Why I Watch Movies

movie nightWinter is the season I catch up on movie watching. I try to watch at least one a week. Some years I don’t do well, and in times like last year, I end the winter with watching only one or two movies.

There were years that passed when I didn’t see any movies. Spring, summer and fall are just too busy to watch movies—unless something monumental, such as a Marvel movie—comes out in theatres. I’m just not a TV watcher, so I’ve missed many good—and some just for fun—movies over the past three decades.

Why do I force myself to watch movies now?

Disconnect

Movies remove me from reality. Although many enjoy this chaotic, messed up world that has become void of common sense, I often prefer to journey the path less travelled, less noisy, more personal.

Movies transport me to another time, another place and a more fantastic reality. It must be the fantasy gene in me that keeps me hoping that life can be more adventurous, more challenging and more magical than it is. I need the break from reality to recharge my batteries.

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Writing Tip: How to Make any Story Good

Writing TipLast week while I was cooking supper, my thirteen-year-old son walked into the kitchen and asked, “Do you know what makes a movie good?”

I looked up from peeling potatoes, and the expression on his face told me it was a rhetorical question. He didn’t want to know what I thought; he wanted to tell me what he thought made a movie good.

My son is a Marvel fanatic. He’s watched them all: Captain America, Hulk, Thor and, his favourite, Iron Man. He’s also seen Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times. He’s analysed them, critiqued them and guessed at the story line. Immediately after watching a movie or Agents of Shield (the TV show connecting with the movies), we know to expect his mind—travelling at light speed—to start churning ideas, and his mouth—also travelling at light speed—to start sharing them.

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Black Widow is a Slut

Female SuperheroesWhose fault is that?

We could easily blame it on Hawkeye’s vision of her, but is he to blame? Although Captain America agreed, is he to blame?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, view this clip in which the interviewer starts the interview with the following question, “I have a very serious question to start with about shifting(?) (difficult to make out). Because I know a lot of fans were actually pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either/or, or both of you guys, and now obviously she’s with Bruce. What do you guys make of that?”

A tired and bored-looking Hawkeye replied, “She’s a slut.”

Captain America released a whole-hearty laugh and agreed.

In reality, neither of these superheroes are to blame for the image of Black Widow and the idea she is a slut. They didn’t write the story or the script. They also didn’t write the comics in which Black Widow appeared.

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Is that a challenge? Goals for 2014

Challenge 2014On the eve of the new year is a great time to set goals for the next twelve months. Personally I find goals motivate me to accomplish things I wouldn’t otherwise. I used to set small, easily obtainable goals, and then I started stretching myself further, believing I could reach the larger goals if I set my mind to it.

Occasionally I came up short, yet my inability to reach a goal hadn’t discouraged me from trying harder or continuing onward.

I have a feeling 2014 is going to be an excellent year; sort of that step towards 2015 and better things afterwards. At least I’m thinking 2014 has to be more positive because 2013 was very stressful, depressing, unpredictable in a bad way and filled with events I don’t want to see repeated. I hadn’t accomplished as much as I had set out to do, but at least year ending leaves me with great hope for the future.

I understand there will be at least one sad hurdle to overcome in 2014, but I feel a breath of life that I haven’t felt in the past several years. I see the light at the end of a very long tunnel and an energy building that will carry me forward.

This light hadn’t lit itself and this energy did not come out of nowhere. I’ve been tinkering with matches and forcing my thoughts to think differently. I’ve seen my feet in unhealthy ground and I’m motivated to see them move onward. Like Bilbo Baggins I have been given the opportunity for adventure, and like Mr. Baggins, I will go into the unknown and seek what needs to be sought, so I can return a changed person.

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FILM: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Fantasy Film ReflectionsThis is a reflection on a traditional fantasy film that I recently watched. Beware: spoilers are hiding in the shadows of every letter waiting to spill forth a word. Throughout 2014, I’ll post several of these reflections/reviews after watching a film.

Gandalf: It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door.

I’ve discovered I’m a Bilbo Baggins. No, I don’t have big feet, unusually shaped ears or live in a grassy mound with a round door (though I think I might like a dwelling like his). I have however become accustomed to keeping safe, staying home and avoiding things that disrupt my world.

The description of Bilbo in The Hobbit films was released by the studio (Tolkien Gateway): Like all Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins is fond of his comfortable existence; all he needs to be happy is a full pantry and a good book.

Also like Mr. Baggins, when encouraged or coerced into taking on an adventure, I’m caught up in the magic of it all, and I wonder why in the world had I settled for the quiet, safety of my home with books.

Settle. That’s what many of us do. Settle into the familiar things of everyday life. We bury our adventurous spirit until we no longer recognise it, no longer wish to take it out and play with it and discover the thrill of going into the unknown, travelling that road less travelled.

It is the mundane life of adulthood that I feared even when I was twenty-five. And now I live it.

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Grab me by the collar and jerk me around. Please.

Last Sunday, my daughter and I went to the theatre to see Gnomeo and Juliet. I’m not a Shakespeare fan, but I am a gnome fan. As a writer and reader of books on how to keep readers involved and excited about a story, I watched the tale unfold through my 3D writer’s glasses.

Gnomeo and Juliet
An action-packed flower scene.

I studied the first meeting of the young lovers in the dilapidated greenhouse and noted the use of the ‘keep the action moving’ method utilized to tease movie goers and entice them to watch for the outcome. It’s a short scene, but highlights the essential tools authors can also use to keep the pages turning.

Although we see it played out in movie after movie, many of us don’t grasp the idea of getting our characters in trouble then deeper trouble then even more trouble to keep the action rolling, the suspense building and readers reading.

For example, the director of the movie could have had the two characters stumble upon each other, fall into the greenhouse and argue over the beautiful flower. Boring. Instead, the characters teased each other by claiming the flower as their own. Each time a character nabbed the flower and tried to get away, a piece of the greenhouse broke, causing them to fall or lose their balance. This gives the other the opportunity to grab the prize and try to escape. But they, too, fall victim to the greenhouse’s weak state and lose the flower. Eventually, no one gets the flower, but through this sequence of action, we observe the two strangers falling in love.

This scene is well balanced and ends before viewers receive too much back and forth action. For certain, this type of ‘attention grabbing’ can be overdone. I use all the Ice Age movies as examples. If I see one more clip where that squirrel is chasing the nut he’s always losing, I’m going to throw myself off a bridge. It’s over done to the point it’s sickening. It’s a cheap money grab by people who have no idea when enough is enough or how to fill 90 minutes with quality story.

Some may disagree with the character being pushed from a plane, their parachute not opening, the emergency chute failing 50 feet above an old shack, them crashing through the roof, sliding off a pile of hay, being chased by a mean dog, tripping over a water bucket, being shot at by a wily hermit, being wacked in the head by a garden rake and landing in a the pig muck . . . but others love it.