places the cross of his grave on its side, to honor the X Man he had been. So passes old Logan.

  ~ E. C. S. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Word is a Double-Edged Sword ~ Interview with Nav the Poet

The performance at Amarillo College. Nav center, my boyfriend right next to him on the left. Me--half hidden behind said boyfriend.

About a month ago Amarillo College had the privilege of having Navpreet Sachdev, aka "Nav the Poet", perform. I was so glad that I agreed to go when my boyfriend Jaciel asked me--and of course the Thai food was a bonus. He shared some of how he got started, the unique challenges he faces as a "brown man with a beard". Nav definitely has a sense of humor! He spoke about his time with depression (which I really related to) and when he shared his poem on it, it felt like he was speaking my language. I got up the nerve to approach him after the performance and gave him a hug, and asked if I could interview him, because it would be criminal just to keep him to myself! And rest assured there's a LOT of happy, funny poems in his repertoire too. He blends everything in a unique way. He's a funny, insightful Sikh man from New York and we all were definitely blessed to have him!

  Now to the interview:

  Thank you for the kind words. By the way, I've checked out your blog and I'm so excited to learn you're also a Star Wars and Once Upon A Time fan like me! I'm not caught up with this season of OUAT though so I had to quickly stop reading your article once I realized I'd be diving into spoilers. Your article on Han Solo's death was fascinating and you make some interesting points. I'll be commenting soon with my own perspective since I disagree to an extent. Anyway, here are the answers to your questions. And yes, feel free to ask any follow-up questions if any come to mind from my responses. I appreciate this very much!

Getting Started/Biggest Influence:
  Looking back to when I was younger, I always had this sense of creativity in me. I used to write silly love poems for this one girl I was really into in high school and I would always randomly rhyme, to the point where it would irritate my family. But, I really started getting into writing in 2011. As it appears happens for most artists, my writing came about from dealing with the end of my first relationship. That's a whole story on its own, but basically, I fell into a depression and a total disregard for life. I really just didn't care about this existence, to be blunt. So, after having attempted various forms of dealing with the pain and suffering, both positive and negative outlets, I picked up a pen and started writing. And the only answer I have to what compelled me to pick up a pen is God. What's most interesting is that I wasn't really into my faith until I discovered my writing. I used to attend temple all the time when I was younger and do prayer but it was all hollow. At one point after the break-up, I actually turned away from the faith. But, as I discovered this passion for poetry, I rediscovered my faith and it has become my biggest influence for my writing. In case you don't know, I follow the Sikh faith. It's a fairly young religion in comparison to most others. It started in the 1400's in India and has since grown to have about 24 million followers worldwide. The reason it has been such an influence on me is because, throughout the history of my people, we've faced adversity, oppression, and struggle. And yet, we've always persevered and worked through. Whether during the earlier years, the 1980's where a government-run attack attempted to wipe out the population of Sikhs in India, or as recent as the past decade where anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments have made their way onto my people. And what keeps me going and gives me the willingness to write is this belief that we have to protect and serve others and fight injustice wherever it may be. In fact, a Sikh is supposed to carry a small dagger on them at all times. The idea being that a Sikh can always be ready to help and fight if need be. So, these beliefs have helped me shape my pen into a dagger, fighting injustice with my words rather than a weapon.  

How has your poetry influenced your life since then?
  Well, it's changed my life around completely. And it has had positive impacts on various aspects of my life. As stated previously, I didn't think much of this existence. And as an adolescent, I was filled with so much anger, frustration, and pain. I dealt with a decent amount of harassment and bullying in middle and high school. I was ostracized by various groups of peers because of my interests and hobbies. But, when I found poetry, I began to see a whole new perspective to life. My main issue when I was younger was that I felt my voice was always being suppressed. I'm not one to be incredibly loud so when I'm in groups, I do my best to voice my opinion but it gets overshadowed by the more vocal people. However, with poetry, I was able to express my thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or more importantly, not being heard. Once I found this outlet, I began to heal many of the emotional wounds that existed. And once I found my voice, I found the strength to make my voice heard. What I love most about poetry is that it's taught me to be more open and understanding. It has allowed me to be more willing to listen to disagreeing viewpoints and consider other perspectives and ideas. Along with this, it has made me more open about myself. As shown through my work, I don't shy away from my struggles, be it prejudice or mental health. I make a conscious choice every day to be who I am without hiding any part of me because I want people to connect with me; I don't want them to accept me for who makes them feel comfortable. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, but carry it in my hand and give it to each person I encounter. And honestly, it makes a huge difference in how you interact with people and treat them. My poetry has taught me to show love to everyone, believe in the best of humanity, and work to create a better world. 

First Milestone?
  Well, in the 6 years I've been performing, I've done plenty of cool shows and been in front of some large audiences. However, I feel that my first milestone was only last year in 2016 when I got my first real bookings. I was booked for six shows in three different states. And while I've been performing for years now, getting booked was validation that everything I had done up to that point was worth the struggle. The late nights writing, the constant rehearsing at home, the dozens upon dozens of open mics I performed at to hone my craft and the need to believe in myself because most others don't show that support had all proven itself to be worthwhile when those schools decided to book me to perform at their campuses. I love what I do but to know that others appreciate the work I do so much that they are willing to pay me to do what I love means everything. And it's a reaffirmation that what I'm doing is something important and with purpose. And this isn't to take away some of the other awesome things I've done throughout the years. It's just on a personal level, I felt like I hadn't achieved much until those first bookings. 

First performance? Any funny stories?
  My first performance was back in December 2011. I actually had two performances the same week, both with an audience of about 250-300 people. One was an event by my religious community and one was a college event. This is something most people who know me now don't believe, but I used to be an incredibly shy kid. And when I started performing, it was incredibly difficult for me. So, for both shows, I was so incredibly nervous because I didn't know if I'd perform well and if people would even enjoy my work. Fortunately, they both went well and it set me on this path that I'm on now. One funny thing is how bad my performances were. And people are kind because it was my first performance but seeing how I perform now and then watching videos of these old performances, which I still have, make me cringe haha!

What are your plans for the future?
  Honestly, my journey has just begun so I'm planning on continuing with pursuing this career for quite some time. I'm still in the infancy of this, so I'm just working on growing it until I'm traveling to various campuses all year long, connecting with people from all around the country and the world. I do want to expand what I do and hopefully give workshops and facilitate discussions on the ideas of diversity and labels to help create a better understanding of the people around us. The political climate is severely tense currently and I feel that if more people sat down and had honest discussions with each other on these issues that didn't devolve into yelling and insulting the other side, we can really make a difference in our communities. At the end of the day, we're all humans. We all think, breathe, eat, sleep and love; we're also prone to ignorance, misunderstanding, and mistakes. All of that is the beauty of being human. None of us are perfect, so we're always developing into a better version of ourselves today than the one yesterday. And I wish to be a catalyst for that growth.

  It was a great treat to be able to interview you, Nav. Thanks for the opportunity. Can't wait to see more of your work in the future! If you guys want to get in touch with Nav, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and Instagram.

  And lastly, here's a little treat for the dancer in all of us. Thanks Nav. ;)

  ~Elora Carmen Shore 

 If you want to hear more or keep in touch, follow Pendragon on facebook and bloglovin.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Under the Tuscan Sun Movie Review ~ A Step Towards New Life

under the tuscan sun review

  Sometimes a day comes along where you it's fresh in the morning, (well late morning--late night=sleep in) and you get ready to enjoy another weekend day. And you just know that it's the day to watch that movie that has been on your netflix list for the better part of a year. The day just feels right.

  Under the Tuscan Sun. It is warm with heartbreak, and starting again. The warmth of life. Simplicity. Words, thoughts, exploration in starting over. New friendships are made, fears and happiness are shared. Life in the end is always about the people we meet, the memories we make, the things we discover every day. It is colorful, and mysterious, and fun. Rivers of regret and sadness run through our lives but there is so much color and rebirth. It is the simple things that keep on happening. And a lot of them just freaking funny. Life is bizarre. We keep building on it every day. What an adventurous roller coaster life is.

  Diane Lane plays a heartbroken divorcee who, to find a way to escape and start over, goes on a tour of Tuscany. Spurred by one of those spontaneous moments life throws at us, she literally gets off the bus in the middle of nowhere because she has seen the house that is to be hers. She felt drawn, and she took that tentative step forward, doing the unpredictable. And in just taking that spontaneous leap, she finds a new family, rebuilds an old Italian house, and makes a good life full of joy. Even after getting her heart broken again, she realizes still just how blessed she is. And still finds love. Goodness. I have to say my favorite part really is the end, when the old facet all of a sudden starts running with water, for the first time. It spreads over her floor, over her feet, and she marvels. Her cup has really run over.

  This movie was directed, screenwritten, and adapted by Audrey Wells from the book of the same name. I can't wait to see what else she has done. And see what the book is like.

  There was another post written by Travel Wine Chick, that I really appreciated as well. It's worth the read, sharing the parallels of the movie with her personal experience.


Friday, January 13, 2017

RIP Carrie Fisher ~ The First To Kick Ass

general carrie fisher

  I really don't know what to say about the death of Carrie Fisher. I was so crushed when I found out she had passed. She was my first female hero on tv--while most girls were busy just standing around looking pretty, Carrie Fisher showed me a character who had so much more to her than that. As a little kid, that was important. Getting to know who she was as a person through little things I heard online was fabulous--I've always wanted to meet her. I feel like she's been stolen from us. I need to read her books.
 Everyone knows how much of an influence her portrayal of Leia Organa was, how much of an advocate for mental illness and the perception of women in Hollywood she was. As an admirer of hers, I was very depressed when I heard she had died. Honestly, I can only say how she treated the character of Princess Leia effected me as a kid. I so admired her--she was my hero. I loved her moxie. Her command. Her womanliness. And that bikini looked like hell, but man, choking Jabba the Hutt to death must have felt so very satisfying. I'm glad she was so sarcastic about that bikini though. No one should be happy to be so stereotyped, and displayed. Although it served a purpose in showing the depravity and view of Jabba's court. It was obvious. And a reflection on cinema's penchant for half-naked women.

  The only personal thing I can say, is that she was the first female hero I ever had as a kid. I loved her. I thought she didn't take any shit, she had a temper that reminded me of my mom and I. She led people with capability, she jumped into action and did what was necessary. She was simply herself. And that's what I think is so powerful about good characters. They don't serve a propaganda, they don't conform. They are natural. They react to their environment, to their circumstances, what is naturally in them--and what they must strive towards. I think a lot of the challenge in good writing is figuring out that natural element. I think the best actors are the ones who give that element of themselves, to bring something so alive that it stays with us forever. Perhaps I'm a sentimentalist, but I think it is true. Think of Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, Robin Williams. Will we ever forget them, and the stories they told us? Will we ever forget Fisher? I know some, including me, who never will.


Monday, May 16, 2016

OUAT ~Last Rites~ Now I Lay You Down To Rest


  I meant to publish this previously but got caught up with other things. Life has been busy, that can I tell you.

regina last rites once upon a time

Spoilers! You have been warned.

  Oh my gosh was this last OUAT ep a killer. Haha, pun may or may not be intended. I watched it yesterday after deciding that it was absolutely necessary that I resubscribe to Hulu, so I could stop waiting. I was going to just wait for it to be available on the website, but no--I was impatient! I had to have it now.

 This whole season I was like, "Nope, nope, there's no way they're killing off Hook. People like him too much, he and Emma suit each other too well, it just WORKS too well--they wouldn't kill that off just for some momentary drama." And so I was watching yesterday, riveted of course--and still thinking, "Naw, naw, they'll find a way." And then I started doubting myself. And then Hook walked into the light. And then he accepted the Greek (Olympian, I know) dude's offer to move forward. And he looked back, and then kept walking forward.

  NNNOOOOOO! YOU BASTARDS! Okay yes by this point I had some tears. I rarely cry ever, but I'm just in love with this show, have watched every episode, just love the whole story--and I had to swipe away a couple tears because it was just so wrong.

  And Robin! His face! And Regina's expression--that gentle but horribly wretched look of distraught! And Robin's look of loving acceptance, kindness--before JUST DISSIPATING IN HER EMPTY HANDS. Yes at this point I had stopped everything else I was doing, I was just standing there in front of the tv like a 5 yr old, all bitter and teary and going, "Oh dude you have no idea what she's going to do to you...hell and darkness is coming are going to feel like you never even know what it was to be a god BECAUSE THE REAL HELL IS COMING FOR YOU!!!" Hell hath no fury like a woman scourned.

  But surprise, it's Zelena who deals the fatal blow and disintegrates Hades...remembering one truth that makes it clear for her--than in the end, love IS supposed to be enough--not having everything, not a kingdom--and that Hades was never real. Not in the way she wanted. So blazing Olympian Crystal through the heart, so much for love conquering Storybrooke! And high five for sisters, for dealing the day. And women all around losing their men and getting their hearts broken. What a wringer. Bastard writers. How dare you make us feel so keenly.

  BUT THEN! Oh then! Of course in the funeral what happens? Poof! Zeus, for his hand in destroying Hades, brings Hook back at the last second. THANKS FOR GETTING ME CRYING! And then bringing him back! Convince me then make me lose it because I cried for no reason. Well there was plenty of reason but it was still annoying. But man it still was beautiful.

  But that's what's great about the show. No matter how annoyed or heartbroken I get, there is always so much to love, to ENJOY, in every season. The intrigue, the superb story, never stops being good, even if I don't agree with some choices made.

  But one thing always does ring true...loss always makes us reflect on the best of what was. To cherish it more, or even to realize it for the first time. Because we can lose people, things in life--it behooves us to actually value them. Without loss there isn't gain--and so the bittersweet cycle goes.

  And of course, Rumplestiltskin is back in to speak. Oooh-hoo-hoo...can't wait for the FINALE.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore