Sunday, May 31, 2015

Every Which Way But Loose - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So, I'm posting this on the 85th birthday of one Mr. Clint Eastwood. Yay! I had intended to do a week's worth of reviews of his movies, but...life happens. So I picked just one. This one. Because what better way to celebrate than to talk about one of the worst movies he has ever made. Oh, yeah, spoilers. This thing is pretty awful. But what's a better gift for someone than perspective about the actual quantity of their awesomeness. I kid, a little. I mean, I think his cup of awesomeness runneth over. Still, Clint never seemed like a guy who thought he was all that, and he certainly doesn't seem that way now. But I, personally, have never heard him say how he felt either way about this film. I should probably try harder with my research. All I know, for sure, is that most people look back on this thing with little fondness. But is there actually anything redeeming about it? Guess we'll have to go looking. So, let's talk about this, shall we?

Every Which Way But Loose is a 1978 film wherein Clint Eastwood stars as Philo Beddoe (wait, what?), a truck driver who makes money on the side as a fighter. Not like a boxer. No, we're talking bare knuckles, street fighting style. He lives in the San Fernando Valley in a small house that lies behind the actual house of his buddy Orville Boggs, played by the recently deceased and greatly missed, Geoffrey Lewis, and Orville's mother, played by Ruth Gordon, who has quite a potty-mouth in this. In other words, if they ever remade this (Please NO!) Betty White would most likely be first on the casting wish list. Oh, and did I mention that Philo has a pet orangutan named Clyde which he won in one of those fights and who sometimes helps with the laundry? Yep, that's the selling point on this movie - Clint Eastwood and a monkey. Take a look at the poster if you can. It's just Clint looking like his usual tough guy self, except he's being cuddled by an orangutan. So be it, 70's.

Now I must say, this has quite an...interesting opening sequence. "Interesting" meaning you watch it and sort of go, "O-Kay?" There's actually quite a few moments like that. Basically, we see Philo, driving along in his truck to the titular movie tune by Eddie Rabbitt. That was a thing back in the day, kids, for movies to have theme songs. Movies other than the James Bond franchise, I mean. Good thing? Uh...occasionally. Anyway, the music stops and he stops into a bar...in the middle of the day...where pretty much everyone is smoking. I can't remember if that was still healthy for you like it was back in the 50's. He gets into a fight, of course, which he wins, of course, then at the drop of a hat, it's back to the truck and back to the song. O-Kay? Welcome to our movie?

So, the plot. That begins when he meets a woman. Doesn't it always? This time it's Lynn Halsey-Taylor played by Sondra Locke. Uh...yeah. You know, Charles Sonnenburg of SF Debris fame said something in his Star Trek V: The Final Frontier review pertaining to the woman who played the Romulan ambassador and how she might have gotten the part. Go watch that. Look, I could go on and on about this Sondra Locke person, but you'd do best to look up that little controversy on your own. I just can't right now. Anyway, Lynn is an aspiring country singer. Aspiring, like maybe making the Top 30 on a weak season of American Idol. Naturally, Philo falls for her, and he thinks things are going well until she runs off and causes him a whole lot of trouble. Art imitating life much. Again, Google it. You guys, I'm not really judging. All of this is in the public record. And when you're in like six movies during the time you are intimately involved with the guy who's in charge of said movies, you have to expect that people will be suspicious. Moving on.

After that, the whole film suddenly turns into some kind of road trip movie, because Philo drags Orville and Clyde to go all the way to Colorado to look for Lynn. Seriously? Well, at least, Orville gets himself a girl in the form of Beverly D'Angelo playing Echo. Not her real name, I assume? Even Clyde gets a little action when they take him to a zoo in the middle of the night to visit the lady monkeys. No, I'm not kidding. I'm kinda grossed out, but I'm not kidding.

Oh, and we can't forget the part of the plot where Philo is getting chased by a motorcycle gang called The Black Widows, a name which implies that they're either dumb or really secure in their masculinity. Also, an LAPD cop is after him. Why? Probably because he's tougher than all of them put together. Even without his .44 Magnum. Oh, right. Different, better movie. He only has the guns that the good Lord gave him in this production.

Anyway, as the story unfolds, I suppose there are a few twist moments, if you aren't really paying attention. Not enough to make it any kind of "on the edge of your seat" entertainment. Even the ending was like, "Yeah. Figures."

Alright, is there anything good about this movie? Anything entertaining? Well, if I'm going to be honest, yes. Yes, there is. Clyde. More specifically, the friendship between Clyde and Philo. I actually did laugh out loud at a lot of the scenes that featured Clint and the monkey, especially the "Hands up. Bang!" exchange. If you've seen this, you'll know what I mean. Those were legit entertaining. Actually, if you just cut together those scenes into a movie, it might end up being one of my favorites from Clint. But, alas, we had to add all of that other stuff.

So, because of those highly amusing scenes, I say you can check this out. Just keep your fast forward button handy, because most of this is not really going to interest you much. But, apparently, it interested someone. Because, Number One: it made $85 million on a $5 million budget, which I assume was the reason for Number Two: it got a sequel two years later, which also, despite dismal reviews, made back nearly five times its budget. SERIOUSLY?! Yeesh! I wonder if citizens of 1980 knew how much worse things like that were going to get. Ahem, ahem, Iron Man 2!

Okay, I think I'm done with this, so let's wrap things up already.

In conclusion, Happy 85th Birthday, Clint Eastwood (in case, he's reading this. You never know)! I know I messed with you a bit in this review, but that's because I am not a fan. I am an admirer of you great work. If I was a fan, I would blindly say that I love everything you do. No. I love the great things you do, while acknowledging that you've also done some crap. I think even you admit that. And that is to be expected, especially considering that this year also marks your 60th in the movie business. I just...wow!

So, I love you for all the amazing things you've done, on screen and off, and I forgive you for all the...oopsies. Again, on screen and off. Please don't be mad at me. Let's do lunch.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer






Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So, When Is It Going To Be Jimmy Shaker Day?

Greetings Pups,

You know what I was thinking about the other day? The awesome movie that is Ransom. Probably because I was thinking about Gary Sinise. Probably because it was Memorial Day. And if you know anything about Gary, you'll know why that is. Anyway, there is something about that film that made me realize how messed up Hollywood is these day, creatively, I mean, and it has a good lesson on how they can correct things. I know I just talked about the problems with that town's creative health a couple of weeks ago, but, hey, they need a lot of help out there.

Before I go on, I should warn you guys. If you have not seen the movie Ransom, don't read this. Also, shame on you, because it's amazing. In order to do what I have to do today, there will be spoilers galore. Although, I think even people who haven't seen this already know what I'm talking about. Irregardless (which is totally a word!) go see it, then come back. Is everybody who wants to be gone, gone? Okay, good. Let's get started.

It has been nearly twenty years since we were graced with the presence of this fantastic movie, and I have never met anyone who doesn't like it. It's exciting and well-written and has good twists in all the right places done correctly not just...well, not just because. But I'm not here to review this thing. I am here to discuss but one character - Jimmy Shaker. He's the villain. And he is an actual villain. Remember those?

Let me explain myself. For many decades of movies, we had a lot of villains who were just bad guys. Why? Well, because they were bad, of course. In other words, one dimensional baddies. We still have those, but the trend of the last several years has been the idea that, in order to make a villain more complex, he or she must have a backstory that makes them sympathetic. Or, even worse, not bad at all but a hero. Not even an anti-hero, but just a straight up hero. What?! Okay, that last one does not happen as much, but I think we can all agree that the "sympathetic villain" is kind of a thing now. And it's all Marvel's fault! Well...

Okay, it's no secret that, generally speaking, I am no fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe I'll give some extended info on that some time later. And nowhere will you find a more "sympathetic villain" than Loki. Don't get me wrong. I certainly like Tom Hiddleston and how he portrays Loki, and, honestly, I like Loki as a character. But as a villain? Yeah, no. I mean, talk about a weak motivation. I have said this before, but think about his backstory. Abandoned by biological family, taken home by an old, rich guy of a different race who raises him as his own son in a big fancy house. Hey, Loki! Your life is the plot of Different Strokes! So, yeah, stop whining and throwing world destroying tantrums.

And don't even get me started on what went down in movies like Oz, the Great and Powerful and Maleficent. So, is the color green like a bad thing or something? Whatever. Moving on.

I guess I just don't understand it. Is it really that hard to make a bad guy bad AND complex at the same time? Apparently not, because the people who wrote Ransom knew how to do it. And now that I'm done rambling about others, here is my analysis on the How and the Why...and probably other things concerning Jimmy Shaker.

So, unless you've got problems or something, there is no point in this film where you feel sympathy for Jimmy Shaker. He has, at present time, no redeeming qualities, not one. However, due to some clever exposition and great examples of the "show don't tell" rule, we do learn about how and why Shaker is what he is. At least, that's how I see it. And am I ever wrong? Yeah...anyway...

First of all, the exposition. We have that fantastic scene where Gary Sinise as Shaker and Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen are driving around and talking on the phone to each other. Hey, shame! Anyway, Gary goes on and on about the rich and the poor of the world by way of a Cliff's Notes version of The Time Machine. By the way...THERE! That scene is a better remake of The Time Machine than that 2002 mess. Anyway, in what he said, we could see why he was doing what he did. He was a cop who risked his life on a daily basis for very little pay to put the bad guys away, and some of those bad guys who had money were flat out buying their way out of a jail sentence. And he's not wrong. That is exactly what Tom Mullen did. You understand his plight and yet, are not willing to excuse his crime. I think because we know that all of that would make a genuinely good cop try that much harder to get ALL the bad guys put away. Even if they fail, they try, instead of turning to the dark side and pretty much giving up.

Next, the "show don't tell". Even though it's quite clear that he is a bad guy now, we get the impression that Shaker was a good guy at some point. Not because of what we're told. No one ever says "Hey, didn't you used to be on the right side of things?" No, we see things. We see his commendations. We see how he interacts with other cops and the way they respect him. Clearly, he did good things to earn all of this. And, going back to that scene of exposition, we even see it in Gary Sinise's performance. The look in his eyes, his expression as he speaks those words, the unsaid attitude to Mel Gibson's character of "Screw you, rich man. How do you like it?". No matter what he was saying, we could see it all.

So, in other words: great writing, great acting, great directing (I didn't forget you, Ron Howard!) equals great villain. Not to mention one with some serious staying power with the public at large. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. I mean, "Jimmy Shaker Day" is in the Urban Dictionary, for crying out loud. Granted, their definition fits in better when it comes to what was actually said in the movie, as it should be. My definition is more like "Hey, when are we gonna get more villains like Jimmy Shaker! Won't that be a wonderful day?" But I think we can all live in the world together despite those differences.

And I think I'm done with this. Man, I should have taken a class in this kind of stuff. I feel like I just did a thesis on the subject. Okay, maybe those things are a bit longer. A bit. But I digress. Bottom line, just try harder, all of you writers in Hollywood. Remember, a villain is pretty much always the antagonist, but an antagonist does not have to be a villain. If you want your bad guy to be sympathetic, make them an antagonist. If you want your bad guy to be bad, make them a villain.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Read It and Weep - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

A lot of interesting things get recommended for me on the Netflix for reasons at which I can only guess. A while back a little Disney TV movie called Read It and Weep popped up. Maybe because I watch me a lot of Disney cartoons. What? Many adults do it. Anyway, I hadn't planned to watch it, but I read the synopsis and thought, 'Oh, now I get it'. So, I put it in my queue for a while until I finally decided to watch it. And here are the results of that event.

Read It and Weep is a 2006 Disney Channel original movie about a young girl named Jamie played by Kay Panabaker. She's nowhere close to being the most popular girl in school, of course, and she is reminded of that constantly. She also has a crush on a guy named Marco who just happens to be involved with actually popular, "mean girl" Sawyer, played wonderfully as expected by Allison Scagliotti of Drake and Josh fame. However, Jamie does have a few very good, close friends that keep her going. Not to mention a loving family, which includes her guitar playing brother Lenny, a supportive mother and a father who is slightly delusional about the recipes he serves at the family's pizza parlor. Seriously, I don't know what his problem is.

The plot gets going when Jamie's personal journal is mistakenly turned in as an English assignment. And I should point out that it's not just some journal with writing in it about her daily life. It's in the form of a story, complete with some visual art, about a girl names Isabella or Is as she is called, who is super popular and has some super powers. She is the alter ego of Jamie, who uses her to tell the tale of everyone in her life. In fact, Is actually comes to life, for Jamie anyway, as someone she actually talks to, and she is played by Danielle Panabaker, Kay's real life older sister. More thoughts on that later. Anyway, the teacher praises the writing and before you know it, the journal gets published as an actual book. Because that's how it happens in real life. Yeah, look, Disney, I appreciate the way you teach the children to believe in their dreams and whatnot, but let's try to keep at least a little reality on the plate here.

After the books comes out, Jamie's life is expectedly turned upside down, for better or worse. Now, it's at this point where certain aspects of the plot may become slightly predictable. Many things, I saw coming. But then again, I'm a grown up. Maybe it can keep its target audience, which is kids, guessing. And I'm not saying this in a disparaging way. I think this is perfect storytelling for the age bracket they were aiming towards, which seems to be the 10 to 12 area. That, as I recall, is a very transitional time in life. Not so much a child anymore, but certainly not an adult, so making entertainment things for that age can be tricky. I think they did a good job here, though. Nothing too heavy, but also not talking down to the youngsters. And I find the core idea is kind of unique. In fact, due to the creativity that this movie has when it comes to the journal and Jamie's imagination, I can forgive a lot of these tropes.

Although, going back to Netflix, it seems that some of the people who reviewed it were appalled at this story, accusing this young girl of having multiple personalities and a mental disorder. Uh...calm the heck down, people. She's fine. She just has a very active imagination, something that may seem odd, I understand, as she seems to be going to public school, those places that often think creativity is not something to be bothered with. Or spent money on. But I digress. I love the fact that this girl has a vivid imagination. Come to think of it, she reminds me of myself as a young writer. Oh, who am I kidding? My characters ARE still real to me.

Also, I have to say, I did love the idea of casting sisters in these roles. Kay and Danielle Panabaker do look alike, and, whilst I don't know if this was intentional, Jamie and Is act like sisters a bit in the movie, though Jamie considers Is another part of herself. Jamie looks up to Is, wants to be just like her and takes her advice whether that's a good idea or not. But I love the way these two act together. They should do it more often.

So, what about the movie as a whole? Well, I think this may have been recommended for me because I tend to watch movies about writers. And, like I said, Jamie reminds me of myself at that age, so, if you're an adult writer who started young, this might spark a bit of nostalgia, in a way. And if you have a kid that's the target age for this, I say it's a pretty good thing for them to watch. It teaches a few lessons, which may seem passe to adults, but to a kid this age, it might give them some insight. And as far as these Disney Channel Originals go? Well, I thought it was better than High School Musical.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, May 18, 2015

21 Years: Richard Linklater - Documentary Review

Greetings Pups,

Isn't it nice when a bunch of your friends get together to say nice things about you and someone films it? What? That never happened to you? Well, it happened to Richard Linklater and this is the result.

21 Years: Richard Linklater is a 2014 documentary celebrating, you guessed it, 21 years on the career of, you guessed it again, director Richard Linklater. I found this film on my OnDemand and thought, why not? I do like me some Richard Linklater. Not all, but much. Here, several of his works are discussed by some of the actors who were involved in them. It's pretty much a big "behind the scenes" special, which, if you know me, I think is a very good thing. And we do get some fantastic stories, which is what I came for.

Some of the films discussed are Slacker, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, one of my favorite Vincent D'Onofrio films, The Newton Boys, and my most very favorite trilogy, the Before Trilogy. So, naturally, we get great stories from these films, because these films are great stories. As far as I know, in some cases. Oh, and the actors we hear from are some amazing raconteurs themselves. We get to hear from Jack Black, Julie Delpy, Billy Bob Thorton, just to name a few. But, of course, Matthew McConaughey's there and he's got a steal the show with all of his...McConaughey-ing. You know what I'm referring to! And, yes, it is quite hilarious, even I have to admit that. However, if I had to pick a favorite interviewee, it would be Ethan Hawke. I've always been on the fence where he is concerned. Sometimes I like him, other times, not so much. His work, I mean. But he had so many good things to say here. First of all, I loved hearing him talk about his experience with Richard and Julie with the Before Trilogy. He also recalled a time when Richard hds accused himself of being pretentious. Ethan's response? "You're not pretentious. I'M pretentious". He admitted it! He's a celebrity who admitted it. God bless. But the best was when he said something about how making films should not be about making money or getting awards. It should be about creating something. Creating art. Something that one can be proud of, and that should be the top priority. Yep. And then the Hollywood Monster came down and ate him. Okay, maybe that didn't happen, but saying stuff like "making money isn't the most important thing" might get him in trouble in that industry. Also, I guess he'll never work for Marvel. Boom! But the good news for him is that I might just let him be my friend now. He'll be thrilled. I'm sure of it.

One other thing that I found interesting was the use of animation to illustrate some of the stories that were being told. It kind of came out of nowhere and would show up randomly, which is one of the complaints I read from other reviews. It was nothing that looked too fancy, but it was still good and I liked it. I liked that it was unexpected. I found it amusing. Was it a gimmick? Probably, but I won't judge too harshly there.

Anyway, another complaint I heard was that it felt less like an actual documentary and more like some kind of TV special, especially since it's fairly short. Again, I agree with that assessment, but I don't mind it. Yes, it does feel like a retrospective special on AMC or something, but what's wrong with that? It's still interesting and still entertaining. That's more than I can say for some "official" documentaries I've seen.

So, I suppose if you're looking for some hard hitting, controversial documentary than this one is probably not for you. But if you are like me and enjoy hearing about the tales from behind the screen when it comes to movies, or if you're a fan of Richard Linklater's work, I say check it out. Like I said, you're going to hear some informative and hilarious anecdotes. Not a good enough reason? Well, then, just do it for the McConaughey.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thoughts on the Jem and the Holograms Trailer

Greetings Pups,

O-KAY! So, a couple of days ago I saw the trailer for the upcoming Jem and the Holograms movie. It took me a couple of days to process, but I think now I'm ready to share my thoughts on what I witnessed.

I did already discuss this film when it was in its infancy of development. If you read that, you may recall that I was hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, which is all one can do in these cases. As time has gone on, and as more information was released, I began to get more and more nervous about how faithful this would be to one of the best things about my childhood. And now I have seen, officially, what is coming. Well, two and a half minutes of it. Okay, let me back up a bit.

When all that I knew about this movie was that it was going to be made, I managed to remain quite open minded about the whole thing. I understand how adaptation works. I'm not one of those people who is extremely anal retentive about it and freak out if even one thing changes. No, I understand that when something is presented in a new medium, changes will be made. Changes have to be made. And I was okay with that. Even when they said it was going to be set in modern times. That was fine with me. Now, let me, first, explain the plot as seen in the trailer, then I'll take about the changes.

We have Jerrica Benton and her sister, Kimber, who I assume are orphans, living with their Aunt Bailey and her foster daughters, Aja and Shana. Jerrica is a closet singer who does not really want to be on camera or on stage. But one day, Kimber secretly records her singing and posts it on the YouTube. That leads to the girls forming a band and signing with Erica Raymond at Starlight Enterprises, where Jerrica is "transformed" into Jem. Then, they meet Rio. Then, everyone singles out Jem, which causes tension in the group. Then, I assume everyone gets passed it. The End.

Where do I even start?

Okay, the characters are younger than they were in the cartoon. That's no big deal. I mean, it kind of matches with the original back story as Jerrica's and Kimber's parents died and Aja and Shana were foster kids. This Aunt Bailey is based on Mrs. Bailey, who was kind of a den mother at Starlight House, the foster home that Jerrica and the girls ran on the show. She was a minor character, at best, but it seems her role has expanded. And is now played by Molly Ringwald, who looks great, by the way. Next, let's discuss the changes made to Starlight Music...I mean, Enterprises. I guess they do other stuff now. On the show, it was run by Jerrica's father and left to her when he died. Here, it is run by Erica Raymond. Yeah, not ERIC. Erica. Why now? As much as I like Juliette Lewis, who is playing this part, I feel the same way I did at the end of Series 8 of Doctor Who. Like, changing a character's gender based on the powerful reason of "because we can". Not good enough. Do they think we need more girls in the Jem story? No, we've got plenty. I guess this bothers me because I actually consider Eric Raymond to be one of the best, albeit underrated, cartoon villains of all time. Maybe that will still be the same at the core. Oh, and speaking of which, guess what else we don't have? The Misfits. That's right. The main antagonists of the series are not in this movie. Whaaaa...? I mean, what with all the competition to get and keep fame these days, you'd think having a rival would be a good idea. I guess not. Also, Rio does not have purple hair. What's up with that?

Oh, yeah. And no Synergy. Actually, Jem does say "Showtime, Synergy" in this trailer, though I don't why. It does not appear that there is a somewhat sentient super-computer that projects holograms and makes Jerrica turn into Jem and vice versa in this movie. Just make-up and a different hair color for that. Makes it easy!! So, WHY did she say that? She even touched her earrings which did not look like red stars AT ALL. What is going on? I don't know. Do you guys?

Now, a lot of people have been comparing this to a cross between Hannah Montana and that Josie and the Pussycats movie. Which is weird because Tara Reid was in Josie and the Pussycats, and she was in Sharknado with Aubrey Peeples, who is playing Jem/Jerrica in this movie. But anyway...Combining those two films does not seem like a good idea. Although, I see where people are coming from. Something else that people are saying, or more accurately, questioning is the absence of Christy Marx, who was a major player as a writer on the series. I believe they could have used her input. Let's just hope they include her should we get a cartoon series reboot.

Oh, and can people stop using the words "From the Studio That Brought You..." as a marketing tool. In this case, they're saying that with Pitch Perfect. With that logic, they could have promoted Fifty Shades of Grey as "From the Studio That Brought You The Pianist". By that I mean a studio can be quite...versatile. And did I just make my second Fifty Shades reference within two blog posts? Pray for my soul.

But the good news is that I think I saw Dick Casablancas in a cameo, so...yay. That will be a nice addition to the cameos of Samantha Newark (cartoon Jem's talking voice) and Britta Phillips (cartoon Jem's singing voice).

Bottom line, I am not going to judge this movie fully until I see it, which means I am more fair than some internet memes that I've already seen. I will say that one thing I am optimistic about is the cast. Granted, we have a lot of new faces here, but like I said, I like Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis, and I've certainly come to love Aubrey Peeples after watching her on Nashville, so high hopes there. What I'm taking from this trailer is that, best case scenario, this will be a good movie, but even if it is, I'm not sure it's the Jem movie that the fans of yesteryear really wanted. I mean, we have been waiting a LOOOONG time for this. Although, some are arguing that this isn't for the longtime fans, but it was made to make new fans. Problem is, new fans of what exactly? I think that is the issue with a lot of remakes and reboots. We older fans wonder why they pick these established characters and ideas if only to change them so much. Why not just come up with something completely new? Just give me a good reason other than...bottom line. Again, I'm not saying it won't be good. I really hope that it is, and that it does something good for these lovely young actresses. I'm just saying that I'm not sure it will be Jem. We'll see, though. But, you know, prayers.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hollywood and the Investigation Discovery Channel

Greetings Pups,

So, have you heard of this new movie coming out called True Story starring James Franco and Jonah Hill? I have, and I'm actually interested in seeing it. Why? Well, it's certainly not because of who is in it, since certain people in said film are ones I avoid like the plague. No, it's because I know this story, and I know it because I've heard it at least three times on the Investigation Discovery Channel. To be fair, those might have been 20/20, 48 Hours or Dateline reruns, but still. My point is that this channel has exposed me to several riveting stories. Stories that might give some people, like screenwriters, some good ideas.

Now, I have talked on this blog before about how much I enjoy the shows on ID. Okay, maybe "enjoy" is not the best word considering all the murder and mayhem. Let's say I'm intrigued instead. And until I heard about this upcoming film, I didn't realize how inspiring all of these stories can be. Again, "inspiring", maybe not the best word as people tend to associate that with uplifting things...for some reason. But I speak from personal experience when I say that one can be inspired by good as well as bad things. Heck, a lot of my new book came to be thanks to the horrific and/or moronic behavior that I've been forced to witness. So, right there, on the ID channel, are so many tales that can encourage some great writing. Of course, one can only go so far in telling a story that actually happened without some permission. At least, I think that's how it works with true crime incidents. Still, even if one does not tell the exact events by way of a new book or some other medium, a writer could certainly be motivated to do some great fiction. Maybe even taking bits and pieces from several different circumstances to create a really original story. Oh, there's the word I love so much and for which I long - originality.

Yeah, I don't know if anyone has noticed this, but, for the last several years, we have been inundated with films that are either remakes or reboots or sequels. Enough! Okay, look, I'm not saying that they are ALL bad, I'm just saying I wish people could come up with their own ideas. AND I wish even more that the studios would be willing to take risks on those new ideas, instead of just pushing out more crap that they know will make money because they, themselves, have fooled people into thinking that stuff is good. Of course, I'm not about to say there is no original material out there. In fact, as much as I criticize the Oscars, they do manage to expose me to things I would not have known about otherwise. Money in advertising, you understand. I'm just saying that what gets put at the forefront, most of the time, are the things that we've seen again and again. I just feel like many people, especially writers, have stopped trying. And this goes for screenplays AND books. Why write well when you can make millions writing Fifty Shades of Grey? The writing in that was terrible, by the way. But I digress.

Back to my point at hand. Pretty much every time I watch one of the many shows on Investigation Discovery, I think "Hey, that story would make a great movie!" So, I'm hoping that, if any screenwriters, or writers in general, can't come up with any good, original ideas, they will turn to channels like this for inspiration. And, yes, I know that copying a story that has already happened in real life might not be considered original. But it can be considered extremely good. Look at All the President's Men or Apollo 13 or Titanic. Okay, maybe not that last one. Not that last one, at all. Like I said, though, there is also an art to hearing all these different stories, taking parts from all of them, and building a tale of your own. It's a good idea. One that I hope is legal.

And if all else fails, someone can just write a biopic about the awesome Lt. Joe Kenda! I'd watch the crap out of that!

Love and fool moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Straight From the Theater Review - The Room...RiffTrax Style

Greetings Pups,

Oh, HI, people who read my blog!

Okay, so this is going to be kind of a different review for me. First of all, I already reviewed The Room in a more traditional sense. You can go back and read that if you must. So, technically, I won't be talking about the movie, per se, but more the experience of...well, experiencing it through the eyes of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, a.k.a. the awesome dudes of RiffTrax.

It was such a nice thing being able to attend something like this, considering that where I live rarely has such events. Okay, to be fair, it wasn't actually taking place where I live. I think they said they were in Nashville; I was here. And now I have ANOTHER reason why I wished I was in that city. The first, by the way, is because I heard Bob Gaudio lives there. Unless Jersey Boys wasn't accurate. But that CAN'T be! Back to my point. I got to see The Room in a big (or ya know, average sized) old (okay, eleven year old) fancy (well, they have nice bathrooms) movie theater, which is enough of a treat, but, of course, it was accompanied by a fantastic RiffTrax commentary. But let me back it up a bit.

We walked into the theater, and I assumed the screen would be filled with the usual move trivia and other assorted crap that no one cares about. NO! No, we got those things RiffTrax style, too. In other words, BETTER! What are the odds! Also, Weird Al was playing. Good times, indeed, because I thought they were playing actual "Blurred Lines". Gross. And creepy. Anywho...Then, the guys came out to greet us all over the country...and Canada. Fine. Before the feature presentation, we were treated to some expected banter, which included a reminder of it being Orson Welles' birthday. Perfect timing for such an event. Then, they gave as best of an explanation of what the heck The Room is that we can hope for. You know, for the virgins. Also, I was pleasantly surprised that we go to see them riff on a short film. Something about teaching kids from a million years ago how to make boats out of trash. What? Those kids had to do something when they weren't under their desks hiding from the A-Bomb. Oh, 1950's. Never change.

But after all that, we got down to the business at hand. If you've ever seen The Room, you'll know that it basically does the work for you when it comes to mockery. And yet, I still feel like these guys work really hard to sift through the millions upon millions of jokes that can be made about this film in order to find the best for us. They just hit everything so perfectly, as usual, practically reading the minds of the audience and also everyone who has ever seen the movie in the last dozen years since its birth. They were even nice enough to warn us about certain things we were going to see. Again, if you know The Room, you WILL know to what I am referring. They're called "pants" Mr. Wiseau, and they are a beautiful thing. Actually, I almost feel like all their positive energy and hilarity was infused into the audience with which I saw it. So much laughter and even some live riffing from the people around me made for a great night. I love having a good audience when I go to the movies. It's rare.

Okay, I guess that's all I can say. This experience was amazing! That's sounds good enough, right? Honestly, if you ever get a chance to go to one of these Live RiffTrax events, go. No matter the movie, just go. You WILL have a good time. And isn't that a nice thing to have happen these days? To go to the movie theater and know, without a doubt, that you will have fun. That pretty much happens never. I know I certainly don't trust the movie making people and the things they put out to take care of that. I'm looking at YOU, Maleficent! Bottom line, if you're looking for a good time, call the RiffTrax guys. Yeah, that probably sounded not the way I wanted it to. Oh, well.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 1973

Greetings Pups,

Remember yesterday when I said there was quite a bit of good in 1973 when it came to music? Well, in order to keep the balance, we had a boatload of bad. And some of it comes from artists that I otherwise like a lot. Go figure. Let's just get this over with.

#10. "My Love" Paul McCartney & Wings - Odd. Normally, I'd be putting Paul on a 'best of' list. Sorry. I can't this time. Look, we all know what Paul McCartney can do, especially with a love song. So why is this thing so boring? I'm sure it's got sentimentality to someone, but I just can't with this.

#9. "Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?" Tony Orlando and Dawn - It's just "Tie a Yellow Ribbon". It's just a rehash of that song. Which I'm not a huge fan of. And which came out the same year, for crying out loud. I love Tony and the girls normally, but not this time.

#8. "Hocus Pocus" Focus - Okay, I like me some weird music. I do. But even I have lines that cannot be crossed. This song crossed it. Maybe it's because I'm such a lyric snob and there are no lyrics. Oh, there's singing, but no lyrics. To be fair, though, this didn't rank as high as it might have had the musicians not been so good. Yeah, credit where it's due, when it comes to pure musicianship, these guys were pretty good. The song as a whole, however...Not for me.

#7. "Wildflower" Skylark - So, these days, I'd probably die before labeling myself a "feminist". A hundred years ago I would have been happy to be one, but today? Not so much. Still, I don't like the idea of thinking a woman is weak and needs to always be taken care of and is basically an object. I'm sure whoever wrote this song had good intentions in mind. Well, I hope. But look, buddy, I'm not your delicate little flower. Now back off before I sock you in the mouth. I think I've made my point.

#6. "Playground in My Mind" Clint Holmes - That title. I just don't know. Anyway, I have no idea what this song is supposed to be about. All I do know is that, at some point, child singers enter the picture. Get it? Playground? Kids? But WHY? I just don't really like kid singers all that much. Sorry.

#5. "Funny Face" Donna Fargo - You know, I can defend the Easy Listening genre on several occasions, but not all of them. This is NOT one of those occasions. Just...what is this? This is WEAK! I need something of a level of sophistication and it just does not have it. At all.

#4. "Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?" Hurricane Smith - I heard somewhere that this was meant to be an album filler song, but it somehow made it to the charts. Why? I'm sorry. I just don't get how that happened. This is not a good song, at least, according to me. Maybe it's because the guy's voice is not exactly my cup of tea. But I think there's a reason why this has not seemed to endure as well as other One Hit Wonders. Did I mention that this made it to Number ONE?!

#3. "Funky Worm" Ohio Players - Let me make this clear. I really like the Ohio Players. They were fantastic. Usually. Again, my weirdness tolerance levels only go so high, and this thing's cup runneth over. It's called "Funky Worm"! That just feels wrong.

#2. "The Morning After" Maureen McGovern - I had intended this to be at the top of the list, with good reason. It's awful. It's another song that is evidence in the case against Easy Listening. It's getting a pass, though, because it is associated with the awesome Poseidon Adventure. And because...well, stayed tuned for what DID make it to Number One.

#1. "Daddy's Home" Jermaine Jackson & the Jackson Five - This...is...creepy! I have never NEVER liked the idea of someone calling their significant other..."Daddy"! It's just not right. It's disturbing, in fact. So, why in the world do some people feel the need to immortalize said fetish in song? Just...WHY? Look, I can enjoy some Jackson Five, but, in this case, NO!

Well, there are the songs of 1973 that I wasn't so crazy about. You can go check them out for a listen, if you must, as I bet you guys may never even heard of some of them. Heck, I had never even heard of some of them. But do so at your own risk. As always, these are just my opinions. You can disagree. I'm fine with that. But, wow, some of these songs make me really happy I missed being born in this decade.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1973

Greetings Pups,

I find something very intriguing about transitional years in music, when one, I guess, fad is starting to find its way out only to make room for another one that will soon be making its way in. This particular year took place just as that so-called hippie music was starting to fade and we were on the cusp of the disco movement. For better or worse. So, the things we find on the charts in years like this are kind of...whatever. Yeah, we have a mix here, but I'm happy to say there is plenty of good. And now I will share that good with you all. Come and see my personal favorites, my Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 1973.

#10. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" George Harrison - I know. I'm as surprised about this one as you all probably are. Okay, look. Whilst I am a huge admirer of The Beatles, George and I never exactly clicked. But I must give credit where it's due, and this is a really good song. I might even call it one of his best. Even if it's not, it's one of the best of this year.

#9. "Me and Mrs. Jones" Billy Paul - I feel about this song very similarly to the way I feel about the movie The Bridges of Madison County. I have issues with the content of the story, but I cannot deny how wonderfully it is executed. And Billy Paul was a fantastic singer. I really don't know why his career or, at least, his popular success, didn't last longer. It should have.

#8. "Drift Away" Dobie Gray - This is a song I have liked for pretty much my entire life. Still do. It's what I call a 'stopper', which means that when I hear it on the radio as I station surf, I stop and listen. It's just such a feel good song, and nothing about it needs to be changed. Which is why no covers of it are or were necessary. Yeah.

#7. "Do It Again" Steely Dan - It's funny. I've never considered myself a fan of Steely Dan, though I kind of don't know why. Every time I hear one of their songs, I tend to like it. And this one is no exception. Now I don't know what the 'it' is that they want to do again, but it better not be the one I'm thinking.

#6. "Killing Me Softly With His Song" Roberta Flack - I hate to say this, but I think the first time I really heard this song was through a cover, the one by The Fugees, which is pretty good. But once I heard the original, I was sold. It's better, but what did I expect? I still don't know what the title means, but...what? Look, I'm not one to make assumptions. Either way, who cares? Great song.

#5. "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love?" The Spinners - Someone once told me that they thought The Spinners were the poor man's Temptations. Uh, bull crap! Don't get me wrong. I love The Temptations, but I think The Spinners are just as good, maybe sometimes even better. Sometimes. And I consider this song to be one of the highlight of their career. Not as awesome as "Rubberband Man" but, seriously? Is anything?

#4. "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" Vicki Lawrence - Yes, you are reading that correctly. Vicki Lawrence, Mama herself, was something of a pop star in her youth. As well she should have been. She is a great singer. Anyway, this is a story song, which, from what I've been told, was a thing back in the 70's. Back when people gave some thought and creativity to what they wrote as lyrics. And it's a pretty darn good story with murder and betrayal and all sorts of stuff. In short, it has a better plot than most movies these days. It's just plain great. Although, in this case, I'm going to say you can go ahead and also give the Reba cover a listen, because that's actually good, too. And yes, I did squeal when I heard her and Vicki duet that sucker. Who wouldn't?

#3. "You're So Vain" Carly Simon - Warren Beatty. What? Don't you know you're not allowed to have a conversation concerning this song without saying who you think it's about? Well, that's my guess. That aside, I love this song. I know it has been overanalyzed to death in the past forty years, but I have to say, it has some of the most clever lyrics I've ever heard. The lyrics alone are legendary and that is not easy to do. Trust me, I know.

#2. "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye) Gladys Knight & the Pips - Now THAT is a title. Oh, yeah, we are going to take advantage of those parentheses like it's nobody's business. Anyway, I know most people may have chosen the other Gladys Knight & the Pips song from this year, "Midnight Train to Georgia", which is also amazing. But I just think that this one is far superior. Plus, I can't have two songs on the list with the word 'Georgia' in them. Right?

#1. "Dancing in the Moonlight" King Harvest - I literally have know idea who these guys are or what else this band did, if anything. I think they might be official One Hit Wonders. But what does it matter? Even if they are, they certainly went all out with their one hit. I just love this song so much, almost inexplicably. It just makes me super happy, which is one of the best things a song can do. Now you may be wondering something. Have I personally ever gone dancing in the moonlight? Maybe. Unless 'dancing' is a euphemism for something. In which case, NO! No, I have never danced in the moonlight! Ever.

So, there you have my favorites from 1973. Come back tomorrow to find out my not so favorites.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer