Saturday, August 26, 2017

How Old Are You? / Robin Gibb - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a hardcore admirer of the Bee Gees. Ever since I was a teenager, when I found out they did more stuff than Saturday Night Fever, I have been listening to their amazing catalog of music. In fact, my favorite songs is one of their songs. But I'm not exactly here to talk about the Bee Gees, at least, not collectively. And probably not TOO much. No, today I will mostly be discussing just one of them, Robin Gibb, and his solo album How Old Are You?

How Old Are You? was released in 1983 and was Robin's second solo project. The first was 1970's Robin's Reign, which was made back when the brothers broke up after their initial success. It was a sad time. I guess. I wasn't there. And I don't think I've ever actually heard that album. Maybe someday. Anyway, according to my info, this was made around the time that the Bee Gees were doing the Staying Alive soundtrack (which was AWESOME!), as well as the time when they were writing and producing a lot for other artists. With this project, though, it appears that only Robin and Maurice were involved, writing all the songs and producing with a guy named Dennis Byron, who had been working with them as a drummer for quite a while. Actually, they used a few of their regular musical personnel for this, which I'm cool with, because obviously they're good at what they do. Unfortunately, Barry was apparently not involved at all. Well, you know how twins are sometimes. Gotta do their own thing. But I digress. The music!

Okay, let me get this out of the way. The production on this album is very synth heavy. There's a lot of it. A LOT! Of course, it was the 80's and it fit the style of music that Robin had been doing, so there you go. And to be honest, though it is quite prominently featured, it's done in such a way where it won't get obnoxious. Like other stuff I could mention. I'm sure it didn't hurt that the songs are so good.

Ah, yes! The songs! In my opinion, they're all good. No lie. Fine, some are better than others, just like it always goes, but I do really enjoy every song on this album. I'll just go through some highlights, though, starting with the opening track. It's called "Juliet". I think it's based on some book or play or something. Anyway, it's where Robin begins to show of a very extensive falsetto, particularly in the chorus. It's something that shows up quite a bit over the tracks. Oh, and think you can still find the video for this on the YouTubes. Go watch it . . . and then tell me what it's about, because I had some trouble following the story arc.

Another single released from the album was "Another Lonely Night in New York". What can I say? I like a good song about New York, and there are so many. And let's be honest, if I was in New York, I'd probably be lonely, too. Oh, I get it. Lonely in a city full of millions of people. Robin, you are wicked smart! Probably my favorite song is "Don't Stop the Night". Again, Robin excels with the falsetto, doing it more flawlessly than anyone I can think of. And I just love that title and how well it ties into the lyrics about yearning for a lost love when you're forced to see them moving on. Kinda heartbreaking. And the whole album ends with a great song called "I Believe in Miracle" with even more fantastic lyrics. Yes, I'm a lyric snob. We all know this.

So, I guess I should talk about the titular song, "How Old Are You?". Yeah, it could be considered a tad . . . controversial. Something about someone being 17 and "a girl with woman's charms". Look, I don't know. I DON'T KNOW. All I do know is that this is kind of in the "Don't Stand So Close to Me" territory, and if we let Sting get away with it, we really should let Robin. Plus, the song is extremely catchy, so all is forgiven!

And I think that's what makes this album excel musically. It is quite hooky, as they say. The choruses are just a collection of earworms, but the best possible kind. It should come as no surprise, since we know Robin's track record as a songwriter, albeit as part of a group. But if this shows us anything, it is that all three of them brought something to the table, and whether together or apart they were flat out musical geniuses.

Now, if i'm being honest, this album was not some massive success, certainly nowhere near the success that Robin previously had. I mean, I think the highest this thing charted was #6 in West Germany. Yeah, think about that. WEST Germany! That's how old this is. Ha! But on that subject, you have to remember when this came out. It was in the wake of the disco backlash that the brothers had been victims of, and no one really wanted to hear from them as themselves. As I mentioned, they were making bank writing and producing for other artists, but no one was that interested in their own work. And it's sad, because I think that was the main reason this got overlooked.

So, I obviously recommend How Old Are You? Give it a listen if you can get your hands on it. I seem to remember it being an ordeal to find a copy, but that was a while ago. You might have better luck. Now I would say this is best for true fans of all things Gibb, especially since I can admit that Robin's voice is a bit of an acquired taste. I mean, it is so unique and special, how could it not be? Therefore, if you love listening to him sing with the accompaniment of his brothers, you may love listening to him on his own. I certainly do. And ever since he, sadly, passed on, it's one of the things I hold dear.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rabbits on the Run / Vanessa Carlton - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I don't know if I mentioned this, but I have been working on a collection of songs based on my favorite book. Well, I was working on it, then I stopped, now I'm working on it again. Anyway, I love when people create art that is inspired by other works of art. I'd say it keeps us all connected in a way. So, I wanted to talk about an album that has some literary inspiration attached to it, Rabbits on The Run. Yay! Bunnies!

Rabbits on the Run is a 2011 album from Vanessa Carlton. I was pretty intrigued about this one as soon as I heard about it, and with each new bit of information, that intensified. First off, I do enjoy the music of Vanessa Carlton. She always seemed very organic with the music she created, and I liked that. Second, as I mentioned, she had said that she was inspired (am I using that word too much?) by two books. One of them was A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which I've never read and probably never will, and the other was Watership Down by Richard Adams, which I don't think I've read, but I've definitely seen that scary cartoon movie, though. But anyway, that's why there are "rabbits" in the title. Works for me. She also had a very specific sound for this project, very dreamlike, and she got Steve Osborne to produce it. He also worked with U2 and A-ha in the past. If you look online, you'll probably be able to find this great interview she did which I've seen called "The Four Elements of Rabbits on the Run", where she talks about her decisions, like using a children's choir and recording to record to actual, physical tape, something practically unheard of these days. What's that you say, youngsters? What is tape? Ask your parents. Now let's talk about the music.

The first single was "Carousel" and it's technically the titular track, since it has "rabbits on the run" in its lyrics. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks and a perfect way to kick off the album. Another of my favorite songs is "London". It starts off so softly and because of the way it puts you in that aforementioned dreamy state, you think it's gonna stay that way. But it kicks in to high . . . well, highER gear later, when we get one of the best lyrics I've ever heard: "You've got a knife-throwing kind of love". WHAT! Bring it! Anyway, "Hear the Bells" is another highlight, staying with the same musical theme, and the lyrics are quite visually stimulating. As are the ones on "Marching Line" and the simple piano work in the beginning fits it so well, along with the drumming which gives us the feel of a soft and subtle march. And the final track, "In the End" is relatively short with very few lyrics, but they do pack a punch regardless.

Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a song that, in hind sight, ends up being kind of funny. Not "Funny Ha Ha" but more "Funny Ironic". It's a song called "I Don't Wanna Be a Bride", and it's about exactly what you think it's about. I even saw Vanessa in an interview wherein she said that she supports brides and she supports marriage, but she just didn't want it for herself. Well, the joke's on everyone, because she ended up becoming a bride a few years back. Now she has a husband and a beautiful baby and WHY DID YOU LIE TO US, VANESSA!?!? Just kidding! Actually, I kind of like how the whole thing shows how we can change over time, that we're not stuck in one place with one way of approaching life.

In conclusion, I do recommend Rabbits on the Run. You can really hear that all the special care she took in recording it and all the creative decisions she made really paid off. It feels like a very personal album that she didn't necessarily make for her fans. Let me explain that. Obviously, she wanted to make something great for us, which she did, but often times, an artist can get bogged down too much in what other people are going to think. Here, Vanessa just made the album that she wanted to make, from her heart, from her soul and from her life. Thankfully, that ended up being something that we could all enjoy heartily. Yes, I said heartily.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Under Rug Swept / Alanis Morissette - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I've noticed that artists who have one particular album being extremely successful can have that be a positive but also a bit of a negative. It's positive for the obvious, but the negative has to do with the fact that their other works are sometimes underrated, or just flat out ignored. Anyone who knows anything about the 90's knows that Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill was one of the defining albums of the decade, and deservedly so. But I think some people hold that one is such high regard that they forget how much great music she did that was NOT on that album. So, I thought I'd bring attention to some of that today and talk about Under Rug Swept.

Under Rug Swept was released in 2002, about four years after her last project. There is a subtle theme that threads all the songs together as it appears to chronicle the end of a relationship. Alanis was also inspired by all the traveling she had been doing, including the time she spent in the Navajo nation. And if you recall the first single "Hands Clean", she digs into her past, of course, telling some revealing stories about her involvement with an older man in her youth. It was accompanied by a great video as well, which visually showed the ordeal pretty perfectly. It also contains the lyric from where we get the album title.

The opening track is called "21 Things I Want in a Lover", where you can tell that a bit of it seems kind of tongue in cheek, but at the same time, you know she's not messing around with some of the things she mentions. Just something to add to the mystery. It's what we writers do. And back to the subject of the aforementioned great videos, another track that got one was "Precious Illusions". The song has a very unique sound musically, and I love what the lyrics say about dealing with how we felt about things when we were younger and how it conflicts with having to become an adult and see the world more realistically, all told through the lens of a romance. "Surrendering" is another one with a great message, talking about the courage of letting yourself be loved. Don't we all need that sometimes? Now I suppose I can relate to the song "So Unsexy" . . . 'cause I'm SO not that! Just kidding. In fact, it's all about how we should not take our insecurities so seriously. Everyone has them, so clearly, they aren't picky or exclusive and thus, don't deserve all the power we give to them.

If I have to choose a favorite song from the album, it would definitely be "You Owe Me Nothing in Return". It's just a sweet, upbeat song about love. How we need to support each other in relationships, but not let go of who we are and what we want out of life. It's nice being reminded that it's something that is possible to obtain.

Ya know, I think it would be only right if I tacked on a little mini-review to this and talk about something Alanis released later that year called Feast on Scraps. The CD has some B-sides and whatnot, but it also has a DVD which has concert footage from her tour, as well as some behind the scenes stuff. That's my favorite. And why I bring it up is because we get to see her working on some of the tracks from this Under Rug Swept album. So, we get to see her in her creative process, which is pretty revealing as she does let herself go deep into the emotions of what she's working on . I can relate. It's just so nice to witness someone letting herself be seen in that vulnerable state.

So, to wrap up, I would recommend this album. If I'm being honest, no, it might not be as good as Jagged Little Pill as a whole. However, it has so many great moments on it, and you can really feel how much of herself that Alanis put into these songs. For me, that always adds something extra to any work of art. And though we've seen her be emotional from a side of anger, here, we get to see it from a far more peaceful and mature perspective.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to Basics / Christina Aguilera - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

Seriously, I have NO idea why I own a copy of this album? I'm not exactly a huge fan of Christina Aguilera's, though I do enjoy some of her songs. I'm almost certain that I obtained this by way of one those Columbia House deals. Apparently, I could only think of eleven albums I wanted for a penny, so I had an extra slot, and this got it. At the time, though, I remember being interested in the concept of what she was doing with this, and that it may have a chance at being good because it was something different. But is different always good? Let's find as we discuss this work.

Back to Basics was released in August of 2006, and it is a double album. Let's just get this out of the way. It did not need to be a double album. Look, I'm not picking on specifically on her for this. We all know that, outside of greatest hits compilations, there are very few double albums that need to be so. I mean, if I didn't let Fleetwood Mac get away with doing it when they needn't have, I sure as heck am not going to let her get away with it. And a lot of critics agreed with me on that. Most say it was just too much bogged down in the concept, which we'll get into later. Although, one reviewer apparently compared it to The White Album by The Beatles. Ummm . . . Yeah, no. Like, not even close. Moving on.

I guess I should talk about the concept of this concept album. I'm using that word a lot. Shame on me. So, the first half has a lot of urban influence with throwbacks to R&B. There was a lot of horn instrumentation and a gospel choir. It's this part where we got the first single "Ain't No Other Man", which I thought was pretty good and it did okay on the charts, crawling its way to #6. But it did get her a Grammy . . . and a sampling lawsuit. Well, you gotta take the sour with the sweet, I suppose. The section also has a pretty nice tribute to her mom called "Oh, Mother" and "Thank You" a dedication track to her fans. Those are always nice. And somehow, she got Steve Winwood on this thing. You go, girl.

The second half is even more conceptual, with something of a circus theme. Well, hang on a minute. Didn't Britney Spears do something like that a couple of years later? Hmmm . . . Anywho, most of the songs on this part were written by Christina and Linda Perry, which was a good idea considering their track record together, in theory. Most of the songs here are more jazzy and bluesy, more of that horn work, so musically, I thought it sounded great. Probably the most recognizable song from this was "Candy Man", Christina's dirty version "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" or something. Again, I like the music, but lyrically? Stop trying so hard. We get it. You have sex. Congratulations. Move on. Now I do really love her soulful vocals on "I Got Trouble", something she excels at a lot. I'm also a fan of the song "Save Me From Myself", which she wrote with Bill Bottrel, probably best known for his work with Sheryl Crow. So, no surprise that its style is a bit of a departure from the other tracks. Still good, though. But my favorite song on the whole album, both parts, is "Hurt". Not gonna lie. It kinda hit me in the feels.

So, my overall thoughts on Back to Basics are total A for Effort, but more of a C+, maybe a B-, for how much I actual like it as a whole. I can appreciate the creativity that went into it, and I don't doubt it was a labor of love. However, like I said, this should have been condensed into one album. Stretching it out so much just gave Christina more of a chance to do what she does quite a lot, which is more style than substance. Now, don't get me wrong. The woman has an amazing voice, but I like it so much better when she restrains herself. I know that there are times when we want the big notes and the vocal runs, but not all the time. In fact, I remember putting that "Say Something" song she did with A Great Big World on my best of the year list a while back. My biggest praise was how soft and beautiful she sounded. I'm no expert, but that's what I prefer from her. In short, if you're a fan, you'll like this, probably. I'm on the fence, but I always give credit where it's due. And it is certainly due for some of this project.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Beekeeper / Tori Amos - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

There was this adorable and hilarious video floating around the internet a few years ago wherein Leah Remini meets her BFF Jennifer Lopez at the pool. Leah, who is wearing no make-up, accusingly points the camera at the "looking to the nines" J-Lo and says, "Can you be ugly once? Just be normal once!" It's great. Go check it out. What is my point to bringing this up? Well, every time Tori Amos releases a new album, I, and probably others who delve into songwriting, often feel the need to say, "Can you just make a normal album for once?" Let me explain.

To be honest, no Tori Amos album has ever been normal, because they are all extremely unique to who she is. Like when you hear one of her songs, you know that it's her. But around the turn of the century, she started doing what I would call "concept albums". Again, they all might have had that, but less blatantly. I think it really started with 2002's Scarlet's Walk, which is a phenomenal record about a trip across America, getting to know her and the stories within. And if you can get your hands on a deluxe copy, do it. It has pictures and stickers (YAY!) and a map of the country that shows where the songs take place, which I have framed and hung in my house, thank you very much. Anyway, Tori started to get really creative, even more so, with the themes of albums, putting together, not just a collection of songs, but almost using the songs like chapters in a book. Frankly, I love it, and it inspired me greatly. So, I chose one to talk about today, The Beekeeper.

The Beekeeper was released in 2005. It uses the theme of gardens and something that Tori calls a "sonic shape", a place for all the songs to live. If you look at the actual physical album, you can see that the songs are divided into different sections: The Desert Garden, The Rock Garden, Roses & Thorns, The Greenhouse, The Orchard and Elixers & Herbs. For real! Anyway, each place has a theme of its own, so that they can be expressions of whatever emotion or story that they choose. Tori also explores some religious themes, but from the female perspective. That sounds like something she would do, and to be honest, she does it well.

As far as the songs themselves go, there really aren't any bad ones, but, of course, I have my favorites. So, I'll try to stick to some highlights. There was the first single, which usually gets the most attention, "Sleeps With Butterflies". I love the piano work on this, as it matches the lyrical content so well. As I like songs that are named after and/or inspired by books, I've got a soft spot for the song "Jamaica Inn". Now she also mentions the name Rebecca in this, which makes me wonder. Was this a thinly veiled ode to one Ms. Daphne du Maurier? Maybe. Or Hitchcock, because he did both movies.

Songs like "Cars and Guitars" and "Ireland" stand out to me, because, musically, stylistically, they strike me as being quite . . . spunky. Sorry. I know that might be a strange word to describe anything that Tori does, but that's the one that comes to mind. Deal with it. "Witness" is a great song that has a gospel choir singing on it, which was a perfect fit for it and makes it . . . here's another out of left field word . . .
groovy. What! I'm sorry. My favorite of all the songs is actually the last track called "Toast". I can't really put my finger on why I love the most. There's nothing specific. I just do.

One of the best things about this album is where Tori opens up about some personal things in her life. I know, she does that often, but this time she's dealing with her mother. In an interview, she discusses how she had recently been faced with the idea of losing her mother, and this is greatly explored on this title track. It's extremely moving, but in a way, it's also uplifting. Same is the case with the song "Ribbons Undone", where Tori connects her feelings of seeing her mother as she is, but also her daughter. It's a tearjerker, in my opinion, but again, there's such beauty in how she sees the world where these two people are concerned. It breaks your heart, then hugs it with comfort. And if you ever get a chance to listen to that interview, where she discusses some things her mom told her, you won't be disappointed.

In case it's not clear, I am definitely recommending this album. If you're not a fan of Tori's already, this isn't a bad place to start. Now, whilst she and I don't agree on everything in real life, when it comes to her artistry and creativity, she has always inspired me, like I said. This work was one that pushed me with my own creativity. I know I can't be her, nor should I try to be, but artists like Tori show us how to tell our best stories and put forth the best versions of ourselves and our work.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, August 21, 2017

Charmbracelet / Mariah Carey - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

Be honest. You forgot that this album even existed, didn't you? Okay, fair enough. I wouldn't blame you if you did, considering where it lies in the oeuvre of Mariah Carey. I mean, we all remember the debacle that was Glitter in 2001, not to mention all the personal shenanigans that surrounded it, and we all remember the comeback brought on by The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005. But nestled between those two extremes was the album Charmbracelet, the only thing released during this time, aside from a greatest hits compilation from Columbia, which doesn't count. They never count, unless it's from The Eagles. So, what can be said about this oft forgotten recording and is it justifiably oft forgotten? Well...let's talk about that.

Charmbracelet was released in December of 2002 and was Mariah's first release on Island Records. This, of course, was after she was bought out of her Virgin contract for... $50,000,000! All that money to not sing. I'd take that deal. Anyway, she started working on it in early 2002, a mere months after the whole Glitter fiasco. Now, I'm all for her trying to get through her personal issues by way of her music and writing. After all, I do that myself. But I think it may have been better for her to do that do it. To work through everything and have whatever she wrote be her own, rather than turn it into an album. I have no problem with her eventually sharing all of this with the world, as artists tend to do, but part of me thinks she just wanted to release something to replace her previous work. It may have been rushed and it might have been for the wrong reasons. But that's just my opinion. And I did appreciate some of the more personal and uplifting songs that she gave us here. Yeah, let's get to the actual songs, shall we?

To be fair, there isn't ton of memorable material on this album, but there is some. The first single was called "Through the Rain". It clearly chronicled the difficulties that Mariah had faced in the previous year. It wasn't bad, but some people were critical of it because it reminded them too much of another of her songs, "Hero". Which was a good song, so I don't know why that's exactly a bad thing. You can make more than one inspirational ballad, last time I checked. The second single was "Boy (I Need You), practically a 180 from its predecessor. I wasn't a fan of it, mostly because it just didn't click for me. That was another complaint many critics made about the album as a whole. It wasn't hooky enough. I kind of agree with that, overall. The third, and I believe final, single was a cover of Def Leppard's "Bringin' On the Heartbreak". Now, I always get suspicious when people cover songs from artists that are of a very different genre than their own, but considering that Mariah grew up in the 80's surrounded by all kinds of music, I don't doubt that she was a legit fan. And I think this is a pretty good version. Props to Dave Navarro for his contribution as well.

Aside from the singles, there were a few other stand out tracks on the album. "Clown", for one, is memorable, but mostly because it appears to be chronicling her relationship...or "relationship"... with Eminem. Um, good times? I liked "Subtle Invitation", especially musically, as it sounds very old school. Good horn work and all that. And then there's a song called "Sunflowers for Alfred Roy", which was about her father who had passed away. It is certainly the most personal of all the songs on this album. Maybe the most personal she has ever done.

Overall, I'd say that Charmbracelet is okay. It has its moments to shine, but there are also a lot of down time. It's not her worst album, but if you were going to rank them all, it would most likely be in the bottom half. I mean, if you're a hardcore Mariah fan, you probably already own this. If you're not a fan, I'd say you can skip the majority of it. But check out those few gems. Still, as much as I think that she, perhaps, should have held off on releasing this one, I can respect her for trying to work through her issues the best way she knew how, with her music. Can't fault her for that.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Listening Party Week

Greetings Pups,

Yeah, I couldn't think of a better title for this theme week. I guess I could have called it "The Week Where I'll Be Reviewing a Bunch of Albums Because I Haven't Done That In a While", but that seems even less creative. And way more long-winded. Even though, that is exactly what I'll be doing.

It is true that I have not reviewed an album in a while. No bull crap, according to my records, I haven't done it in almost three years. It's not my fault...completely. Music is pretty lousy these days, so I've had no desire to talk about anything new, and certainly no desire to listen to anything new. I mean, you could probably tell by how lackadaisically I've been dealing with my year end Best/Worst Songs lists. But alas, I have sifted through my record collection, or the albums section on my iPod, and have chosen some works from yesteryear to discuss. Nothing new, though. Seriously, I think the newest one I'll be covering is from 2011. New enough, I guess.

Anyway, I'm happy to be, once again, delving into the music world. I've missed doing that, and like I said, those current lists weren't helping. Even the lists I did covering years from long ago didn't satisfy me as much as it does to talk about one work of art and really explore every aspect of it. I'm pretentious like that.

So, I hope you all come back and check out my reviews. Maybe you'll find some new music to fall in love with. Or despise. Whatever works for you.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Past, Present and Future Plans

Greetings Pups,

It's interesting when the entire circle of your life starts to meet up with itself. It seems that for me the before, the after and the right now are all hanging out with each other, and it's certainly keeping everything interesting. But how is all this happening, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you. And to be fair, there may only be one part of this that is actually interesting, but we'll see.

Obviously, I have little to say about the present. I mean, you just wake up and it's there, and it starts pulling you along with it, whether you like it or not. But as I mentioned, said present is being bombarded with my past and what will hopefully be my future. I've been doing a couple of things recently. One of them is packing up the contents of my...well, I suppose I can still call it a house. It hasn't collapsed into a pile of rubble just yet, but considering all the technical difficulties I've been having with it, my fingers are crossed. I am doing this so that when I am blessed with a new home, I will be more prepared than I would have been had I left things where they are. Plus, it looks cleaner when everything is in boxes. But whilst I was doing this, I found a lot of things that I haven't seen in quite a while. A lot of things that have to do with my writing. I found first drafts of some of my novels, poems and songs. Written in longhand, thank you very much. I can't imagine why I kept them, especially after some of them have been published. Perhaps, it was just for an occasion such as this. So I have tangible proof that I've come far from where I once was. And that I've been doing this writing thing for a very long time. I suppose looking at all those words on all that lined paper is for me what looking at photo albums is for other people. All that writing is just a bunch of emotional snapshots of my life.

Well, that was the past coming to visit me. Now on to talk of the future. I know I've mentioned some plans that I have concerning a few online ventures, my podcast and whatnot, but I had another idea, recently, one for real life. If you can believe that. It really came out of the blue the other day. From where, I have no idea. It's a bit of a business endeavor, which will be something new for me, as I've never done anything so entrepreneurial in all my life. I don't want to go into too many details, since I'm in the very beginning phases and still have a lot of research to do, concerning legalities and whatnot. To say nothing of dealing with the funding. KickStarter? I will say, though, that it's an idea that, ironically, mixes old school and new school, and it is a business that is quite needed in the area where I live. As I continue with this venture, I'll have to keep you all posted. I'm just glad I've got another plan for the future, and whether it works out or not, at least, I will have tried.

So, what is the point of all this? Well, though I was sharing things from my own life, I hope it gave you all a good message. The message being that the "here & now" and the "there & then" of our lives matter. The road we walk from beginning to end has a lot of parts and all of them are important, some more than others, but still. We head toward a future that began with our particular past. We need to remember where we've been and what we've done so we know what to do as we move forward. The past doesn't dictate our future, but it can give us a good start and set us on a path that is perfectly designed for us.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Finding Forrester - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Have I mentioned that I love movies about writers? Because I do. And today I want to talk about one of my favorites, that just so happens to star one of my favorite people. Not to mention that I think some aspects of the plot are quite relevant today. But more on that later. Let's talk about Finding Forrester. Yes, this is the movie that gave us that "You're the man now, dog" thing. God bless.

Finding Forrester is a 2000 film directed by Gus Van Sant. It's about a young man named Jamal Wallace, played by Rob Brown. He lives in New York in not the best of neighborhoods with his mother and brother, played by Busta Rhymes. Yeah. He gets the chance to go to a very prestigious school, due to his skills on the basketball court, but he also has a passion for reading and a gift for writing. There, he befriends Coleridge, played by Michael Pitt and Claire, played by Anna Paquin, who he develops a close relationship with. He also butts heads with a professor named Crawford, played by F. Murray Abraham, due to his suspicions about Jamal's skills as a writer. Because of where he comes from, I presume. Oh, no. Is he one of those people who thinks that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare because he was poor and didn't have a degree? Mercy.

Outside of his academic life, Jamal inadvertently meets a recluse named William Forrester, played by Sean Connery. It turns out that he is also a writer, publishing a superb and highly praised book fifty years earlier with nothing to follow. And the book they show in the film looks quite short for being considered a masterpiece of literature, might I say. It's nice to know that not all of those have to be the size of War and Peace. Moving on. Though the two have some tempestuous encounters, caused by how they originally become acquainted, they eventually begin to learn more about and from each other, and become genuine friends. The scenes between them are the highlights of the film, and thankfully, they take up a big portion of it. Despite how different these two actors are, especially in experience, they have incredibly good chemistry and seem so natural carrying on these conversations with each other. They perfectly portray the exchanges that would happen when someone is being mentored. I can't help but wonder if the off-screen friendship between Connery and Brown was reflected in the film.

It is this relationship that is the core of the story, which is really about finding out about people from more than what we see. Or what we assume. And that it's never too late to learn something in life and change for the better. Both Jamal and Forrester learn from one another and grow as people thanks to the time they spend together. It didn't matter that they were different ages or races or that they came from different places with different experiences. They took the time to put aside whatever assumptions they may have had about each other and listened to each other instead. And because they were open to that, because they didn't scoff at the idea that one can learn from something other than a clone of one's self, they were able to improve. They affected each other's lives, and, had they not taken a chance on this friendship, they would have been worse off.

And this lesson of looking passed what we see to discover who someone is does not confine itself to only the friendship between Jamal and Forrester. In fact, there are quite a few instances of characters judging one another based on assumptions rather than the truth of who they are. Once they open their eyes and look more closely and honestly, they realize what is truly there at the core of every person they meet. That is why I think this film is important, even today. Maybe especially today.

So, in case you haven't guessed, I highly recommend this movie. It's a well-written story and the acting is superb. And, yes, it is a great film about writers, which gives it automatic points in my book, but as you can tell by what I said, it is also about so much more.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer