Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm on Patreon Now!

Greetings Pups,

Some of you may have heard of a website called Patreon. It's a place where artists of all kind can start an account so people can become patrons and help out by donating. It's a bit like Kickstarter, but it's ongoing and for more than one project. Well, I decided to put up an account for myself, just to see what might happen. This doesn't mean I'm starting to charge for the blog. No, this will still be free. I just thought I'd start an account and hope for the best. There is a description of what I'm doing and what I hope to start doing on my profile. I'll put a link below (that will hopefully work!), so you can check it out if you'd like.

http://www.patreon.com/BeckyLStout

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Movie Trilogies

Greetings Pups,

So, I hear that "3" is a magic number, and I believe it. Because Schoolhouse Rocks has never lied to me. Anyway, what with all that's been going on in movies lately, building these universes within and without different franchises, sometimes at the expense of the quality of those movies, I really can't take it anymore. I seem to recall a time when you would have a really good film, followed up by a hopefully good sequel, and finally, if you were really lucky, you'd get a third part to end the arc. Yeah, 1,2,3, the end. Not that one, then this one, then that one over there, then another one of these, then they all come together and good luck with that if you didn't watch the other 75 installments. But I digress. I kind of miss the classic, honest to goodness trilogy. We need to get back to that. So, even though no one in power will read this list, I'm still making it. These are the movie trilogies that I find most well made and, more importantly, most enjoyable to me. Let's get started.

#10. The Godfather Trilogy - Okay, if I'm being honest, the reason why this is only at 10 is because it is the one I have watched the least. I actually think I've only seen these films, at most, twice. They just aren't movies I need to watch over and over again, like a lot of people do. However, don't think that means I don't believe they are very good. They are. Clearly, they were made by someone who cared a lot about the story they were telling. I certainly appreciate that. And, yes, I know we are all kind of...whatever when it comes to the third one, but it's not all bad. It's got some moments there, and it did give us an ending. So, good times, I say.

#9. The Hannibal Lecter Trilogy - Let's be honest. shall we? This should really be called The Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter Trilogy. I mean, we had Manhunter in 1986 with Brian Cox as Lecter, which was great. Then, we had Hannibal Rising in 2006, which had a guy I've never heard of playing him. I didn't see it, but I heard it was not that good. So, we all know that Silence of the Lambs was great, and though it was, generally speaking, not so great, Hannibal still had Hopkins doing his thing, not to mention some creepy Gary Oldman. And I love Red Dragon. How can I not? It has Ralph Fiennes AND Edward Norton! And even though the last one is technically the first, because it's a prequel, and we have a bit of a clunker in the mix, it still works.

#8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Again, these are movies I've only seen a couple of times a piece. Well, actually, I've only seen them all the way through in one sitting a couple of times. I don't know if you know this, but they are quite long. So, I tend to catch them during their many airings on random basic cable channels. I don't usually plan to watch them, but I channel surf and they suck me in. Gotta given them points for that.

#7. The Back to the Future Trilogy - And now for one of the trilogies that remind me of my childhood. Oh, yeah, we watched these a lot. But, then again, I watched Family Ties a lot, so we were clearly a Michael J. Fox kind of household. I have to admit, though, I am not a huge fan of the time travel thing, neither in movies nor television. It just gets messy. Sure, I watch some Doctor Who, but besides that, Back to the Future is the only thing I can deal with where it's concerned. Not to say there aren't plot holes and paradoxes and whatnot, most of which have come to light only in recent years, but there's just so much enjoyment in these films that you barely think about it. Funny thing, the guys who made the first one weren't planning for a sequel...AT ALL. This is quite evident by some of the obvious problems that number two had. But considering how good the third installment turned out, I'd say it was worth it in the end.

#6. The Toy Story Trilogy - I know I've said that I am not exactly a kid person, but am I a kid movie person? Heck yeah! Now, usually, that would pertain to things from my own childhood, which was not terribly recent, but I can enjoy a good movie that was made for a younger demographic if it's smart. I hate when movies and TV shows are made to talk down to children. You know, kids can be pretty smart, and they can get smarter if you talk to them the right way. Also, it makes it easier on the parents who have to watch this stuff over and over again. Toy Story did that brilliantly. I absolutely love the arc of the three movies, and since they spanned over fifteen years, it gave the audience a chance to grow up with them. That is some good storytelling. Good TOYstorytelling! Oh, yeah.

#5. The Red Curtain Trilogy - Now, as we all know, a trilogy tends to contain a story arc that is connected throughout three films. Not the case here. This one contains the movies Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. They are all directed by Baz Luhrmann, and they all have nothing to do with each other. At least, not narratively. Artistically, though, they are connected. See, Baz Luhrmann's goal was to create three films being told by different motifs. The first is told through dance, the second through poetry, the third through song. I love this idea, and I love the way that he has taken some risks with these films, being so colorful and loud and creative. Works for me.

#4. The Dark Knight Trilogy - Boy, do I love me some Batman! I love him so much that I actually saw Batman and Robin in the theater. Yeah. And that was the last we had of our beloved hero for eight whole years, until Christopher Nolan came along and fixed everything up all nice for us. Gone was the cartoonish Batman of the past, and the Dark Knight had, quite literally, become dark. Wasn't that the whole point to begin with? I know most people regard The Dark Knight as the best, but I think my favorite was Batman Begins. I don't know. Maybe it was all that Liam Neeson. And, yes, I also feel like the last one was hit or miss. They may have ever so slightly fallen into the "Everyone's going to see this anyway, so let's not try TOO hard" trap. Still, that performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Just...God bless him.

#3. The Star Trek Trilogy - I know what you're thinking. Don't I mean the Star WARS trilogy? No. No, I don't. And, yes, this one is a bit odd because of its placement in a larger franchise. In case you don't know, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock and Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home are often considered their own trilogy. And I am considering them one here, too. These three films have a legitimate arc that flows through them. The first Star Trek film had nothing to do with it, and the fifth one for sure had nothing to do with it. So, they sit there, right in the middle, as their own little entity. And I love them. Four is funny and heartwarming, Three breaks the odd numbered movie curse, and Two might be the best sequel of all time. Good times, indeed.

#2. The Dollars Trilogy - Personally, I have always referred to this as The Man with No Name Trilogy. Because, come on now, it's all about the Clint. Now, I do not tend to be a Western movie genre kind of girl, but if he's involved, I usually say "Hey, why not?". Good thing I said that here, because these movies are pretty awesome. They're iconic, even. I don't say that about many films and mean it, but I do here. And let's not forget about the most important thing. Young Clint Eastwood, super hot, need I say more.

#1. The Before Trilogy - If you are a writer, like myself, and would perhaps one day like to write screenplays, here's a piece of advice - WATCH THESE MOVIES! Holy crap! I am not kidding. If you don't know, the Before Trilogy consists of the films Before Sunrise from 1995, Before Sunset from 2004 and Before Midnight from 2013. It is the long and winding tale of Jesse and Celine played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and they were all directed by Richard Linklater. He also wrote the first one with Kim Krizan, but the second and third, he wrote with Hawke and Delpy. I am so glad they decided to do that. These films are, basically, two people talking. That's it. And it is brilliant. How, you may be wondering, can that be? Well, the writers here seem to care about the characters and the story arc. That matters. I know some of you may think that sounds boring, but it's not. We get to see these people first getting to know each other, then reconnecting with each other, then trying to figure each other out so they can move in to their future. I can't even say it enough. This is what all writing for film should be like. Look, I don't care if you have action or CGI or big explosions in your movie, but, if you strip all that away, you should still be left with a fantastic story. That is the foundation, and that is what these three magnificent films can teach us.

So, there you have it. My best of the threes or whatever. Like I said at the start of this, I have come to appreciate a real trilogy more than I ever have, thanks to whatever Hollywood is doing today that they think will last forever. Because I guess they think that people never get bored or get tired of these stunts and move on. Right. The bottom line, just make a good movie. I don't care if you want to connect it all to something else or not. Just make a good movie. Or make three.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 18, 2014

History of the Eagles - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

In case it wasn't obvious from my Top Ten Eagles Songs list, I LOVE the Eagles. They are one of my all-time favorite bands, and this is because of the amazing music, of course. The majority of it was released before was born, yet it all feels so fresh each time I hear it. Because truly good music doesn't stop being good. Yeah, I wonder how many babies being born now are going to be able to say this about any of today's artists in a couple of decades. The answer is none...probably. Anyway, I recently discovered this documentary, and I had to see it. So, let's discuss the appropriately titled, History of the Eagles.

This is a 2013 documentary directed by Alison Ellwood, who has had quite an extensive career as an editor and producer, working alongside co-producer Alex Gibney. He has been responsible for some really good documentaries of late, such as Catching Hell and The Armstrong Lie (watch both of them!). Anyway, this one was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and then aired on Showtime. And in 2013 and beyond, The Eagles were and are on a tour of the same name. Of course, I didn't get to go when they came to my city, because, I don't know, the world hates me or something. Seriously, they are on the list of bands I need to see before I die. Or before they die. Wow, that didn't sound good. Love you, guys. Moving on.

Basically, this documentary can certainly be judged by its title. We are, quite literally, getting the history of The Eagles. Now, this set up has been done before with other subjects, and it really can go either. Some are boring; some are not. This is not. Funny enough, the things they talk about here are mostly things that we already know, and yet the execution is so well done that it still is quite interesting. As you may recall, one of the aspects that I highly praised about The Beatles Anthology was that we got new interviews with the actual Beatles, plus a few people who worked most closely with them. Thankfully, that's what we get here, as well. We hear all these stories and all their sides from all the guys who were a part of the band. Does it get harsh sometimes? Oh, yeah. But that's life and that's the reality of what happened. At least, I hope so, because I'd hate to think someone was lying. Oh, and I'd like to think this goes without saying, but unlike other unauthorized documentaries, of which I am not a fan, we get their music. Tons of their music. Yay.

To be honest, I have heard from certain people, perhaps former band members that were in this film, that maybe it wasn't all that accurate. I mean, maybe, maybe not. I wasn't there, so I can't speak on that. Although, whilst there is still some animosity between the past and the present, I don't think anyone came out of this thing smelling like a rose, on a personal level. Not even Joe Walsh, and he's my favorite. But this band has a history of, let's say, acrimony within themselves. Everyone knows that. Well, maybe not everyone, because one non-professional reviewer said that he or she did not want to know that they didn't get along as a band. My response to that is - WHAT! How does anyone not know about the infighting? Was that not the point of the whole Hell Freezes Over thing? Goodnight, even people who have never heard of the Eagles know about that! Whatever, I'm getting off track.

There's actually not all that much to say about this film, other than what I already have. Point is, if you are am admirer of The Eagles or even if you already know all about them, this is a must watch. You get to hear stories from the guys, you get to hear music and you get to see a really well put together documentary. So, I'll just say it again, I love the Eagles, I love their music, and they should be my friends. Okay, that was a little weird, but you understand.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Starting Out in the Evening - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Some writers may believe that the worst thing about what we do is if we aren't noticed or appreciated for our work. But, I wonder, how much more heartbreaking it is to not be noticed or appreciated after having been a great success? What must it be like to be forgotten by the ones who once gave you such acclaim? Not easy, I would imagine. Well, that's what is the focus of the brilliant film Starting Out in the Evening.

Starting Out in the Evening is a 2007 film that I'm guessing most people have never even heard of much less seen, and that is depressing. This is amazing. There are a only a few characters in the movie, but the small cast is led by the masterful Frank Langella in probably his best performance ever. He plays Leonard Schiller, a formerly famous writer in the twilight of his life who has been largely forgotten as he has tried to finish his final book. One day, he meets Heather Wolfe, played by Lauren Ambrose, a grad student who hopes to use him as the subject of her Master's Thesis, since he was the one who inspired her to be a writer. She also hopes that, through this, people may rediscover him. Reluctant at first, Leonard finally agrees, as he also hopes this may help to get him some exposure. They begin to have weekly meetings, where he opens up to her about his past and she starts to show more interest in him personally. This leads to them developing into a meaningful friendship and, perhaps, beyond.

Whilst that plot line is going on, we also follow Ariel, Leonard's daughter, played by Lili Taylor. She is a former dancer and current yoga and pilates instructor, who is at a point in her life where she hopes to settle down and start a family, though she just ended her relationship. Around that time, her ex, Casey, played by Adrian Lester, comes to town. She begins to see him again romantically, but she's conflicted because he still has no desire to have children, which is what broke them up before. Ariel is forced to decide what it is she really wants in her life and what, if anything, she is willing to give up.

This film, I find to be more character driven than plot driven, which is fine by me. I actually love that. I mean, there is a plot, but we are more engrossed in what the people are going through on an individual basis. We are gladly pushed into caring about them, because the characters are so well constructed. They're flawed, but also sympathetic and relatable. They are going through specific things, but at the core, they are things through which so many people go. Everyone deals with getting older and going through huge transitions and making important decisions, and all of this can effect us greatly. And this story so wonderfully depicts how these people are dealing with it. You really do find yourself rooting for them to make it, one way or another.

Starting Out in the Evening is very subtle and nuanced and understated. Yeah, Hollywood, making movies like that is actually allowed. I feel as though you've forgotten that. This film is so beautifully bleak, in a way, and that makes it feel very real. While you do hope that everything works out for everyone, you sense that it might not. But that's life, and that's what we're getting here. Also, let me just say again that the tone we get in this film is thanks greatly to the amazing performances by all the actors. Not a weak link in the bunch. That is not easy to do.

So, I know I haven't said much about this movie, but there's really not much to say. This is something that must be experienced. I can say again and again how brilliant it is, but it's a film that needs to be seen, then talked about, rather than the other way around. So, if you can handle a movie with actual characters and no explosions, I am highly recommending this.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, September 12, 2014

Alex and Emma - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I think that one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone is that, if you don't want to be written about, don't talk about yourself around a writer. You'll notice I didn't even say "to" a writer; I said "around". Yes, if you have secrets to keep, do not have loose lips in the presence of a writer, because most of us will take that and slip it into the current magnum opus upon which we are working. Although, if you are a narcissist, spill you guts, I say. See, the reason why I tell you this is because, we writers, while making many things up, often take elements from real life to layer into our fiction. And, frankly, most of us don't care from whose real life it's coming. Good thing this is all perfectly legal, so long as we're careful to change enough things, like names, hair color, whatnot. Seriously, be careful! Because slander lawsuits are a thing, too. Anyway, why am I bringing this up? Well, real life seeping into fiction is the main theme of Alex and Emma.

Alex and Emma is a 2003 romantic comedy movie. Yep, it sure is. And when I say that this is a romantic comedy, I mean that in the strictest way possible. This thing (spoilers!) has every, single trope of that genre. I mean, WHAT! First, they don't like each other, then they learn to like each other, then they fall in love? Misunderstandings that lead to hurt feelings? A third act breakup? Again, I say, WHAT! They certainly did a dive into that genre pool and didn't come up for air. But this is directed by Rob Reiner, so not his first time. And yet...I sort of like this movie. Heaven help me, I know. Maybe because, while it does have the most generic plot foundation, what was built on top was a little bit unique. So let's talk about it.

Our lead male character in the movie is Alex Sheldon, played by Luke Wilson, who I probably had a crush on at the time. Go figure. He's a writer who had some success with his previous novel but can't seem to come up with something new. He has been so unsuccessful, as of late, that he lives in a crappy apartment and has run out of money. Not good, because he has to repay a $100,000 debt to the Cuban mafia within 30 days. Just go with it. He goes to his publisher, played by Rob Reiner pulling double duty, but he won't give Alex the money until he finishes a new manuscript for his next novel. Everyone caught up? If he finishes his novel in a month, he'll get a crap ton of money. Wow, I wish I could get that much cash for something I could churn out in that amount of time. I could purchase the world, at the rate I go. Moving on.

Due to an unfortunate incident, Alex is left with no laptop, which means he can't write his novel. Because pens and pencils and flippin' spiral notebooks do not exist in this universe. Anyway, he decides to hire a stenographer named Emma Dinsmore, played by Kate Hudson, who I was probably able to tolerate at this time. Of course, he tricks her into coming to his apartment, because that's not creepy and we have to build as much distrust as possible, so when they inevitably fall in love, we don't see it coming. Right. Now, Emma is a woman who we could call cautious and practical. She really has no desire to get involved with this shaky project, but Alex convinces her to stay by beginning to weave an interesting tale that will hopefully grow to a whole book.

So, here's where things get sort of interesting. As Alex writes and Emma types a story about a man named Adam Shipley who goes to work for a French family in the 1920's, we see those scenes acted out by the same actors. Alex is Adam, Emma is the au pair, whose name, nationality and overall makeup constantly changes. As the days go by, the real life story and the fictional story evolve alongside each other. Hence, real life affected made up life. As it tends to do with writers. But, in a nice little twist, we see how that can also work the other way, too.

As far as the cast goes, I don't mind anyone. I think everyone did a decent job, and, aside from the leads and the aforementioned acting Rob Reiner, we get some good work from Sophie Marceau, David Paymer, and even Cloris Leachman in a micro-cameo that lasts about twenty seconds. Twenty seconds for which she probably got paid more than I get in a year. I can forgive. Look, nobody full-on sucked in this thing, so...yay.

Now, despite some of the jabs I took at Alex and Emma, I can manage to guilty pleasure my way through this. And I am nowhere near as harsh as the other, more legitimate critics, like the ones on Rotten Tomatoes where this is given an 11%. Crap, even That's My Boy has a 20. Perhaps, if Alex or Emma would have said that pedophilia is hilarious, they would have gotten an extra 9%. But I digress. Look, this is not a masterpiece, by any means, but, for some reason, I get a kick out of it. So, if any of this sounds appealing to you, and if it's on TV some night, give it a whirl.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stuck in Love - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I have always been quite envious of families wherein the gift of writing seems to run. As far as I know, I am the only writer in my closest DNA group. When I began my work long ago in my teenage years, I wished I had someone to motivate me to do it long before I started, like a parent who was also a writer and wanted me to follow in their footsteps. I suppose I can look at it in a good light because I have never had to deal with it. Grass is greener and whatnot. But, perhaps, it wouldn't be 100% super. Well, a family full of writers is our main focus in the movie Stuck in Love.

Stuck in Love is a 2012 movie, which actually had the working title of Writers. How appropriate. This is a story of the Borgens, a broken family trying to come to terms with the changes they've been enduring. The father is Bill Borgens, played by Greg Kinnear, a novelist who has done his best to raise his children to be writers no matter what. He has been having trouble with life since his wife, Erica, played by Jennifer Connelly, left him a few years previous for another man. They have two children, 19-year-old Sam, played by Lily Collins, and 16-year-old Rusty, played by Nat Wolff. Sam recently got news that her first book will be published and shares this with her father and brother at Thanksgiving, though she won't tell her mom, as she resents her for leaving. Her parents failure of a marriage has left her with a disdain for committed relationships. Rusty, however, still talks to his mom, and, also unlike his sister, he is kind of a young romantic. He also writes and is a massive fan of Stephen King. And when it comes to his ex-wife, Bill is holding out hope that she will return, and he does have a reason for waiting, which we eventually discover.

Throughout the movie, these three main characters all have relationships, in one form or another. Bill has the least meaningful one, having regular hookups with a woman named Tricia, played by Kristen Bell. Honestly, I don't really know what the point of this character is. She's barely in the movie, and when she's there, she's just kind of...there, if that makes sense. Although, when she and Bill aren't...doing stuff, they seem to have a legit friendship. Sam meets a guy named Lou, played by Logan Lerman, who wants to start a serious relationship with her, of course, so she tries desperately to keep him at arm's length, if not further. Still, when she sees the crisis with which he is dealing in his personal life, her heart begins to soften a bit. Rusty has fallen in love with a girl named Kate, played by Lianna Liberato, an actress to whom I gave much praise in The Last Sineater. He has, in fact, become so infatuated with her that he can't see that she is quite a troubled girl, but the experiences he endures jump start him into realizing that his love can't magically fix everything.

I really do, for the most part, enjoy the cast of this film. Although, I must admit that all these characters, while I didn't hate any of them, can grate on your nerves at times. I think it's because they are so set in their ways, but you can see that they are how they are because they are very wounded, one way or another. You may groan or roll your eyes at some of their behavior, but you know there's a reason for it. There's a difference between characters that are flawed and characters that are straight-up unlikable. Not every movie gets that, but this one does.

At its heart, I think Stuck in Love is about these people being stuck in their idea of what love is or is not, and their opening themselves, for better or worse, to seeing outside their usual box. That ends up bringing some pain but also healing some pain, and we see that things only have a chance at being fixed if everything is out in the open. Everyone telling the truth and letting their guards down is what puts things on track to maybe being mended.

I don't know what the critics said about this movie, and I can see how not everyone would be into it. But I found it very interesting and subtly entertaining. It does have some comedy peppered in there, but it's mostly dramatic. Some people may call it "melodramatic". I suppose I understand that, too, but I didn't think they went over the top. I mean, this is a movie about artistic and creative people. Sometimes our freak outs are a little less...understated. It's just how we are. Anyway, I just love seeing a story about how one event can affect so many people in so many different ways. Not least of all in someone's writing.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nim's Island - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I have had several people tell me that I should take a stab at writing children's books. Their reasons as to why vary, but where they have common ground is that they do not listen to a word I say. I'm pretty sure I have made it clear to them, many times, that I am not a kid person. I don't hate kids or anything, but I just don't do well with most of them. And if a person writes a book, they usually want it to become popular, in turn, causing their reading audience to become fans of the writer, maybe even wanting to meet them. Hence, kid books, kid fans. No can do. And I'm not even an agoraphobic...as far as I know. So, why am I bringing this up? Well, stay tuned as we discuss Nim's Island.

Nim's Island is a 2008 family adventure film that apparently Disney had nothing to do with. Hard to believe, because it actually feels a lot like those live action films they did back in the 60's. Anyway, the movie begins with some brief but interesting animation as 11-year-old Nim, played by the adorable Abigail Breslin, narrates for us. I don't even mind that it's basically an info dump exposition, since what you're seeing on the screen is done so well. She tells us the story of how her parents were oceanographers and that her mother, Emily, died, having been swallowed by a blue whale. Or so her father tells her. Nim's father, Jack, played by Gerard Butler and the main reason I went to see this in the theater, takes her to live on an isolated island that no one even knows about except them. So, you can just do that? Apparently. And it's a nice island, especially after they build their big shelter and add a satellite phone...and internet service! What the heck? Can you do THAT? Although, no mention of indoor plumbing as I can recall, so, no. But Nim is also friends with the animals, Dr. Doolittle style, giving them all names and whatnot. Speaking of animals, let me point out the elephant in the room. Yes, I am jealous of this little girl who gets to live on a deserted island with Gerard Butler. I can't be the only woman who feels this way. Moving on.

Fortunately, there happens to be a cargo ship that comes by periodically, which Jack and Nim go out to meet on their boat, in order to get supplies that they can't provide for themselves. One of those things is books. We see Nim become overjoyed as she receives the new Alex Rover book. Alex Rover is a character who goes on exciting and dangerous adventures. Her imagination comes alive as she reads, and we see the scenes played out where she casts her own father as the hero. Symbolism? Eventually, her father must go out in search of a new plankton, and he reluctantly leaves her alone for a few days. Okay, then. Well, she does have to be midwife to a turtle, so...there you go.

Cut to San Francisco where we meet Alexandra Rover, played by Jodie Foster. She is the writer of the Alex Rover novels. Yes, her name is Alexandra Rover and she named her character Alex Rover. That does seem strange, and it is strange. But it does play into one of the plot points in the movie. Anyway, Alexandra is a bit neurotic. When I say "a bit", I mean A LOT!! She does not leave the house, only eats canned soup and her best friend appears to be hand sanitizer. And she has some writer's block as she can't figure out how the hero will escape his latest predicament. She needs to get info about volcanoes and finds an article that Jack wrote. She sends an email, which Nim answers, as she believes she is speaking with Alex Rover the adventurer, and they begin a friendly correspondence. Now, I have to admit, I wasn't really feeling Jodie Foster in this role, at first, probably because I'm not used to seeing her in comedies. But, after a while, she grew on me, and I think she did a pretty good job.

Around this point, the lives of all the characters begin to go in directions that they could not have imagined. Things beyond their control start occurring, causing them to come to terms with the strengths and weaknesses they never knew they had. It's almost a coming of age story for all of them, even the adults. Nim begins to really grow up, seeing that the world is not just the paradise her father has created for her; Jack sees that he cannot protect his daughter forever, no matter how hard he tries; and Alexandra realizes that she has to stop living her life through the character and world she created and just live it for real. It's a good story.

As I said, I saw this in the theater, and it was worth it. A lot of the visuals were really beautiful, especially the shots done underwater. Still, whilst seeing it on the big screen enhances it, it still looks good on television. I think the creativity of what they did carries over quite well.

This is just a really good family movie that the kids will like, but the adults will, too. That is not easy to do, though it might seem to be. There is an actual plot, not just stuff happening, and the characters are quite likable, enough for the audience to really root for them. That's an important aspect of any movie. Here, they all have something to overcome, and you want them to do so. So, I say check out Nim's Island, if you haven't already. It's a pleasure to watch, even if you're a grown up.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ruby Sparks - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

We writers can be quite a strange bunch, especially to outsiders. I've met some people who just cannot understand how we get so deeply invested in the worlds we create and so attached to our characters, even thinking that they're real. I try to explain that we are invested because that is a necessity, and we think our characters are real because they are. And they must be for us, so they are that way to whomever may read our work. I mean, some characters do become more real than others, and occasionally, we have a few with whom we fall madly in love. We fall so much in love that we wish they were really real, an actual living person. I have certainly felt that way about some of mine. Of course, we all think that in a way where we never really think it would happen. But what if it did? And that brings us to the film Ruby Sparks.

Ruby Sparks is a beautifully quirky film about a writer named Calvin Weir-Fields, played by the criminally underrated Paul Dano. And I don't use the term "criminally" lightly. Remember when he was robbed of an Oscar for There Will Be Blood? Anyway, Calvin wrote a book in his teens which was extremely praised, and he has been spending the last ten years trying to recreate that success. Unfortunately, none of his ideas are inspiring enough for him to nurture into a whole story. One day, Calvin's therapist gives him a writing assignment, but he ends up having a dream about a woman named Ruby Sparks about whom he is inspired to write. Our titular character of Ruby is played by Zoe Kazan, Dano's real-life girlfriend and the writer of this movie's script. You know how I said this was beautifully quirky? Well, that is also how I would describe Zoe. I've come to really love her as an actress, and I absolutely love seeing her and Paul together here. Cute doesn't even begin to cover it. Anyway, back the story.

Calvin goes into great detail about Ruby, and after having created her in her entirety, he wakes up one day and finds her in his house. A living, breathing person that he made up on paper has seemingly come to life. Of course, he thinks he is going crazy and that Ruby is still just a figment of his own imagination, but soon he realizes that other people can also see and interact with her. Although, he still has control over her actions and behavior through his writing, sending them both into a hills and valleys emotional journey of a relationship. Calvin eventually comes to see that having so much power over someone, even someone that you have created yourself, can be more difficult than he ever imagined.

Ruby Sparks is a film that takes you on something of an adventure for which you can't even hope to make plans, since you have no idea what is coming next, or what Calvin will make Ruby do or be next. As emotionally engaging as it is, it's also really fun. The comedy is quite clever, and it mixes together perfectly with the heavier themes to which we are exposed. Of course, this is because of the brilliance of the script, but the cast of actors carries it all extremely well. I have already given praise to the two leads, but we also get great performances from Elliot Gould, Antonio Banderas, Toni Trucks, Deborah Ann Woll, Steve Coogan and Annette Benning, who, by the way, looks flipping gorgeous. The modern day hippie thing seems to work well for her. However, if I must single out one of these secondary actors, I choose Chris Messina, He was fantastic in this as Calvin's brother, Harry. He's hilarious, especially in the scenes where Calvin lets him in on the insane story of Ruby's origins. This is just a really amazing cast from the smallest parts to the leads, and doesn't that just make for a fine movie.

Oh, and I would be remiss to not mention the directors. Yes, directors, plural, as in two, as in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Previously known for their groundbreaking and innovative work on music videos, they made their first film in 2006, Little Miss Sunshine, wherein Paul Dano was also a cast member. Their two projects were six years apart, this due to the couple looking for just the right story to tell. Good things come to those who wait, or more accurately, great things.

So, in closing, I love Ruby Sparks. Rarely do I see a film that is the best kind of weird and also the best kind of simple, all at the same time, but it was able to be that, effortlessly. I definitely recommend this to everyone, and I also recommend that Zoe Kazan continue on with her writing. She has certainly got a gift.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, September 8, 2014

Authors Anonymous - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

As of right now, I have never once, in all my years as a writer, been officially part of a writing group. I don't know why. Maybe I like to work alone too much. Maybe I am not a fan of criticism, which is a tad ironic. Maybe I just never could find one at all. Yeah, that last one might be it. Although, whatever the benefits of being in a writing group are, it can also go the other way. This is quite evident in the film Authors Anonymous.

Authors Anonymous is a movie I find quite interesting. The first thing that caught my attention was the framing device, which is that someone we never actually see or hear is making a documentary about a writing group. Now this doesn't really look like a documentary for the entirety film, but all the characters take part in Real World style confessionals or interviews. Also, someone not a part of the project will sometimes wonder about the cameras following the seemingly mundane actions. Other than that, it feels fairly typical. The good news is that these people, whomever they are, making this documentary caught some good stuff.

The basic plot is that there are six members of the group, varying a lot when it comes to their talent, their ambition, their success and even their grasp on the reality of their writing life. We see how all of these things affect their relationships and the life of the group. If this does not seem like much to you, I can understand why, but this really is about the characters, helped along by those who portray them. So, let's talk about that.

First is Alan Mooney, played by Dylan Walsh. Alongside his attempts of being a writer, he is officially an eye doctor. He is also constantly recording ideas for novels on his tiny recorder. And I do mean constantly, whether they lead anywhere or not. Usually not. He is the self-proclaimed leader of the group and takes much pride in its existence. His wife, Colette, is played by Teri Polo. She writes romance novels in the style of all those paperback books you can get on a monthly basis. And what people have always said about the quality of those books, or lack thereof, is pretty much confirmed by Colette. She is completely oblivious to the fact that she is not good, though she has a massive amount of rejection letters to prove it. Next is William Bruce, played by Jonathan Bennett. He worships Charles Bukowski, calling him the best writer ever, and wanting to be just like him, if he doesn't think he is already. Of course, while William thinks he is very motivated in his work, he rarely brings forth any worthwhile material, as he is more infatuated with the idea of being a writer. Then, there's John K. Butzin, played by the legendary and beloved Dennis Farina in one of his last roles. Now, if you happen to forget his character's name, relax. He repeats it...A LOT! Mostly referring to himself in the third person, he resorts to self-publishing (nothing wrong with that!) on his quest to be just like Tom Clancy, not to mention having his book made into a film by Clint Eastwood. He is the textbook definition of a curmudgeon. Henry Obert is next, played by Chris Klein. He is going through a bout with writer's block, which is ironic, since he is arguably the most legit writer in this entire group. He is in love with literature and has read countless classic novels, and he wants nothing more to be respected alongside those authors that he admires. Also, he is in love with Hannah. Hannah Rinaldi, played by Kaley Cuoco, seems...a bit...airhead-y. Well, a lot, at first, but she grows. She is not a reader, nor does she know much about those book thingies. Pay attention to what she says about Jane Austen to get the full effect. There is a running gag about her being asked who her favorite writer is and she never has an answer. However, she is a writer who is very dedicated, working constantly on her book, and it pays off. It pays off for her, which doesn't exactly set well with the rest of her group.

The movie basically follows the progression of how the people who you consider friends, helpers, colleagues, what have you, can become something a bit more resentful when they realize that they are also your competitors. And they do this in quite a hilarious way. The fake smiles and congratulations are priceless and accurate, and they keep up until no one can handle it anymore and things explode. I assume that anyone who has been in a writer's group where one person stands out has seen this occur.

Now, if you listen to other critics, you may know that this film did not exactly get stellar reviews. I suppose I can understand why. Whilst I enjoyed this thing immensely, and I think anyone can, it seems to enhance the entertainment if you are also a writer. It helps a lot. It may be because we can look at any of these people and say, "Oh, I have known that person" or "I have been that person", or we can look at some of these scenarios and say, "I've been there". I certainly can.

What I liked best about this film were the characters and, in turn, the actors. Everyone really captured what they were supposed to portray, and even when the characters were being unlikable through actions or otherwise, you still can manage to enjoy them and be entertained by them. That is a very good thing, because there are many of those moments where you might want to slap someone, but you're too busy being amused by them.

So, in closing, I say give Authors Anonymous a shot, especially if you're writer, as I said. It will either make you want to find yourself a really great writing group, or avoid them all like the plague. Talk about range.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cinematic Writers Week

Greetings Pups,

A while back I informed everyone here that I may not be posting much on this blog due to the fact that I would be working overtime on my books. Well, that is exactly what I've been doing. And it's hard work, being a writer, especially if you do it right. I certainly hope I'm doing it right. It is also, again if done right, something that can lead one to having a very rich life. I love what I do, and some people appreciate that. Others, not so much. Still, I think some of the best exposure people get to the life of a writer can come by way of films.

So, starting tomorrow, in honor of the work of all writers out there, I will spend a week dedicated to movies that give everyone a glimpse into the life of writers. There are quite a few of these films, so I tried to narrow it down while still being a bit diverse. I wanted to show how writing can affect people's lives and what their process might be, for better or worse. Some are known, some are not. I like them all. Some more than others, but at the very least, I like them all.

If you are a writer, then I say this week is dedicated to you. If you are not, then I hope you read these reviews even more, enough to want to see the films and find out what we do.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

As you may know, whenever I see a movie at the theater, I immediately do a review of it here. Well, I don't think I've ever done this with a TV movie, until now. I'm going to be fairly brief today, but I just had to say something about this. This being The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, courtesy of the good people at Lifetime.

In my opinion, 'true stories turned into movies from Lifetime' tend to be hit or miss with me and probably a lot of people. And I mean that from the perspective of what the truth actually is, as well as the quality of what they're putting out there. Let's talk about the artistic end of this first, particularly the acting. It wasn't half bad. In something of an homage to the show, I think they may have gotten actual teenagers to play the teenagers. The good old days. I could be wrong about that. Whether or not, though, they were pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised by all of them.

Now let's discuss how true this true story really was. Well, they did use the term "unauthorized" which can let you get away with a lot of stuff. However, it was based on the book that Dustin Diamond wrote, so much of it was from his point of view. He even got to do the Zack Morris-esque fourth wall breaking and time out/time in thing. Factor that in, as well as the seemingly acrimonious relationship he appears to have with his former co-stars, I kind of expected it to be more scandalous where they were concerned. It really wasn't. Actually, if anyone was made to look like a non-angel, it was Dustin Diamond himself. I mean, sure, he told about how he wasn't exactly treated well by a lot of people, and that seems plausible, but he shared his own mistakes, too. Everything else with everyone else just seemed like typical teenager stuff, though they were famous teenagers. Still, sometimes that doesn't matter. So, yeah, I don't exactly know how accurate these stories were, but if the weren't, no one is coming off looking all that bad.

In short, this movie was pretty good. It held my interest and, like I said, the acting was well done. And since this is a cable network movie, I feel as though they may rerun it a few more times. If they do, I say give it a watch. Especially if you lived through it the first time. Ah, nostalgia.


Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer