Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Youth~George Lucas and American Graffiti


george lucas american graffiti
Image via kitbashed
  Finally, today I was able to watch one of George Lucas's first movies--American Graffiti. Ever since reading about it when I was studying Geroge Lucas's early work, I really wanted to see it. Especially once I read about how he had wanted to build the story around a "playlist", if you'll allow the modern term, of songs he felt had defined that time in America. Interesting idea! It intrigued me more, because I had thought before how times of my life could very well be defined by the songs my parents would play at the time. There's music that I have distinct memories tied to--and I felt like that came across in the movie, how the music was a part of the story. You get a feel of the rhythm of the times, the youthfulness and hope. The story is spearheaded by the fact that two dudes are about to go back to college the next day--they want one last night on the town, one last chance to kick up their heels and burn rubber on the strip.

Image via Drafthouse
  You come to love the characters, just because they're normal, relatable and--stupid. At times. I just had to laugh at the foolishness and complete likeability of the whole story. It was fun, and it was real. Goofy, with young adults getting into scrapes just as we'd expect. American youth. If ever there was a term to perfectly describe a movie, that'd be it for American Graffiti. Looking forward to watching it again.

  Especially for the gorgeous cars. And a young Harrison Ford. Always been a fan of his movies, and it was fun to see something from before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And Richard Dreyfuss--that was fun! The most intriguing thing must be, I think, is that you can't help but watch the movie and see George Lucas himself in his youth. After all, before making movies he wanted to be a racer. It's interesting to learn more about someone, to see things you didn't expect.


  ~E. C. Shore

Friday, August 29, 2014

Among the Beasts


man and the beast, the island of doctor moreau

  I just finished reading The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was first intrigued about the story when I was introduced to it by the book Doctor Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. It was a terrific story, and to be honest, I prefer it to H.G. Well's book. That's not to say that his was not great--it was. I enjoyed it immensely, and loved the intrigue and examination of what made the inhabitants of the island so different--or rather, not. It spoke of the animal in all of us. The biggest example, arguably, is Moreau. The man who can coldly set aside any empathy for a fellow creature's senses, and feelings, to cut them apart while alive and rebuild them into something they didn't even understand. Yes, I find that fascinating. He is the predator that takes his prey as he needs them, uses and disposes them according to the requirements of his curiosity. Montgomery is the man caught in between--he understands both, he is Moreau's creature in that he has let Moreau desensitize his empathy to a great extent. Prendick, our main character, is the story's creature. The island is is torture chamber, his mental hell where he challenges and struggles against all he encounters, human or humanoid...in many ways, he is the man who has been cast adrift on his own inner terrain, taken by the things that make us regress in what we, as a "civilized" people, view as morals--bring out the animal stirrings. The fear of the unnatural, the instinct of what is a natural enemy, etc. Daily clashing with horrors and fear, with evidence of things that challenge his and others' "humanity", Prendick is a good representative of Humanity itself.

  But what intrigued me most (and if I seem to be using that word too much, I'm sorry--it's one of my favorites, and I do so like to be intrigued) was the ending. Even if it was something I expected. Once you see the animal, see the jungle--you tend to see it everywhere else. It's hard to go back to what you were, and for many, you never do. Prendick struggled to not see his neighbors as animals--to fear that he saw the Creature that was furtive and fearful and dangerous in their faces, in their gestures. It took so long for him to acclimate again, and even then, he had times where he regressed. But I was surprised by the very ending. Hope? I do believe in it--something one must hold onto, if they are to survive, in my opinion, but I did not expect Prendick to end with a refrain of humanity's hope.

  "My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry, and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy. There is--though I do not know how there is or why there is--a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live.
     And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.  --Edward Prendick"

  A swift read, The Island of Doctor Moreau is an interesting examination of Humanity and the Beast.


  ~E.C.Shore

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams: The Joy of My Childhood

robin williams remembered
  I was stunned this morning when my mom gave me the news. For a moment I thought I wasn't hearing right. Robin Williams is dead? The man who I was always eager to watch as a kid, and even as an adult...it seems incomprehensible. But the first thing that went through my mind--after the thought of what his family must be feeling--was the realization that I wasn't off the mark when I had recently seen a picture of him on the red carpet or at some other photo shoot, and I had thought he looked sad. I don't really look up celebrities--not much. I tend to study other things. But still...the news shocked me. And like many others, it's been a sad day.

  My brightest memories of his work are when, as a child, I'd be visiting one of my dad's friend's house, and I'd be able to watch their Jumanji movie, on VHS. I knew Robin Williams first as Mrs. Doubtfire, (he really won me over, he was just so likeable) as Peter Pan, and as the Genii in Aladdin. Anything new I saw, I was always excited to see more of him. More of his joy, his funniness--his own personality. He was the type of person that you just wanted to give him a hug, I felt.

  On Fox News, on The Five they were talking about how Robin Williams had said before that when a celebrity commits suicide, or dies--I don't remember the exact phrasing--many of them are mythicized.  But I think it is safe to say, that so many people aren't going to be exaggerating when they say that he was such a kind, generous person, and he freely gave of what joy he could. He made us laugh. That's a gift, isn't it? To be able to make people forget for a moment all the trash that goes on, and laugh until our bellies hurt--or even, as he said in his own words, to take the dark and the absurd and to turn it into something you can laugh at. As a means of dealing with it.
robin williams remembered


  I think it is believable that so many comedians are often depressed--I wonder, from a bit of personal experience that isn't even of the same depth, if they ARE so funny because they are desperate to find lightness where they see the dark. To find a way of escape. It's a coping mechanism that they share, getting their joy from actually making others genuinely laugh. I know I love making people laugh. To inspire others, to give them joy--that is an incredible gift to have for yourself as well as others.

  I spent today thinking over and over again how just the day before yesterday my family and I were watching RV, wherein Robin Williams plays the dad trying to reach his family once again after getting caught up in his job, and I thought then, "It would be so cool if someday I was able to meet Robin Williams and tell him how much I've enjoyed his movies since I was a kid. How they always made me laugh, and I was excited to see something new--I was always excited to see what joy he'd show me." And little did I know what would happen the next day. I just can't imagine what his family is going through.

  It's a sad time for all of us. But we'll all remember and love that crazy manic man that is impossible to forget.

  Robin Williams, we'll remember you. And you'll always be my Peter Pan.

robin williams death and remembrance, family


  ~E.C. Carmen

Friday, August 1, 2014

What Makes It Matter~The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Trailer

  This was late in coming, even if only a few days. I've been superbly busy, let's just put it that way. But I'm sure the whole of geekdom and those who just passionately love a good story were flipping out and wallowing in the depth of sorrow and fear of the first teaser trailer of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. I had been haunting TORN for awhile, with thousands of others, waiting impatiently for the coming out of the much awaited trailer. And when that post came up, I was just there. And by the end, I was so sad. Not because it wasn't good. But because it was awesome. Right from the beginning it grabbed my heart, and would not let go. You feel the fear of Bilbo, his sorrow for the people that are under the burden and consequence of the choices of others. And all that he is afraid that will come to pass, and what they all--whoever will survive--will forever live with.




  It is also an example of why I want to make films. Their capacity to blend elements into a story--themes that make it breathe with such emotion, such reality, that it makes us believe in something. And that, in the end, we find that our heart has been broken, and put back better than it was, even if wounded. That's a story that matters. And I want to tell stories that matter.

  It isn't too much to say that when I finally see the defining chapter of The Hobbit, I will cry. Not only because it's the end, there will be no more--but mostly because it will have been a story truly worthwhile. You don't always have the privilege of coming across them, being blessed by them.


     ~Elora Carmen Shore