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Movies

Dr. Eren and the cinematic point of no return

It’s kind of hard to believe that the Oscars were only last week. I don’t know why, but it seems like they were forever ago.

However, I will admit that I was more excited than usual this year because 1) Emily Blunt was in two movies that were nominated (Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place) and 2) I appreciate movies more because of my film class.

In my last semester of college, I took “Introduction to International Film” because I needed another credit hour or something and the class was open. It turned out to be one of the best random decisions I’ve ever made.

First of all, my professor, Dr. Mine Eren, was super nice. Second of all, literally all I had to do during class was sit and watch movies. However, that didn’t necessarily mean it was easy. We had lots of interesting discussions about film elements like different types of camera shots and sound. Stuff an audience probably wouldn’t normally think about.

So, when it came time for the Academy Awards this year, I thought my excitement was justified. Not so much, as far as other people are concerned. I really don’t know what to tell them except “I’m sorry for my outburst of energy/emotion”. Then again, why should I have to apologize for something that makes me happy?

Dr. Eren pushed me past the “cinematic point of no return” so to speak, and I don’t regret it at all. I saw movies I never would have seen – or be interested in, for that matter – if it weren’t for her class. I can’t thank her enough.

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Christmas Movie Predictability

image: economictimes.indiatimes.com

During the holidays, there’s nothing quite like curling up on the couch or in bed with a Christmas movie. They make us feel warm and fuzzy, and like everything is going to be okay. And it works, because that’s how we want to feel at Christmas.

However, Christmas movies always seem to follow the same, not-so-subtle format. You know, the big city Scrooge goes home to Small Town for Christmas, falls in love with a new guy or girl, remembers what Christmas is all about, and then everyone lives Happily Ever After.

Of course, there are variations on this theme, and even outliers sometimes. Finding one of these is refreshing. Still, it seems that no other movie genre follows a format in the slightest. Good movies are the ones that keep an audience on the edge of their seats with plot twists that they don’t see coming. If such movies were predictable, no one would want to see them because people would probably complain that all movies are the same. It would definitely get boring after awhile.

Who decided that Christmas movies should have their own formula, and who decided what that formula should be? I’d like to know.

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BuzzFeed, please read!

image: medium.com

Recently, BuzzFeed News ran an article about why the Divergent movie franchise was a flop. This is a refutation of that article.

Their Argument

BuzzFeed is basically arguing that Divergent didn’t work as a movie because the plot was too confusing:

One possible reason for its collapse is the weakness of the source material. The structure of Divergent ‘s fictional world was hard to understand, the plots were hard to follow, and the stakes were unclear. That made Divergent different from the YA books that have worked as movies. In Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games , for example, it’s obvious from the start that Katniss is the revolutionary figure who will end the Hunger Games, destroy the repressive state of Panem, and help bring about a more equitable world. In Twilight , Edward and Bella need to be 2gether4ever and, along the way, defeat the elitist Volturi vampire coven.
Roth’s story never had that clarity. Its muddled plot is set in postapocalyptic Chicago, where everyone over 16 is divided into five personality-based factions in order to prevent society from falling into the destructive chaos that led to the end of the United States. As the three books go on, there are different villains in each, with no obvious goal for our heroes to achieve. The novels are confusing, humorless, and derivative. And though they provide some interesting visual opportunities (trains that run through Chicago without ever stopping, an exciting zip line scene in the first book), the final novel — Allegiant — revealed that Roth had no real vision to conclude the story.

Kate Aurthur, BuzzFeed News Reporter

My Personal Rebuttal

The plot is only confusing if you haven’t read the books.

The books – and therefore the movies – do not stand alone. They build on each other. So, if you haven’t read the books before watching the movies, there’s no way in hell anything is going to make sense. No, the plot isn’t as simple as something like The Twilight Saga. But that’s what makes it brilliant.

Veronica Roth, who happens to be one of my favorite authors, didn’t have any glaring, anticlimactic plot holes like Stephenie Meyer had in Breaking Dawn. Not to say The Twilight Saga is complete trash, but Divergent has a layer of complexity to it that Twilight doesn’t have. And Veronica Roth, as the author, can do whatever she wants. I may not always like what happens, but that doesn’t mean I hate the books or the author.

BuzzFeed also argues that “the [Divergent] novels are derivative”. Derivative of what, though? Divergent is unlike anything I’ve read before, and it’s an excellent example of world building. The only explanation I can think of is that they mean to say that the books build on each other. Isn’t that how book series are supposed to work, anyway?

And I can totally understand why that won’t work for a visual medium. Movies usually have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and everything fits together and is explained by the end. You can’t ask an audience to do “homework” before seeing a movie. Who wants to do more than they need to, right? Most people just want to escape for an hour or two. If they pick up the books because they enjoyed the movie so much that they want more, that’s fine. Odds are, though, most people won’t do that.

So, the moral of the story here is, not every book works as a movie. And you know what? That’s totally okay. It doesn’t mean the books are bad. So, all I have to say is, “Go home, BuzzFeed News, you’re drunk”.

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Characters v. Reality

Last night, in the doctor’s office of all places, my mother and I had another conversation about fictional characters.

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Not Just a Fangirl

I’ve talked about this before, but after this weekend, I think it bears repeating.

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Broad v. Narrow

I’ve gotten two different pieces of advice on blogging, and I’m not sure which to take.

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Daily Prompt

Christmastime Cheese

Christmas is associated with all kinds of things:  carols, cookies, presents, and of course, movies.  Movies that, sometimes, I cannot stand.

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Daily Prompt

Things I’m Afraid of

I’m not really afraid of conventional things. Needles don’t bother me. Funny, that’s the only conventional fear that I can think of. But that doesn’t mean I’m fearless. Here are some things I’m afraid of:

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My Own Beat

In response to Trending

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Blogging 101

Day 1: Who I am and Why I’m Here

Hey!

If you don’t know me already, I’m Marialena.  I’m a rising junior at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. The goal of this blog is much the same as it was when I started it a little over a year ago:  writing book and movie reviews with the goal of discussion and helping people find something new to read or watch.